REVIEW: THE GIFTED – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Stephen Moyer (True Blood)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Sean Teale (Reign)
Natalie Alyn Lind (Gotham)
Percy Hynes White (Rupture)
Coby Bell (Burn Notice)
Jamie Chung (Office Christmas Party)
Blair Redford (Satisfaction)
Emma Dumont (Aquarius)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Hayley Lovitt (Ant-Man)
Toks Olagundoye  (The Neighbors)
Joe Nemmers (American Crime)
Jeff Daniel Phillips (Westworld)
Elena Satine (Revenge)
Garret Dillahunt (12 Years a Slave)
Sharon Gless  (Cagney & Lacey)
Jeffrey Nordling  (Nashville)
Zach Roerig (The Vampire Diaries)
Michelle Veintimilla  (Gotham)
Frances Turner (The Exes)
Danny Ramirez (Assassination Nation)
Skyler Samuels (Scream Queens)
Raymond J. Barry (Falling Down)
Ray Campbell (Breaking Bad)
David Norona  (The Mentalist)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

What ingredients are necessary for a successful show about powered individuals? Cool abilities? Flashy visuals? Likable characters? Interestingly, Fox’s The Gifted manages to have them all despite following some formulaic paths to tell its story. Any worries viewers might have about the young, good-looking, CW-like cast should be tossed aside. Everyone from the headstrong but calculating mutants to the strangely sympathetic government enforcers to the argumentative but caring siblings in the Strucker family have levels of complexity not often seen in comic book shows.It helps that there are powers on display right away that we haven’t seen on previous superhero-as-outcast shows. Of particular interest is Jamie Chung’s character, Claire a.k.a. Blink, whose ability involves creating writhing purple portals that allow her to travel instanteously from one point to another. Having her character join the Mutant Underground as someone still new to her abilities is something we’ve seen in shows like The Tomorrow People or Alphas, but that trope is usually reserved for the main character. Here, her burgeoning powers and escape from the law are merely used to set up one of the big motivations for the mutants to come out of hiding.The Gifted’s main story, arguably, revolves around the Struckers, who live in a world where anti-mutant laws are in effect and the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants have gone off the grid. Public fear of the dangers of super-powered individuals has led to strict government control and prejudice in the form of derogatory terms like “mutey.” Reed Strucker, played powerfully by Stephen Moyer of True Blood, helps prosecute those mutants who use their power to break the law, and the initial concern that he and his wife (Amy Acker of Person Of Interest) share centers around their son Andrew, who’s being bullied at school almost to the breaking point.Viewers can probably guess what happens next, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch unfold. The irony of Reed working against mutants and then finding out about his son’s powers being awakened by the strong emotions associated with abuse by his peers is richly nuanced and informs everything the family does afterwards. There are some surprises for the family along the way as well to sweeten the pot, but as Reed seeks help from the Mutant Underground, his discoveries concerning the Magneto-like Lorna a.k.a. Polaris (Emma Dumont of Aquarius) provide a pleasantly paradoxical reluctance and incentive for Lorna’s boyfriend, the light-manipulating Marcos a.k.a. Eclipse (Sean Teale of Reign), to help the Struckers.What they’re escaping from is the Sentinel Services, a group of elite enforcers who apparently go after those with particularly destructive or potentially game-changing abilities. Two things stand out about the introduction of these mutant hunters. First, the lead agent, Jace Turner (Coby Bell of Burn Notice), is oddly sympathetic while being coldly rigid in rounding up mutants; and second, the Sentinel Services have mysterious ways of tracking the seemingly untrackable and bring a lot of high-tech toys to take down those with powers. The combination makes for a very interesting, dynamic enemy opposite quite flawed protagonists — just how we like it.Characters in the background felt strong and full of promise as well. Although Acker’s Caitlin Strucker didn’t have quite enough to do in the pilot, her screen presence has always been unmatched and as the season goes on she becomes a more prominent character and crucial to the mutant underground, her daughter Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind of The Goldbergs), who could have easily disappeared into the background as just another pretty face, is wonderful both when she was fighting with her brother and when she was supporting him with secrets of her own. And a mutant to keep an eye on, just from the sheer awesomeness of his powers, is John (Blair Redford of Satisfaction), who has a number of abilities hinted at by his alias “Thunderbird” that will not be spoiled here.The Gifted has what it takes to be another “X-Men adjacent” hit for Fox Television alongside FX’s Legion. The latter is much more esoteric but does have several things in common with this new mutant offering, including the manner in which Andy Strucker’s (Percy Hynes White of Murdoch Mysteries) powers manifest. The series builds towards a great finale that changes the entire dynamic of the show and leads into what should be an awesome Season 2 later in the year.

