Thursday, September 29, 2016

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins took the most popular character from the series and finally just gave him his own movie. What a waste. It is interesting to look at this film against X-Men; the Last Stand. Both films seem directed by men who did not care, though perhaps for different reasons. Where Brett Ratner was perhaps just doing his job in a way of just getting the product out without concern, Gavin Hood seems downright uncomfortable in the genre itself. There is such a lack of confidence with anything that you might connect with an action film. The special effects seem surprisingly lackluster, as though there was an unawareness of how to use them properly. There's not a decent action scene in the film. The visual are often cringe inducing whether that is the abysmal rendition of Deadpool, or the way they have Sabretooth run on all fours like a dog. All these mistakes seem of someone who just was never right for the project. Of course as problematic as Hood's direction is it is not helped by the terrible screenplay. It tries covering too much ground for Wolverine while failing to really bring any further depth to the character. The film introduces several new characters and not a single one is given any substance. Now I will say the film actually tries to do some justice to Sabretooth by casting Liev Schreiber, but the writing and direction still hinders any attempts by the talented actor. Jackman does come to play, but again everything about this film is so sloppy in terms of the direction or underwritten it doesn't matter.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

X-Men: The Last Stand

X-Men: The Last Stand took the noticeable improvements of X-2 over the original, and immediately set fire to them. The film is curiosity as you see what appears to be a director without passion for the material in anyway make a film anyways. Bree Ratner treats the previously established character more of a series of action figures for him to bash together. Any developments are dropped and instead we get a two dimensional showdown between good and evil. This is a film the trudges along without a care in the world. Characters are killed without care, or their character's assassinated without a reason. New characters are introduced and it is basically up to the actors for any development. For example we are introduced to Angel, played by the best American actor of his age group Ben Foster, who is there just to fulfill one requirement of a later action scene. There is no purpose to his plot. That is the case of most plots which are underdeveloped. The Dark Phoenix subplot is ridiculous reducing the character into a one note villain who glitters away her foes for no real reason. There technically could be a conflict for Wolverine, who probably got the least harmed by appearing in this film, but that is wasted by the fact that Phoenix barely plays into the central plot involving Magneto. She's often just there to the side for no real reason. Now as basically a series of sequences to bash action figures together the film even falls short. The action is most often clunky, with awkward special effects, as the fight sequences look ridiculously staged. Although there are technically a few okay elements, a few of the performances, the film is a waste and so disposable that the series itself did not mind erasing it from existence.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

X-2: X-Men United

X-2 is the far more successful followup to the original x-men, making use of what that earlier film setup and smartly dismissing its lesser qualities. Technically it keeps the characters that did not quite work in the original film, but it reduces them in the right way actually. That is it still uses them for something, but limits the use in an effective fashion. The film shines most by embracing Wolverine even more, and though it does not go full blown comic book it disregards that pseudo apologetic tone found in the first film. The funny thing is it has a bit more fun with the concept, particularly in the character of Nightcrawler, even though it removes the needless winking to the audience. It instead finds its more humorous moments within character moments. The film though still by and large has a technically a darker tone, though never too dark. In it's effective exploring not only the potentially dangerous qualities of the mutants, but also the equally dangerous human reaction. The film thrives with its far better use of villains. Magento comes to life much more this time around by having him mostly a supporting anti-hero with a few well placed moments of true villainy. It's main villain in Brian Cox's Stryker, is a proper scene stealer, as per usual for Cox, but it goes a bit further through the relationship developed between the man and Wolverine. Just about everything is a fine improvement over the original. The action is superior, the characters are better realized, and the story if far more engaging almost throughout. I say almost because the one weakness the film does have is in its final scenes where it unfortunately sets up the third film. More on that later.

