Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Rated PG-13: For Mild Disturbing Imagery, Mild Sensitive Content and Violence

Running Time: 106 minutes (1 hour and 46 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Adaptation, Adventure, Cyberpunk, Mystery, Science Fiction

Released on March 31, 2017 (US Release Date, Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, Arad Productions, Shanghai Film Group Corporation, and Huahua Media

Based on the manga "Ghost in the Shell" by Masamune Shirow

Writers: Ehren Kruger, Jamie Moss, and William Wheeler

Director: Rupert Sanders

  • Scarlett Johansson as Major Mira Killian / Motoko Kusanagi
  • "Beat" Takeshi Kitano as Daisuke Aramaki
  • Michael Carmen Pitt as Kuze / Hideo
  • Pilou Asbæk as Batou
  • Juliette Binoche as Doctor Ouelet
  • Peter Fedinando as Cutter

Speed Racer and Dragonball Evolution, two of Hollywood's really horrible attempts at adapting some of your fondest childhood memories, have set the bar for other manga and anime adaptions really low. Now, get ready to have one of the most beloved manga of all time receive the Hollywood makeover, but this time ... it is watchable, but still not on the "masterpiece" level. The weird thing about this movie is that I only became interested with it because of just how decent it looked, and also the whole casting controversy. I may not be the biggest manga or anime fan, with that honor going to some of my weeaboo "Suicide Squad-mates", but I do know a potentially great movie when I look at one, and this movie had loads of chances to be amazing. Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and this is our movie review of Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson. Spoilers, obviously.

What is the movie about?

In futuristic, dystopian Japan, which is strangely populated by people who are not Japanese, everyone has access to advanced technology in the form of "enhancements", bits and pieces of mad science that enable people to obtain new physical abilities and characteristics.

In this world, half-human, half-machine Major Mira Killian, played by Johansson (The Avengers), working closely with her trusted partner and confidant Bakou, played by Asbæk (Game of Thrones), under the leadership of Daisuke Aramaki, played by Kitano (Battle Royale), fights the growing crime wave as an agent of "Section 9". She has a past she cannot remember, and she feels as if she was never human to begin with.

One night, as supposed "glitches" of other memories start to surface, Mira encounters the mysterious cyber-terrorist Kuze, played by Pitt (I Origins), who is carrying a secret with regards to the Major, she must solve the mystery behind her creation, including her creators, Doctor Ouelet, played by Binoche (The English Patient), and Cutter, played by Ferdinando (High-Rise), and bring the true culprits in, but the truth might just be too much for her.

What we think of the movie?

Acting = (3/5)

Scarlett Johansson is an awesome actress, and her performance as the main protagonist features her "action lady" persona that we are all familiar with, especially from her work in movies such as Lucy and as the deadly secret agent Black Widow in several installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the Major, Johansson delivers a very decent portrayal of an amnesiac cyborg starting to lose her touch with humanity. Okay, maybe her role here is cliched, from the mysterious past to the crime-fighting present history, but there is no doubt Johansson kicked butt as the movie's "Ghost in the Shell".

Michael Pitt is known for portraying rather chameleon-like characters, as in mysterious and peculiar behaving people who are just unpredictable. His role as Kuze, a seemingly villainous figure who carries a link to the Major's strange past, is again, much like most of the characters, cliched, but Pitt still pulls-off a good job.

Strangely, I cannot seem to find the words to properly judge the performances of the other cast mates. Personally, I blame the script for not really making a lot of the remaining characters unique from already established movie tropes. Despite this, though, the actors and actresses, at the minimum, put in some effort into their performances.

Asbæk, who portrays Batou, Mira's partner-in-crime-fighting, who is apparently a dog lover, has great non-romantic chemistry with Johansson's Mira. The legendary filmmaker "Beat" adds some energy to the movie as Major's superior in Section 9, and even having a standout moment for killing the movie's antagonist. Binoche and Ferdinando's performances are good as well.

Also, Rila Fukushima is here, as a hacked robot, who gets blown to bits in the opening sequence. Come on, guys.

Direction and Quality = (5/5)

I am sensing a rather annoying trend in the modern movie-making industry, and that is spending all of the money on the best cinematographers, editors and visual effects experts in the business, and just make the story as the least priority. Yeah, there have been plenty of movies with a good story and spectacular CGI, but if you have not noticed it by now, there are a lot of blockbusters with the best special effects money can buy, but rather unpolished scripts. This movie follows that trend, sadly.

