Thursday, July 21, 2011

"X-Men: First Class" (2011) -- Initial Thoughts

I went to see this two weeks ago, but haven't been able to motivate myself to blog about it until now.  I think I needed to let my thoughts about it sort themselves out, because at the end of it, I wasn't sure if I liked it or if it was just okay.

So, here's what I think:  the movie as a whole works quite well in and of itself, but as a prequel to the previous X-Men movies, not so much.  The three X-Men movies and Wolverine all maintain a pretty coherent storyline and time line continuity with each other, even if they don't always jive with the original history portrayed in the comics.  So my main quibble with this movie is that it screws up the continuity the other four movies created.

Also, Kevin Bacon?  Really?  In an X-Men movie?  His presence just felt weird, though I'm not sure why. I've seen 3 or 4 Kevin Bacon movies before, and I like him okay, but it just seemed weird to see him in this.

The majority of the mutant characters were acceptable, if not stellar.  The one exception to this was Michael Fassbender as Magneto/Eric Lensherr.  I found him quite compelling, and actually kind of ended up rooting for him against the decidedly bland incarnation of Charles Xavier, James McAvoy.  (McAvoy, to me, looks like the love child of Shia LaBeouf and Tobey Maguire.  Bored now.)  Fassbender's portrayal of Eric Lensherr dripped with anger, regret, and smoldering vengeance.  YUM!

Michael Fassbender as Magneto

Also, I could totally see him growing up to be Ian McKellan.

Sir Ian McKellan as Magneto
But, is it just me, or does Michael Fassbender have a thing for being shot/photographed at a near-sideways angle?  I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Day 15 - Favorite film sequel

At last!  An easy one to answer.  My favorite film sequel is hands down X2:  X-Men United (2003).  The original X-Men (2000) is splendid, but by necessity, it has to spend a lot of time introducing characters, giving you a taste of their back stories, and explaining what their powers are.  They also have to explain about mutants, the human- mutant conflict, and so on.  I have been known to watch a shortened version of X-Men by fast-forwarding through the plot points and watching, I admit it, just the Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) parts.  Because long before the movies came out, Wolverine was my favorite X-man.  Far and away my favorite.

But I never fast-forward through parts of X2.  It is magnificently focused, the characters all straining toward a common goal:  not getting annihilated by William Stryker (a pitch-perfect Brian Cox), who once gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton and is now on a mission to kill all the mutants in the world.  So instead of fighting other mutants to save the humans, our X-Men are now joining forces with their usual enemies to save each other.  And because most of the main characters were introduced in the first movie, this one gets to spend exploring relationships and letting characters grow and change.

And, because of his former relationship with Stryker, this film naturally focuses a lot on Wolverine and his forgotten past.  Obviously, I love that.  Really, really love that.  In the first movie, Wolvie is in his surly, bad-tempered mode around almost everyone except Rogue.  In this one, he gets to show his quality more, starting with protecting the students at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters during a scary night attack on the school.  That part has one of my favorite quotes, which he's saying in this screencap:  "If you're gonna shoot me, shoot me!!!"

It also has this lovely moment with him on one side of an ice wall and Stryker on the other, with Wolvie just starting to remember how they might be connected.  The movie has quite a few nice visuals like this -- I think it's the most visually interesting of all the X-Men movies so far (though I haven't seen First Class yet, though I'm hoping to soon).

The only aspect of this movie I don't like is Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu).

Mostly because she just doesn't make sense.  Wolverine's claws could somewhat conceivably be sheathed in his muscle-bound forearms.  The length works, at least.  But Lady Deathstrike's claws?  No way are they sheathed in her fingers!  Or even, really, her hands.  Just doesn't work for me.  Also, Sabretooth had the my-claws-grow-at-will superpower going on long before she came along, so she's kind of boring.  But I try to ignore her.  

So, yeah, I said this was an easy question to answer.  I didn't say the answer would be short ;-)

Friday, July 01, 2011

Day 14 - A film that you used to love but now hate

I don't know if I can answer this one.  I don't tend to love a movie and then later hate it.  Just like I don't tend to hate a movie and then later love it.  I may grow less fond of a movie over the years, or like other things better, but I pretty much never go from love to hate.  The same goes with books, actors, TV shows... once I like you, I like you.

I guess the closest I can come is Robin Hood:  Prince of Theives.  When it aired on network TV years ago, my dad taped it, editing out all the scenes with the witch in them.  Johnnycake and I lurved that movie and watched it a lot.  We even got little Robin Hood action figures and made this tree fort for them out of paper towel rolls and crochet cotton and crepe paper.  I had a huge crush on Christian Slater because of that movie for quite a few years, and his Will Scarlet is still my favorite part of it.  So sad and angry, and such fabulous hair!

When I got to college, I bought a used copy of the movie on VHS and watched the whole thing, swear words un-dubbed and witch scenes un-removed.  Not nearly as good as the edited version my dad created.  Phooey.  Although I love Robin Hood stories and own three other versions, I ended up giving that one away because it just doesn't please me as much anymore.  I wouldn't mind watching it again sometime if I found it at the library or something, but I'm not in love with it like I once was.