One of the primary reasons that James Mangold’s Logan works so well as a send-off to Hugh Jackman’s 17 years playing Wolverine is that it does the opposite of nearly every superhero movie convention expected. The end result earned critical and commercial acclaim and an Oscar nomination for adapted screenplay (a Wolverine movie got an Oscar nomination for screenplay; thought I’d say that again). More than a superhero film, Logan has more in common with the Western where an old gunslinger goes out on a final quest (more Unforgiven than X-Men).
In fact, my favorite cut of the film is Logan Noir: the black & white version of the film included as bonus feature on the Blu Ray. Denuded of a lot of the effect of the blood, the film feels more in tune with an old warrior’s final journey. But Mangold does give the fans, at the end of the film, one final berserker charge from Wolverine as he races to save his daughter and the last mutant children from the Reavers. Even that scene though, if you put him on a horse and swapped his claws for six-shooters, would be straight out of a Western. Kudos to Jackman for 17 years as the world’s favorite mutant, and to James Mangold for figuring out a way to give us a Wolverine that was off his leash, yet more true to the character’s roots than in any other film he’s been in.
Scott Cooper has turned to another venerable American genre, the western, for Hostiles, the raw and compelling tale of an embittered and battle-hardened US Cavalry officer ordered to accompany a Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their tribal lands in Montana. The flinty-eyed Captain Blocker (Bale) has seen more than his fair share of violence and bloodletting on the frontier, but this mission, which he is forced to accept, is a particularly bitter pill to swallow: Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) has been his mortal enemy for years due to a conflict that killed many of Blocker’s friends. The Chief has also lost friends in the conflict.
Setting out through dangerous territory, much of it inhabited by hostile tribes, the small band of soldiers and Cheyenne navigate the beautiful prairies and wilds of the west, while facing a series of challenges. Blocker — much like John Wayne’s character in the John Ford classic The Searchers — is a racist, a man who harbours a deep hatred towards the former prisoners now placed in his care. As the challenges mount, Blocker is forced to confront his own bigotry while carrying out his orders. To complicate matters, the ragged party is joined by a stricken widow (Rosamund Pike) who has just seen her family massacred in a raid.
Hostiles cuts relentlessly into the complex, troubled relationship between those who have lived on this land for centuries and the white intruder, posing the question: is reconciliation possible?
In 1892, a legendary Army captain reluctantly agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief and his family through dangerous territory.
Premiering last week to rave reviews at the Telluride Film Festival, Christian Bale’s first return to the Western since his classic remake of 3:10 to Yuma, directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) is desperately trying to secure a release date in late 2017 to qualify for the awards, such is the confidence in people who have gotten a look at it. The first trailer is a moody and tense promise of what could be a great story. Cooper’s come close in the past, but never really made a film that I thought was a home run, but Hostiles could change all that when it opens later this year.
Kurt Russell starred in two Westerns last year, and I’m kind of puzzled as to why I ended up seeing this before The Hateful Eight, but I like Westerns and Russell starred in one of my favorites in Tombstone, so I went ahead and checked out the buzz around Bone Tomahawk. It is, in many ways, a very traditional Western with chunks of extremely non-traditional Western…..chunks of people. Is it worth seeing? I think so, especially for the script and Richard Jenkins supporting performance, but be aware that it gets bloody in Bright Hope Continue reading Movie Review: Bone Tomahawk (2015) *I Want to Un-See That!*→
Val Kilmer has had a….varied career to be generous. Undeniably talented, the star has veered all over the map in his thirty years on the screen. What other man could have given us Iceman, Batman with nipples, a corpulent Dr. Moreau doing a Brando impression, and Tombstone’s brilliant Doc Holliday. Some people think Tombstone isn’t an awesome movie. Those people are WRONG: FACT. With Kurt Russell starring in The Hateful Eight and his critically-acclaimed Bone Tommahawk on Blu Ray, I thought we’d examine the awesomeness that is Tombstone.
Russell is great (he’s Kurt Russell), but Val Kilmer steals this movie with his lascivious, TB-stricken, gunslinger Doc Holliday. Sometimes all it takes is just one line to make a performance iconic, and Kilmer achieves that in his “I’m Your Huckleberry” scene. By the way, should I use this phrase in everyday life (and I do), you gain instant friend points for recognizing how awesome I am to randomly quote a western from 1993.