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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Boom! Studios’ Mighty Morphing Power Rangers - Comic Book Spotlight

            When one looks at the Power Rangers franchise without rose tinted nostalgia glasses on you very quickly realize what an absolute bizarre success story that it is.  From a completely objective point of view the series has never been what one would call “technically good”.  The acting isn’t great, the monster designs are very cheap looking and the plot very rarely amounted to much more then the Rangers fighting the monster of the week and whatever lesson the writers felt keen to teach the children that particular episode.  It becomes even more cringe worthy when you realize that the whole series was put together by a businessman as a means to sell toys with footage from an unrelated Japanese show cut together with American actors that was also made primarily as a means to sell toys to children.  But somehow, it worked.  In the 90s, kids absolutely loved this stuff and I was right there with them.  I was absolutely in love with Power Rangers for years and even though I no longer consider the show to be “technically good” I still have a lot of nostalgic attachment to the show and respect the fact that a lot of the people involved were clearly trying to make a genuinely entertaining television show for children.  Unfortunately, what we have seen of the new film seems to indicate that the creative team has lost that kind of drive.
            We’ve all seen the trailers and by the time this article has come out I am sure a lot of us have already seen the film.  We all know how angsty, joyless, washed out and cheap this whole production looks and reeks of some middle-aged business man’s idea of what the kids are looking for in a reboot because this kind of thing worked for Batman and James Bond ten years ago.  Yet for some reason they ignore the fact that this approach was an utter failure for more recent films like The Amazing Spider-Man films, Fan4stic, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman and that the joyful, unironic approach to these kind of nostalgia franchises has worked again and again.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I do not have a problem with creative teams updating a franchise for a modern audience and in truth it’s the only way that a franchise can survive over the decades.  It is, however, important for a franchise to remember just what it was that made it so appealing in the first place and it’s very clear that this new film doesn’t understand this.  But if you’re interested in a Power Rangers story that has changed with the times but manages to stay true to its source material then you need look no further than Boom! Studios’ Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers series.
            With the first issue debuting in March of 2016, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is an ongoing series under writer Kyle Higgins, best known for his work on the New 52’s Nightwing series with artwork primarily done by Hendry Prasetya.  It takes place in a contemporary Angle Grove and picks up not long after the original five rangers free Tommy the Green Ranger from Rita Repulsa’s control.  Unfortunately, Tommy is still dealing with the guilt over what he did under her control as his fellow rangers question his place on the team while dealing with their own personal shortcomings.  At the same time, Rita begins to hatch a plan to bring an ally known as The Black Dragon from another realm with The Green Ranger’s Green Chaos Energy; who promises to destroy the Power Rangers for her once and for all.
            The first thing that the book gets right are the aesthetics.  Everything about the artwork is distinctly Power Rangers but it takes enough creative liberties for it to be its own distinct thing.  The main characters, for example, are clearly recognizable as those from the show but are not portraits of the actors who played them, ultimately giving the reader a subconscious feeling that while the characters are the same they are a different version of them and can expect different things from them.  Everything else, however, more or less stays true to the source material.  The Zords, for example, have the same kind of ridged looks to them that they had in the show and it’s a design choice that a fan of the original series can appreciate.  Rita and her henchmen also retain their traditional looks but considering how distinct and iconic those looks are, this was probably for the best and it’s very clear that the creative team has a lot respect for the looks of the original series.

