A lot of people (the elderly mostly, and wankers) tell me that violence is ruining cinema as an art form and that we're all losing touch with the stories, the characters, and the humanity of our movies.
It's all a bunch of hogwash, of course (everyone knows it's greed that's ruining cinema). At this time of year in Whistler, a little escapist violence is probably a good thing. It's been a big, busy winter and there are likely more than few front-line workers here who are so burned out they're ready to snap on the next poor sap who wonders where "Dual Mountain" is, or why our prices aren't in U.S. dollars. Watching a movie where a few heads get impaled on screen can actually prevent it from happening in real life.
It's a good thing then, that Logan opens this week at the Whistler Village 8. The third in the Wolverine trilogy (itself a spin-off of the X-Men franchise), and the final film with Hugh Jackman in the titular role, Logan is Marvel's next shot at an R-rated superhero movie after Deadpool proved there was money to be made with superhero profanity, sex and bone-crunching, bloodthirsty violence.
This time out, it's the violence that's most noteworthy. Wolverine is a character with foot-long steel claws protruding from his hands, and director James Mangold (Walk the Line, the 3:10 to Yuma remake) wants to use them. This is the Wolverine movie comic geeks have been waiting for: blood flows, heads roll, and people get ripped apart.
It's 2029 and Logan/Wolverine is old — his healing factor still works but it's slow, just as Professor Xavier's (Patrick Stewart) telepathic skills are dissolving into senility. The two remaining X-Men are tired and defeated — all their friends have died and no new mutants have surfaced in decades — so they eke out a secretive existence in rural Mexico. Perpetual loner Logan drives a limo for tips, and cares for the deteriorating (and dangerous) Xavier as life gets grimmer by the day.
It looks like the end until a young mutant named Laura shows up. Fierce, tough and with claws of her own, Laura is not only cut from the same cloth as old man Logan, she might also be the salvation of mutant-kind. A hero's journey begins, and with it comes some of the bloodiest superhero combat ever attempted.
The most notable thing about Logan is not the violence though, it's how that violence is inserted into an otherwise pretty solid film. Even with the endlessly rehashed Lone Wolf and Cub dynamic we always get with Wolverine stories, director Mangold is still able to craft a resonant outlaw story with limited CGI that pads its ultraviolence with quiet moments and rich, vulnerable characters we actually care about. Part Unforgiven, part Children of Men and partly based on the Old Man Logan comic series, this one resonates beyond the exit wounds — humanity doesn't need to worry about super-villains destroying us all, we're evil enough to get the job done ourselves. Logan is not a perfect film (a bit long in the middle, a bit light in the end), but it is a movie that both comic fans and movie fans can admire. It slices and dices, but it also cuts to the heart.
That's it for new flicks until next Thursday, when the Village 8 hosts a special prescreening of Kong: Skull Island which stars Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson (of course), and John Goodman in what looks to be the first summer-blockbuster-style visual smack down of the year. Find the official final trailer (the one with The Animals song in it) online this week and start getting stoked, King Kong has endured almost since the beginning of cinema so every new take on his story has more to say about us than him. Stay tuned...
The Oscars are finally over, and while La La Land is indeed still playing at the Village 8, the real Best Picture winner Moonlight is now available for legal download online. The Download of the Week however, is 2001 family comedy Freddy Got Fingered because Tom Green just played a killer show at the GLC.
Despite being almost universally panned by critics when it came out, this one is classic low-brow humour and actually one of the more creative flicks of its era. If you'd rather laugh than watch people get decapitated, Freddy will help boost that midwinter moral. Chin up kids, a brighter day is coming, March is historically the snowiest month, and at least we're not making cheese sandwiches.