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As with a lot of series, problems arise when the key creative brain is switched from one movie to the next. In this case, Bryan Singer directed the first one, the second one, and produced the fourth one (the prequel). In my opinion, the third one was the worst and we’ll discuss why. But, let us ask the question, why didn’t Bryan Singer direct the third one?  Because he was brought in for Superman Returns and wasn’t available.  (I’ll bet he’s kicking himself for that one).  Not that Rotten Tomatoes is the authority in movie reviews, but if you do a search there for X-Men movies, you’ll see a very big discrepancy between Bryan Singer X-Men movies, and Non-Bryan Singer X-Men Movies, namely, his are very Fresh (in the 80’s) and the others are...not.

Click on the movie to read what I thought of each one.

X-Men (2000)

  • Directed by: Bryan Singer
    • Other movies: X-Men 2, X-Men: First Class, Superman Returns, Valkyrie, Usual Suspect (really!?, ok, way more respect for him than I already had)
  • Notable Cast:
    • Pretty much everybody
    • Hugh Jackman (Wolverine, A.K.A. all the plots are based on me)
    • Patrick Stewart (Xavier, interesting that a Shakespearean actor playing two of the most recognized nerdtacular characters of all time)
    • Ian McKellen (Magneto, you might know him as Gandalf, but you might not know that he is flaming gay. Not saying this a bad thing, but check out his appearance on Saturday Night live, ridiculously funny).
    • Halle Berry (Storm, I list her under “notable” because you’ve probably heard of her and not because she has great acting ability)
    • Rebecca Romijn (Mystique, however, in this case, I DO mention super model Rebecca Romijn because of her acting ability, and not at all because she may or may not look good in a blue paint and a few pasties)



    I don’t remember much of this one, and...eh. I don’t really care. If you wanna watch it go ahead, I remember it being entertaining and enjoyable, but nothing to write about it...wait.  I will go over what I DO remember. The beginning started out introducing Wolverine in a truck for some reason traveling with a little girl and Sabretooth attacks. (Side note, Sabertooth is kinda off in this one, I much prefer the Sabretooth in the Wolverine movie, and yes, the “R” goes before the “E”, I looked it up).
     And, as always, Cyclops gets his magic goggles knocked off and can’t do anything otherwise he’ll kill everybody ‘cus his superpower is melting everything around him without control of what he melts (kind of a crappy ass superpower). While we’re on that note, wouldn’t most mutations be more like this? If we’re talking about evolution here, most of these “powers” would be kinda useless and just a few would be wicked awesome. Of course, no one is going to make a movie about a dude who dispenses mayonnaise out of his armpits like a “Would You Rather” game. And that’s not to say that in the X-Men universe, there isn’t a dude who dispenses mayonnaise out his armpits...but he probably wouldn't be fighting crime with that ability, at most he’d be a detective using his non-mayo based powers. But...moving on.
    In the end, they wind up at the Statue of Liberty (because in a super hero movie, if you put a national monument in it, it means it’s good) and Toad dies for some reason. I don’t need to get into it here, because the people that I am totally copying, Cracked.com, (with slightly less swearing) already covered this ridiculous death here in the article 5 Most Easily Avoidable Movie Deaths part 2.

 

X2 (2003)

  • Directed by: Bryan Singer
    • Other movies he directed: the other good X-Men movies
  • Notable Cast:
    • Everyone from the first one, oh shoot, I gave away the ending of the first one and let you know that all the main characters all survived. No superhero movie would let a main superhero die...would they?



    Up until the X-Men: First Class, this was my favorite. Yes, it’s all about Wolverine and his origin story but that’s ok, we like Wolverine. (so...why did we have an X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie again? Oh yeah, money and Jackman’s hot. I remember now.)  Up until this movie, Wolverine couldn’t remember who made him. Now he remembers that he was made by happy, free loving hippie folk to fight for the environment and God’s creation.  Wait, no, that’s not right. Unlike any other story ever written, and with a completely new take on our government, he was made by an evil branch of the U.S. military. Ahem. If you haven’t seen this one, I recommend it, it’s pretty dang fun.
    I honestly have no problems with this movie, it was just very entertaining, I remember thinking “Hey, I wasn’t that impressed with the first one, but this one rocks!”  And it does, it just does. Then...they made the 3rd one.

 

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

  • Directed by: Brett Ratner
    • Other movies he directed: Rush Hour 1-3, Red Dragon, and a lot of TV movies (not a good sign)
  • Notable cast:
    • All or most cast of the first two (though...don’t really know why they agreed to be in this one) with one notable addition
    • Kelsey Grammar (Beast). He makes a pretty dang good Beast to be honest.
      • You know him as Frasier Crane and Silent Bob.