Again, the cinematography by Jess Hall, the CGI and the designs, costumes, especially the Major's "thermo-optical camouflage" suit, make-up and sets included, are very, very well done. The futuristic setting, complete with large, holographic advertisements, shines brightly, especially in the night. Although, if I were to be honest on what I really feel, I am getting a tad bit tired the same-old, same-old designs, since I have already seen the same type of structural concepts in other films set in a not-so distant future like Blade Runner, but overall, I can say that they did an impressive work with them. Besides, it is already hard to picture out other potential futures when the future is getting closer and closer.

I would like to give some praise to the people who designed the set for the "human network". I admire just how creepy and unnerving it is to behold. And the design? Wow, it is just phenomenal.

It would really be a huge disappointment if a movie with this big budget had terrible fight sequences, and thankfully, with Rupert Sanders' steady hand, even though the movie lacks screenwriting creativity, we are offered to huge tons of visually stunning action scenes, which you may or may not consider as trying too hard to be in the same style as The Matrix's segments. However, do note that the magic of the fights might be undermined by the script's many problems, which is heartbreaking. The absolute best one is the opening part, wherein the Major fights hacked civilians in a geisha restaurant, while also using her camouflage suit to crash through the window as an entrance in slow-motion.

Like I said a few times before, I have a rusty memory, almost that of Logan's, so I decided to search the score done by Clint Mansell and Lorne Balfe, and while reviewing, it is unquestionably beautiful. When you close your eyes while listening to their musical pieces, it feels as if you are in a neo-noir cybernetically futuristic world, full of advancements. Sometimes, it make you feel as if you are in a different world. Trust me, I tried, and that is just how amazing the score sets the mood for the movie.

Story, Dialogue and Flow = (2/5)

Caution: spoilers ahead! Avert your eyes, immediately!

As much as I admire the artistically exquisite cinematography, there is almost absolutely nothing that I love or enjoy about the story. Remember, I said "almost". I may review movies for a living (not really), but I would never dismiss something as entirely terrible without dissecting each part carefully.

Like I said earlier before, how the characters are written in this adaptation is far inferior than how they were portrayed in the manga and the anime works. Imagine if you combine that, by today's standards, worn-out elements established by other cult classic works of science-fiction such as the two movies we mentioned awhile back, and most especially and obviously RoboCop, and trade-out all of the philosophical themes and concepts heavily discussed in the source material, for one-dimensional and cliched characterization. It is because that all of the characters were uninteresting, and the story ultimately lackluster. We will discuss the cliches later, but let us continue further on with the story.

How Kuze's motivations are explained in the movie, which is revealed to his acts of revenge against his creators for being left for dead after being marked as a failed experiment, is predictable, and the revelation that ... spoiler alert ... Kuze and the Major, were actually Japanese (?), were close friends in childhood felt rushed.

And speaking of these two being Japanese, this feels like a confirmation to the claims that the movie resorted to whitewashing. Okay, okay, I understand that the studio is aiming for international audience appeal in the form of Scarlett Johansson, and I would let that slide, and I would also accept an in-movie explanation that the reason they changed her appearance to that of Scarlett Johansson's as a form of "corporate decision" or whatever, but no. I am okay with Johansson's casting though. There was no doubt she was great for the role. It would have been better had they retained the nationality, or better yet, had the movie set somewhere else rather than Japan, or make a different movie, because why even set the movie in Japan when there are not even that much Japanese actors and actresses. Maybe I'm overthinking this part. 

But like I said, there are some good bits. For example, as evidenced through the dialogue, we get to explore a few tidbits of the Major's struggles of not being entirely human, given her condition of being part-machine. It is a clear sign that there was some thought put into the script. The idea that Hanka Robotics, Cutter's company, is kidnapping innocents for experiments, is horrifying, and would have made Cutter a much more despicable villain had the idea been further expanded upon. The concept's interconnected network of minds, like a inter-neural cyberspace, sounds fun, as well as that part wherein people can hack through machines with their minds, but like all these three, they were not explored thoroughly.


Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment = (2/5)

Like I said, none of the characters are entirely interesting, and the cliches are everywhere, such as the Major being your "average cop of tomorrow with memory loss", Batou being the "less-serious partner", Cutter being the "secretly evil businessman treating the good guy like property", and Oulete as the "shady creator". Add that up with borrowed elements from all of the sci-fi movies we mentioned back, and you have enough evidence to label the story as "derivative", or "unoriginal".

