I recently made the transition from writing movie news for other sites to writing exclusively here at Tarpley Movie Talk. I detail a lot of my thoughts here, but a big reason for the transition was I found that I was simply done with discussing and analyzing trailers. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching trailers and getting hyped just as much as the next nerd, but it was a bit much at times.
I understand why this obsession happens. If we’re being generous, we could say each year will see 12 major blockbuster/genre/nerd movies. That’s one movie a month for bloggers and YouTubers to go crazy over, but that is not enough for to have consistent content. So we turn to casting news, new images being released, Joss Whedon tweets, and yes, trailers. Trailers are a constant source of movie analysis…except we haven’t seen the film.
This results in reviewing the marketing of the film. Are they showing too much? What was the strategy behind debuting the clip on Jimmy Kimmel? How will this trailer help it’s box office chances? Look, these are all fine things to discuss (I recommended five blogs you should check out), but it wasn’t for me.
All that being said, the first trailer for Logan has been released, and I am back on the hype train and here to discuss all things speculation.
Before we jump into a discussion of the trailer, let’s recap some thoughts on the X-Men franchise as a whole. Long story short, this franchise is a mess. It can range from some of the best comic-book films released down to one of the worst movies in recent memory. At one point it seemed like two separate franchises, but then most of it was retconned to make it one continuous story. There are some highs and some lows, let me lay out where I’m coming from with all this:
X-Men (2000): This is a good movie and could be credited with starting our comic-book hollywood culture. Though Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is pretty much the main character (as in most of these films), X-Men works as an ensemble sci-fi movie. Though the action and the mutant powers are cool, 2000’s X-Men set the stage for the best aspect of this franchise: X-Men was always an allegory for discrimination. Whether it be Jews, African Americans or the LGBT community, the strongest part of these films (as it was in the comics) are when they tackle issues of discrimination.
X2: X-Men United (2003): Might just be my favorite. With everything good about X-Men and taking it up a notch, X2: X-Men United (extremely weird title here, but that seems to be a staple of the X-franchise), is a great sequel in every right. With the groundwork laid, X2 jumps straight into an extremely interesting conflict, with a worthy adversary in Brian Cox’ General Striker. The action is better, the effects are better, our characters are truly developing, and the social allegory is as well told as ever.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006): Well, good things can’t last forever I guess. Look, is The Last Stand horrible? I don’t think so. Especially when graded on the curve of some other films we are about to discuss, The Last Stand is simply a bad movie. The more serious direction from Bryan Singer was replaced by Brett Ratner (who is still trying to redeem his “brand” in the eyes of nerds). Yes, there is a lot of death and destruction and serious things in The Last Stand, but everything feels weightless and goofy here.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009): The one-two punch of continuing the weird title trend and also being one of the worst movies ever made. Seriously, what IS this thing? I don’t really drink, but if you were to do a drinking game of any kind to Origins: Wolverine, you would die within the first 30 minutes. This movie represents the worst in superhero movies: Random characters a shoehorned in, the script and effects were rushed in order to meet that Summer release date, and there is a complete disrespect for audiences (those familiar with the source material and not).
X-Men: First Class (2011): A return to form. Because the subsequent films would see Bryan Singer and Wolverine come back to prominence, First Class is the most unique X-Men film. Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service), First Class has an all new cast, a 1960’s setting, and a (properly done) light-hearted tone. Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Jennifer Lawrence are all great here, and Henry Jackman’s score is memorable to this day.
The Wolverine (2013): I’ll be honest, I don’t remember this one too much. I do know that director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma) was able to majorly correct the course after the disastrous Origins movie. I liked the simpler tale. As these movies keep escalating, it is refreshing to see a superhero movie focus in on one character’s simple story (spoilers for why I like this Logan trailer). Unfortunately, the movie does ratchet up the ridiculousness in the 3rd act, and we’re back to “mutants fighting giant robots” blockbuster territory, but we do need to give credit where credit is due. The Wolverine is a solid film.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014): One of my favorites of 2014, Days of Future Past dukes it out with X2 for best X-film. As I wrote in my Top 10 of 2014, I consider Days of Future Past to be a great science fiction film first, and a comic-book/superhero movie second. Bryan Singer masterfully returned to the director’s chair, and the screenplay by Simon Kinberg amazingly brought together the cast from both series together for an interesting time travel story. Yes, the action is good, and yes, the mutants’ powers are cool to look at, but Days of Future Past’s strength is due to the character arcs of Magneto, Mystique, and Charles Xavier.
