Logan (4K UHD Review)
Release Date(s)2017 (May 23, 2017)
Studio(s)Marvel/TSG/Kinberg/The Donners (20th Century Fox)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: B
The year is 2029. Mutants have all but disappeared. Logan (aka Wolverine, Hugh Jackman) is making money as a limo driver in Texas and living in an abandoned factory across the border. But he’s not alone. The mutant Caliban is with him, as is Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), now elderly and suffering from Alzheimer’s, which results in a dangerous loss of control of his mental powers. Logan has been trying to save enough money to buy a boat to get the three of them as far away from the rest of Humanity as possible. But those plans are derailed when a med worker for a bio-tech company asks Logan for help. She’s being hunted, it seems, and wants Logan to drive her and an 11-year-old girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) to safety in North Dakota. At first he declines, but soon finds that he has no choice in the matter… and for more reasons than one.
Based loosely on a couple of different Marvel comic book storylines, Logan was directed by James Mangold, whose past work includes Cop Land and 3:10 to Yuma. Its visual style and grittiness of tone have led some diehard fans to proclaim Logan a cinematic masterpiece, and the greatest superhero story ever told on the big screen. A bit of perspective, of course, suggests these are exaggerations. Logan is, however, the best Wolverine story yet told on the big screen. It’s also a damn great film… for about seventy minutes. Then it begins to go off the rails, following where dozens of other superhero films have gone before it – straight over the top, to a predictable slash-everything-in-sight climax against stock and underdeveloped villains.
Still, the film’s mature sensibility, its realism, its depiction of a… not post-apocalyptic exactly, but still an America in decline, not to mention its fascinating developments of character, really make for stunning first half of viewing. Logan is reminiscent of The Wrestler in some ways. These two characters, Logan and Charles, are worn out, played out, burnt out… but they’ve got one last run in them. Logan is the last mutant standing, left holding the bag of watching over a deteriorating Professor X, which is simply perfect. Of course he’d be that guy, to feed his friend, to pick him off the toilet and wipe his ass, to care for him in his final days. That action cuts right to the core of who Logan is deep down, and it’s simply magnificent to see that relationship acted out by Jackman and Stewart on screen. If only the rest of the film lived up to this standard.
Unfortunately, Logan turns even darker halfway through… which is fine… but also mean-spirited… and that’s a problem. This film is far too willing to depict its violence in vivid and realistic detail. One would think the folly of recent DC Comics superhero films would have made this lesson obvious: Less is always more, especially when it comes to comic book violence and action. Let’s put it this way… wherever this film’s Foley work was done, it must have been pretty hard to find melons at the grocery store for a week or two.
Fox’s Logan 4K UHD release is a 4-disc set. The first disc is a UHD that includes the theatrical version of the film in 4K. The second is also a UHD featuring the B&W version of the film, Logan Noir, also in 4K. The third and fourth discs are regular Blu-rays that include the theatrical version and Logan Noir in 1080p HD, respectively.
Logan was shot digitally in the ARRIRAW codec using ARRI Alexa XT cameras and was finished to a native 4K Digital Intermediate. Following HDR color grading passes (done separately for color and B&W), the result is presented here in full 4K at the 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio. Let’s talk about the theatrical first. Strange as it might seem to call such a gritty presentation clean, clean this surely is. The native 4K resolution really makes a difference. Even shot through anamorphic lenses, the image is crisp and loaded with detail fine detail and texturing, plus the shallower anamorphic depth of field – not to mention the way the light interacts with the glass – renders a lovely cinematic image. The benefits of HDR here are obvious; shadows are black as night, highlights glow brightly, and the overall color palette is rich and warm. The improvement over the regular Blu-ray image, already quite good, is significant. As for Logan Noir, the lack of color makes the 4K texturing really stand out even more. Once again, blacks are incredibly deep, yet there’s still tremendous detail visible. Thanks to HDR, the highlights in the image really pop – sometimes so much that your pupils will react to the changes. What’s most interesting about the B&W, however, is the way your eyes are drawn to completely different areas of the frame than in the color presentation, as you notice unexpected textures or details. Surprisingly, I almost prefer the B&W version of the film, as the violence – lacking the gush of crimson splatter – seems less gruesome, much more comic stylized and thus more effective. Whichever version of Logan you choose, you will not be disappointed by the 4K image here.
The two UHD discs include English Dolby Atmos audio, along with English 2.0 DTS-HD MA, English 5.1 Descriptive Audio, and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. The two Blu-rays replace the Atmos track with 7.1 DTS-HD MA. Subtitles options on all the discs include English for the deaf and hard of hearing, French, and Spanish. The Atmos presentation is exceptionally smooth and natural. At times it’s restrained and atmospheric, with clear dialogue and delicate sound cues flooding in from all around, then it kicks into overdrive with plenty of thunder and bombast. The soundstage is deceptively wide, greatly enhanced by clever use of the overhead channels, and panning is smooth as glass. The sense of space in the mix is wonderful; gunshots hit and then linger in the air as they decay. The audio has muscular bite and yet sounds effortless at the same time. This is a terrific surround sound experience.
In terms of bonus features, all four discs include feature-length audio commentary with director James Mangold. The theatrical Blu-ray also includes the following additional extras in full HD:
- Deleted Scenes (6 scenes – 7:45 in all, with optional Mangold audio commentary)
- Making Logan (6-part documentary – 76:05 in all)
- Theatrical Trailers (3 trailers – 6:32 in all)
That’s not a lot of material, to be sure, but the documentary is quite good. You should experience the deleted scenes for yourself without being spoiled, as there are a couple of genuinely lovely moments. You also can’t ignore the inclusion of four separate presentations of the film, each on its own disc. There’s a Digital HD copy code too, on a paper insert in the packaging. All in all, this is a nice package.
For all its faults, Logan is a genuinely unique and interesting Marvel film. It its best, it’s a master class of great acting, featuring Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart in the prime of their abilities. At its worst, it’s a pedestrian slash-and-shooter that too often dials itself up to 11 when it would have benefitted more from restraint. Fox’s 4K Ultra HD release offers tremendous A/V quality, nice extras, and genuine value. If you’re a fan of this genre, and of these characters in particular, it’s highly recommended. If you’re not, the film is still well worth seeing and it will never look better at home than it does here.
- Bill Hunt