Logan, James Mangold’s conclusion to the Wolverine franchise, dispenses with a safe approach to the comic book genre in favor of careful characterization, genuine emotion, and tactful storytelling. It is an unabashed hard-R action movie bursting with violence, gore, and harsh language. But, Mangold and company employ the R-rating towards more than blood and F-bombs (though there’s plenty of each). By withdrawing the film from the purview of children spectators, Logan is able to tell a more patient and delicate story without compromise. Instead of a frenetic pace that plays down to the attention span of teenagers and rabid fanpersons, the culmination of the Wolverine trilogy adopts a more practiced approach to super-hero storytelling that rewards on every level and will encourage repeat viewings.
The underdog is an established trope in the sports film, but it is rare that the underdog is celebrated for merely his effort. Most of these kinds of stories focus on an under-appreciated team or person punching way above their weight class and de-throning the champion in a show of heart and determination. But, there are iconic examples of this kind of story where the victory is not the focus of the protagonist. Instead, the thematic elements are born from the characters showing the courage to compete against titanic odds. Examples of this kind of film range from the original Rocky and Bad News Bears, to true-life versions like Cool Runnings. Dexter Fletcher’s Eddie the Eagle is most similar in both plot and theme to the Jamaican bobsled film from 1993, but flirts with approaching the subject with a too-heavy hand in critical moments. Continue reading ““Eddie the Eagle” Succeeds in Theme, But Hits Too-Familiar Story Points”
Denis Villeneuve week nears its end with his only true American film, and the largest budget he’s had to work with to date: the kidnapping mystery/thriller Prisoners. Of all of Villeneuve’s films, this may be the most uneasy, the most challenging to watch, and the one film that is truly unafraid of exploring the depths that humanity can reach at the intersection of desperation and good intention. Its subject matter is particularly challenging for parents, as it primarily deals with the disappearance of a pair of young girls.