Friday, September 23, 2016


X-Men is the timid first entry of the new millennium into the superhero genre. I say timid in that it is most resistant to accept its comic book background. It's costuming far more influenced by The Matrix from the previous year than the comics that birthed it, with the script often mocking the comic whether for its use of costumes or code names. This goes beyond simply style though and actually simplifies certain characters. The film is resistant to back stories, only really featuring the pivotal one between Magneto and Professor X, and just the thinnest of romantic connection between Jean Grey and Cyclops. No one really exists beyond when we first see them. For example Sabretooth is made just a one note goon, and his relationship with Wolverine is non-existent to the point that Wolverine even scoffs at the name. The film for the most part wastes the potential of the comic limiting the story even further into a particularly uninteresting plot about Magneto trying to use a changing machine against a group of world leaders. The action is not of anything of note, though not terrible, but I'd say the most memorable moment in the final climax is the terrible line about toads and lightning. The film makes mostly mistakes, focusing so much on Rogue, under developing the supporting characters, using a derivative style, and using such an uninspired plot. But hey it successfully introduced Wolverine, and in turn Hugh Jackman.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Wizard of Oz

 The Wizard of Oz  must  be noted as a true classic. That is simply a fact simple as that. It has successfully remained a mainstay in culture from its release in 39 to now. It does not even have the complications involved with say a Gone With the Wind, due to being primarily set in a fantasy land, and its true message being that there is "no place like home". Now there is much to admire about this film. The whole cast is engaging giving appropriately stylized performances that fit the tone well set by Victor Fleming's direction, or perhaps Mervyn LeRoy's producing but I digress. The production design is some of the most memorable and iconic that has ever graced the screen. Think of any setting in the film and you can instantly recall it. Then there is the makeup which is impressive to this day, as it realizing each character in such lively detail. Then there are all the songs, not a single forgettable one. So what don't like, nothing. This film's earned its place. It's a wonderful film, and there is never a question in my mind why it is regarded as an all time classic. I'll admit I don't love it as much as some, if not many, but nevertheless I can't deny its greatness.

American Beauty

American Beauty tells the story of the empty lives of suburbanites. A subject I personally don't often find all that engaging as there often seems to be an inherent smugness from the creators of the material, as though this people are lower than them. American Beauty has that smugness in spade presenting with open disdain just about everyone. This is from the horny suburban dad, the homophobic closet homosexual (as we all know only homosexual hate homosexuals, please note sarcasm), the vapid homosexuals neighbors, the vapid suburban mom, the vapid suburban cheerleader, the vapid boss, then we get the true ones the moody daughter and the artistic son whose "poetic" lines are so ridiculous they are unintentionally hilarious. Much of this is Alan Ball's thin excessively on the nose screenplay. Sam Mendes's direction does not help as he attempts to manage the tone of the film in such a clumsy fashion. Mendes often allows it to fall into over the top comedy, unintentional or not, which never melds with his attempts to achieve some sort of higher understanding of what is presented in front of us. The problem is there is little to understand in Ball's screenplay, and all Mendes does is make it even harder to digest.

Saturday, September 3, 2016


North is the very worst kind of horrible film, a terrible comedy. The "humor" stemming from a boy trying to find a new family, being helped along by modern day Bruce Willis in 1994, by visiting one stereotype after another. Of course this is not just a comedy where they don't land. The jokes go into a tail spin, run through a crowded skyscraper, killing all, fall into a nuclear test facility and cause a meltdown. The level of atrociousness is truly uh astonishing that anyone could have felt a single line in the film was good idea. As the film is not only unfunny it has a terrible mean spirited quality that makes one's stomach churn watching it. The problem is the film doesn't seem even aware of its own offensive nature, after all how could it given it ends with "it was all a dream". No one can save their rotten material, most don't even try, and the entire film is a festering pile of waste which contaminants all that it touches.

Judge Dredd

Judge Dredd is a most peculiar failure of the 90's, the same when almost every comic book adaptation failed miserably. Judge Dredd took the odd approach of taking a character, who never removes his helmet, and having him be played by movie star Sylvester Stallone who reveals his face rather quickly. The film is a rather strange combination as it does attempt to establish a world more than you'd expect given some of the other elements. The film though seemingly spent the majority of their budget in the opening scene where we get rather Blade Runneresque cityscape, which was a common occurrence in the 90's, one I can suppose commend for effort, but not inspiration. The film after this point gets into its two halves neither which work. One half you have Sylvester Stallone's scenes which are one action cliche after another, but unfortunately not all that entertaining. It also does not help that he is paired with the obligatory comedic sidekick, played to imperfection by Rob Schneider. The other half focuses on the villain, played by an extremely hammy Armand Assante, and not really in a good way. That half though creates far too convoluted of a plot with consistent, incredibly boring exposition to set up clones which add very little when the two paths meet, given that they meet in a standard 90's action conclusion. I don't think it is as terrible, as many make it out to be, but it's not good either. Also extra credit to Max von Sydow, who apparently never phones it in.