Monday, May 29, 2006


Someone once said that you can polish a piece of shit, but it's still a piece of shit.

People say all kinds of stuff, but it applies to the new Xmen film fairly well. The thing is, well, they put on so much damn polish that I bought the film like it was a hooker at a garage sale.


The movie has two layers: One is the "HOLY CRAP THAT GUY SHOT LASERS OUT OF HIS FACE" layer, and the other is the "Hm. This doesn't make any sense as a movie" layer. There's also the "Why does Brett Ratner hate the X-Men?" layer, but we'll get to that.

On the former level, the movie owned me. I watched Beast flip around and kick people's asses, even though he was really Frasier under all that immovable makeup. I watched Wolverine, empowered by plot, kick the asses of everyone in the room. I watched an apparently 13-year-old girl kick the ass of Juggernaut, and it totally made sense. I watched Iceman do stuff and then do some other stuff. And so on. Essentially, I got caught up in the bright flashing lights and loud noises, and the film took me away.

I didn't even notice until later that the film had some serious flaws. There were a couple of major deaths in the film that were handled poorly, even without the "OMGZORZ THEY KILLED MY FAVE CHRRACKTOR AND INVALIDATED ALL MY FANFIC" angle that a lot of people seem to take. Cyclops in particular got a punk death.

Basically, in the film, someone has discovered a cure for being a mutant. A mutant kid has the power to negate other people's mutant powers, which supports the idea put forth in the comics of "Mutant Power as Convenient Plot Device." Like the gadgets of Blade or Batman Begins, if a character needs something, someone out there has a mutant power that can do it. Magneto meets up with a tattooed chick who can run fast and ALSO detect mutants and tell you their "class." Meanwhile, it took Magneto and Prof. X to invent Cerebro, which did the same thing, but with much flashing of lights and without the cool running-fast powers.

So anyway, the US is putting the mutant cure on the market, but it's also using it as a weapon against mutant criminals. We're supposed to see this as a violation, even though people like Mystique are terrorists and mass murderers. So OMG, it must be stopped, etc.

Also, Jean Grey is back from the dead in a plot twist that surprises no comic book fan older than 12, but now she's sorta evil and more powerful. And she has bright-red hair now, which means she's evil. Actually, she was standing there all in red, with a corset (that was actually really loose on the thin Famke Jansen) and cloak and looking for all the world like the Scarlet Witch. Anyway, first thing she does is kill Cyclops like a punk. Then she seduces Wolverine (because, really, how can you not?) and then kills Prof. X. Big funeral.

Suddenly everyone is afraid that the school is under siege, even though Magneto said in so many words that any mutants who stay out of his way will not be harmed. A true Ratnerian scene of anguish ensues.

The real difference between this film and the Singer ones is that Ratner has no damn clue what he's doing. Here's a scene from the film:

Wolverine: Grr, argh. I'm such a beast. Also, I have lots of empathy and am the perfect man.
Rogue: Oh, I am so comflicted. Sean Ashmore likes me, but he also wants to get into Kitty Pryde's pants. But she has the power to phase out of her pants without effort, and the moment I even touch Sean Ashmore all of his inexplicable lustworthiness will absorb into my skin. Boo the fuck hoo.
Wolverine: Grr, snort. I say you stick to your guns, bub. Rowr. Maybe make him some muffins that say, "LUV U" on them. Or draw him a picture of you two holding hands.
Rogue: You're so manly-yet-sensitive, Wolverine. Any girl in the audience would be lucky to sex you.

That's essentially it. Toss in something witty that plays on every character's powers ("Rogue, you suck!" or "Not everyone sees the world through rose-colored glasses, Cyclops! OMG LOL"), and you have the wit in a nutshell.

Two new X-Men joined the cast this time: Beast, played by Kelsey Grammer having just come from a Botox injection, and Angel, played by a marble statue with wings. Angel's role in the film was pretty much to flap about and represent how awesome being a mutant was to those mutants who had graceful and beautiful wings. I think if I were a mutant whose superpower was the ability to constantly shit out of my nose, I'd probably be very cross with Angel.

Storm played a much greater role in the film, too, which I think is a large reason why Cyclops bit it like a teething baby at a styrofoam festival. Luckily, she didn't have a hell of a lot to say; she mostly blew crap up and flew around--a pleasant improvment over Old Storm, who generally flitted about sayting stupid crap until the moment when she could make coulds go away or attack stuff with CG tornadoes.

In the end, stuff blew up, which is always good, and superheroes were doing the blowing-up of stuff, which is even better. The big problem with the film, outside of the fact that it sucked in general, was that it threw crap all over the franchise. It seemed obvious that Brett Ratner cared about the film to the total of zero, the way the actors were generally phoning in their performances and toddling about in what appeared to be the least comfortable leather outfits imaginable. He killed off Cyclops, Jean Grey, Prof. X, and essentially, Magneto and Mystique. And then, right at the end, he tossed in a bone to anyone who wanted to try to revive the scorched earth. Ms. Awesome came out of the theater announcing her intention to boycott Bryan Singer films from now on, simply because he "abandoned" X-Men and the franchise went down the toilet.

I can see where she's coming from. The film was kinda a jumble of poor direction and flashy, "This oughtta get 'em!" action and SFX. I'm almost ashamed that I liked it as much as I did, but it doesn't take much to get me with a superhero flick.

I'd like to see the film again, but not until after I kick Brett Ratner in the balls and make sure there'll be an "X-Men Begins" in the next 15 years or so. In the meantime, I'll go see Superman Returns alone and fret about what it means about me that I liked X-Men: The Last Stand.