X-Men Series Reviews

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X-Men Series Reviews

Post  James Stocks on Sun Jul 14, 2013 11:19 pm

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

Doing my X-Men countdown for the upcoming WOLVERINE flick. Naturally I enjoyed the first two, haven't changed my opinion on them. THE LAST STAND is one I've never revisited much, so I have more thoughts on that. It pissed me off so much in theaters with its handling of the characters, the stories not playing out well, and that it just feels like a dumbed down studio take after the first two films. I don't mind this third entry going bigger than the last two. I think that was appropriate, but it goes the most obvious route where studios always demand "we need an action beat, it's been ten minutes too long". This is probably my third viewing ever of this flick (the first in theaters, then rental right when the DVD came out). I probably enjoyed it a little better this time but still not enough to get me into the flick. Killing off Xavier doesn't bother me so much now, though I think it should have been done differently. Scott Summers killed? Inexcusable. After a chuck of his scenes got cut out in X2, it was time for him to get more focus, especially with the Phoenix story in play. But no, Halle Berry demanded more screentime. :xHated the treatment of characters beyond bad deaths. Rogue, who is now just passive aggressive and thrown aside for a whole chunk of the flick. Stuff like Xavier giving up on Cyclops so casually "aw fuck it, he's gone". Great to see Iceman in action, though he's no better in the more "dramatic bits" playing the idiot boyfriend. Magneto abandoning Mystique, "you're not one of us, bye". I can't buy that. Worse, Mystique, after taking a bullet for Magneto, then goes to the government to give up his hideaway. UGH. So frustrating. Then there's the dialogue, dumbed down to bad one-liners. "Wolverine. I hear you're quite the animal." "Look who's talking." They just come out of nowhere. Overall, it's watchable as a summer blockbuster tentpole, but I hate the treatment of the characters too much to really get into it. I will say now that it's better than its 2006 summer competitor SUPERMAN RETURNS, just for the fact that it at least tries to be a fun spectacle.

This will probably be the last time I see this in a very long time. Doubtful I'll include it in the countdown next year when DAYS OF FUTURE PAST comes around. Up next, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. This will be my first ever viewing of it. When I finish my run, I'll do mini-summaries that include the first two films. For now, here's how I rank them so far in this current run.

X2 - 9/10
X-MEN - 8/10
X-MEN: THE LAST STAND - 5/10

Average seems suitable. As much as I dislike many aspects, it's still a well produced flick. It never feels cheap. Many of the effects hold up rather well, I think. I don't blame Ratner for any of its shortcomings. He was just a studio director, hired to get it done. Only quibbles I have over his direction are certain ways he framed it, the use of handheld style camera work, but that's all small fries.

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Re: X-Men Series Reviews

Post  James Stocks on Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:54 pm

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

Man. Can't really elaborate too much on this. It's cheap, all over the place, and by the end of the movie my reaction was basically "that's it?" The whole thing just felt inconsequential.

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Re: X-Men Series Reviews

Post  thecolorsblend on Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:59 am

Of all things that went wrong with X3, I blame none of them on Ratner. The guy showed up as a hired gun, did his job and went home. Yeah, some things might've been more visually-engaging or whatever but I felt like the guy did what was expected of him. Love him or hate him, I've always doubted that Bryan Singer would've made X3 as the final chapter of a trilogy. Of all people, he knew how much juice there is to the X-Men so he probably would've told a Phoenix story and then done something else for X4, something else for X5, etc.

The real question is how long his approach could've lasted. In 2000, comic movies tended to emphasize everything except their comic roots. That's not really the case these days. Wide audiences have developed a taste for comic book material. I wonder how long the "mutants in black leather uniforms" bit could have lasted without audiences growing bored and throwing the X-Men out in favor of, perhaps ironically, the Avengers. His X-Men movies arguably have more in common with the TV show Heroes than anything relating to comics. I don't know how well that would play these days.

My rankings... I dunno. It's tough to assign a number to them. I'll try to keep my comments brief.