           Where the book really manages to distinguish itself from its source material, however, is in the writing, particularly with the characters.  As mentioned earlier, the characters are clearly those from the original show in terms of looks and personality.  As you read the book, however, it becomes clear that the writers are trying and, in my opinion, succeeding in making the characters more relatable and ultimately more human.  Tommy is, by in large, the main character of the series and most of the plot centers around his attempts to integrate with the team and the resistances he encounters in both his fellow rangers and himself.  As the book goes on it becomes clear that Rita still has some connection to him as an incorporeal vision that is constantly hovering around him, feeding his insecurities regarding his role as both a ranger and a hero and ends up arguing with his fellow rangers a lot as a result.  In particular, these insecurities lead to several arguments with Jason the Red Ranger who, as the defacto leader of the rangers, gives Tommy orders that he can’t help but contradict in order to prove Rita wrong.  Additionally, this draws the ire of Zack who still distrusts Tommy for, as it turns out, a pretty good reason that I won’t spoil here.
            Additionally we see that, in this universe at least, Billy has some reservations about being a nerd in a group that is primarily populated by jocks.  We also get info on Trini’s backstory and what she wants to do in the future, giving her some much needed depth.  The only one who doesn’t really get additional depth, sadly, is Kimberly.  For the most part she’s stuck in the role of the stereotypical overachieving, overly charismatic girl next door and ends up being a bit boring as a result.  Perhaps later issues will improve on this but for now she remains the weak length in a series that is full of otherwise well rounded protagonists.
            The antagonists are sadly something of a weak point in the book.  What few original monsters they do create lack the personality and silly creativity of the monsters of the show.  It’s also a little difficult to make Rita into an interesting or entertaining antagonist without the silly, over the top voice dub of the actresses of the original show.  Because of this missing feature, she ends up coming off as an overdesigned, stereotypical villain who wants to take over the world because, reasons.  However they do make up for it with Goldar and Rita’s new ally, The Black Dragon.  In the show, Goldar was little more than a buffoon with a cool design, much like Rita’s other henchmen.  This book, however, gives the character more depth and does so with relatively little page time.  We don’t see a lot of him throughout the series but what we do see indicates that he has a fierce, unshakeable loyalty to Rita, to the point where he is willing to lock himself in his own pocket dimension until she forgives him of his failures.  It’s the kind of dedicated loyalty you rarely see in a henchman and I’m very interested in seeing where the series takes his character from here. 
The character who really steals the show though is The Black Dragon.  While his design leaves something to be desired, he more than makes up for it through his actions.  Right from the start he proves to be too much for the Power Rangers to handle and frequently knocks them on their backs.  Every time they try to counterattack, he finds a way to outwit them.  Every time they try to run from him, he still finds a way to beat them down from a distance.  It also helps that the character has a genuine mystique to him that pays off in a satisfying, if predictable way and I’m curious to see where the creative team takes this character in the future.
The only major criticism that I have of the comic is the narrative structure.  As mentioned earlier, the writer of the book is Kyle Higgins, best known for his work on The New 52 Nightwing series and some of the problems that he had on it ended up spilling into this series as well.  In particular, as anyone who has read any of the New 52 knows, storylines had a tendency to go on for FAR too long with some storylines going on for years before they finally ended.  This is, unfortunately, what happened in this series and it doesn’t fit the franchise particularly well.  Most of the show focused on the Power Rangers battling the monster of the week while gradually building up to the imposing force that the rangers would have to battle later on.  It’s a tried and true formula that has worked for not only the various Power Ranger shows but also many other comic franchises and other television shows as well and allows for a new audience to easily access the material as well as rewarding longtime for their loyalty.  Boom! Studios’ version of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, however, opts to skip out on all the buildup and focus the entire plot on the mysterious big bad, the traditional villains’ attempts to summon him, what he does when he arrives and the consequences everyone suffers for beating him.  It’s not poorly written by any means and the big twist at the end of Issue #9 is well earned but it’s the one area that the book fails to really feel like a Power Rangers story.  It’s not a deal breaker by any means but it is a noticeable distraction.

All in all, this comic is great.  While I do have some issues with the way the plot is structured and the fact that Kimberly doesn’t get much development within the series, it’s still an all-around solid read.  The story is fascinating, the artwork is fantastic, and the creative team managed to succeed in making these characters feel real and relatable in ways that the show was never able to do.  The new live action Power Rangers film may not look particularly good but if you want to see a modernized but uncompromised take on the original characters, check this one out.  You will not regret it.

So until next time, please Like the Nerd Hub Facebook Page, check out The Nerd Hub Facebook groupFollow us on Twitter and be sure to check out my own personal blog, Trey’s Take On…as well as giving my Facebook Page a Like, checking out my new Patreon Page and checking me out on Twitter.  Until then, let's hope this series can keep the Green Chaos energy flowing through the series.


Written and Edited by: Trey Griffith. Co-Edited by: Jack Flowers. Published by: The Nerd Hub

All Images courtesy of Boom! Studios.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

TNH Roundtable: Mid-Season Reviews - The Flash

          With the season now mid-way through, some of the TNH Staff decided to sit down and discuss the shows and our thoughts on each series individually as well as the network's franchise as a whole. What are they doing right and what are they doing wrong? Where have they been and where could they be going? We are going to visit this now, and when the seasons end we are going to come back to re-discuss and compare. For now, check out some of our analysis' and theories in the 4th of this 9 part series and then let us know what your thoughts were in the comments below.