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CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: DEADPOOL

CAST
Ryan Reynolds (Buried)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
T.J. Miller (Cloverfield)
Ed Skrein (Game of Thrones)
Karin Soni (Goosebumps)
Stefan Kapicic (tears for Sale)
Michael Benyaer (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra)
Brianna Hildebrand (First Girl I Loved)
Kyle Cassie (Andromeda)
Gina Carano (Fast & Furious 6)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Wade Wilson is a former special forces operative who works as a mercenary in New York City. He meets escort Vanessa Carlysle at a local bar and they become romantically attached. One year later, Wade proposes to marry her and she accepts, but he suddenly collapses. Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and though Vanessa remains by his side, he does not want her to watch him die.
A mysterious recruiter from a secret program approaches Wade, offering an experimental cure for his cancer. He reluctantly decides to leave Vanessa and undergo the procedure. At a laboratory, Wade meets Ajax and Angel Dust, whom he instantly resents. Ajax injects Wade with a serum designed to awaken latent mutant genes, and then subjects him to days of torture to induce stress and trigger the mutation, but without success. Ajax straps Wade into an airtight chamber which raises and lowers the oxygen level to keep Wade constantly on the verge of asphyxiation. Before leaving him over the weekend, Ajax reveals to Wade that their true purpose is to make super-powered slaves to be sold to wealthy customers. While inside the chamber, Wade develops a mutant healing factor that cures his cancer but leaves him severely disfigured with burn-like scars over his entire body as a side effect. He escapes from the chamber and attacks Ajax, but relents when told that his disfigurement can be cured. Ajax subdues Wade, impales him with a piece of rebar and leaves him for dead in the burning laboratory.
Wade survives the ordeal and attempts to return to Vanessa, but is afraid of her suffering because of his appearance, and stays away from her. After consulting his best friend Weasel, Wade decides to hunt down Ajax and cure his disfigurement. He becomes a masked vigilante, takes the alias “Deadpool”, and moves into the home of an elderly blind woman named Blind Al. Following a string of leads, Wade tracks down Ajax to a convoy of cars on an expressway. He kills everyone but Ajax, and demands a cure to his disfigurement. The confrontation is interrupted by the two X-Men members Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who have been trying to recruit Wade to join the team. Taking advantage of the distraction, Ajax escapes. Colossus handcuffs his and Wade’s wrists together and drags him away, planning to take him to Professor Xavier back at the X-Mansion. Wade cuts off his hand to escape, and his hand slowly regenerates overnight.
Ajax goes to Weasel’s bar and learns about Vanessa. Weasel calls Wade and tells him Vanessa is in danger. Wade goes to the strip club where she works, but he hesitates before he can face her, allowing Ajax to kidnap her. He and Angel Dust tell Wade to meet them on a decommissioned helicarrier in a scrapyard.
Wade convinces Colossus and Negasonic to help him, and the trio take a cab to the scrapyard. While Colossus and Negasonic battle Angel and several soldiers, Wade fights his way through Ajax’s henchmen, and eventually engages him in a lengthy and violent fight. After Angel defeats Colossus, Negasonic attacks her and accidentally destroys the equipment holding the helicarrier upright. As the helicarrier tips over, Colossus carries Negasonic and Angel to safety, while Wade saves Vanessa. Ajax survives and attacks Wade, but is subdued and reveals there is no cure for Wade’s disfigurement. Wade kills Ajax in response. Vanessa is angered that Wade left her, but still loves him. The two reconcile and kiss.
In a post-credits scene, Wade tells the audience that the film is over and announces a sequel featuring Cable.
Deadpool is great. Ryan Reynolds is mouthy, but never annoying and totally owns the role.  The supporting cast all do their bit, but it’s Deadpool himself all the way. With a sequel already announced this is only the beginning.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: X-MEN EVOLUTION: ON ANGEL WINGS

