X-citing or X-cruciating; The Hippo dorks decide
By Glenn Given firstname.lastname@example.org & Dan Szczesny email@example.com
If there is one constant in the universe, it is that no good X-Men run can last for long. How can you tell when it’s gone sour? First check for characters returning from the dead. Hrmm what do ya know? It looks like Famke Jansen is back despite heroically perishing in X2. Ohh and now, like all ressurrected comic characters, she’s playing for the other side. Second, do the new characters outnumber the returning cast? Huh? Added to the mix this go around are scores of new mutants like Juggernaut, Multiple Man and Kid Omega (wtf?!? totally not even a real X-Men villain) just itching to get a moment of action and then be dispatched by our regulars. Thirdly, does Storm play a more prominent role ’cause she won an Oscar? Yeah, 10-4 on that one good buddy.
X Men: The Last Stand (which I pray to Jeebus is truth in advertising) smells of floppery. I catch a distinct waft of the third Matrix film here, a “gee the first two were so darn entertaining let’s press our luck; all on 57 Black!”
Call me suspicious but what made the first two X-films work was the even-handed respect for the source material. Director Bryan Singer (noticeably absent from this installment, having been replaced by Brett Ratner of Rush Hour fame), knew when the comics were being dash clever and when they were simply stupid. He trimmed the fat off the bloated characters and scaled back the more soap operatic aspects of serialized funny books, namely the countless rehash of old plots and the ressurection of dead characters. Here we have both of those sins on screen. Maybe you’ll cry “But Glenn, despite your nigh-omniscience on all things geekish, those attributes are so prevelant in superhero comics as to define them!” To which I would ask that you acknowledge that those tropes are inherent in books that have passed their prime. They are merely tactics for squeezing another buck out of a poor child’s pocket. Don’t fall for it; just skip this mutated mess. And, not to burst your nerd bubble, but there are scandalusly few giant purple robots in the film. Sorry.
— Glenn Given
There you go again, Arnold, turning your back on your own people. Typical. It's was so easy to climb aboard the successful geek train of the first two movies once you realized how good they were. And soon, after you've waited in line with your Wolverine claws to see X-Men: The Last Stand (and you will), and you're at home later reliving the movie with your action figures and eating hot pockets, you'll continue to publicly deny your appreciation of this movie. You my friend, are a closet dork. There I've said it. It had to be said. That can be the only reason for your defense of anything related to The Matrix and your failure to appreciate the cheese of Catwoman and Battlefield Earth. Enjoying the X-Men is not about high art or even expectations, or you know, taste. It's about embracing what you are. You have a lot of growing up to do my friend. I'll help you get there, but you have to want to first.
At face value, X-Men: The Last Stand appears to have a lot going against it. Brett Ratner of the Rush Hour has replaced the wonderful Brian Singer and the writers of the new movie are Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg, whose collective resume includes Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Fantastic Four and Electra.
But like the previous two X-Men movies, the strength of the third installment will rest not on whatever journeymen writer or director happens upon the job, but on the brilliant and deeply complex original storylines created by Stan Lee and Marvel. I’m sure my cantankerous colleague across the aisle will label the previous two X-Men movies as pretentious or overblown, but he also likes Tom Cruise movies so what does that tell you?
And this is the movie that fans have been waiting for, the resurrection of Jean Grey as the Dark Phoenix – a storyline so revered in comic fandom that it’s practically taken on mythical status. Mention “Phoenix Rising” to anyone who has read a comic book in the past 20 years (and I’m sure Glenn has), and you will ellicit hushed whispers of praise and near- religious worship. That storyline has been combined with the discovery of a potential mutant cure that would eliminate mutations, and the X-Men, once and for all. The story is one fleshed out in the recent Amazing X-Men comics series being written by Buffy’s Josh Wedon. Once again, a worthy addition to the canon.
So much has been made out of the focus on Halle Berry as Storm or a hairy Kelsey Grammer as the Beast, but so what? Frasier wasn’t thaaaat bad. And Catwoman was funny; she should have won an Oscar for her sensitive portrayal of a modern-day feminist.
The strength of the characters and story – written and illustrated long before Hollywood even considered an X-men franchise – is what will keep this movie and this series afloat.
— Dan Szczesny
Phoenix Rising?!? Well, that might be a great story arc, if they hadn’t recycled it a dozen times. To bring that tale to screen would require the flabbergasting inclusion of such X-Men luminaries as the space mutant Starjammers and the Shi’ar Empire (an intergalactic civilisation who wisk the X-Men away to fight a poor man’s Star Wars. It’s fan fiction at it’s worst.) On another note — you’re completely insane. Catwoman was the film equivilent of being stabbed in the face. Secondly, Joss Wedon can’t plot his way out of a wet paper bag let alone develop compelling conflicts and subtext. And thank you for cutting your own Achilles by mentioning the gobsmackingly awful pedigree of X3’s writing staff. Bravo Szczesny, bravo. Perhaps for your next trick you’ll mention the sad sack of a director who replaced Singer.
Ah, Dan you rube — you make my job almost too easy.
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