X-Men- Highly overrated. Good but I never saw what the fuss was about.
X2- Good drama, good characters, but lacking visual flair.
X3- Not great but not as horrible as people make it out to be.
First Class- Possibly the best of the bunch. It screws up the original timeline in some ways and some character beats aren't terribly logical but it's enjoyable enough.
Wolverine- Only saw it once. Maybe that should tell me something. Through out though, it felt like a wasted opportunity.

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Re: X-Men Series Reviews

Post  non_amos on Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:04 pm

I liked X3 OK I guess for 'popcorn entertainment'. A disclaimer here though. Even though I read some X-Men comics back in the day I was never really on board with that whole 'kick'. While I was into JLA & Avengers other guys such as my brother & his friends were into X-Men and/or Teen Titans. As a matter of fact there was even a DC/Marvel crossover graphic novel back then that was a best seller I believe. Anyway, since I've never really been completely on those bandwagons I can't claim to be an authority on the mythos. So I guess I enjoyed X3 for what it was. Had I been more of a fanboy of it then I'd probably be like everyone else that didn't like it.

But about X-Men: First Class. It is without a doubt the best film in the bunch even if the characters are younger & whatever else might be wrong with it. But now that Bryan Singerman is taking over, what can we expect from the sequel? Right now I say '50/50'. Rolling Eyes

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Re: X-Men Series Reviews

Post  James Stocks on Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:47 pm

I'm pretty unfamiliar with the comics, but I did grow up with the 90s TV series so that was always my point of reference when it came to X-MEN. Given that the Phoenix Saga was dealt with in that show, my expectations for X3 were definitely higher than it had ever been for the first two films combined. I remember right after the end of X2 I was ecstatic of the idea of a live action adaptation of that storyline. Of course, that didn't pan out as much as I hoped.

thecolorsblend wrote:The real question is how long his approach could've lasted. In 2000, comic movies tended to emphasize everything except their comic roots. That's not really the case these days. Wide audiences have developed a taste for comic book material. I wonder how long the "mutants in black leather uniforms" bit could have lasted without audiences growing bored and throwing the X-Men out in favor of, perhaps ironically, the Avengers. His X-Men movies arguably have more in common with the TV show Heroes than anything relating to comics. I don't know how well that would play these days.
I doubt Singer would have tried playing the same approach he had in the first film for a long stretch simply given the fact that a franchise needs to grow in order to continue. The James Bond films would have never survived if they kept making films like DR. NO for over a decade. The first X-MEN film was incredibly modest because of the tight budget, to the point that elements from the drafts had to be deleted such as the danger room and the Beast character entirely. Then look at X2 when Fox gave it more money, it did a few new things but overall still constrained enough that elements had to be discarded. Because of X2's success, X3 was then given a budget THREE TIMES first film had, and it really showed. Given Singer's involvement with FIRST CLASS, I think it's safe to assume the series would have gotten around to something like that in his run. We'll never really know.

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Re: X-Men Series Reviews

Post  thecolorsblend on Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:31 am

James Stocks wrote:I'm pretty unfamiliar with the comics, but I did grow up with the 90s TV series so that was always my point of reference when it came to X-MEN. Given that the Phoenix Saga was dealt with in that show, my expectations for X3 were definitely higher than it had ever been for the first two films combined. I remember right after the end of X2 I was ecstatic of the idea of a live action adaptation of that storyline. Of course, that didn't pan out as much as I hoped.
Ditto. Fair or not, I always thought of X-Men as a fairly impenetrable miasma of continuity... and for what? The core concept didn't entice me at all. In fact, Marvel in general left me cold in the 80's. I was a DC kid through and through but, apart from the occasional Spider-Man comic, I just wasn't big on Marvel. Particularly not big on the X-Men.