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ON ANGEL WINGS
CAST
Meghan Black (Elf)
Alexandera Carter (Masters of Horror)
Neil Denis (Stargate SG.1)
Mark Hildreth (Earthsea)
Christopher Judge (Lord of The Elves)
David Kaye (Beast Wars)
Michael Kopsa (Dark Angel)
Scott McNeil (Highlander: The Series)
Kirby Morrow (The Flash)
Maggie Blue O’Hara (Dragon Ball Z)
Venus Terzo (Da Vinci’s Inquest)
Kirsten Williamson (Juno)
Christmas time in New York City. In Worthington Tower, a man watches the news. A disabled woman is trapped inside of a burning building and no one is able to reach her. Warren walks out to the balcony, takes off his coat and spreads his wings. Outside of the building, firemen are holding back a teenage girl, named Jamie who keeps begging them to let her go in and save her mother. Angel flies in through a window and saves the woman without being seen. He drops her off on a bench nearby and flies away. The woman calls over her daughter and tells her that she was saved by a real angel. At the Institute, a holiday party is underway. Kitty, Jubilee, and Amara are all opening presents from Jean. Kurt shows up with mistletoe and chases Kitty around trying to get a kiss. Xavier invites Logan to stay and spend the holidays with them. Logan tells him that he has important things to catch up on. Rogue gives Scott a gift, and tells him that it might be fun with just the two of them, Xavier and Beast for the holidays. Jean watches from across the room as Scott opens his gift and acts kinda jealous. Kurt finally corners Kitty on a sofa. As he closes his eyes and leans in for a kiss, she slides out of the way and he kisses Bobby instead.
Later, Everyone loads up into cars and heads home for the holidays. Ororo is dropping off Jubilee, Bobby, & Sam, while Ray is dropping off Kitty, Jean and kurt. Presumably all at airports. While reading The Daily Bugle Angel catches a mugger in Central Park. As the victim explains to a mounted policeman that he was saved by an angel, his briefcase drops from the sky and lands between them. The victim points up and they both see him flying away. As Warren picks up his coat and walks away, he’s watched by a man hiding behind some trees. The news starts reporting all of the Angel sightings. Xavier tells the others that he thinks that the “angel” is really a mutant. He sends Rogue and Scott to NY to try and recruit him. In NY, they go about questioning all of the witnesses. Scott shares some personal stories with Rogue, while they warm up in a diner.The man from Central Park continues to follow Angel. As Angel is flying over the Brooklyn Bridge, the man uses his powers to cause a car accident in such a way that it could only be Magneto. Angel goes to the rescue of a little girl and her family and saves them just as their car is about to go off of the bridge. As the crowd ohhs and ahhs over him, Magneto coils a bridge cable around his leg, causing him to knock the little girl, Hailee off of the bridge. He manages to pull her out of the water, but Magneto yells out that he saw him knock her in on purpose. The crowd turns on Angel, calling him a freak and Angel flies off.
Hailee ends up sick and in the hospital. Angel flies in through her window to visit her. He gets trapped by a nurse and disguises himself as a doctor to sneak out of the room. At the desk, Rogue and Scott are asking to speak with her parents. The doctor tells them that they said they were going to their church to pray. Angel overhears this as he walks by, but as he leaves, a feather falls out of his coat. Rogue sees the feather and they chase after Angel. He escapes from a window and they watch as he flies away. At the church, Angel watches the parents as they pray. Magneto shows up and tries to recruit him. When Angel refuses, Magneto tries to take him by force. Rogue and Cyclops arrive just in time, and between the three of them they’re able to knock Magneto out. Rogue manages to touch him, but Magneto comes to and knocks her away. When he takes off, Rogue flies after him (using his own power). She chases him through the city, but he ambushes her and uses a magnetic pulse to send her flying into a building. She saves herself at the last minute, but he sends a huge piece a building hurtling towards her. It knocks her out and she falls towards the ground. Angel arrives at the last second to scoop her up and save her.
Later, back at the hospital, Rogue and Scott invite Angel to come and visit the Institute and meet Xavier. A doctor comes in and tells the parents that Hailee will be okay. Scott tells Rogue that he doesn’t think that Angel will come with them. They join Angel at a window to watch as the parents hug the little girl. They show the other X-Men celebrating the holidays with their families. Jean and her family are picking out a Christmas tree. Kitty is lighting a menorah as her parents watch. Kurt meets his parents in the airport as he arrives home. Evan, Storm, and his parents have a snowball fight. Wolverine is in a bar alone, shooting pool. And Beast and the Professor sit in front of the Christmas together.
On_A's_Wings_-_5_rogueA great Christmas episode for the holidays and a great way to introduce Angel, who every round this time of year mistakes for a real Angel. Its a heartwarming story and real pleasure to watch at Xmas.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: X-MEN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – HAVE YOURSELF A MORLOCK LITTLE X-MAS