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016): This movie is bad. Is it as bad as X-Men Origins: Wolverine? I’m not sure, the jury is still out on that one. The fact that we’re even having that conversation tells you how I feel about Apocalypse. Simply a greatest hits of all of the films listed above, Apocalypse hits every cool moment from the past (i.e. a Quicksilver scene, a Wolverine rampage scene) and lazily gives us the same character arcs we’ve seen before (they were great in Days of Future Past, they are cringe-worthy here). Lazy, boring, tone deaf, and a waste of the amazing Oscar Isaac, X-Men Apocalypse is a huge disappointment after the stellar comeback the X-films were having.
This brings us to Logan. Before this week, I was rolling my eyes at the idea of “Wolverine 3.” Don’t get me wrong, James Mangold is a good director, but I was done with the X-Men movies. Apocalypse has left a bad taste in my mouth and the two Wolverine films have combined for a net “meh,” so they would have to change things up drastically in order to get me excited for Logan.
After moving away from comic-book hype blogging and after gleefully avoiding recent trailers (I still haven’t seen the new Doctor Strange or Rogue One trailers, its great!), I don’t say this lightly: this is one of the best trailers I’ve ever seen and I have done a complete 180 on anticipating this film. I can’t believe how in love with this trailer I am, I’ve been re watching it non-stop since its release.
This looks unlike any X-Men movie we’ve seen before, but it’s also different from any superhero movie that’s been released as well. In the current age we live in, you can’t just put out a comic-book movie that goes through the motions, it doesn’t cut it anymore. Whether it be the psychedelic nature of Doctor Strange or the ridiculous nature of Deadpool, comic-book movies need to differentiate themselves from their peers, and Logan looks to be doing that and then some.
Yes, the past has been changed and everyone is alive at the end of Days of Future Past, but Logan is still immortal. He still will never be able to have normal relationships with people, he will always be a man out of time. It looks as though we have reached full on apocalyptic wasteland here. Similar to The Road or The Book of Eli, we are in futuristic western territory, and it looks to be a perfect fit for this story.
I absolutely love the fact that we are focusing in on Logan, Charles, and this young girl. That is three characters, but so much story can be told and so many themes can be explored with these three. There are two different tiers of parents protecting children, and we can expect that the three of them will have some great moments to show their acting chops.
Like Days of Future Past before it, I like how Logan is looking like a great sci-fi movie…that just so happens to have mutants in it. Whether it be the guy with the robotic arm or the random scenes of Wolverine violence, the comic-book craziness actually fits in this wasteland of a world.
Of course it is totally possible that I am being swept in the hype due to the inclusion of Johnny Cash’s Hurt (originally performed by Nine Inch Nails). I mean, you throw that song on anything and it will be great. But it’s more than just including the song, that song fits here more than any combination of music and images I’ve seen before. When we consider that Mangold also directed Walk The Line, it’s obvious that this song was chosen on purpose. Logan is at what could be the end of his life and it is clear Mangold wanted to invoke the emotion that Hurt brings up when we think about Cash reflecting on his life.
As it is with all trailers, I appreciate it on two levels. First, there is the hype factor. These two minutes have turned me around on the film. I am not only looking forward to Logan now, but it is one of my most anticipated of 2017. Second, there is appreciating the trailer as a short piece of art, and this trailer is one of the best period.
One thing I want to make clear, I am definitely drinking the koolaid and I think this trailer is showing us the quality of the film. Sometimes with these blockbusters’ trailers, they just dazzle us with action and effects, but then the film’s story is garbage. I think what we are seeing here is a clear indication of the type of movie they set out to make. It’s smaller, it is focused on the character of Logan, and they are invoking Johnny Cash.
Consider me hyped.
P.S. The fact that the film will be rated R takes a different meaning now (check out the “red band” trailer here). Before this week, the R-rating communicated “check out how cool and badass we are, we are gonna be rated R bro!” After seeing this trailer, the R-rating means so much more now. Now that they are free from trying to get 13-year old ’s allowance money, Mangold and team are free to tell an adult story. Now if that story needs some language or appropriately filmed violence, they can go there. Guys, I can’t believe how excited I am for this film, March 3rd can’t come soon enough.
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