Movie Review: Logan 

Producers:Hutch Parker,Simon Kindergarten,Lauren Shuler Donner
Writer:James Mangold
Director:James Mangold
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Dafne Keen

First let me say this movie is rated R where most MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) movies are PG-13.  And there are 200 expletives, 40 to 50 uses of the “F” word, violence, brief nudity (no sex), smoking, alcohol use, children in danger and a suggestion of children being tortured.

And if this bothers you then skip this movie, and just in case you’ve lost you ever loving mind: No don’t take any children to see this movie.

Now on to the review.  Spoiler alert.  Logan takes place some time in the future.  This isn’t the future where Sentinels fly the skies rounding up mutants.  No this is the future where Professor Xavier suffers from dementia and his powers are out of control so out of control that they can stop people from functioning to the point of death.  This is the future where Logan’s adamantine body is slowly poisoning him to death.  Where Logan is a rent-a-chauffeur trying to scrape enough money together to buy a boat to get the professor as far from humanity as possible.  And this is a future where mutants have been genetically excised from existence.  

Logan’s nights are filled with driving people to one place from another.  Along with large bottles of whiskey and pain killers.  Logan is old (170), old in face and body .  Every time he uses his claws it causes more pain to him then to the others.  That is if he can get the claw all the way out.  And when he isn’t doing that he is scamming drugs from hospital interns to keep Xavier’s seizures from happening. 

Then Logan meets Gabriela a nurse who recognizes him as the wolverine and asks for help.  He rudely rejects her and she drives off with a little girl looking back at him.  But this meeting results in a meeting with a man with a bionic hand who claims to know what Logan has been doing.  He hands Logan a card and tells him to call him if he see Gabriela again.

He does see her again and she offers him enough money for him to buy the boat for Xavier the only catch is she and the girl have to be across the border to Canada from North Dakota.  He leaves with part of the money but when he returns Gabriela is dead and the girl is no where to be found.

When he returns to Xavier he finds that he and the girl, Laura, have been talking, and Xavier tells Logan that Laura is a lot like him.  This is proven when the man with the bionic hand comes to Logan’s home with similarly enhanced men to take Laura.  Who responds by sprouting adamantine claws from her hands and feet and carnage ensues.

Logan, Laura, and Xavier go on the run. Logan stops in Las Vegas to get a new car, while there Xavier and Laura watch Shane.  Laura who has never seen a movie and has always been institutionalized gets her first glimpse of what a family is from the movie.

Later when Logan helps a farmer, who insists on giving them a home cooked meal Laura is again exposed to what a family is supposed to be. But trouble comes to the farmer and Logan, like Alan Ladd in Shane, goes with the farmer to help.  While gone the man with the bionic hand comes back with help, the doctor who created Laura and a clone of Logan.  The clone enters the house slaughtering every one in there while getting Laura and killing Xavier who thinks that the clone is Logan. Logan and the farmer return and Logan gets the girl when the farmer pins the clone to a tree with his dying strength.  Logan and the girl escape in the confusion.

This isn’t the end of the story.  There is much more.  Logan is the equivalent of DC’s Dark Knight. It is the best movie they have made and it is so different from the rest of the MCU movies that it makes me wonder if I will be happy with any of the other releases. This director has pulled out of the actors a depth of performance that is awe inspiring.  The emotional depth displayed by Stewart and Jackman has to be seen to be believed. This is a great film and to call it just a super hero movie is to miss out completely what they have done here. 

I give Logan four stars I would have given it more but the amount of expletives made me take back one star.  Go see it adults only.

Movie Review: John Wick Chapter Two

Producer: David Leitch, Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee
Director: Chad Stahelski
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane

Yes it’s once again time for that hyper-violent uber chorographed fight scene where the mundane become deadly weapons.  John Wick is back and this time no one is safe.  Wait a minute wasn’t that the last movie?

Yes John Wick is back and even though he wants to quit someone has his marker and he can’t get out of it.  And to prove the point Wick’s house is burned down.  But don’t worry the dog is unharmed.

A quick trip to Rome, (John you’re not here for the Pope are you?), and then he is dressed to kill, literally, and goes to find the target.  But it is never the case that once the job is done it’s over as the one that ordered the hit turns on John to “clean up loose ends”.  

I can honestly say that I have never seen so many head shots in my entire life of watching movies.  

