Tuesday, May 31, 2011

X-Men [Indeterminate Amount of Time] Day 5: Review of X2

We’ve established that the original X-Men film was very good.  It wasn’t perfect but it was well above the standards of comic book films established at the time.  Both a critical and a financial success 20th Century Fox immediately green lit a sequel, thus X2, sometimes called X2: X-Men United, hit theaters in 2003. Bryan Singer was brought back in to direct and a script, again with an annoying amount of hands involved, was developed.  Pretty much the entire cast returned as well to reprise their roles with notable exceptions of Tyler Mane and Ray Park presumably because the filmmakers decided that Sabertooth’s connection to Wolverine was too boring a plot to carry a film (See: X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and clearly Storm’s line “Do you know what happens to a toad, etc.” from the first film was so awful that it physically killed Toad.  I’m pretty sure that’s in the script.   Anyway during pre-production it was decided very early that the story would be a modified re-telling of the little remembered graphic novel X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills which isn’t the most famous X-Men story but one of the most tied to the Human Rights aspects of the books.

Like with its predecessor we know the ending to story; generally considered superior to the first one it made over four hundred million dollars worldwide and convinced Fox to make another one as clearly they’ve never heard of the phrase “quit while you’re ahead”.   I certainly recall thinking this film was amazing when I saw it in theaters but that was a long time ago and I’m much more bitter towards this particular franchise than I was before.  Does it hold up eight years later?

Click below to find out.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

X-Men [Indeterminate Amount of Time] Day 4: Beta's Top Ten X-Men Part Two

Yes, I learned what "Uncanny" meant by reading comics.  What of it?
After a brief hiatus its time to finish my Top Ten X-Men.  If you haven’t seen number 10 through 6 you should really go back to X-Men [Month/Year/Forever?] Day 2 and check it out.   But in case you are so extraordinarily lazy that you can’t be bothered with links or scrolling down I’ll give you the recap:

#10: Havok
#9: Colossus
#8: Emma Frost
#7: Shadowcat
#6: Jean Grey

So let’s warm things up with another Honorable Mention.

Honorable Mention #2

Storm: I admit that I used dislike Ororo Munroe, and have even said as much in this blog in the past, but after Black History Month and all the research I did for her profile I find myself more appreciative of her character.  However she doesn’t make the list because I stand by the idea that she hasn’t really done all that much the last twenty years aside from marrying Black Panther, and I’m not convinced that was a good idea. Raise her stock, Marvel, then we’ll talk.

Final Five after the jump.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

X-Men [Indeterminate Amount of Time] Day 3: Review of X-Men (Film)

X-Men Month or Whatever continues! Let's take a break from pretentious Top Tens for a quick review.

So yeah.  Have you heard?  The new X-Men movie is coming out soon.  It’s called X-Men: First Class. Supposedly it’s a prequel to the trilogy of X-Men films that were made last decade but I suspect that that’s a filthy lie.  We’ll know more when it actually comes out but for now I’m cautious.  Speaking of those other movies at this point the oldest of them is over ten years old which feels pretty weird.  I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at those original films.

X-Men hit theaters in 2000 and was directed by Bryan Singer who admittedly didn’t know much about the comic beforehand but came to greatly appreciate the characters over time. The film’s script was worked on by about a half a dozen writers, including Joss Whedon, but only David Hayter got his name in the credits. No one can argue the legacy of the original X-Men film.  Prior to it America had a very rocky relationship with comic book movies. Sure Blade was a hit but stinkers like Steel, Spawn and, of course, Batman & Robin had pretty much bred the idea that movies based on superhero comics were far more likely to be awful than decent.  I recall that in the months leading up to this film there was a lot of guessing where it would fall in terms of quality and faithfulness.  One thing that had a lot of people excited though was the inclusion of Sir Patrick Stewart, whom many of us nerds had been calling for years to portray Professor X in addition to him playing Mister Freeze but the joke ended up being on us, I guess).

But it’s eleven years later so we all know how this story ended: X-Men was a big hit and turned the tide of Hollywood’s ability to exploit use comic books as source material for their films. Spider-Man, Batman Begins, Iron Man; all blockbusters that followed in this film’s footsteps.  But the question is was it actually a good flick?  Fantastic Four, another film following in this one’s footsteps, was a huge piece of horse-plope yet it was successful enough to get a sequel. Just because it made history doesn’t mean it deserved to.

