Here's a look at the new movies I saw this week.
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Stephen Merchant, and Boyd Holbrook
Synopsis: It’s easy to forget now, but “X-Men” was the forerunner of the modern superhero movie movement. In the summer of 2000 the movie bowed at a time when superhero films were a rarity. The leads were Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, who were joined by little-known Hugh Jackman in the iconic role of Wolverine. Seventeen years and nine films later, it’s hard to imagine anyone by Jackman playing the part. And it’s hard to remember there was ever a time when people didn’t know him. The landscape of superhero movies has also changed. There have been six “X-Men” films and now three stand alone films focused on Wolverine. There’s half a dozen superhero movies at the Box Office each year, and everyone is vying to up the stakes and do something different. Jackman is ready to retire his Wolverine, as Stewart is with Professor X. And both wanted to do it in a different and fitting way. That’s what you get with “Logan,” a dark, gritty film that takes the superhero genre in a different direction. Last February “Deadpool” changed the superhero script. It was an unabashedly R-rated film that brought in big bucks at the Box Office. “Deadpool” did it with sarcasm, humor, violence and plenty of meta exploration of heroism. “Logan” is re-writing the script again — this time with a pensive, violent film that asks some hard questions about life for both these characters. Director James Mangold worked with Jackman on “The Wolverine,” his second stand alone film that debuted in 2013. It was during that time that they started batting around ideas for a grand finale. Four years later, it’s arrived and it’s unlike any of the other superhero movies that preceded it. It features beautiful performances and a darker, but more gripping exploration of Wolverine and Charles Xavier. Mangold, who wrote the screenplay as well, has a good feel for the character and the world. And he creates something that, from the opening sequence, is very different. It is an R-rated film for a reason, containing plenty of harsh language and a level of violence unlike anything in previous superhero films, “Deadpool” included. This will likely be a template that could take these type of films into darker territory — especially considering the incredible response at the Box Office. But it isn’t just the style that makes the film work. It’s the performances. Jackman has always been great at channeling Wolverine for the screen, but he’s afforded a freedom with this to do something different. He showcases a different side of the character, one who’s broken, sad and guarded, and it’s beautiful. The same is true of Stewart, who like Jackman has been playing this character for 17 years. This Charles is a far cry from previous iterations, and the way they play off each other is beautiful. What makes the film work, though, is Keen. A relative newcomer, Keen plays a crucial role in the film and has to do a lot of story work without saying a word. It really helps drive this film. I wasn’t a fan of the first two Wolverine films, which I felt failed to measure up to the talent involved. With “Logan,” that script has flipped. This is one of the best films of the year so far, and one of the best superhero films in the last 10 years. That’s the reason it’s been a hit at the Box Office and has even generated some Oscar buzz. Most importantly, it feels like a fitting cap for two great actors who’ve brought us these iconic characters for nearly two decades. The style of this film isn’t for everyone, but for fans of the genre and the characters, this is a must see.
Rating: R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity. Enter with caution.
Verdict: Four stars out of four.
Friday, March 10 — "Kong: Skull Island"
Friday, March 17 — "Beauty & The Beast"
Friday, March 24 — "Life," "Power Rangers," "CHiPS"
Friday, March 31 — "The Zookeeper's Wife," "The Boss Baby," "The Ghost in the Shell"