By Bernie ‘The Movie Guy’ Ment
Okay, when you have 12-inch steel blades coming out of your knuckles, not many people are going to think of you as the life of the party. In fact, most people, if they’re even remotely sane, might start running for the hills. It really doesn’t matter if you’ve joined a group of mutants who are sworn to protect the planet. You just look like a bad dude so not many folks will cozy up to you.
At least not many without some abilities that are similar to yours. And again, there are not many of those. Especially not in a post-battle world where most mutants have long since disappeared and one of your best friends is suffering from a mutant enhanced version of extreme dementia.
In case you’ve been living in a cinematic void for the last dozen or so years, I’m talking about members of the classic X-Men franchise, here. The dude with the claws is Wolverine, also known as Logan played by Hugh Jackman and the dementia stricken older fellow is Charles Xavier, or Professor X, who founded the X-Men and who is played by venerable veteran actor Patrick Stewart of “Star Trek” fame.
“Logan” is a winding-down tale of sorts where much of the classic X-Men stories finally achieve closure. Logan must make a final stand to defend himself and Xavier and he also must protect a young girl who they discover has abilities very similar to Logan’s.
After a decade and a half of playing the character, Hugh Jackman announced not long ago that this would be his final appearance as Wolverine. And the story is a fitting end for the franchise. But it’s also a very violent one, too.
In the past, the producers tried hard to tone down the violence. Here the fury of the characters explodes forward in all its savagery. People die in this story, and many of them savagely.
But even in all the carnage, the producers opt to show very little blood in the mix. Still, this final chapter is rated R for a reason. This is not cartoon violence here and the kids should probably be left at home.
Conversely, “Kong: Skull Island” is rated PG-13 and has a lot more cartoonish violence than “Logan” and people still die horribly and, in some cases, unexpectedly. But this is definitely another installment in the calling-all-monsters reboot that started a couple of years ago with the newly reimagined “Godzilla.”
This movie features an all-star cast including Tom Hiddleston (recuperated from his behemoth thrashing that he received as Loki in the Marvel movie franchises), John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson (as a gung-ho colonel hell-bent on bringing down the gigantic ape) and John C. Reilly as a World War II combat survivor marooned on the mysterious Skull Island.
As we’ve seen countless times in other Kong movies, our ‘heroes’ discover the mysterious island and in inimitable movie foible fashion, they decide to explore and investigate the place with predictably disastrous results. Right from the get-go, when the powers-that-be decide to seismically bomb the island to discover what’s under it, you just know there’s going to be trouble.
Trouble, in this case, comes from a gigantic ape who stands nearly 100 feet tall and many of the introductory scenes harken back to visions of the 1976 version of King Kong where the giant ape unceremoniously knocks a number of military choppers out of the sky while perched on top of the World Trade Center.
This Kong is considerably larger than his movie predecessors, which is part in keeping with the plan to include Kong in the upcoming continuations of the ‘monster’ saga where good characters like Kong and Godzilla protect the planet from evil monsters like the lizards who wreak carnage on the exploratory forces who get themselves demised in this storyline.
The blockbuster season is starting earlier and earlier every year and the last couple of years have proven that big budget movies released in March have a good chance of sticking around a while if audiences let them. Neither of these films are perfect fare, but both are entertaining enough to deserve at least one viewing from action-adventure fans.
I give “Logan” four out of five stars and “Kong: Skull Island” three and a half out of five stars.