 HAVE YOURSELF A MORLOCK LITTLE X-MAS

CAST
Cedric Smith (Mutant X)
Cathal J. Dodd (Ace Lightning)
Norm spencer (Rescue Heroes)
Alison Sealy-Smith (Dark Water)
Chris Potter (Andromeda)
Lenore Zann (Def-Con)
George Buza (Odyssey 5)
Catherine Disher (Forever Knight)
Alyson Court (Silver Surfer)
It’s Christmas time and the X-Men are decorating the house. Rogue, Jubilation Lee, and Scott Summers are dressing up the tree and signing Deck the Halls, which Scott doing a terrible job. Jubilee tries to get Logan to sing Jingle Bells with them, since Scott isn’t doing too good of a job, but he refuses and leaves. Rogue then picks Jubilee up so they can put on the Christmas tree star. In the kitchen Remy LeBeau and Jean Grey are trying to cook some dinner, while trying to put up with each other. Gambit wants to add some Cajun spices while Jean wants him to stay away. In his lab, Hank McCoy is also preparing a yule tide beverage. Down below, Charles Xavier and Ororo Munroe watch the others on video monitors commenting on how happy everyone seems. Suddenly a blast occurs and they fear they are being attacked.
The X-Men all rush to the site of the disturbance only to find that Beast’s cranberry glaze exploded everywhere. Logan finally arrives and also finds it was a false alarm. Distressed by all the good cheer he decides to leave the mansion. Jubilee convinces him to go Christmas shopping with her and Ororo. While shopping Jubilee is so excited she doesn’t know where to stop. On the other hand, Logan just can’t wait to get out of the store. The three decide to go ice skating at Rockefeller Center. Again, Jubilee is having a great time while Wolverine wants to leave. Logan then smells something happening with sirens in the distance. Eventually an ambulance almost crashes onto the ice, if Ororo hadn’t used her powers to move it away from anyone. Two Morlocks, Ape and Annalee, exit the cab and tear the back door off. They tell Ororo that Leech is very sick and needs medicine badly. They tried to take him to a hospital but his powers were out of control and he was refused service. Ororo believes them and commands the others to follow. Jubilee grabs all her presents before leaving. In the Morlock tunnels, Callisto, who is currently watching over Leech, is not to happy that their “glorious leader” has just arrived. Despite their differences they agree to help Leech together. Logan notices a small branch with a broken ornament on it standing in for the Morlock’s Christmas tree. He is interrupted by Storm who orders him to take Leech to the mansion immediately so Beast can help. However, Logan believes it is too late and moving him would be fatal. Jubilee then sees a small girl, Mariana, and the two comfort each other while they watch. Ororo refuses to accept that Leech is already lost. Jubilee questions whether Logan can use his powers to help, but he claims it’s impossible. Ororo wonders whether he is letting his personal feelings guide his decision but Logan maintains that it’s only been done twice before but may not work at all.
Ororo continues to be berated for ignoring the Morlocks for so long but decides to try a transfusion, and will contact the mansion to have Rogue fly Hank and his medical kit there. Meanwhile, Logan remains the only way to keep Leech alive. Back at the mansion, Jean and Remy are still arguing over how to cook dinner. Xavier bursts in to tell Rogue to fly Hank to the Morlock tunnels. While waiting for Leech to get better Mariana shows Jubilee their Christmas tree. Mariana tells her that Leech was the one who found the tree for them. She then shows Jubilee the food that Leech brought for them for a Christmas dinner, before the cold made him sick. Mariana then asks if they can stay for dinner. Meanwhile, despite the transfusion Leech does not seem to be getting better. Hank arrives and the Morlocks beg him to help. However, it seems the transfusion helped after all and Leech appears fine. Oror then uses her position to take the Scepter of Power and Callisto questions her claiming she has been no leader to them. She then relinquishes her command over the Morlocks and gives it back to Callisto. Her first decision as leader is to extend an invitation to all the X-Men for dinner, though it is not much. Jubilee decides to give the Morlocks the presents she bought since they need it more than she does.
Understandably both Remy and Jean are not quite happy that their meal will not be eaten. Xavier tells Jubilee how proud he is that she decided to help the less fortunate despite wanting a big fancy Christmas Eve.
X-men: The Animated series will always be a classic series, the Christmas episode is anything but classic, that being it’s still nice to watch around the holidays despite how out dated it is.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN (1994) – SEASON 1-5