Please note that due to technical difficulties this and other articles were prevented from being published at their original dates. This article was written February 25th, and only takes account up to episode 2.13; "Attack On Gorilla City".

The Flash


          The Flash was a signal of what was to come. A new slate of comic book shows had been introduced every year since. The CW network has led the charge in this initiative by being the only channel taking part in the new additions each year since. The Flash was one of the first shows that stuck to the source material and proved that they didn't need to be changed to be accepted by the masses. The Flash went head to head with Daredevil and Constantine for the top spot in a year of television that had reshaped the medium and raised the bar. This is the show that allows us to hold others like it in such high regard; That allows us to stop saying, "well, it's just a comic show, it did okay for what it is". So, it would only be right to continue to hold this show to a higher accountability than most, and with its second season, it did just that. It held the bar, and to some, raised it even higher. Now, with judgment so high on its third season, it would be easy to be seen as being more faulted than it really is; It would also be easy to follow suit of Arrow's third season and have a steep decline in quality. The TNH Staff sits down to determine whether or not it has. Can we safely say that The Flash is on the right track to another successful season?

The Flash has set some heavy expectations for even itself. Have they live up to them this season so far?

Witt- I think that the series has done the best out of the current 5 DC television series -including Gotham- in maintaining the quality that it started with 2 years ago. That's not to say that the quality hasn't dipped as far as character dialogue, episodic storylines, effects, and overall creativity.

Marlon- I think The Flash is moving along just as well as ever. I'm really enjoying this season.

Remington- It is definitely moving slower and with less fluidity, but it's still very good and reasonable.

Jack- Each season of the flash has started off slow and more lacking than its second half; so the decision on that question for me would have to come after a final product. I do think, while the show is good, it needs to improve on a lot of things to finish stronger than the previous two seasons.

What are your thoughts on Savitar so far? Can they improve after such a high caliber speedster? Was he the right choice? Finally, are they using the character properly?

Witt- Once again the show is starting to rush through its storylines and plot devices and the main antagonist is yet ANOTHER speedster, only this one looks like a Michael Bay Transformer now. Which in step with "Zoom" goes COMPLETELY against the character as he appears in the comics. Savitar is supposed to be a human who runs a cult of followers and uses their blood for blood sacrifices to siphon off speed from the Speed Force and fancies himself a god, but he's not ACTUALLY a speed god.

Remington- I think that Savitar is being used better than Zoom. He is really getting personal with Barry and making him feel like he can't win through mind games and his loved ones.

John- Personally I like Savitar, I just think this character could have been saved for a later season because it is going to be hard to top.

Jack- They are really making this guy seem like an actual god which not only keeps to what he is but makes him such a high caliber villain that they won't be able to top it or provide the right story to execute him properly. Hopefully, there is a curveball with this guy's story that makes it all fall together.

Next season do you think they should bring in another speedster or go a different route? Do you think they could pull off bringing in the entire Rogues Gallery for next season's main Antagonist's

John- I think the Rogues Gallery would be perfect next season but they would need to be aided by a speedster, as "Team Flash" has access to at least 4 of them. I think Johnny Quick being this Speedster would be a great way to introduce Impulse as an Amnesiac speedster from the future.

Remington- I actually like speedsters as the main villains, the result has been very satisfying. having the Rogue Gallery work properly in a season wide format would be too messy.

What are your thoughts on the portrayal and progression of Wally West and Jesse Quick? 

John- Without seeing any of Jesse's training on earth 2 or any stats on her powers it's hard to comment. Is she getting faster quickly like Wally or slower like Barry? Can she phase running at full speed or only going slow? Wally, on the other hand, it's good to see him getting faster all the time, it shows how much effort he is putting in, but I don't think he should have phased yet. They should be saving that for when he has to save iris.

Witt- Arguably the most disappointing aspect of The Flash for me has been the often rushed episodic storylines and rushed character development for characters such as Wally West and Jesse Quick. We get very little sense of their trials and tribulations in training and learning how to utilize their speed like Barry did over the course of season 1. It feels like at the beginning of an episode they don't know how to do a certain skill, but within the 42 minute run time of the episode, they figure it out all too easily.

What are your thoughts on Caitlyn's struggle to hold back Killer Frost?

