• Tag Archives X-men
  • Canister X Movie Review #100: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

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    X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
    Written by David Benioff and Skip Woods
    Directed by Gavin Hood
    Runtime 107 min.
    3 out of 5

    Little James was born in the 1800s and was always sick. His family background . . . well, he didn’t have much of one, at least, one that cared. Except for his friend, Victor. One night, during a drunken upset with his later-to-be-found-out father, James learned he could produce bone claws from his hands and defended himself, killing his father.

    That night, James and Victor were on the run, and promised to always stick together. The years go by and the two find a great outlet for their rage: war. Victor (Liev Schreiber) also has a special ability and he is more animal than man, with claws coming out of his fingers. The two are very similar and age very slowly. War after war goes by, and the two eventually end up working with a secret team run by William Stryker (Danny Huston). While on one mission, James—now calling himself Logan (Hugh Jackman)—feels Victor has gone too far in his attack on an innocent and walks out on the group.

    Years later, the group’s been disbanded and Stryker comes to warn Logan that Victor is behind the recent string of deaths of its former members. The only way Logan will be strong enough to fight the always-stronger Victor is to undergo a special experiment of Stryker’s own design: graft the indestructible adamantium to his bones. Logan agrees.

    But there’s something Stryker hasn’t told him about what’s been going on and when Logan finds out, he’s furious and wages an all-out one-man war against Stryker, Victor and anyone else who stands in his way.

     

    On the action: cool fight scenes and neat concepts. However, it seemed to me Logan was a little too acrobatic and was able to survive way more and take way more pain than even a mutant with a healing ability could.

    On the story: works for me, in that we knew Logan had a history going in. He was the star of the X-Men movies after all, and X2 especially focused on Logan’s origins as much as they were able to without detracting from the main story. I did like seeing what really went on and, more specifically, how Logan lost his memory. I was under the impression that he lost it because of the adamantium experiment and not after it. Doesn’t matter, but I did feel for the guy when the love of his life wasn’t all she was cracked up to be.

    On Deadpool, because, you know, it has to be covered: the whole story involving the secret ops group Logan was a part of made for fun action. Deadpool’s origin, hey, why not? To be honest, I don’t know if they followed the comics or not because I’m more a DC guy than a Marvel one and don’t know too much about Deadpool other than he’s the “merc with a mouth.” His transformation from normal-looking Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) to disfigured Wade—good stuff.

    Was this a perfect movie? No, unfortunately. It felt too cartoony as opposed to carrying with it the realistic tone the other X-movies had, namely the first two.

    Will I see the sequel? Absolutely. I’m a saga guy so I want to see what happens next.

    Check this film out if you’re the superhero-movie-completist type like me.


  • Canister X Movie Review #99: X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

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    X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
    Written by Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn
    Directed by Brett Ratner
    Runtime 104 min.
    3.5 out of 5

    When a cure is developed to rid mutants of their unusual abilities, the mutant community is torn in two, with some more than happy to get rid of what they view as a curse, while others are vehemently against it. Outraged at this development, Magneto makes war on the humans for trying to rid the world of mutantkind and the X-Men stand in the gap to stop him.

     

    This movie has a lot going on and seems to serve as an ending to the previous two movies, bringing to fruition a major confrontation between the X-Men and the Brotherhood. These two teams, while having skirmished in the other movies, never had an all-out battle and this flick shows that. It also brings to pass a version of the Dark Phoenix storyline with Jean Grey returning from the dead as the Phoenix and working for the bad guys.

    From an action standpoint, this movie has tons of it and it’s really cool. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) kicks butt as usual, while having the Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) running around and smashing into things makes you cheer. Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen) ups the metal-controlling ante in this—I mean, lifting a bridge? Flipping semis? Awesome!—and even having Beast (Kelsey Grammer) beasting it up adds a level of excitement that makes this comic-book-come-to-life a thrill. And when Jean Grey lets loose and destroys her childhood home while a bunch of X-Men and Brotherhood folks are fighting inside it? That was some jaw-dropping stuff!

    From a story standpoint, it kind of falters. In a general sense—the overall story, I mean—it’s fine as is. That is, the “what it’s about.” The delivery, however, seems to suffer from the same thing Spider-Man 3 did: too much going on and not enough time to tell it in. Had this third X-Men movie either been part one of two or even the first in a trilogy where the mutant cure is introduced, a war brews, there’s a big battle, some people die, etc. then that would’ve been fine. But it didn’t happen that way. I don’t know if that’s because of a change in hands of directors or what.

    The other thing that I didn’t like—but could’ve worked had the story justified it/been expanded into another movie or two—was everyone dying. We lost some major people in this movie and for seemingly no good reason. I have no trouble with killing off major characters. It can definitely add to the story . . . when done right. In this flick, there didn’t seem any justification for it.

    What’s amazing is thanks to the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014, depending on how that plays out, there’s a chance of undoing some of the stuff that fell short in this outing and bringing back some people from the dead. After all, isn’t that what time travel’s for?

