Wednesday, May 7, 2008

X-Men (7.14.2000)

Director: Bryan Singer
Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan
Halle Berry, Famke Jansen, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn, Anna Paquin
Watch for: Ray Park, Stan Lee
Editor(s): Steven Rosenblum, Kevin Stitt, John Wright
<--The version I own.

I decided that I'm just going to go ahead and review X-Men first. I get three DVDs from Netflix at a time, and I haven't watched any of of my current ones yet. It'll be at least 3-4 days before I could get Blade here. I'll review it, but this one'll have to be out of order.

I'm also feeling lazy. My plan was to watch each of these again and then write a review after, but I'm gonna put X-Men in right now and type while I'm watching. I've seen this thing so many times, I already have a good idea of what I'd like to talk about.

This is one of the few Marvel films I did not manage to catch in the theaters (the others being Blade and Elektra). I wanted to, believe you me, but at the time I was not yet old enough to drive myself to the theater. This would not happen for another couple of years.

Anyway. I love how this film opens up. I read the novelization before I saw the film, so I was actually surprised to already find a couple of my favorite scenes missing. We see Magneto (McKellen) and Rogue's (Paquin) first time using their mutant abilities, but in the novelization we also see Storm (Berry) and Cyclops' (Marsden) first, and if you ask me, equally if not even more dramatic experiences.
Cyclops' is a little goofy. He was at a school dance, and his woman was being dramatic about him hugging some girl in front of her the day before.
High school girls.
Pssh. I could go on a rant about that one, but I won't.
So anyway, she's hiding in the girl's bathroom, and pre-Cyclops is about to chase in after her when a chaperone says something wise like "They all have to come out sometime". So Cyke goes into the men's room for some reason, when one of his classmates notes how red his eyes are. Soon after this, his power goes into effect and he blasts a hole through the wall between the boys and girls room, prompting his g/f, among others, to scream.

Storm was born in Africa, and her origin revolves around a children's game. A rather brutal one I can't say I understand, and Storm winds up in the middle of a group of children, curled up on the ground as they beat her with sticks and other things. She has her eyes shut and crying, and soon hears the patter of hail landing all around her. Soon, the hail overtakes the other children, knocking them all unconscious, and I have an image in my head of Storm standing in the middle, and no hail has fallen in a small area just around her. I don't know if that was the book or my imagination, though. It'd still be awesome to see.

Anyway. Actual movie.
Singer's got style in the first film. The first discussion between Xavier and Magneto still sends chills down my spine. No music, just two old guys talking.
"We are the future Charles, not them! They no longer matter!"

Then, there's the continuation of Rogue's plotline, moving into Canada where she meets Wolverine. There's a sort of smoggy atmosphere in the film, just one of those cloudy days that won't end. It feels this way inside the buildings, outside, wherever.
I don't recall if Wolverine's punch sound effects are kept constant for the rest of the films, or if they're merely accentuating it in the first scene to clue us in as to why this guy's special. If they have you hear the metal skeleton, then when the main group is talking about it later you don't have to think back "Oh, that's how he beat the big guy down so quickly". You already understand this, and the film can move forward.
Good plan.

Hugh Jackman may be tall, but he's the perfect Wolverine.
Well, for a while. He starts getting mushy later, and while Wolverine did have some of these moments in the comics I read, sometimes it's a little too far.

I'd swear I've seen this bartender somewhere before. Whatever.
Anyway, I'm not going to sit here and discuss the whole film step-by-step. However, this is the strong section for me. Canada. This is the aesthetic I like, and probably a style I'll dive into at some point. Not a lot of music, dim setting, interesting shots... the whole sequence is just excellent. Highlight of the whole trilogy for me. After this, the dip more into the sci-fi action/drama. That's nice too, it it's own way, and somewhat necessary considering the characters they introduce later, but if they could've brought this back later somehow that would've been nice.

"Ah saved yer life."
"No you didn't."

Yeah. I love this part of the movie. It's the best.
I think it's the mood in this film that helped set the realistic approach to most of the latest Marvel films, in the same way people talk about how the 1989 Batman helped start a trend of darker heroes. They don't wear spandex (we all know that line), and when they're not in the basement of the mansion or hanging off the Statue of Liberty, you can almost believe these people might actually exist someday.

Ahh, here it is.
Enter Cyclops & Storm = Exit the dramatic film, enter the sci-fi/action movie.
It's okay, I still like that one too, but it loses a lot of that real world feel pretty quick. Compare Wolverine's first scene in the Mansion to his dialogue with Rogue. There's music, there's voices, there's random automatic doors... it gets very weird. Still excellently done, but it's just an interesting change to witness.
It also seems to be the side of the film people (reviewers) tend to fixate on. We do get elements of the dramatic style later, like when Jean shows Logan his room or IceMan (Mystique, rather) tells Rogue she should run away from the school.
A scene from the novelization I also wish they included would be with Jean coming to bed, with Cyclops already laying there. It was described with Cyclops having a visor on, and Jean looked at him and could see a red light in the visor flash on and off, which simply is him blinking.
I mean, come on. That's cool.

So. Do I give the film 3 stars? 4?
I don't think I'm gonna do the rating thing. There's too many variables. I've done those all over the place on my Netflix, but then I see some later with higher ratings than better films... meh. It's a silly system.

I enjoyed X-Men the first time I saw it, still enjoy it today. It's just a quality movie that firmly helped pave a road for a ridiculous streak of comic adaptations for years to come.
Still, I thank them for that.

Next time: Spider-Man.
Sorry, Blade fans. I know I've skipped right over the release date of Blade 1 & 2, chronologically, but the first won't even arrive until at least Monday. Blame Netflix (or me, for being too cheap to go rent it locally).
I'll get to it. Wesley'll just have to be out of order.


Jennifer said...

I can't wait to hear your take on X3: The Last Stand. I'd tear that thing apart. :) (Sorry, this was my big thought upon finishing this awesome post. :))

*_*Antoine*_* said...

Wasn't Spider-Man before X-Men. Wouldn't that be the film that started the Superhero craze right now?

People always compare Heroes and X-Men but I would say I would prefer Heroes a lot more for the reasons you liked more of the beginning of the X-Men film. Just feels more real, like the people and mutants could really exist and all.