 

 

CAST

Christopher Daniel Barnes (The Little Mermaid)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Rodney Saulsberry (The Animatrix)
Jennifer Hale (Wreck-It Ralph)
Gary Imhoff (The Green Mile)
Sara Ballantine (Batman Year One)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Liz Georges (As Told By Ginger)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Joseph Campanella (Ben)
Patrick Labyorteaux (Yes Man)
Maxwell Caulfield (Alien Intruder)
Neil Ross (Rambo)
Roscoe Lee Brown (Babe)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Batman: TAS)
Dawnn Lewis (Futurama)
Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
George Buza (Mutant X)
Cedric Smith (Earth: Final Conflict)
Norm Spencer (Rescue Heroes)
Catherine Disher (Forever Knight)
Alison Sealy-Smith (You Kill Me)
Alyson Court (Beetlejuice TV)
Chris Potter (Heartland)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek Generations)
J.D. Hall (Undercover Brother)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday the 13th – Part 8)
George Takei (Star Trek)
John Vernon (Batman: TAS)
Courtney Peldon (Frozen)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Robert Hays (Airplane)
Barbara Goodson (Power Rangers)
James Avery (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80s)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final Conflict)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Jeff Corey (Conan The Destroyer)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Mira Furlan (Lost)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
David Hayter (X-Men)
Roy Dotrice (Hercules: TLJ)
Paul Winfield (Star Trek II)
Majel Barrett (Star Trek)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

The set itself is well presented, although the artwork is a little cheap, and clearly done in a way as to mimic the style of the 90s series. Anyone who has the recent X-Men Season releases will be familiar with this. Unlike those, this one also has a slipcase. A booklet with episode synopses is also included.

Spider-Man has season-long arcs, which when viewed in succession make for great television. Christopher Barnes is brilliant as Spider-Man (especially in those fleeting moments of extreme rage), and the guests were memorable too, particularly Rob Paulsen’s oafish Hydro Man and Jennifer Hale as Felicia Hardy/ Black Cat.

