Friday, June 3, 2011
A Tale of Three X-Men Movies
Today, the newest X-Men movie, First Class, drops. It is getting reviews so good, it's uncanny. It is either actually a good movie, or 20th Century Fox has the mutant powers to pay off reviewers. In either case, the reviews are saying it is the best of the X-Men movies. I would not disagree with that. Let's look at the first three X-Men movies.
X-Men 1 = X-Men 2 = X-Men 3
I have to say the first three X-Men movies are very much equal. And by that, I mean the first three X-Men movies are equally bad.
X-Men was the first film in this new generation of super hero movies. While the series is probably the most popular in comics, it is also the hardest to translate to film. There are three key factors to the popularity of the X-Men series. The first is the meaning of being a mutant. The original X-Men comics were created during the height of the Civil Rights era. The entire series is one giant allusion to discrimination, and how people who were born different are able to fit into society. The second key point involves all the tangled relationships introduced in the series' near 50 year history. And the final is simply the action, the fights, and all the cool powers.
The movies take parts of all three of these, and just jumble them together into one big mess. They could have easily taken the story part by part and build up, but they jumped straight into the big picture, without even knowing themselves what that big picture would be. There is no focus whatsoever, and they are dealing with more than they know what to do with.
Besides that one cool scene with Little Magneto at Auschwitz, I believe the only character they even attempt to explain is Rogue. She can't touch people, and is thus rejected from society. Everyone else, meanwhile, seems to be enjoying their lives as a mutant just fine. Luckily for the producers, most people do know about the X-Men, so they decided there was no need to explain the characters. But if you have never heard of the X-Men before, you would have no idea what was going on. Spider-man and Iron Man were so successful because they were aimed at casual audiences. But the makers of X-Men just figured throw in the characters and everything else would come.
Basically, a whole bunch of nothing happens in the X-Men movies. Just people with strange powers fighting back and fourth.
I do have to give the movies credit for one thing though, they did a GREAT job in casting people. Before the movie came out, I could not even picture someone accurately playing Wolverine, but Hugh Jackman manages not just to fit the part, but make the character his. If anyone but Patrick Stewart played Professor X, it would be a tragedy, and the great Ian McKellan was just about as perfect for Magneto. Anna Paquin became a huge star thanks to her standout performance, and Alan Cumming stole his scenes as Nightcrawler. Famke Janssen (as Jean Grey) is one of the hottest girls ever, and Rebecca Romijn (Mystique) actually has been voted the hottest girl ever in the past. Even X3 did a great job with Vinnie Jones, Juno before she was Juno, and KELSEY GRAMMER as Beast. I'll forgive so much of X3 simply because Frasier as Beast was genius.
However, the series had one major miscast with Hallie Berry as Storm. Her famous Toad line ("What happens when a toad gets struck by lighting? Same thing that happens to everything else") is without a doubt the worst line in history. Worse than "It's turkey time. Gobble gobble". Worse than "They're eating her. Then they are going to eat me. ... Oh my gooooOOOOOOD!". Worse than "Howdiditgetburnedhhowdidgetburnednowdidutgetburnedhowdiditgetburned". Worse than "You fill my heart with LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!" Worse than even the worse exchanges between Anakin and Padme. It is just horrible.
So after thinking about it some more, I'm going with X2 > X1 >X3, all by just a slight bit. That scene where Nightcrawler trashes the White House at the beginning of X2 is the best scene in the series, and that alone puts it over the top. The constant bickering between Wolverine and Cyclops makes X1 standable. And not counting the fact that pretty much everyone gets killed for no good reason in X3, it is really no worse than the rest of the series. But that is a pretty major thing to overlook, even though Marvel does it on a monthly basis.
So maybe X-Men 5 is actually a great movie, but if it is similar to the first three, it is not. They have some action but not enough for an action movie. They have some story, but not enough to justify a plot. And they have almost no character development what so ever. If X-Men 5 can get past those hurdles, then maybe...
Wait, X-Men 5? Hmmm. I must have missed a movie. I'll figure that out and get back to you tomorrow.