And as expected, lead heroine recalls the past, shady figure sharing a past with the protagonist join forces to stop the main bad guy, and the rest of her colleagues work hand-in-hand to stop the main bad guy Cutter. With Doctor Ouelet dead, after helping the Major escape, Cutter unleashes hell with a "spider-tank", which is basically the ED-209 from, you guessed it, RoboCop, with a spider theme. Kuze dies, offering to have their minds joined like the one done in the anime. The disappointing about this ending is that the leading lady does not even get to kill Cutter herself, but it was Aramaki who pulled the trigger. It is not entirely disappointing, but it would make sense and would make the Major's story reach a full circle.

Overall, the movie is just as predictable as you could have guessed, and the ending, while having a fun battle, felt empty. I just hope they could have tried a little bit more. I know they did, but maybe a little bit more.

Overall Evaluation = (2/5)

Technically brilliant but narrative-wise shallow, this movie is just another expensive and boring techno thriller that unfortunately does not do its insanely popular source material much justice, but it is okay at best.

TOTAL = 14/25 (Okay?)

Scarlett Johansson's amazing acting chops are wasted on this dull and forgettable rendition of Ghost in the Shell, an adaptation that has all the style but none of the substance that made the manga and the anime versions great.


Hollywood is not gonna stop breaking fans hearts with many more, probably, adaptations, but we can always hope for a better possibility. But do remember not to hope too much, because I know how that felt while I was in Tenth Grade. Still, we have live-action versions of Akira and Death Note, with the latter to be shown through Netflix, a video-streaming giant known for some awesome programs, to wait-up for. Sigh. And with that, we end our review of Ghost in the Shell. And since we brought-up Death Note, here is the trailer, and if you are asking what I think about it, I would go with "I don't know". Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Rated PG-13: For Violence

Running Time: 142 minutes (1 hour and 22 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Adaptation, Adventure, Drama, Superhero, Science Fiction

Released on April 30, 2014 (PH Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Marvel Entertainment, Arad Production, Inc., Matt Tolmach Productions and Columbia Pictures

"Spider-Man" Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Writers: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner and James Vanderbilt

Director: Marc Webb

  • Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker / Spider-Man
  • Emma Stone as Gwendolyn "Gwen" Stacy
  • Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon / Electro
  • Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn / Green Goblin
  • Colm Feore as Donald Menken
  • Paul Giamatti as Aleksei Sytsevich / The Rhino
  • Sally Field as May Parker
Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4
Do you remember when there was supposed to be a Spider-Man Cinematic Universe? (Laughter) Good times. Good times. It feels like only yesterday when the biggest web-headed misfire Sony Pictures made was released, and up to this day, my comicbook geek mind still ponders on what could have been, given that an OsCorp funded Sinister Six movie sounds particularly interesting. Then again, it was either that or an "Avenging" Spider-Man. Am I right? With Spider-Man: Homecoming, a hopefully much better movie than this one, swinging by theaters in a few short months, we felt the need to take a look back at the movie that was much more disappointing in contrast to Spider-Man 3. Join Dateline Movies as we review, The Amazing Spider-Man 2! Spoilers ahead, by the way, but honestly, who else has not watched this three years after release?

What is the movie about?

In the aftermath of his battle on the OsCorp Tower rooftop, Spider-Man, played by Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), has cemented himself as New York City's main superhero. Despite his alter-ego's rising fame though, Peter cannot help but shake the feeling that as his life becomes more and more increasingly dangerous due to the rising number of threats in the city, including gangster Aleksei Sytsevich, played by Giamatti (Straight Outta Compton), the closest people around him, his aunt May Parker, played by Field (Steel Magnolias), and his girlfriend Gwen Stacy, played by Stone (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) would soon get entangled in his deadly private world.

One day, Peter's childhood friend Harry Osborn, played by DeHaan (Life After Beth) enters the scene with a mysterious agenda and finds himself in a power struggle for his company with Donald Menken, played by Feore (Thor), and in another, unrelated event, nerdy Spider-Fan Max Dillon, played by Foxx (Django Unchained) receives electric-based abilities, and causes trouble! It is now up to Spider-Man to save the day again, but can he?

Acting = (4/5)

Once again, Andrew Garfield, being the Spider-Fan that he is in the real world, makes the role his own, completely embodying the witty and wise-cracking nature of our spectacular spider-themed hero. His chemistry, given that they were a couple at the time (Yeah, they broke-up two years ago, but as we have seen in the recent Golden Globes event, all is good for the both of them), with Emma Stone is believable, and the duo's pitch perfect pairing gives the movie it's sweetest and the most relatable moments. Garfield's performance during ... spoiler alert ... Gwen Stacy's death was an emotional moment, which showcased his knack for more dramatic roles later on.