Remington- I think the Killer Frost side plot is pointless and doesn't really add much to the show. side plots should play into the way main plots play out more. The plot has so much more potential than it executes, so either fix it or ditch it.

Marlon- I think this side plot show an important lesson in comics and life. You either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain. This can end up having a bigger play in the end but for now, is just influencing decisions made by "Team Flash".

John- I really don't know what to think about this topic right now. I like where they have gone, but then again I don't. Originally I thought they were going down the route where she's a vampiric type being that needs to feed by draining off others body heat and firestorm would be the only one able to neutralize her. That would have given the plot so much more depth. I don't like how they just have her instantly become this person every time she uses her powers. We don't really know how she got her powers either. She just had them after Flashpoint. Was it Alchemy? Was it a latent reaction to the particle accelerator? The problem with The Flash is they change things to suit whatever they wanna put in a particular episode. "Oh, let's just change the rules of time travel, no one will notice."

Do you think they will let Iris die and do you think this is a good plot driver?

John- I don't think they will let her die, but does it really matter if they do? They can just find a way to bring her back or grab another Iris from another earth. *Laughs*

Remington- I don't think they will let Iris die, she is too important of a character to Barry's story. However, I do think that someone equally as important to the audience is going to die.

Witt- What I will give them big credit for is the creative idea to use the future death of Iris as a driving plot point that the team works to prevent from happening. It's something fresh that creates great emotional weight between the characters during their dialogue. That was one of the best aspects of season 1; the heart that was conveyed through dialogue, whether between Barry and Henry/H.R./Harrison or Barry and Joe or any of the other characters.

What does The Flash need to do to avoid a quality dip and top the previous two seasons?

Witt- I'm pretty disappointed with the apparent drop in quality of special effects. This had been quite noticeable across all the DC show currently on the CW network. I'm not sure if they share their effects budgets or if the effects teams are just so over-worked with the sheer amount of effects demanded of all four series' currently under their wing, but the quality is far more substandard from what we'd seen in the previous seasons. The figures look more rubbery and fake. A great example would be this past week's episode with The Flash fighting Solovar in the arena.

Remington-  I think the series is already working the way it needs to. They just need to stay on the same path and not try to do anything too much for them to handle and mess it all up.

In conclusion, while The Flash has much going for itself, they still need to do a few things to ensure they overcome the bar oh so high bar they have set for themselves. It's safe to say that most would agree that this has the potential to be the longest lasting growth any comic book show has seen yet even compare to Marvel/Netflix properties which have seen a sharp dip with Luke Cage, and from early reviews, Iron Fist. Do you think The Flash can pull it off yet again? If they do it will no doubt be by the hair on their chin. Not because of fault, but due to the challenge of surpassing their own feats.

Stay Tuned for our next installment of this Roundtable Review series where we give our Full-Season Thoughts on Arrow.

Be sure to Follow us on our Twitter and our Facebook Page, Join us in our Facebook Group and Subscribe to us on Youtube so you can be there for our upcoming projects.


Written and Edited by, Jack Flowers. Edited by, Trey Griffith. Contributions from Marlon Ortega, John Ayre, Witt Reese, Remington Keyes.


This article was Sponsored by  Geek Vibes.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

TNH Roundtable: Mid-Season Reviews - Supergirl

          With the season now mid-way through, some of the TNH Staff decided to sit down and discuss the shows and our thoughts on each series individually as well as the network's franchise as a whole. What are they doing right and what are they doing wrong? Where have they been and where could they be going? We are going to visit this now, and when the seasons end we are going to come back to re-discuss and compare. For now, check out some of our analysis' and theories in the 3rd of this 9 part series and then let us know what your thoughts were in the comments below.

Please note that due to technical difficulties this and other articles were prevented from being published at their original dates. This article was written February 25th, and only takes account up to episode 2.13; "Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk".