    In the meantime, yeah, if you want a fun superhero movie, I’d still recommend X-Men: The Last Stand.


  • Canister X Movie Review #98: X-Men: First Class (2011)

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    X-Men: First Class (2011)
    Written by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn
    Directed by Matthew Vaughn
    Runtime 132 min.
    4.5 out of 5

    After writing a thesis on mutation, university student Charles Xavier is approached by the CIA for his expertise on the subject as they’ve been tracking the villain Sebastian Shaw, who keeps mutant company. Once convincing the CIA mutants exist, Charles begins to form a team of mutants to go up against Shaw before he can execute his plans to start a third World War.

    Loaded with thrills, excitement, stunning SFX, fun cameos and a strong story, X-Men: First Class is an amazing prequel to the X-Men films that won’t leave you disappointed.

     

    X-Men: First Class is one of my favorites. It was also a good chance to kind of give the X-franchise a boost after X-Men: The Last Stand. What was cool about First Class is it takes place in the same universe on the same timeline and is indeed a true prequel to the X-franchise we all know and love. Yes, there are some continuity flaws, but overall the whole thing flows. Besides, any other bumps that need ironing out can always be fixed with the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past as, well, time travel fixes everything.

    The two main characters in this are Wolverine and . . . wait, kidding, it’s Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and this story goes way back to when they first met and were even on the same team fighting for the same ideals. You got to see how that friendship was forged because their friends-yet-foes relationship was so prominent in the other movies that to make it the spotlight of this one was a smart move.

    This is truly an origin tale as you got to see Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) in her humble beginnings, Professor X all the way back to when he was twelve; they recreated the Nazi camp beginning from X-Men for Magneto’s origin and then expanded on that—which kicked off the main plot of the movie in which Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) wants to use the mutants under his command to kick off World War III—and also how Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hault) becomes all blue and furry as Beast.

    Like the other X-flicks, this movie is amazing at being an ensemble film where each character is given care, the right amount of time in the spotlight, each having unique relationships with the others, and who-does-what-and-why is clearly explained. As a storyteller myself, I find this kind of writing fascinating because it’s easy to fall into the trap of just focusing on one or two people and that’s it, the rest of the supporting cast being way too supporting and not enough of their own people. I think the secret was the X-Men—whether good guy or bad—were approached from the angle of family, the idea that as mutants their mutation was their common bond and it was all for one and one for all regardless of personalities or even if people got along or not. There’s even a bond between the heroes and villains of this flick because of their mutation.

    The SFX were out of sight. The flying sequences were thrilling, the teleportations were amazing, the nods to the other movies—complete with cameos so watch closely—totally added to the world-building of the X-universe. That and the attention to the source material—using the yellow costumes from the classic comics, for example—and the overall story make this an awesome X-Men movie.

    Man, just writing this review makes me want to go watch it again.

    Highly recommended.


  • Canister X Movie Review #97: X-Men (2000)

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    X-Men (2000)
    Written by David Hayter
    Directed by Bryan Singer
    Runtime 104 min.
    4 out of 5

    A small percentage of the world’s population has natural mutations in their genetic code, each manifesting themselves differently. For many, it leads to special talents and abilities, but such capabilities come at a high cost: ostracization from society. Two factions have risen: one which believes that these “mutants” and the rest of humanity can live peacefully side-by-side, and another which believes a war is coming between mutant and humankind, one in which only one side will prevail.

    Welcome to the world of the X-Men.

     

    This flick is considered by many to be the beginning of the modern day superhero film era. Yes, we had Blade before this, but X-Men really cracked the door open in terms of taking a well-known comic property and bringing it to the big screen. Not only that, but there is some serious acting firepower in this movie, namely actors who don’t do garbage, so right there that says something. Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto, Anna Paquin as Rogue—yeah, big deal stuff. Then you throw who was then an unknown into the role of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and you suddenly have a bunch of talented actors taking a serious stab at a story about mutants with superpowers.

    Bryan Singer was known for The Usual Suspects before this flick, and with him at the helm, we got an X-flick that was serious, funny in the right parts, plausible and just plain cool.

    They did right to take the most popular X-character—Wolverine—and tell the story primarily from his point-of-view. I mean, this role made Hugh Jackman’s career and it’s a role he’s gone back to six times, not including the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past due in 2014.

    While the all-black leather costumes weren’t really my thing—I liked the more colorful ones from X-Men: First Class better, which were based off the classic comic book costumes—they brought a level of realism to the movie and prompted that joke later on when Wolverine complains about the uniforms and Cyclops says, “Well, what would you prefer? Yellow spandex?” At the same time, I’m also in the major minority of people who think that properly-armored and modernly-stylized colorful superhero costumes could work in a real world situation. There are guys going around in The Real Life Superhero Movement dressed as such and are helping police after all.

    Anyway . . .