    Where do I begin. I guess my biggest complaint with this movie was the misused mutants. There are so MANY new mutants the director and/or writer didn’t know how to use them. Three new one’s in particular caught my attention. Angel, who, obviously, has wings, is approached by his father to take a cure to make him normal.  So, instead of taking a drug that would change him from how he was born, and he didn’t chose to be this way and you should just accept who he is! So what if he likes rainbows and eye shadow! He spreads his wings and flies through a window. And that’s pretty much what we remember Angel for in this movie because they couldn’t really figure out how to use him in the script.
    Multiple Man, I’ll let you guess what his power is, is used a whopping ONE time by the “bad” guys to mess with the military and their thermal detector, thinking all of Magneto’s men were in a forest, when, guess what!?, they weren’t. This, admittedly, is a pretty cool application for this ability. However, what did Multiple Man do before thermal imagery was possible? He probably messed with people during actual fights, like the one later in the movie where he didn’t show up for. Hm.
    Juggernaut is a new bad guy as well. He can’t be stopped once he starts running at you. He’s usually depicted as a big dumb guy, and, that’s kinda what he is, however, once he gets started, he IS formidable. In this movie, they have him run and smash through walls. They use a kid who’s super power is to make everyone else’s super power break, and Juggernaut smashes into a wall and stops. It’s actually kinda funny, but...that’s it. That’s all they do with him.
    I have other issues with this movie, like why did they move the Golden Gate bridge to get to Alcatraz other than it’s just cool to see Magneto move a large metal object we all know? And why, in the big fight at the end, do super hero’s and super villains’ resort to PUNCHING each other?!  
    This movie proves that although you have amazing special affects and a great cast and a TITLE that has done well, it doesn’t make it a good movie.
    But I can let you make up your own mind as to why this movie is so bad. Otherwise, I just recommend skipping this one all together, just pretend it never happened, just like Bryan Singer did.

 

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

  • Directed by: Gavin Hood
    • Other movies he directed: In Desert and Wilderness, A reasonable Man, Tsotsi (apparently Academy  winner of best Foreign Film of the 2005, among many other awards nominated and won...so, Hood apparently knows what he’s doing...) and Rendition.  All in all, a few really good movies here, but I haven’t seen any of them...but maybe I should.
  • Notable Cast:
    • Hugh Jackman (Wolverine: A.K.A. how quick can we get his shirt off?)
    • Liev Schreiber (Victor Creed, A.K.A. Sabretooth, the one I like better, remember him from Scream?)
    • Ryan Reynolds (He’s in this? Oh yeah, he plays Wayne Wilson/Deadpool)



[Spoiler Alert]   

 

I hated this movie. Yes, there were some fun, entertaining parts in it, but honestly, I thought the entire plot was unnecessary.  Basically the entire plot was a beautiful woman pretending to be in love with him (just like a woman am right right?...ok...moving on) in order to gain his confidence and cut his hair off because that’s the source of his super strength.  Wait, no, that’s the biblical story of Samson (WILL SOMEONE MAKE THAT MOVIE PLEASE! HE KILLS A THOUSAND PEOPLE WITH A JAW BONE, THAT’S MORE AWESOMER THAN 300!).  In this movie, Sabretooth pretends to kill Wolverine’s wife for some reason. This is a perfect setup for a revenge story...but they can’t have him kill Sabretooth in THIS one, because it’s a prequel to the first X-Men movie which Sabretooth is IN, so...kinda shot yourself in the foot there didn’t ya?

There’s one cool part where Wolverine takes out a helicopter with his bare hands. Even John McClane (don’t forget the 2nd “C”) couldn’t do that, he needed a car. To be fair to Mc...Clane, Wolvering DID use huge metal claws, not JUST his hands, but still, pretty wicked awesome.  Now, you might think that I would also think one of my favorite parts was when Hugh Jackman “had” to run around naked for some reason and jump off a waterfall (sounds...windy).  However, because I’m not a woman, you would be wrong. However, this IS the favorite part of every WOMAN who liked this film, which, I’m sure, is every 3.5 million women on the planet. Give or take a few hundred thousand who may or may not be heterosexual or like muscular, naked men.

This movie reminds me of the Star Wars prequels in that, it was not good, and we ask this question...”why did they make this movie? And why did I pay to see it in the theatre?” (yes, I put the “R” before “E” in theater just to be consistent ‘cus of dumb SabREtooth.)

And, because nothing in this movie is EVER referred to in the original X-Men movies, they have Wolverine LOSE HIS MEMORY!  Nice one guys, good plot device and excuse to have a needless movie.  All in all, a horrible movie and one to be avoided, even with naked Jackman.