The music was great too, but while Spider-Man relied on several repeated  cues,  Another thing about Spider-Man is that even after all these years I find myself being surprised by some of the plot twists, which were even more abundant upon first viewing. Thankfully, John Semper (creative head of the show) was bold enough to change much of the original stories to make them worth animating in the first place. What else? A minor triumph, but the colouring on this cartoon is the best of any I’ve ever seen. A simple praise. While the show lost its way during the muddled fourth year it had some great episodes in the last series, with one of the greatest resolution-with-cliffhanger endings in animation history. A rare treat in that its much, much better than you remember it.

Some of the best episodes were – the three-parter, “The Alien Costume”- a marvellous introduction for the ultimately underused Venom (a deliciously insane Hank Azaria)- and the two-part “Hobgoblin” are among the best in the show’s five-year run. “Night of the Lizard”, a pilot of sorts, is interesting in that there’s an awful lot more effort put into the animation than in later episodes, as is often the case.

Animation from the 1990s doesn’t come much better than this, and Marvel have yet to top it.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS – SEASON 1-3

 

CAST (VOICES)

Dan Gilvezan (Transformers)
Kathy Garver (Family Affair)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Dick Tufeld (Lost In Space)
June Foray (Mulan)
Image result for SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Rino Roamno (The Batman)
Alan Young (The Time Machine)
Michael Ansara (Batman: TAS)
Michael Bell (Rugrats)
Peter Cullen (Transformers)

Image result for SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS

Spider-Man, Iceman, and Firestar are fighting crime and protecting the world from villains. As Peter Parker, Bobby Drake, and Angelica Jones, the three heroes are not only teammates, but roommates and friends. As they try to keep Aunt May and Angelica’s dog Ms. Lion in the dark, the Spider-Friends battle enemies from Doctor Octopus and Doctor Doom to Green Goblin and the Red Skull. Fortunately, the Spider-Man, Firestar, and Iceman have allies in Captain America, the X-Men, and other heroes…saving the world is a hard job!

Image result for SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDSSpider-Man and His Amazing Friends ran for three seasons on NBC from September 12, 1981 to September 10, 1983. The series was produced by Marvel Productions and aired with The Incredible Hulk cartoon starting with the second season. Saturday mornings was ruled by the Super Friends. DC Comics had gotten the jump on the super team show and Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Wonder Twins were already well established when Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends premiered. Despite that,

The series was cheap. There are episodes where there are out and out mistakes (my favorite is “The Origin of Iceman” where a flashback of Iceman’s time with the original X-Men accidentally features two Cyclops in a group shot). You get lots of coloring errors and animation that changes. In addition to that, there are inconsistencies and things like just unknowns about the series…like Wolverine having an Australian accent instead of a Canadian (which would have been a lot easier for Hugh Jackman). It even stole character designs like for Cyberiad in “The X-Men Adventure” who was a complete copy of Legion of Super-Heroes’ Fatal Five enemy Tharok. Surprisingly, the show is loaded with cameos. Characters like  Matt Murdock, Captain America, Iron Man, and others make cameos throughout the series and the series helped introduce the X-Men to a larger audience.

I would say that the best addition to the Marvel Universe from Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends is easily Firestar. Firestar was meant to be the Human Torch who was tied up in legal tape. Firestar was created for the show to look like Mary Jane Watson, but ended up being retconned into the Marvel Universe in Uncanny X-Men #193 (May 1985). I love Firestar and she’s one of the few characters who really transitioned well from “made-for-TV” to comic. pider-Man and His Amazing Friends is a fun series…if you grew up with it. The cheapness of the series probably won’t impress younger viewers, but as a fan from childhood, it is great to revisit the show.