Supergirl


          Supergirl was the show that nobody asked for but has grown on us by doing things that no other show will. Supergirl showcases a slew of characters that dives deep into the alien roster from the likes of Indigo, Jemm, and Martian Manhunter. It shows the world what comic fans already knew, Clark Kent is not the only one who can wear the "Symbol of Hope". The first season, despite a slow start, had been on a steady but narrow uphill climb since launch. This season came with high hopes after news that the show would be moving from CBS to The CW amidst Flashpoint. While those hopes were not entirely met for good as much as poor reason, the show continued to win fans over through the introduction of more fan favorites like Metallo, Parasite, Mon-El and Miss Martian, but both seasons came with as much scrutiny as they did praise. Some characters, as well as plot decisions, didn't go over as well as the showrunners had likely hoped. Character portrayal and plot paths are normal issues, but Supergirl has introduced another problem that came with good intent. Since the very beginning, Feminism and Equality were something Supergirl promoted in its script. However, they initially did so with grace in the first season mostly in part to Calista Flockhart; whereas many have felt these things being force fed in the current season. While new issues have arisen, old issues have been to put to bed, and some issues will always waiver,  the question still stands. Is supergirl on the right track to a successful season?

Supergirl made a network move this season and people are keeping a close eye on the differences between this season with The CW and the last over at CBS. Do you think the move has done them well? Have they made an improvement over the last so far?

Marlon- Absolutely, big time difference. You can just feel the change, and it's for the better. I think the move to The CW really helped.

John- )This season started out great but has recently been on a decline. The loss of Cat Grant (Lockhart) and Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli) has been noticeable, but it's not detrimental. I think that it's the writing or the direction that may be the issue.

Witt - Putting aside the fact that the entire show is a carbon copy of the Superman story, I have to say that or all of the CW shows it feels like production budgets have been chopped in half and everything is just feeling written very lazily. I know I am not within the primary demographic for Supergirl, but I do not feel that this is a series that is universally inviting. Supergirl has always had this issue, so it's hard to judge, but when I watch Supergirl I feel like I'm watching a 90's episode of Power Rangers, and not in a good way. Everything feels extremely dumbed down to a child like audience with rudimentary dialogue that feels like it was slapped together after one try. The storylines feel rushed with little effort put into them, and it's all very "by the numbers". It's almost as if the writing staff does a pitch a single pitch and that's what they use. The closest comparison i can draw is the 1990's series, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Lazy, campy and integrating very small portions of the comics that are not utilized in the proper context.

It seems that without any explanation they have completely abandoned the idea of rounding up Phantom Zone prisoners....What are thoughts on that?

Marlon- I completely forgot about those prisoners.

Remington- They probably decided it was a plot that was going nowhere and decided to change it.

John- Regardless of their reason, they should have at the very least tied that arc off.

Jack- I think having a fall back plot like this is essential. Perhaps with all of the other arcs this season it became irrelevant and the reason they didn't tie it off is so they can return to it. However, I can recall a couple instances this season where they should have used it instead of pushing romance, but hey, it's The CW.

Which brings up our next topic; Is the romance being pushed too hard? Does Maggie's relationship feel forced, and is Mon-El's potential being put at risk?

John- Maggies gay and there's nothing wrong with that at all, but we don't need to know the in's and out's of everything. I don't need to hear sister talk. They could just show the end of it with Maggie hugging Kara and saying thanks for listening, or just show Maggie on a date. We don't need to know they spent their first night together or any of that. She's Gay!! We know. We're cool with it, move on to a bloody fight scene!

Marlon- Way too many forced relationships, more so than there ever was on CBS.

Witt- Everyone on the show is supposed to be in their early 30's, but they all act like they're in freshman year of high school! The stupid relationship drama drives this series to the point where i feel like only pre-teens girls would be interested in watching this show, so it alienates a massive chunk of your audience. It feels like a Power Rangers show that was written by 12 year olds who think that that is how adults speak and react to situations.

Jack- Kara went through several relationships in the first season, fine, she is the main character. I'd rather see less, but whatever. And while I don't mind other characters having a relationship, We don't need 80% of the showtime focusing on everyone's relationships. They need to remember who they main character is and what she does. We almost had J'onn and M'gann, We got Mon-El and Kara left and right, Maggie and Alex are half the show now, and now we got Winn about to dive into a relationship with an alien. Enough! I thought I was watching Supergirl!! Lastly, I'm worried about the teased arc for Mon-El that shows much potential for the character being dumped to make room for more unnecessary romance.

Is James Olsen still necessary to the show or has he just become a waste of air time?

John- James Olsen is no long a necessary character to the show. Season one, maybe, but now he justs gets in the way. I think the Guardian is necessary, but a new character would have been better. This may be because I've never been a big Superman fan and thought his character was useless in the comics, but the way they wrote it in the show is what matters.