Like Garfield, Emma Stone's performance was top-notch, being more than just the love in Peter's love, but also his anchor, his hope, which is why her unexpected, but expected for those who read the comics and predicted this sooner, death at the hands of the Green Goblin is heartbreaking. Her graduation speech is really moving, and her performance made it more inspirational. Sally Field, as well, does a good job being Peter's trusty Aunt May, who up to this day, remains unaware of Peter's double life as a superhero.

For this certain Spider-Man adventure, we are once again introduced to three villains, Jamie Foxx's Electro, Paul Giamatti's Rhino, and Dane DeHaan's Harry Osborn, just like in Spider-Man 3, featuring the Sandman, played by Thomas Haden Church (Divorce), Venom, played by Topher Grace (Take Me Home Tonight), and also Harry Osborn, played by James Franco (127 Hours). Despite the trailers suggesting that Electro is supposed to be the real threat at hand, it was the Green Goblin that managed to steal the show. With DeHaan's already established persona as the teenage bad guy lusting for power in Chronicle, this version of the Green Goblin is creepy and seriously malevolent. I personally enjoyed how he delivered the line, "You took away my hope, now I'm gonna take away yours". It really just gets under your skin when you hear that delivery.

However, what the trailers did not tell you was that there was another villain working from behind the scenes, and is technically not clashing with Spider-Man, but rather with Harry Osborn. Colm Feore's Donald Menken might be only appearing for a very limited amount of screen time, but with Feore's aptitude for playing supervillainous, formally-attired antagonists, the audiences are left with piqued curiosities, even if his character's inclusion is painfully and obviously shoehorned into the movie.

As for our two other villains, generally speaking, I guess they did the best they could. Jamie Foxx's version of Electro is just not my type, but I will give Foxx plus points for making Electro a sympathetic character, a socially outcast slash fanboy who just want to be like his idol. However, the script rushes Electro's characterization, which makes Foxx's effort fruitless. We will get to that later, but to sum-up this cinematic iteration of the electrifying character, he seems alright, even if it is not the kind of Electro, who is notably pretty ruthless in the comics, that I would appreciate. And yes, I will agree that he is more of a shy child here than a true menace, and that is one of the many things that bothers me about the movie.

And unfortunately for Paul Giamatti, his role as the Rhino is only reduced to only two key scenes, the exact beginning, and the very ending. But despite that, we did get to see what was in store, and like Jamie Foxx, his performance does not match his comicbook counterpart's personality, substituting his sympathetic interior and cold exterior for cartoonish antics. Oh well, at least he tried, but we can always blame the one's who asked him to perform as such.

Direction and Quality = (5/5)

The movie is still entertaining in its own right, even though I still did not like the overall jumbled story at all, and at least it could have been worse, right? You can thanks the guys at the visual effects department, as well as Marc Webb's steady hand, and the crew's impressive costume design by Deborah Lynn Scott, editing by Pietro Scalia, and cinematography work by Dan Mindel, for making that happen. Also, I apologize for the editors, cinematographers and costume and production designers that I was not able to credit in various movie reviews. You guys did great job contributing to your respective movies!

Combined with crystal clear and eye-popping visuals, the flick featured a large roster of engrossing CGI-fueled battles that are not dizzying, thankfully, but are delightful to behold. My favorite would have to be the Times Square Battle between Spider-Man and Electro, as the various neon shades of the color blue light-up the Manhattan night sky, and moviegoers are treated to a superhero-supervillain battle that doubles as a visual art show.


The highlight of the film for me, however, would have to be the music. Scoring legend Hans Zimmer, teaming-up with artist Pharell Williams, Junkie XL, who together with Zimmer worked on the astonishing score for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Johnny Marr, Michael Eizinger, and even Alicia Keys and Kendrick Lamar, plus the Neighborhood and others in bonus tracks, create the sound that this flick deserves. They truly are "The Magnificent Six", although the numbering might be wrong. Besides, I am not the biggest Kendrick Lamar fan, but his rap verse in "It's On Again" was great!

Story, Dialogue and Flow = (3/5)

Spoilers. Duh!

Remember way back when,... when I said that the story of the flick is its heart and soul, and when the plot is terrible, the movie being reviewed might be in serious trouble? I do not know the exact time I said that, or posted about it, but let us just say that the plot of the movie is the biggest flaw that unfortunately weighed the movie down to the ground.