REVIEW: LOGAN NOIR

CAST

Hugh Jackman (Real Steel)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Richard E. Grant (Bram Stokers Dracula)
Boyd Holbrook (The Host)
Stephen Merchant (Movie 43)
Dafne Keen (The Refugees)
Elizabeth Rodriguez (Side Effects)
Eriq La Salle (Coming To America)
Elise Neal (Scream 2)

logan_noir2In 2029, alienated mutants are on the brink of extinction, with no new mutants having been born in 25 years. James “Logan” Howlett, formerly known as Wolverine, works as a limo driver in El Paso, Texas. His healing factor has faltered and, as a result, his body has aged, he can no longer heal at an accelerated rate and his adamantium skeleton is slowly poisoning him. Logan lives with mutant tracker Caliban in an abandoned smelting plant in Northern Mexico, where they care for former Professor Charles Xavier, who is suffering from an unknown brain disease which causes him to lose control of his telepathic abilities to destructive effect via seizures. Logan is approached by Gabriela Lopez, a former nurse from a biotechnological corporation, Alkali-Transigen, who asks him to escort her and an 11-year-old girl, Laura, to a place in North Dakota called “Eden”.logan-noir3Logan reluctantly accepts the job, but shortly discovers Gabriela murdered. At his hideout, Logan is confronted by Gabriela’s killer, Transigen’s cybernetically-enhanced chief of security, Donald Pierce, who is looking for Laura. Logan, Charles and Laura, who stowed away inside Logan’s limo, narrowly escape from Pierce and his enforcers, the Reavers, but Caliban is captured and forced to use his mutant-tracking abilities to locate them. Logan and Charles learn from a video on Gabriela’s cellphone that Laura is one of several mutant children that Transigen, under the guise of a cancer research project, was secretly breeding from DNA samples of several mutants in the early 2020’s. As the “X-23” project they were to be used as weapons, but proved difficult to control, and upon completion of the “X-24” project, the children were deemed obsolete and were to be euthanized. Gabriela and several other nurses helped many children escape from the Transigen compound, becoming separated from the others when smuggling Laura, who was created from Logan’s DNA, into the United States.logannoir_n95nThey take refuge at a hotel in Oklahoma City, where Logan discovers that Eden is actually from an X-Men comic book in Laura’s possession. The Reavers catch up with them, but Charles regains control long enough to telepathically freeze everyone in the hotel, allowing Logan to kill the attackers before injecting Charles with a suppressant and escaping. While on the highway, they help farmer Will Munson and his family after a traffic incident. The Munsons invite them over for dinner and they accept under the guise of being a trigenerational family. Meanwhile, Dr. Zander Rice, the surgical head of Transigen, arrives to aid Pierce and the Reavers. Realizing Caliban is withholding the whereabouts of his friends, Rice convinces him that no harm will come to Logan and Charles if they recover Laura. When the water pipe supplying the Munson house springs a leak, Logan and Will leave to fix it. Along the way, Logan learns the Munsons live near a major corporate farm that creates genetically-engineered corn for the purpose of being used in drinking products, and are stalled from returning home by a confrontation with the corporation’s enforcers.Logan-Noir-standingLater that night, Charles expresses his guilt to a man he believes is Logan of a telepathic seizure he had in Westchester, where he inadvertently injured several civilians and killed most of the X-Men. The man is revealed to be X-24, a feral clone of Logan with mindless rage and a highly developed healing factor. X-24 mortally wounds Charles, captures Laura, and murders most of the Munson family when they attempt to stop him. When Logan and Will Munson return, X-24 stabs Will and heads over to deliver Laura to Rice, but Logan attempts to save Charles instead. Before he can reach Rice, X-24 is distracted by a group of farmers from the corporate farm, who mistake him for Logan due to an earlier confrontation, and he murders them all. Despite Logan’s attempts to save him, Charles Xavier dies from his wounds as Logan repeatedly assures him that he was not his attacker. Enraged by Charles’ death, Logan engages X-24 but is no match for his younger clone. Will, struggling to stay alive, manages to incapacitate X-24 by impaling him into farm equipment using his truck, but dies from his injuries moments later. Caliban sacrifices himself by setting off two grenades to destroy the Transigen van in which he is being