James Stocks wrote:I doubt Singer would have tried playing the same approach he had in the first film for a long stretch simply given the fact that a franchise needs to grow in order to continue. The James Bond films would have never survived if they kept making films like DR. NO for over a decade. The first X-MEN film was incredibly modest because of the tight budget, to the point that elements from the drafts had to be deleted such as the danger room and the Beast character entirely. Then look at X2 when Fox gave it more money, it did a few new things but overall still constrained enough that elements had to be discarded. Because of X2's success, X3 was then given a budget THREE TIMES first film had, and it really showed. Given Singer's involvement with FIRST CLASS, I think it's safe to assume the series would have gotten around to something like that in his run. We'll never really know.
Well, it's only a point of contention for me from the angle that I think Singer's filmmaking sensibilities are more in line with X-Men than his other attempt at a superhero. But even there, I'd sooner credit Ratner's direction for X3's more impressive action scenes than the budget. I mean, yes, budget matters... but Singer's reputation for managing a budget is pretty fucking abysmal in my eyes. I can't help but wonder that Ratner could've gotten at least as much stuff from Singer's budget X1 and X2 budgets, but possibly even more. Again, it's unknown and unknowable. But that's my hunch.

As a complete side note, I really don't understand why Ratner gets picked on by the fans. And it's not just for X3 either; anything the guy touches has fans waiting in line to tell him how much he sucks. He's no Steven Spielberg, that's for sure, but he's not the hack he's made out to be either. I'd put Ratner light years ahead of Singer.

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Re: X-Men Series Reviews

Post  non_amos on Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:59 am

thecolorsblend wrote:

As a complete side note, I really don't understand why Ratner gets picked on by the fans. And it's not just for X3 either; anything the guy touches has fans waiting in line to tell him how much he sucks. He's no Steven Spielberg, that's for sure, but he's not the hack he's made out to be either. I'd put Ratner light years ahead of Singer.

I know what you mean. I think Ratner gets a bum rap & I think a lot of it has to do with X3. But look what Singer did with Singerman! I'd call that a bigger debacle than X3 was. And like you said, Ratner was a 'hired gun' brought in to do a job & he did it. Singer OTOH claimed to be in love with Donnerverse & was supposedly a lifelong fan of Superman. In the films, that is, not the comics. Yet somehow Singer gets a pass with some fans, primarily apologists, yet Ratner gets stoned?

Ya know, I think people at one time had questions about J.J. Abrams but look how his career is turning out. Not everyone gets to do both Star Trek and Star Wars, ya know? But I think at one time he wouldn't have been too far removed from the abuse that Ratner gets. And you can add Zack Snyder's name to the list also because he was also getting a bum rap in spite of some awesome films. And now look how it's working out for Snyder.

If there's a director (besides Singer) that really needs to get their act together then it's M. Night Shyamalan. He started off his directorial career with 3 very decent films: the awesome The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable & Signs. He was on a roll that shouldn't have ended but somehow it did & he started putting out films that, even though I liked some of them 'OK', he still could've done better & I'd just like to know what went wrong?

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Re: X-Men Series Reviews

Post  thecolorsblend on Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:41 am

non_amos wrote:I know what you mean. I think Ratner gets a bum rap & I think a lot of it has to do with X3. But look what Singer did with Singerman! I'd call that a bigger debacle than X3 was. And like you said, Ratner was a 'hired gun' brought in to do a job & he did it. Singer OTOH claimed to be in love with Donnerverse & was supposedly a lifelong fan of Superman. In the films, that is, not the comics. Yet somehow Singer gets a pass with some fans, primarily apologists, yet Ratner gets stoned?
Truth. The guy has good chops for suspense, action, comedy, all of it. Hell, his Happy Birthday short from Movie 43 was arguably the funniest segment of the entire flick.

As another side note, allow me to give my personal recommendation to Movie 43 because it was fucking hysterical. I honestly can't remember the last time I laughed out loud at a movie that hard or that often.

non_amos wrote:Ya know, I think people at one time had questions about J.J. Abrams but look how his career is turning out. Not everyone gets to do both Star Trek and Star Wars, ya know? But I think at one time he wouldn't have been too far removed from the abuse that Ratner gets. And you can add Zack Snyder's name to the list also because he was also getting a bum rap in spite of some awesome films. And now look how it's working out for Snyder.
I'd forgotten about that but yeah, time was Abrams' name was mud among fans. I think the aborted Superman movie had something to do with it. To paraphrase Martin Sheen, the bullshit and the rumors about that movie piled up so fast you needed wings to stay above them. Once he actually started directing films though, I think fans came to get a better sense of what he was all about. After Star Trek, I think a lot of fans were willing to let bygones be bygones and let him actually take a shot at a Superman reboot.