    The trick with an ensemble movie is to give each character enough history and density to make them likeable and relatable from frame one. When you have only a couple hours to do that, you need to have a story that revolves around each of them so they could each have their moment in the sun long enough to get the audience involved with them. X-Men does this for the most part and it’s no easy feat.

    Of course, there is the metaphor of the evils of racism throughout the movie, and how all people are equal regardless of who they are, what they can do and what they look like. This theme is strangely overt yet subtle at the same time. Kind of depends what frame of mind you’re in when watching it and your personal history and feelings on the topic.

    This movie is an interesting, exciting, thoughtful and well-executed big screen adaptation of one of the biggest comic book franchises of all time. Did they nail it perfectly? No. Did they do a good job of taking the X-Men concept as a whole to the big screen? You betcha.

    Recommended.


  • Canister X Movie Review #95: X2: X-Men United (2003)

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    X2: X-Men United (2003)
    Written by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris and David Hayter
    Directed by Bryan Singer
    Runtime 133 min.
    4.5 out of 5

    The rumored war between mutants and humans begins to take shape after a mutant makes an attempt on the life of the President of the United States. Soon, the X-mansion is attacked by military forces led by a man with a hidden vendetta against them. While the X-Men band together to make a stand against those who would rather see them killed or controlled, many of them must also face the demons of their past for good or ill.

    Meanwhile, Jean Grey’s powers are acting up and she’s losing control. The others take notice and try to help, but something else seems to be brewing deep within her.

     

    I love this movie. It was my favorite superhero flick until Spider-Man 2 came out. This movie picked up pretty much where the first X-Men left off, and delivered in spades everything that made the first X-movie so good: solid story, amazing acting, high stakes (even higher in this one), and a respect for the source material. Throw Brian Cox as the main bad guy—William Stryker—into the mix and you got a recipe for a great movie.

    Once again told from Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman’s) perspective, X2 is the story about facing your past and not running from what you find there. We see this not only when looking into Wolverine’s life, but that of Stryker’s, Iceman’s, Rogue’s, and others. Like the first one, the theme of being-different-is-okay is prevalent, and comes more into play as the government exercises its power while it seeks to investigate what it doesn’t understand.

    The hard part about reviewing an X-Men movie is that everyone does so well in their roles, you can spend a thousand words talking about each. Space doesn’t permit that here, but needless to say I can watch Sir Patrick Stewart’s father-figure and leader role as Professor X all day. Couple that with Sir Ian McKellen’s—Magneto’s—diehard devotion to ensuring mutants are ready for the inevitable confrontation with humans and you can see how these two characters are really two sides of the same coin with both wanting the same goal: peace for mutants. Of course, their means of achieving that goal are completely different from one another.

    There’s a real sense of world-building in the X-Men universe, with each location and character fully developed, and as we visit them with each outing, it’s like coming home to old friends.

    This movie is more intense than the first because, like I said, the stakes are higher and all those at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters are in some real life-or-death danger.

    I also appreciate how they showed that if certain people had these special mutant-enhanced abilities in real life how much of a danger they could be to themselves and to others. This is something not often seen in superhero flicks as the villains in here—even some of the heroes—seemed more misguided than simply evil for evil’s sake. And that’s the kind of world we live in, right? How often are those who do something wrong doing so out of misguided intentions? How many times do we do that ourselves?

    I’m really glad they made this movie and made it so well that the franchise has kept going.

    I’m proud to stand united with X2: X-Men United.

    Recommended.


  • Look, Up on the Screen! The Big Book of Superhero Movie Reviews

    Superheroes have invaded film more in the past decade and a half than they have in their entire history. From major blockbusters like Man of Steel and The Dark Knight Trilogy, to DC Entertainment’s line of fantastic direct-to-video animated films, to other super-flicks like The Incredibles, superheroes are enjoying a major resurgence in popular culture and fans have now entered a golden era of superhero cinema.

    Lifelong superhero fan and author A.P. Fuchs has made it his mission to see every superhero movie that’s been brought to screen. Collected here are his first one hundred reviews, covering the major blockbusters of today to the lesser-known super flicks of yesterday along with everything in between.

    Reviewing such classics as the original Christopher Reeve Superman films to the jaw-dropping Marvel Phase One series that include Iron Man 1 and 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, to the movies that arguably started the current age of superhero cinema: The X-Men franchise, he’s got this amazing genre covered. Also included are a multitude of animated features, superhero movies that didn’t quite hit at the box office, pulp heroes and more.

    Look, Up on the Screen! is a collection of reviews for the serious superhero filmgoer from a diehard fan who’s seen nearly all of what the superhero motion picture field has to offer. Whether your theatre is at the cineplex or in your own home, this is one collection that’s a must-add to your bookshelf of behind-the-scenes goodies, movie guides, superhero film novelizations and graphic novels.

    Available as a paperback at:

    Amazon.com
    Amazon.ca
    Amazon.co.uk
    Barnes and Noble
    Other On-line Retailers

    Available as an eBook at:

    Amazon Kindle
    Drivethru Fiction
    Smashwords