Remington- Waste of air time! I don't like him. Not a bit. Useless. Pointless.

Jack- I truly believe that James Olsen has become a waste of air time. He was necessary for the first season, but he's been written out. The Guardian is also unnecessary. This was their way of giving him a new reason to be in the show by trying to bank on a request for Arrow's John Diggle. The Supergirl show writers have failed this show. Cut him now!

Are they using Martian Manhunter properly? Is he receiving enough screentime? Is it too much?

Remington- They are using him about the same as any of the other heroes. Take what you will from that.

John- MMH is an extremely powerful being and by using him this way they could do it without over-shadowing Supergirl while still having J'onn at full power and potential

Marlon- Showing him a little too much. With all of the other distractions, the little showings are just as bad for the plot. This is Supergirl, not Supergirl and Martian Manhunter.

Witt- If I'm being completely honest, my favorite aspect of the show every since the first season has been J'onn J'onzz, The Martian Manhunter. The episodes that have featured him and focused on his story/backstory have been the best of the series because it has been very loyal to the source material.

What does Supergirl need to do in the future to ensure a successful second season, and what can they take with them to future seasons?

John- I think a major issue this season has been the significantly lower quality villains compared to last. We need to see a really powerful villain that Kara can't take down without help.

Remington- They need to keep it up with the Superman arcs., even a cameo or two. They are fun, and she grows as a hero, and as a person, more than usual.

Jack- Less romance. Less unnecessary characters and plots. More Appearances. Easy on the propaganda. Test Supergirl with each episode and have her grow. Enough with every episode trying to emphasize girl power by her yelling at people that she doesn't need their help. Show us! Show us you don't need their help! Learn that you do because everyone needs help. Don't just act like MHM didn't swoop in and save you. More through action rather than now repetitive dialogue. Doing is far more effective than telling.

          So as it turns out, while Supergirl has replaced some old issues with some new, they are still on the right track. However, that train they are riding is shaky. They need to really take care of these issues before they snowball. Small fixes. Keep up what's working and ditch what's not, and it should be a successful season in the end. Here's to "Hoping".

Stay Tuned for our next installment of this Roundtable Review series where we give our thoughts on The Flash.

Be sure to Follow us on our Twitter and our Facebook Page, Join us in our Facebook Group and Subscribe to us on Youtube so you can be there for our upcoming projects.


Written and Edited by, Jack Flowers. Edited by, Trey Griffith. Contributions from Marlon Ortega, John Ayre, Witt Reese, Remington Keyes.

This article was Sponsored by  Outright Geekery.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Logan: A First Reactions Review



           Last night, long-time X-Men and Wolverine movie lovers in New York City were treated to an early screening of the much awaited "Logan".  I was fortunate enough to get access to the screening and to put it lightly, my expectations were high.  After all, this was going to be Hugh Jackman's FINAL appearance as the iconic character that he has been bringing to life for over 17 years and 8 films.  This was a film I was ready to judge harshly:  Would it fizzle out as X-Men: Last Stand and X-Men Apocalypse had?  Or would it rise to the high esteem of The Wolverine and X-Men: Days of Future Past?  I'm happy to report the latter!  As a lifelong fan of the character, I have been waiting as everyone has for the perfect Wolverine story and this might be it in my book.

            Over the years since 2000, Hugh Jackman has been the quintessential Wolverine/Logan/James Howlett that has been as identifiable and fan-beloved as Christopher Reeve as Superman or Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.  Over the course of 8 films, Jackman has had the opportunity to play the character in different mindsets, different eras, and taken him on several different arcs.  While some of his outings as the character have been better than others, no one can dispute Hugh’s love for the character or his commitment to always bring audiences the best adaptation of the character that he can.  And I can say, unequivocally, this is Hugh Jackman’s single best performance as the character in “Logan”.  Over the past 17 years, Jackman has always understood that the essence of this character is always wrapped in tragedy.  Even if we may get to see him expressing humor or experiencing happy moments in his life, he masterfully shows a sense of the tragedy he has experienced throughout his life while also waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop and for things to go bad again and that is what has made this character so interesting to keep coming back to in every new installment in the X-Men franchise.  Of course it’s cool to see him beat the snot out of guys in action sequences, but it’s how his journey constantly evolves and takes him to new emotional depths and getting to see his character be bent and in some cases broken that has kept audiences so invested in his story.  “Logan” is the 17 year pay off for this character and does not disappoint.