held captive, killing and injuring several Reavers and giving Logan and Laura a chance to escape with Charles’ body.logan-photo-trailer-nb-987843-largeAfter burying Charles, Logan passes out from rage and exhaustion. He wakes up in a clinic to which Laura had driven him, where a doctor urges him to rest and get treatment for his deteriorating condition. Logan refuses and wants to abandon the trip. Laura convinces him to complete it, and, two days later, they arrive at the location of “Eden”, where they discover it is run by Rictor and the other Transigen test subjects that managed to escape. One night, Laura asks Logan about an adamantium bullet she found in his possession. Logan reveals that he has kept it since his escape from Weapon X as a reminder of his past but now was planning to use it to commit suicide to end his suffering, as he believes it is the adamantium in his body that is killing him. Logan learns that the children plan to journey to Canada, where they will be safe, and decides to part ways with them, to Laura’s dismay. However, when the children are intercepted and captured by the Reavers, in order to save them, Logan takes an overdose of a serum given to him by Rictor that temporarily increases his physical abilities and restores his healing factor. Logan violently slaughters most of the Reavers and rescues Laura, but soon the serum wears off, greatly reducing his physical strength and mutant abilities. Locating the rest of the children, Logan and Laura split up, with Logan approaching Pierce, who has Rictor at gunpoint. Rice introduces himself to Logan and mentions his father who had been slain by Logan during his escape from Weapon X, and reveals that the destruction of mutantkind is due to a virus created by Transigen that has been dispersed in food products. Before he can continue, Logan shoots Rice dead and attacks Pierce, who saves himself by releasing a regenerated X-24, who engages Logan. With their guards distracted, the children wipe out the remaining Reavers before overwhelming and killing Pierce with their powers.logan_noir2Logan and Laura fight X-24 to no avail, but Rictor manages to use his terrakinetic powers to flip a truck onto X-24. Logan tells the children to run as X-24 claws his way out from under the truck and brutally attacks Logan again. With Logan severely beaten, X-24 drags him to a fallen tree trunk, impales him on a large branch, and resumes attacking with his claws until he is shot dead with Logan’s Adamantium bullet by Laura, who had returned to help him. Severely wounded far beyond the limits of his weakened abilities to heal, Logan tells Laura to leave with her friends and to not be the weapon she was made to be. When Laura addresses Logan as her father, Logan finally acknowledges what it feels like to be loved before dying peacefully in her arms. Laura and the other children mourn Logan’s death and hold a small burial for him. Once the other children leave, Laura turns the cross on Logan’s grave to its side to create an “X”, honoring Logan as the last X-Man before tearfully walking away, joining her friends as they continue their journey towards the Canadian border and her father’s homeland.logannoir_n95nIn the lead up to filming and casting announcements for Logan, director James Mangold released hauntingly beautiful black-and-white photos of the cast and locations. Obviously, the film was going to be released in color, but it got him wondering what the film would look like in black-and-white. Thankfully, someone over at Fox was open minded to Mangold’s desire to regrade the color of the film to black-and-white – and they also had the forethought to include this new version dubbed Logan Noir as a bonus feature with the home video release – and not a later release to double dip fans for. logan-noir-800x445For Logan, taking out the color with this properly rendered grayscale simply strips the film down to its emotional core. While the original color presentation was beautiful and director James Mangold and his cinematographer John Mathieson did a terrific job of capturing the sun-drenched vistas of a classic western like Shane and Rio Bravo, Logan Noir somehow feels more complete. As if taking a page from such westerns as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and High Noon, the black-and-white photography of Logan Noir feels more in tune with the heavy thematic dealings of true heroism and inevitable mortality.  Thankfully, Logan Noir is included with every home entertainment release —  Blu-ray in HD, and Digital HD. It’s a complete package deal, so even if you’re not as taken with Logan Noir as I was, you get to choose which version is right for you.