Now if hyper-violent uber chorographed movies are your schtick and you can park your intelligence on some back shelf then by all means rent this movie.   Just don’t bring any children.

John Wick Chapter 2 gets three stars.  

Movie Reviews: My Love/Hate Affair with Christian Films. 

I am of two minds when it comes to Christian films.  On one hand I really long for something that speaks to the Christian worldview, something intelligent and interesting.  Something that doesn’t dumb down the Gospel but actually presents it clearly.

Yet at the same time, I have seen such stuff as well this:

Now I will admit when I first saw this as a callow youth just barely a Christian. I was fascinated.  It appealed to my ignorance about the Bible, theology, and eschatology.  And that’s one of my biggest gripes with many “Christian Movies” is the pablum they promote as Christian teaching.  Let’s take the latest Left Behind movie.  

Now no serious dispensationalist Christian is going to say that this movie even begins to explain their views on eschatology.  At the very least it is a gross caricature of what they espouse.  And yet I still have friends, who are good Christians,  and would think nothing about having this movie play in their church because they think it’s going to bring in non-christians.  Which it won’t.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Consider this movie one made by Hollywood but in my opinion more Christian than those that are supposedly blatantly so.  

Sergeant York is an entertaining and enjoyable film about the real Alvin York a hero of World War I.  Alvin York was a fighting and drinking rascal that was changed by the preaching of the Gospel.  And you see that in the movie.  The Gospel changed York, he became a Bible reading and believing man.  And because of York’s convictions regarding war and violence he didn’t want to fight in the war but rather wanted to be a conscientious objector.  But it was through the commander that he came to realize that some time to save lives you must take some lives. 

Sergeant York contains the elements that make a good film.  Its based on truth, it’s well acted, and it treats the Gospel seriously.  If we could actually get those qualities into Christian movies then we could have great Christian movies.  

Movie Review: My Top Ten Western Movies

This is my personal list of Westerns that I could spend a weekend power watching.  And I am just going to warn you now you’re going to see a pattern.  And here we go.

10.  Silverado
This 1985 movie was a throwback to the Westerns of my youth.  With a stellar cast and great direction I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time I saw it and every other times I have watched it whether on cable or slipping the DVD in the player.

9.  Stagecoach
This classic 1939 movie with John Ford directoring and a young John Wayne staring as the Ringo Kid is the classic example of the genre.  You see in this movie characters that will become icons in other western movies.

8.  Open Range
I like this movie because the chemistry between Duvall and Costner is great and it has a certain something that speaks to me regarding loyalty, friendship, and standing up for what is right.

7. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 
. John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, and Lee Marvin.  Jimmy Stewart plays a lawyer from back east who travels west to setup a law practice.  What he finds is that the west is barely civilized and law and order is more of who has the gun then what is written down in books.  Lee Marvin plays Liberty Valance the town bully and hired gun and the man who Jimmy Stewart has to stand up against.  John Wayne plays the rancher who teaches Stewart how things actually work in the west.  

6.  The Magnificent Seven (1960)

This adaption of the Seven Samurai is in my opinion the best version, way superior to the 2016 version of the film.

5. Shane

I get a lot of grief from my relatives and children for liking this movie.  But it has classic scenes in it that are a pleasure to watch especially Jack Palance’s role as Jack Wilson.  And the story of a gunfighter who is trying to change and hang up his guns only to find out that there are some roads you just can’t come back from and there is a price to pay. Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider was an unofficial remake of Shane.

4.  Bite the Bullet

I’ve reviewed this movie before but let me again state this is a classic of men and a woman battling elements, each other, in a horse killing race that shows what loyalty, and friendship means. 

3. The Searchers

Another John Ford/John Wayne film where John Wayne plays a man who is so obessed with hatred that he goes to extrordinary lengths to see it through.  This is an intense film that deserves to be on any top ten list of Westerns. 

2.  Tombstone

There have been a few movies made about the shoot out at the OK corral and the events leading up to it.  In my opinion this is the best.  With stand out performance by Val Kilmer as the tuberculosis infected Doc Holiday and Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp.

1. El Dorado

This is without a doubt my favorite western movie.  I have watched it over twenty times and can quote multiple scenes from the movie much to the chagrin of my wife and children.  There is an audible moan when I turn it on.  But the interplay between James Can, Robert Mitchum, and John Wayne is well worth the watch alone.  

And there you have it my top ten Westerns.