My main problem with this is the overabundance of foreshadowing that makes the average viewer question if there is even a story to tell at all. There are Easter eggs here and there, to the point that it just gets really irritating after you name drop every single character being teased in every single shot. This is exactly why Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man 2, and some parts of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is disappointing for a lot of people. Every movie should have a story to talk about, one that focuses solely on the main characters' central conflicts, and this has just a lot to juggle through, and overall, the narrative structure is as unresolved as your solutions in your unfinished Mathematics examination. Add a lot of world-building concepts, and the story is left to rot in cinematic hell. Seriously, there is not a scene in OsCorp that goes by without an Easter egg, probably, like that part showing Harry reviewing OsCorp files, a brief shot of the Vulture's and Doctor Octopus' harnesses, cameos from other future villains like Felicity Jones as Felicia Hardy, and BJ Novak as Alistair Smythe, the inclusion of disposable and unrelated plot device, and etcetera.

And like I said, the movie is trying to tell a huge bundle of sub-plots, and with the overcrowded canvas, a lot of the characters, especially the villains, are left either underdeveloped or rushed to oblivion. One noticeable rushed character development is, as previously mentioned, Electro's, who simply goes from clumsy outcast into a wannabe God in less than a few minutes just because all the cameras are pointing at Spider-Man during the Times Square face-off. Another shoehorned plot point would have to be Gwen Stacy's decision to leave for Oxford in England. You know, if her character was going to die anyway, why is there even a need to explain that she is leaving? And why is the Rhino even here? Oh yeah, "world-building".

Also, as CinemaSins, I believe, pointed out, Spider-Man and Harry Osborn could have teamed-up in helping him find a cure for his disease, given that Harry has access to state-of-the-art technology. His transformation as well is forced, as he only transformed into the villain by the climax.

Despite this, I am mostly intrigued by some of the story concepts, namely the fact that OsCorp is the source of much of the problems New York City faces on a regular basis. It would appear that OsCorp might just be more than just your average shady scientific organization, but rather a criminal empire in the making, and it really just shows as much of a devious power player OsCorp really is in the underworld. Hey, at least its is better than explaining that Spider-Man's rogues gallery came from random origin stories, but that would be nice serving as a break from the OsCorp story arc at times.

The inclusion of Gwen Stacy's death is a nice touch, which beats the usual "damsel-in-distress" cliche out of the park, although like much of the movie, it feels forced.

Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment = (2/5)

While I was patient with much of its bigger flaws, it is the ending that made me feel a little bit hollow.

I was expecting a three versus one kind-of battle, similar to Spider-Man 3. Say what you want about that movie, but the final battle was great. So when all we got was a one-on-one battle, with Electro coming first, then Green Goblin, then finally Rhino in the forms of separate and nearly unrelated fight scenes in terms of circumstance, I was disappointed. Yeah again, I know you guys were trying to start a franchise, but please, please, please focus on the story a little bit more.

In addition, the fact that the ending had no payoff to any conflict in the story at all, and even Electro's death felt empty, even though it was a fun fight, except for the electric music in the background, made this conclusion really disappointing. All we got was, yep, a set-up for a now canceled third movie, and a Sinister Six movie. The highlight of the ending is no doubt the death of Gwen Stacy, but if it were not for the performances, this movie could have been a total disaster.

Also, what is up with the X-Men: Days of Future Past teaser?

Overall, this movie is not the worst comicbook ever, but it is one of the most disappointing.

Overall Evaluation = (3/5)

Sony Pictures learns the hard way that "more villains", and "more foreshadowing" does not mean better, as this crowded and unfocused movie ended up being a feature-length teaser for movies that will never come.

TOTAL = 16/25 (Pleasant Entertainment)

Fun story concepts, engaging performances, and impressive cinematic elements, including soundtrack and cinematography, sadly cannot save The Amazing Spider-Man 2 from trying way too hard to be a franchise launching pad.

