Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hugh Jackman Takes Final Bow as Wolverine in Phenomenal 'Logan'

Let's be honest with ourselves: The X-Men movie franchise is a disaster. Yes, individually, it does contain some great films (X2: X-Men United and the hilarious Deadpool, for example), but by and large, it serves as an excellent example of how not to do a sprawling superhero series. Continuity is all over the place, the timelines (pick one) don't add up and the less said about how certain characters are treated, the better. I'm so, so sorry, Jubilee.

But that said, we love these movies in the grand scheme of things, and so when we learned that Logan would be Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart's last outing as Wolverine and Professor Charles Xavier, respectively, we couldn't help but be invested.

But man, does that investment pay off.

With a hard-R rating and the kind of wanton violence that would make Wade Wilson blush beneath his crimson mask, Logan is not only one of the best superhero movies released in recent years, but it's a damn fine film. Period.

Following Deadpool's surprise success as a blood-drenched comic book romp early last year, director James Mangold (who also directed 2013's The Wolverine) lets the iconic Canuck use his claws. A lot. The violence during the title character's berserker barrages during Logan  makes the action sequences in the previous X-Men films seem downright childish by comparison.

But Wolverine isn't the only one doing the bloodletting in this film. As Logan serves as protector of an aged, ill Professor X (played marvelously by Stewart, who made me feel every possible emotion during this movie), he encounters a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), who displays some traits and, well, claws, that are curiously similar to his own. Of course, comic book readers figured out who she is during the first trailer, but since her identity is a bit of a spoiler for the uninitiated, I'll simply state that she's a big deal in this movie, and she kicks just as much ass as Wolverine..

Logan's not just about ass-kicking, however, even though it excels at it. Jackman, Stewart and Keen bring to life an off-kilter road trip film that bears more similarities to No Country for Old Men or Mad Max: Fury Road than it does to. say, X-Men: Apocalypse. Heck, there's even some Little Miss Sunshine thrown in there. Not necessarily beholden to the messy continuity of the previous films or engineered to produce sequels, Logan has the creative freedom to slow things down and truly get into the minds of these characters, who find themselves incredibly vulnerable and cast aside in a world where mutants have all but vanished. I'm not certain whether this film  is a follow-up to Days of Future Past or if it exists in some as-yet-unseen alternate timeline, but this standalone story is so engrossing and the characters are so richly drawn that you won't worry about any of those things. Logan is simply a great movie. Superhero or otherwise.

You'll squirm, you'll cheer, you'll laugh and you'll cry. Boy, will you cry. Logan has a lot of competition from other comic book flicks this year, including Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,  Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman and Justice League, but all of those films will be hard-pressed to match the emotional journey this movie provides. See it, bub.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Why Ben Affleck Won't Direct 'The Batman'

Oh, DC Entertainment. You just can't catch a break, can you?

As comic book fans cross their fingers that this summer's Wonder Woman will redeem DC's cinematic universe following Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, Ben Affleck revealed that he will not direct The Batman, The Dark Knight's upcoming solo movie. He will remain as the star and as a producer on the project.

Affleck and Warner Bros. have released statements saying that Affleck stepping down was a mutual decision, and that the film will be moving forward with a different director. War for the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves is reportedly among those being considered.

Although it's easy to assume that this means that the production is troubled, it could also indicate that studio execs and even Affleck himself are being very careful with these movies moving forward. Affleck's a great director, but if he isn't right for this film or if there needs to be a course correction, it's better to find out now.

You can see a different take on The Caped Crusader in The LEGO Batman Movie, in theaters Feb. 10, and you can watch Affleck wear the cowl in Justice League this November. For more on this story, head over to Variety.com.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

What Exactly is 'The Avengers Project'?

Confession time: I'm not particularly into mobile gaming. Yes, I understand its popularity and I can get into games like Super Mario Run and Pokemon Go as fleeting distractions, but it's hard for me to devote the kind of time to them as I would console titles. I also spend enough time playing around on my phone as it is.

With the rise in popularity of mobile games in recent years has also come the pop-culture dominance of Marvel's mighty stable of superheroes under the stewardship of Disney. This convergence has resulted in no shortage of Marvel mobile experiences, such as Contest of Champions and Future Fight, but for anyone looking for a substantial, quality story-based game on a console or PC has been mostly out of luck. This year's Spider-Man PlayStation 4 exclusive is a glimmer of hope, but we want much more than we've been getting.

Square-Enix and Marvel are seemingly aiming to remedy that issue with The Avengers Project, a large-scale video game undertaking developed by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos-Montreal, the folks behind the current Tomb Raider games. The project kicks off a multi-game deal between Square-Enix and Marvel. But what kind of game or games will we be getting with The Avengers Project? RPG? Action-adventure? Platformer? Will it take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? If so, when?

Until more info is released about this exciting new partnership, salivate over this announcement trailer for The Avengers Project below.