I forget the exact thing but he wrote about his non-experience making a Superman movie through the prism of the importance of the creative process and, ultimately, spoilers. But he had an interesting point at least about his own creative process. He said that fans got wind of his script for Superman and had a nuclear meltdown. Because of that, WB got really cold feet about the whole thing. The problems were that (A) the script that leaked out was two drafts behind where he was at that moment and (B) although fans correctly identified problems with the script, he'd already ironed most of them out. His point was that he needed to figure out how to tell a Superman story, what the inviolable elements are, what is up for grabs, what isn't, etc. He said his natural creative process would likely have resulted in a film that Superman fans probably would've enjoyed... but he had to go through those growing pains first and, because of some dipshit leaking the script, he didn't really have a chance to do that.

I found it believable only because it had been so many years later that there was nothing in it to lie anymore. He could've said "fuck you, I was going to make MY Superman movie; take your silly comic books outside, nobody cares, nyah nyah!!" But he didn't. He said he would've ultimately made a very faithful and honest Superman movie had he been allowed to do so at a point when dishonesty would've availed him nothing.

non_amos wrote:If there's a director (besides Singer) that really needs to get their act together then it's M. Night Shyamalan. He started off his directorial career with 3 very decent films: the awesome The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable & Signs. He was on a roll that shouldn't have ended but somehow it did & he started putting out films that, even though I liked some of them 'OK', he still could've done better & I'd just like to know what went wrong?
I'm the guy in the room that dug The Village. I thought it maybe went ten minutes long or something but otherwise I enjoyed it. But everything after... holy shit! That guy's star has fallen so much that he was reduced to directing The Last Airbender (which, as an adaptation, is the type of thing he once swore he'd never be involved with) and a Will Smith vanity project... which fucking tanked, you may remember. And if you track his Rotten Tomatoes scores (ie, critical acclaim), it's been diminishing returns ever since The Sixth Sense.

As a writer, he seems to do okay. So long as he lets somebody else direct, the movie is statistically likely to find some kind of success. But put him in the director's chair and... well, flip a coin. Considering how many of his movies have tanked it lately, you have to wonder if it'll ever reach the point where the only work he can find in Hollywood will be as a movie studio security guard. I feel bad about it too because I feel like he's a talented filmmaker but I don't know what soporific he's started giving his actors but otherwise talented people come off bland, stiff and with this creepily earnest vibe in several of his movies. Remember Marky Mark in The Happening or the older brother in Airbender? What the hell is up with that?!

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Re: X-Men Series Reviews

Post  non_amos on Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:55 am

Yeah & M. Night had a bad habit of inserting himself into his films. Why I don't know. Pulling a Stephen King? Possibly. Or maybe his ego? But it seemed to work for his 1st 3 films. In Signs he was like the guy who caused the death of Mel Gibson's wife yet he had an alien locked up in his house. And I remember in Unbreakable he was some guy in the crowd that Bruce Willis confronted. I'd say those scenes worked but did he continue to insert himself into his films? I'm thinking he did. But Richard Donner did too in STM so maybe it is an ego trip.

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Re: X-Men Series Reviews

Post  James Stocks on Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:20 pm

thecolorsblend wrote:As a complete side note, I really don't understand why Ratner gets picked on by the fans. And it's not just for X3 either; anything the guy touches has fans waiting in line to tell him how much he sucks. He's no Steven Spielberg, that's for sure, but he's not the hack he's made out to be either. I'd put Ratner light years ahead of Singer.
I think he's pretty decent with comedies, beyond that I don't think he's all that good. He isn't the worst thing to happen to movies, he's just plain unremarkable. If I had to criticize him further, it would be for casting Ken Leung and not doing anything with him, but even then I'm positive that the casting process was too late for Ratner to bring in his own actors for significant roles. "Kid Omega" just happened to be available. Was Ratner hired like three weeks before shooting? That's where I'll definitely give him credit, for being able to get this project going on such a short notice.

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