It really is a good thing Spidey is back where he belongs in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and just so you know, I am glad that The Amazing Spider-Man 3 never happened. Why? Three words: Zombie Gwen Stacy. Yep, you read that right. And with that Sinister Six movie, they planned to have dinosaurs in it? And now, they are making a Venom movie with Tom Hardy, outside of the MCU. Come on, Sony. And that is a wrap for our review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and before you leave, jam to Nerdist's Spider-Man themed parody of Bruno Mars' "That's What I Like" song. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

Logan (2017)

Rated R: For Blood and Gore, Drug and Alcohol Use, Intense Violence and Strong Language

Running Time: 137 minutes (2 hours and 17 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction, Superhero

Released on March 3, 2017 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Marvel Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Kinberg Genre, Hutch Parker Productions, The Donners' Company and 20th Century Fox

Inspired by "Old Man Logan" Written by Mark Millar and Illustrated by Steve McNiven

"Wolverine" Created by Len Wein, John Romita Sr. and Herb Trimpe

Writers: Scott Frank, Michael Green and James Mangold

Directors: James Mangold

  • Hugh Jackman as James "Logan" Howlett / Wolverine
  • Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier
  • Boyd Holdbrook as Donald Pierce
  • Stephen Merchant as Caliban
  • Richard E. Grant as Doctor Alexander "Zander" Rice
  • Dafne Keen as Laura Kinney / X-23

Nothing lasts forever, especially the great things in life such as the committed and unforgettable performances of Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart respectively as the man who is still the best there is at what the does, the Wolverine, and everyone's favorite fictional teacher, Professor Charles Xavier. While it is usually easy to poke fun of 20th Century Fox's many failures at making decent superhero movies, including non-X-Men-related properties such as Daredevil, Elektra, and most especially the four Fantastic Four strikes, which until today I cannot forgive them for, one must at least learn to appreciate their better outing such as the first two installments of the original series, the first two entries in the prequel series, and obviously, Deadpool. The movie that we are about to review for this post is undoubtedly, unquestionably the best X-Men movie that 20th Century Fox has done. It is a movie so spectacular, so brutal, so brooding, so bold, you would be praying that other studios would make their own R-Rated adventures. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Dateline Movies, and this is our movie review of Logan. Also, spoilers ahead!

What is the movie about?

A few years from now, Mutant-kind is faced with the serious threat of total extinction. The X-Men are no more, and from the ashes of the number of mutants that have bit the dust, rose a shady mega-corporation with "sinister" agendas known as Alkali-Transigen.

Two of the remaining members of the former superhero group, James Howlett, also known as Logan, or more famously as The Wolverine, played by Jackman (Prisoners), and its founder, Professor Charles Xavier, played by Stewart, are slowly and painfully losing their powers, and are hiding from the dark forces known as the Reavers, Alkali-Transigen's enhanced muscle, lead by the equally malevolent Donald Pierce, played by Holbrook (Run All Night), and Pierce's intellectual superior, Doctor Zander Rice, played by Grant (Both Stewart and Grant appeared in L.A. Story), in the property of fellow mutant Caliban, played by Merchant (Tooth Fairy).

One day while working, Logan stumbles upon the mysterious Laura, classified by Alkali-Trasigen as "X-23", played by Keen in her debut movie role, who is said to be "so much like him", according to Professor Xavier, in more ways than one. With the Reavers hot on their tails, in pursuit of Laura, Logan and Professor Xavier must now go on a cross-country road trip of death, unlock the mysteries behind the origins of Laura, and save the world the X-Men way, one last time!

What we think of the movie?

Acting = (5/5)

Hugh Jackman is the living, breathing manifestation of Logan, as much as Patrick Stewart is basically the real-world embodiment of Professor Charles Xavier, and there is no argument in the world that can counter this claim otherwise. Seeing them here in this noticeably bleaker outing, knowing that we will never get to see either actors reprise their roles in upcoming installments, is somewhat heartbreaking for me. And in their last outing as members of the X-Men film series roster, they sure do know how to go out with a bang!

Finally free from the restraints of modern PG-13 blockbusters, Jackman lets his inner animal out, and embraces the brutal nature of the crazy world that Logan is stuck in, delivering one of his best performances of his career yet! His on-screen mentor-student chemistry with Xavier, as well as the father-daughter bond between Logan and Laura, will really warm our hearts, with scenes such as ... spoiler alert ... Professor Xavier's death and ... another spoiler alert ... his own death will make you shed a bucket full of tears.

Patrick Stewart's performance here is unlike any portrayal we have ever seen before. While we are all more or less familiar with the much more sophisticated and wise version of Charles, the clearly damaged and emotionally scarred version adds a whole new dimension to the character. You will really see an all new, all different Professor Charles Xavier. One that is continuously haunted by the shadows of the past, similar to how Logan is haunted by the many skeletons in his own closet. Depicted as having Alzheimer's Disease, Charles is at his most vulnerable, and one cannot help but feel sad for what has happened to the once great Professor Xavier, thanks to Stewart's performance, no less.

