Over the weekend, I saw "Logan," the latest Marvel Comics movie starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, and what a slaughter it was. I haven't seen that much bloody meat outside of a butcher shop ever. The plot was a scaffolding upon which to hang scores of chopped-up human bodies, and it would have gotten dull if I wasn't so busy cringing in anticipation of the next decapitation or disemboweling.
In one sequence, Prof. Xavier puts out an incapacitating mind wave that freezes everyone in their tracks -- except Wolverine, who can move through it with great effort -- and viewers are treated to him straining his way in slow motion into a hotel room while jamming his claws through the heads of five or six guys in succession. He chooses different angles -- through the eyes, the back of the head, up through the chin -- to keep things interesting.
One review I read said the victims of a character like Wolverine in a movie like this are treated as "human garbage," and that is accurate. They are bags of skin, moving around without any purpose but to get pierced and popped by Mr. Claws. It's not so much that people are getting killed that is disturbing, but the way their graphic, gruesome deaths are an expected and accepted part of this sort of mainstream entertainment.
In another scene, the young girl who is a mini-wolverine (a wolvertween), comes walking out of a warehouse with a guy's head in her hands, which she throws at the feet of various other guys who soon will join their compatriot in bloody death. It occurred to me, when I was thinking about the movie later, that scene could have been milked for its dramatic content -- the tiny, feral girl with her bloody burden, standing before an array of armed mercenaries. But in the context of this shambles of a film, a kid lugging a head was not extraordinary.
Another thing you have to brace for in this sort of movie, unless you're numb to it (and many of the other people in the theater seemed unmoved by the carnage), is that any character the movie seduces you to feel affection for may at any moment end up like a carrot in a Cuisinart.
But so many bodies get carved up and cut down, the movie has little time for things like developing character or making the plot any more complicated than "good guys run from the bad guys."
The only antidote for this overflow of up-close gore is a bit of humor, so I found myself trying to crack jokes about it afterward to my wife and daughter. I think even Hollywood moviemakers have felt this urge, judging from the preview for the next installment of the "Deadpool" franchise, which we saw before "Logan." The preview featured the hero, Deadpool, botching a response to an armed robbery, then reclining on the corpse of the poor guy he should have saved and making jokes at his expense. It was both offensive and appropriate. When all around you movies are throwing people on screen just so they can be killed in horrible ways, what can you do but laugh about it?