This movie is still R, despite the fact that it is now in black-and-white.
DIRECTOR: James Mangold
We'll see if this is a full review or a mini-review. After all, I've already reviewed the colorized edition of the movie, so if you want the real poop on this movie, read that. I'm just reviewing to see if watching it in black-and-white changed anything. The really short version of this review: I guess?
Logan is a better movie than I gave it credit for initially. Yes, it still has the problem with being wildly juvenile. The movie loves the f-bomb like a kid hosting a party with the girl he likes there when his parents are out of town. He feels really comfortable with it. But the movie is really solid. Okay, you can't take my wife's word for it on this one. She discovered this new Facebook group and all of the sudden, all movies got way more dumb because she's reading posts about different diet tips. But I suppose that once I gave up trying to impress her with the movie, I tended to find a lot more of a silver lining than I did the first time. It's bizarre that my brain watched this movie the first time thinking of the potential time that she would be watching this later. Yeah, I'm that in my head all of the time. But the movie has more heart than I gave it credit for. Yeah, it is a tonal copycat of The Last of Us, but The Last of Us is really good and trying to adapt that would be a huge mess. Instead, we have a risky X-Men movie and I can live with that.
When Frank Darabont did The Mist in 2007, he really wanted to make it in black-and-white because he said that was what the movie called for. The studio butted heads with him pretty hard, as they are wont to do when it comes to Frank Darabont, and he caved. The studio realized the color version and he was only allowed to show his original vision on DVD. That black-and-white version of the movie is perfect. You can tell that he was filming it with a very specific look to the movie and that the color version kind of cheapens that. I don't know if James Mangold had the same idea in his head. When the first images for Logan came out, they had the monochromatic look and it was awesome. The poster, too, had a monochromatic feel to it and the entire publicity campaign kept screaming The Last of Us. (I know that this is a film blog for a film class, but if you haven't heard of The Last of Us, take a look. It is beyond coincidence.) I would love to think that Mangold had that artistic integrity that he went against the studio system and lost. I don't know the backstory there, but the black-and-white version does somewhat tell a different story than the color version of the film. I saw the same thing happen when AMC re-released season one of The Walking Dead without color. There is something simpler and darker about what the movie was about. The cool thing about these movies coming out with the color removed is that it seems like the post-production team spent quite a bit of time with the saturation and the focus on achieving a true black. A lot of this movie is a bummer and the movie just gets that much more disheartening without the color palate to support it. For the most part, it works. I admit, the first few minutes of the movie, I was leaning towards Logan Noir as a gimmick, but some of the sequences really pop with the shades of gray. Nature plays a more important role when the bright blue has been removed. Hugh Jackman looks more torn up and more world-weary with the color removed. The movie has a richer feel at times.
But I don't believe that this was every Mangold's belief. I believe he thinks it's cool, but I don't know that he filmed it to be black and white. Two scenes really suffer from the color palate removed: the phone documentary and Las Vegas. Vegas is one of the coolest scenes in the movie and the colors of Vegas are such a contrast to the exhausted Logan and Xavier that this scene feels very artificial. To add insult to injury, this location is also where Xavier shares Shane with Laura. Shane is this movie that has this fantastic Technicolor feel to the movie and to wipe the color from that scene makes the movie seem less than it actually is. The phone documentary is also problematic in the main movie, but screams even more artificial against what should seem simplistic. Monochromatic perhaps seems to be the way of old. I like the focus on character in black and white, which may seem silly. But think of a movie like The Matrix with all of the color gray instead of green. Logan drives around in older cars, with the exception of his quickly savaged limo. The world screams the old age of the future. There's nothing apocalyptic about the setting of Logan, with the exception of the missing mutants. But the movie has that post-civilization feel where black-and-white really plays well. Anything that reminds me that this is actually a science fiction film that must take place in the future reads very contrary to the color. That's why scenes like dinner with Eriq La Salle's family reads so well with the color removed. It is a scene about characters, not science fiction. So a lot of it works, a lot of it doesn't.
I don't think that I wrote about this the first time I wrote about Logan, but I saw a video comparing Logan to Children of Men. I thought the video was garbage and I thought that the choices were superficial at best. But they are related. I don't know if anything is intentional, but the parallels are definitely there. I love Children of Men and Logan is no Children of Men, but I do think I'll probably watch Logan more often. Yeah, I'm a bro sometimes. Logan is pretty darned great and it probably is one of the best X-Men movies, but I still have to see it for its flaws...which includes its lack of originality at times. By-the-bye, I don't think I realized that James Mangold also directed The Wolverine, which probably shows his love for the character. It's kind of amazing that both these movies were made by the same man because they have a very different feel to them. I definitely think that this movie couldn't have existed without Deadpool to carve the way because I don't think that James Mangold would have had the freedom he wanted had it not been for a successful R-Rated superhero movie in a parallel franchise.
Anyway, so much for a short second review...
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.