Audiences everywhere are blown-away by the debut of newcomer and rising star Dafne Keen, who portrays the enigmatic Laura alongside Hugh Jackman's Logan. We rarely get to hear Keen speak, that is until we get to the near-end of the movie, but despite being not having that much lines, Keen's performance as an extremely antiheroic yet innocent, silent yet unspeakably feral next generation X-Woman is just awesome! It is one of those performances that are so good, or just as good as the lead actor's, she deserves a spin-off of her own. That one moment when she addressed Logan as her "daddy", that, right there, is just well acted.

Stephen Merchant's involvement here might be puzzling for some, including me, initially, given that he is more of a comedian than a drama actor. However, like other great comedy actors with a knack for the more serious side of cinema such as Jim Carrey, Merchant channels his inner Wheatley from the Portal 2 video game (just without any of the humor). He manages to deliver a swell, dark performance as the Mutant tracker Caliban even for only a matter of minutes of screentime, with the character making his second appearance since X-Men: Apocalypse. Also he has a hinted backstory. Maybe we could get to know him more next time around?

In terms of character development for our villains, it is pretty short, but if we are talking about performances, well, I guess we can give it a pass. Boyd Holbrook's performance as the Alkali-Transigen head of security, Donald Pierce, is overshadowed by the character's limited screentime, but his snarky demeanor and menacing appeal, brought on by Holbrook's fine acting, is enough to make Pierce a force to be reckoned with. Richard E. Grant's Dr. Zander Rice, Pierce's on-screen superior, on the other hand, while also suffering a similar fate to that of Holbrook's character in character development, is also a pretty dangerous presence.

Direction and Quality = (5/5)

Remove all of the computer-generated special-effects that we are already used to at this point, and what do we get? A series of impressively choreographed blood baths, is what. In the vein of traditional, classic action movies of the earlier decades, we can actually see all of the fighting that is happening on-screen. No flashes. No explosions, almost. No superpowers, not really. Just hardcore realism. James Mangold's direction, plus some great cinematography and costume designs, truly make this movie one of the greats.

I am not gonna lie. All of the fight scenes are really awesome, but if I am to choose which among these sequences are the highlights, I would have to choose that moment featuring Professor Xavier's telepathic seizure in Oklahoma City, wherein Logan has to fight hordes of Reavers, while he, and other civilians, are slowly being paralyzed by the telepathic blast from Charles, the Munson home invasion of X-24 (more on him later), and the final battle. Also, during the "telepathic seizure" sequence, I recall, is my most favorite simply because there is not much movement. It is strangely thrilling, despite not going around in much places.

It really is a good thing that Marco Beltrami returned to score for the movie, after his involvement in the music for The Wolverine. I enjoyed his music, as it was epic in that movie, and it totally generated the dark atmosphere of that flick. His Western-inspired take on Logan's sound was interesting. 

Story, Dialogue and Flow = (5/5)

You already know what this section contains.

Who says that comicbook movies are strictly supposed to be family outings? Certainly this movie refuses to accept that claim, given its ultra violence,  and it takes it up a notch by actually satirizing the comicbook industry by featuring an in-universe version of the X-Men's tales, which are some of the film's main motifs, to the point that Logan himself says that comicbooks are not to be compared with the reality of their situation. 

Wow. What are the odds that a superhero flick would end up satirizing its own genre? The X-Men, long gone now, and are only remembered in-print, and it is a very creative and a very fresh spin on the mythology of the X-Men that was executed finely and smoothly. Nothing says "aging gracefully" like living with the fact that you are past your prime, losing your powers, and all your fellow heroes are all dead. Wait, that sounds wrong.

Once again, similar to much of the other superhero movies out right now, like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and most likely even the ones that are yet to come, Logan deals with the existential theme of fatherhood, specifically highlighted by the father-daughter-like connection shared between Logan and Laura. Okay, I am all on-board for movies that tackle deeper themes and concepts, but let us be honest here, is there anyone in the comicbook world who does not have any family problems at all? Here, we see a daughter (Laura), who idolizes his father (Logan) for the superhero that she knows him to be. But like, and unlike at the same time, most of these movies, it is discussed well through the characters' interactions, notably Charles' lecture on family during the trio's rest stop at the Munson household. "Unlike" because for once, the father in question is not a bad guy, and did not really abandon his daughter.