X-Men: First Class (2011)

  • Directed by: Matthew Vaughn (But like I said, Bryan Singer who directed the original two, produced this one)
    • Other movies he directed: Kick-Ass, Stardust, and Layer Cake.
  • Notable cast:
    • James McAvoy (Xavier, you might know him from Wanted as Wesley...or not ‘cus you probably didn’t see it ‘cus neither did I, or maybe Robbie from Atonement...but I didn’t see that either, so, O for 2 for me)
    • Michael Fasbender (Magneto, you may remember him from Inglorious Basterds, or as Logan from Fable III, or 300 as a shirtless, abtacular soldier.
    • Kevin Bacon (Sebastian Shaw, A.K.A. evil Natzi bad guy, this antagonist Bacon plays is a bit more enjoyable than the one he played in Sleepers)
    • Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique, you might know her from Winter’s Bone, but I don’t, ‘cus I didn’t see it, but it got some awards, so maybe I should)
    • Oliver Platt (Man in Black Suit, seriously, that is his character name. He plays an uncharacteristically nice G-man)



Just so you’re not worried, because this is a newer movie, I won’t give away the end. But...since it is a prequel, I’ll bet you can guess what DOESN’T happen.

Let me tell you why I liked this movie: It’s GOOD.  Good directing, great acting, good dialogue, fun action, amazing story arc, very good character development, and...uh, the...um...sand was nice too. Stayed right where they put it.

Seriously though, just a great film. I say film because in my mind, when a “movie” is made to this caliber it ceases to be just a “movie” and becomes a film, where people start noticing the time people took to really think about the plot and the characters and why they might do or say in given situations. And to use the individual characteristics OF the characters to make an inside joke to us, the fans and audience, that only WE would get. [Warning, incoming swear face AND spoiler]. Case in point, when Xavier and future Magneto are looking for more mutants, they walk into a bar where Hugh Jackman is sitting and before they can even open their mouths, he says “Go Fuck Yourself.” See! Really funny!  Those of us who KNOW Wolverine’s character know that’s exactly what he would say.

Not only is it pretty dang funny in places, it’s also very serious. It becomes believable why Eric Lensherr becomes Magneto and just wants to kill everybody because of his experience in Nazi concentration camps during World War II and his treatment from Bacon’s character. This isn’t treated lightly, and, in my opinion and as far as a super hero movie can, quite realistically.

So...even though I normally hate prequels (especially ‘cus I can’t spell the dang word), this one was not only enjoyable but actually makes itself essential in the narrative of the X-Men story. Much the same way Cube: Zero did for Cube, but...if you don’t like weird ass sci-fi horror flicks...then don’t see those.

 

Xmen Wrap Up

So, over all, I like where this series is going. They’ll probably make a sequel to the prequel and hopefully, and they’re already working on a sequel to the Wolverine prequel (though dear God why?!) and eventually, a sequel to X-Men: Last Stand (the third one).  And hopefully Bryan (with a “Y”) Singer will be involved, ‘cus it seems he’s the only one who knows how to make a good X-men movie.

Travis' Response

X-Men: Interesting note on this one, I learned that Joss Whedon was the one that wrote the infamous "Do you know what happens when a Toad gets struk by lightening?" line, which convinces me that it isn't the line that is bad, just the delivery. Imagine Buffy saying this line, how would she say it different? Probably more dead-pan. Whedon also wrote the "Prove it!" "You're a dick." "Ok." bit with Cyclops and Wolverine. I otherwise had no real problems with your reviews for the first three films, but the last two I wanted to bounce some things off you.

X-Men: Wolverine: I liked this much better than you. Your main points of contention is that Sabretooth was mishandled and that he lost his memory, making the story pointless. Personally, I Don't understand that last point because we already know Wolverine loses his memory. This is established in the original movies, as is the weapon X program in X2 (So yes, some of the stuff IS referred to in the original movies). The point is to see how he lost his memory, since you never knew how. How does that make the movie "needless"? If so, aren't all prequels needless too? It actually makes his showdown with Sabretooth in X-Men 1 a little more emotional. It also explains his fascination with Wolverine's dog tags in that movie. There are plenty of other nods to the original movies and even Patrick Stewart pops in! To me, this is a good tragedy since he loses his love and his brother. Far from a masterpiece, but still good and fun. Also, the next Wolverine film sounds great, it takes place in Japan and has good writers attached.

X-Men: 1st Class: I liked this a little less than you. Now i DID really like this, but I did NOT like how they said "screw you" to the original movies' continuity. The only movie that got out unscathed was the first one. The thing is, they didn't even need to do that! The movie would have been just as good without the changes. Oh well. It is what it is. This one felt like it was trying to be like the new "Star Trek", but without respecting the original cannon by creating an alternate universe. That's all I got for now. Hope all is well in Duluth.


   

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