            In 2013, The Wolverine debuted and was, for me, the best film of the X-Men franchise because it did what I feel Superman: The Movie and Batman Begins had done before it:  It told a story that was completely in service to the character.  And Logan follows in these footsteps even more so.  To keep this as spoiler free as possible, I will provide only a slight gist of the plot:  The film takes place a few years after the future sequence at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past.  The world is a much gloomier, darker vision of what we thought it would be at the end of Days of Future Past and Logan is the sole caregiver to Charles Xavier.  Logan is no longer the reluctant hero who hates and fears what he is and the people he could hurt.  He’s literally given up on hope and is just looking to live out the rest of his days until he ultimately dies.  He’s not angry, he’s not frustrated.  He just doesn’t care, and this sets the stage perfectly for where the story takes him and how his character will go through an extremely profound change by the film’s end.



            The supporting cast in Logan is arguably the strongest I’ve seen of ANY X-Men franchise film.  Every performance is so solid and well performed that I literally cannot find any fault or different castings that I would have preferred.  The biggest thing is that I did not feel any character was superfluous and unneeded.  While this is very much Hugh Jackman’s movie, the two performances that stand side-by-side with his would be Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier and Dafne Keen as Laura Kinney/X-23.  Stewart’s performance really stands out because we see Charles in a physical and mental state that we have never seen his character in before, and it’s the bending of these characters almost to the point of breaking that will leave audiences so emotionally invested in their journey over the course of the film.  And I really do not want to spoil anything for anyone, so all I will say is that I truly believe this will leave millions of audience members across the world becoming huge fans of X-23.  The team of antagonists led by Stephen Merchant is also very strong and compelling as they do not steal the show, but help the story to unfold and progress naturally.



            Okay.  Now let’s address the elephant in the room:  The action.  As everyone knows by now, Logan is the first R rated film that Wolverine has been in.  While we’ve seen gory elements with the Extended Cut of “The Wolverine” and seen some dicey moments from him in “X-Men: Apocalypse” and other films, it goes without saying that “Logan” takes it to a WHOLE other level.  The best I would compare it too is “Deadpool” as far as the blood, gore, and dismemberment, but “Deadpool” uses it far more humorously so it doesn’t resonate with you as harshly what is happening to the people he’s killing.  “Logan” pulls no punches when it comes to the brutality of the action sequences, but I want to make it very clear that the movie doesn’t just do this to abuse the R rating.  While the violence can be a bit overwhelming at times during the course of the film, I feel that it does work in service to the particular story they are trying to tell with the character in this go-round.  Wolverine has lost so much at this point in his life that he literally has no hope and absolutely zero sympathy for anyone else other than Charles and Laura, and his brutality speaks to this.  I truly believe that this will be the level of Wolverine-action that fans have been waiting to see for 17 years.  With each new installment, Wolverine’s fights have gotten closer and closer to the character in the comics and until Logan, I think “The Wolverine” came the closest.  But Logan seals the deal and gives us the definitive Wolverine action we’ve all wanted for so long.

            For the fans out there hoping Logan is going to be a straight up adaptation of the comic storyline “Old Man Logan”, I would say don’t go in with that expectation.  This film utilizes certain elements of that story, but crafts a completely new and original story that I dare say you may end up liking even more.  We still get that classic Western-style genre film in this, but this is very much a story that is in service expressly to the character of Wolverine and finalizing his journey.  And on that level, the film executes that perfectly.  I do not believe we could’ve asked for a better and more emotional final outing for Hugh Jackman as this beloved character.



            I just want to end this review with this:  generally, I don’t like reviewing a film right after I’ve seen it.  I feel a lot of us walk out of comic book movies in the “honey moon” mindset.  We romanticize a lot of things and tell ourselves that a movie is far better than they are because we are so jazzed up from the movie we just got to experience.  I really like to watch a film 3-4 times before I cast judgement, but I know that a lot of fans out there are anxious to know how good the film is and since I got to attend a special early screening which Hugh Jackman was present at, I wanted to share my experience with you.


            I sincerely hope this First Reaction Review has made you feel good about the film and more anxious than ever to see the film.  Remember, Logan opens everywhere March 3rd.  Snikt snikt!


Written and Edited by: Witt Reese. Co-Edited by: Jack Flowers. Published by: The Nerd Hub

All Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox

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