I do admire the movie's putting less focus on the villains, and more on the journey that is ahead of our heroes and heroine. In a rare instance, we see the conflict of "man versus self", wherein Logan struggles with his slowly deteriorating powers and completely broken and suicidal spirit to defend Laura against all odds. Self-contained and down-to-Earth, this is a fun and deeply emotionally resonant story. While I do love the overarching story arcs in most movie franchises, it is nice to take a breath of fresh air every once in a while, and explore standalone stories.

Sure, I will admit that Logan gives me everything that I have been hoping for for a definitive Wolverine adventure, the villains are still pretty bland, as in "bland" by usual summer blockbuster standards. I am willing to overlook this one flaw just this one time, because I can acknowledge that the movie is much more focused on, as I have mentioned before, the journey itself, namely a "man versus self" kind of challenge, rather than the "hero versus villain" type of conflict.

Other interesting story aspects include the truth behind the cause of the Mutants' extinction, and the creation of artificially-enhanced Mutants. The cause behind the sudden drop in number of Mutants is Dr. Zander Rice's unnamed and unexplored power dampening chemical that is hidden in everyday consumables such as food, all to avenge his father's death, who was killed during Logan's escape from Alkali Lake. I have a rusty memory, so when I did some research to recall some details, my mind was blown. It was unexpected, and compared to our then theories, this one was a solid and justified sinister plan. Could there be a cure soon? Or maybe, could there even be some dormant side-effects for non-Mutant humans? I wish we could explore this more soon.

Continuing on the premise of Deadpool, shady figures are altering people's DNA to create their own superpowered armies, Logan takes the liberty of exploring the concept again. This just shows that the normal humans in the X-Men universe are hypocritical. First, they do not want Mutants anywhere. Now, when they are gone, they want to make their own? Given that it was the government's and private scientific institutes who created them, could there be more of them out there, besides from Laura's group?

Also, the twist that Charles is the one who accidentally killed the entire X-Men when he had another, much more dangerous telepathic seizure, instead of Logan, who massacred the team after coming into contact with hallucinogens, is slightly disappointing, since I was expecting something close to the comics, but is just as tragic to match it.

Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment = (5/5)

I was not able to mention it earlier. The entire story revolves around the heroes' journey to "Eden", a fabled location that is said in one of the X-Men comics that Gabriela Lopez, played by Elizabeth Rodriguez (Pound of Flesh), Laura's caring Alkali-Transigen nurse, read, to be located near the Canadian border, which Logan assumes is not real, but Charles convinced him otherwise since Laura believes that it does. Of course, it is real. Duh!

Finally, the Reavers caught-up to them, with X-24, a clone of Wolverine who killed Charles in his sleep and the Munson family, including the father, Will, played by Eriq La Salle (Under The Dome), and Logan is forced to rescue them, despite initially wanting to leave. With a cocktail recovered by one of Laura's friends that activates his powers, he battles X-24, Pierce and Doctor Rice, and all three end up dead, with the latter being killed by Laura with an adamantium bullet Logan kept that he planed to use to kill himself once he fulfilled Charles' wishes of living by the sea, but Logan is mauled as well.

In a heartbreaking scene, which also calls back to the scene wherein Logan vaguely learns of his future potential demise in The Wolverine, Logan and Laura embrace like father and daughter, then he dies, given that the serum only activates his powers temporarily. In a very memorable, and completely depressing closing shot, Laura and her friends bury Logan before they leave, and he changes the position of the makeshift cross into an "X", an homage to the X-Men.

No post-credits scene by the way. But overall, this was brilliant! Really, really brilliant!

Overall Evaluation = (5/5)

Flawless in every way imaginable, this brutally bloody and well-made superhero movie disguised as an on-the-road adventure finally manages to do the titular character justice with a great tale, powered by emotional lead performances.

TOTAL = 25/25 (Masterpiece)

It is incredibly relentless when it comes to its depiction of violence and profanity, and that is just the way we like it, as Logan delivers all of the things fans, and average moviegoers, could ask for from a great film such as this one!

Boy, that was a very nice cinematic parting shot! Thank you Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart for seventeen years of entertaining all of us for your contributions to the X-Men film franchise! Your performances will be forever remembered by moviegoers everywhere! Stay tuned for the black-and-white re-release of the film called "Logan Noir". Twice the grit, but it is still just Logan in black-and-white. And that wraps-up our movie review for today, and before we officially leave, here is a short film starring Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool again in a short film for the theatrical release of Logan. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!