Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “Logan,” the latest (and greatest) Wolverine flick, the time travel teen angst movie “Before I Fall,” the animated “Ballerina,” the quirky “Table 19” with Anna Kendrick and the controversial Christian movie “The Shack.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, “Logan,” the latest (and greatest) Wolverine flick, the time travel teen angst movie “Before I Fall” and the controversial Christian movie “The Shack.”
Temperament wise, Hugh Jackman doesn’t have much in common with his most famous screen role.
As the embodiment of Wolverine — a mutant blessed with miraculous healing powers but cursed with a bad hairstyle and existential angst — Jackman is the face of the character. But off screen he is as gracious as his cigar-smoking X-Men alter ego is testy.
His Prisoners co-star Terence Howard told me Jackman was, “a sweet man,” while director Josh Rothstein said the actor “leads with smiles and warmth.”
Doesn’t sound much like Wolverine to me.
When he isn’t playing Wolverine he devotes his time to charitable causes like World Vision and Laughing Man, a coffee company he established that sells fair trade coffee and tea, products farmed using ecologically friendly methods and sold for the benefit of the farmer and consumer.
This weekend he stars in Logan, the third solo Wolverine film. In the new movie the X-Men antihero makes tracks to the Mexican border to set up a hide-out for ailing mentor Professor X, played by Patrick Stewart.
This installment marks the ninth time Jackman has slipped on the adamantium claws, and will be his swansong in the role.
Having played the character for almost 18 years Jackman owns the part, bringing real humanity to the mutant in a powerful and accomplished performance.
But, as he told me in a friendly, wide-ranging and informative interview, he wasn’t always as self-assured.
“When I started acting I was the dunce of the class,” he reveals. Success in school, he says, came because of his work ethic, a trait he picked up from his father.
“He never took one day off in his life,” he remembers. “He had five kids he was bringing up on his own. If anyone deserved a day off it was my old man, but he never did. I learned that from him.
“There’s always that feeling of, ‘I have to work harder than everybody else. I’m not born Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I’ve got to just work harder and I’m prepared to do it.”
Being the youngest of five children also contributed to his outlook.
“I always wanted to do stuff and not be left out,” he says, but adds, “I was quite a fearful kid, which I hated.
“I’ve always had a fear of fear. It’s weird to think back now but drama school is a pressure cooker situation. People get kicked out of drama school. You are constantly being judged on how you are doing; are you progressing, are you not?
“Almost everyday you had to get up and do a monologue. Sing a song. Do it in front of everybody. I noticed I was always first. I never wanted to sit there waiting. I’m not saying that out of courage. It was too uncomfortable to sit, stewing. I don’t think I’ve told anyone else that.”
Later, fear of unemployment pushed him to expand his talents.
“When I came out of drama school I was like, ‘I’m going to do anything I can just to keep working.’ In drama school you do Shakespeare to movement to circus skills to singing all in one morning. I know a lot of people hated it but I revelled in it. I loved it.”
Seems hard work and confidence is the X-factor that made Jackman the most famous — and friendly — of all the X-Men.
“Logan” takes a Canadian superhero played by an Australian actor and places him smack dab in the middle of the great American movie genre, the Western. The third solo Wolverine film stars Hugh Jackman in his ninth and final incarnation of the cigar-smoking X-Man but this one is different from the others.
Set in the near future, when “Logan” begins the mutant world seen in the other “X-Men” movies has changed. Mutants are almost extinct, their greatest champion, 90-year-old Charles Xavier (Sir Patrick Stewart) is senile and his school, the Xavier Institute, shuttered. Wolverine, a mutant blessed with healing powers but cursed with a bad hairstyle and existential angst, tends to Xavier, but age and a lessening of his powers have reduced the superhero to working as a chauffeur in Texas near the Mexican boarder. “Charles, the world is not as it was,” he says ruefully.
He is drawn back into his old life when he takes a job driving an 11-year-old girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) to a mysterious safe haven in North Dakota called Eden. Turns out the youngster is a chip off the old block, a clone-daughter of Wolverine. Like her old man the silent but deadly kid—she barely speaks a word until the last half of the film—has regenerative healing powers and retractable adamantium-coated bone claws; like most adolescents she’s volatile, with mood swings and the potential for violence.
They are on the run from the Reavers, a team dedicated to the destruction of the X-Men. Led by part cyborg head of security Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), a surgeon whose father was killed by Wolverine, the Reavers are ruthless and possibly unstoppable.
Like the superhero at the heart of the movie, “Logan” is angsty and dark, a film that drips with sweat and regret. Director James Mangold tosses away the pop psychology of earlier “X-Men” outings, replacing it with something usually lacking in comic book movies, humanity. Wolverine may have super powers, but he’s never been more human than he is in “Logan.” A lion in winter, he’s a mentor, a friend, a warrior nearing the end of his run. “You are dying,” says Laura. “You want to die. Charles told me.” Sure, he can slice your head off with a flourish of his claws but this time around psychological vulnerability is front and centre, not his physical prowess.
Mangold has also done away with much of the computer-generated clutter that have become a de rigour in superhero flicks. He’s turned Wolverine’s valediction into a traditional drama. Think “Unforgiven” with claws. The character is wounded, wracked with regret for a legacy of bloodshed, a life he never asked for. It’s the kind of existential reckoning that fuelled Westerns like “Winchester 73,” “The Shootist,” “Shane” and “Ride the High Country” and while there are no cowboy hats on display, make no mistake, “Logan” is a call back to the days when antiheroes wore their wounds on their sleeves.
The movie works because Jackman digs deep. His portrayal of Wolverine has grown over the years from cartoon cut out to fully realized character. It would have been easy and probably commercially prudent to allow Wolverine to downplay his anguish and simply have him slice and dice his way through the “X-Men” franchise but Jackman rides the line. This is a violent movie that should satisfy fans hungry for action but his remorse, his regret is palpable and the character is more interesting for it.
There are echoes of other comic book tropes in “Logan.” There’s an evil Logan and an “Iron Man 3-esque” child sidekick, but it still feels like the evolution of the superhero movie. A hybrid of brains and brawn it is unafraid to call “X-Men” comic books “ice cream for bedwetters” while at the same time paying respect to one of it character cornerstones.