Full review after the jump.

Monday, May 23, 2011

X-Men [Indeterminate Amount of Time] Day 2: Beta's Top Ten X-Men

They were the strangest because..."X" means "mysterious" I guess?
So today we’ll be doing the Top Ten X-Men Part One meaning I’ll be discussing the first five on the list and later this week (Hopefully) we’ll do the last five.  This way I can avoid writing, and you can avoid reading, a giant amount of gobbledygook.   Let’s get to the list, shall we?

Honorable Mention:

Gambit: I used to love Gambit. He was mysterious, possessed a roguish charm and was flat-out cool.  Of course in 1997 or 98 Marvel foolishly revealed the details of his dark past and it basically killed the character for me.  Since then he’s usually written as a fairly 2-dimensional character who’s only consistent trait is that he’s in love with Rogue.  I feel like I have more to say but I think this might deserve its own blog post.

Click below for the list proper.

Friday, May 20, 2011

X-Men [Indeterminate Amount of Time] Day 1: The Abridged History of the X-Men

The greatest "superhero" team in history.  No argument
X-Men: First Class looms ever so closer to theaters. With all the TV spots and trailers floating around literally everywhere it has made me realize that, despite all my Wolverine bashing, I haven’t talked all that much about the X-Men.  That’s weird to me because I spent a whole lot of time talking about the Avengers but the fact is that the X-Men have always been my favorite superhero team.  I’ve been a huge fan of the team as early as 1989 having been exposed to the TV pilot Pryde of the X-Men a full five years before I started collecting comic books. So yeah, I’m a fan. Thus I declare this week undisclosed amount of time to be X-MEN WEEK/MONTH/WHATEVER! Let’s begin with an extremely abbreviated look at the history of the X-Men. I’ll be skipping a lot of details since otherwise I’d be writing a whole book rather than a blog entry, so bear with me.

The original comic book “The X-Men”, later retitled “The Uncanny X-Men”, was first published in 1963 written and drawn by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  Lee reportedly wanted to call the title “The Merry Mutants” but then-Marvel publisher Martin Goodman shot it down because no one would know what a mutant was.  Lee came back with the name “X-Men” and Goodman loved it, apparently under the impression that while “mutant” is a crazy made up word that no one would understand an “X-Man” was somehow A-OK!  In his defense I’m fairly certain that a book called “The Merry Mutants” would have deservedly been canceled for good by the time the 60s were over. The original idea of the X-Men seemed to be Lee merging his concepts (And much, much more popular titles at the time) of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four but thankfully the book has evolved since then.  The X-Men are a team of super powered mutants (Lee has said that he had grown tired of coming up with stories explaining how heroes had gotten their powers so in this case he just said “They were born that way! Stop asking!”) who have been recruited by Professor Charles Xavier to help him achieve his lifelong dream of seeing mutants and humans living as bothers.  Obviously this is reminiscent of Martin Luther King, Jr. as the mutant struggle for equality is very similar to the Civil Rights Movement and the fight for Human Rights in general.  This was not always the case.  Originally there were a generic teenage superhero team that may or may not have been a rip-off of an eerily similar DC Comics title Doom Patrol (It’s mostly considered to have been a coincidence, though).  The title eventually became one of the most popular books during the Bronze Age of Comics and the dreaded Dark Age of Comics.  As I identify myself as a minority it’s easy to see why I like the X-Men.  Between them and Spider-Man (aka Peter “The Devil is My Wingman” Parker) my devotion to comic books was assured from an early age.

More stuff after the jump.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: Thor (2011)

Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.

I’ve talked about the upcoming Avengers movie before but not for a while. Since the last time I discussed it a lot has happened (Including director Joss Whedon announcing that Black Widow will be the only female Avenger on the team, which sucks) most obviously that Thor was released in the theaters.  The newest part of this Marvel Movie Universe project leading up to The Avengers next year this film basically picks up where Iron Man 2 (Which I assume we’ve mostly all seen by now) left off; focusing on the owner of the mysterious hammer in the huge crater in New Mexico.

Focusing on this movie alone Thor is a hard sell to the average movie going public. This is not a typical comic book based superhero film where some dude gets powers and begins to fight crime (Well, that is how the comic started but most of us don’t really remember that).  This is, and always has been, about turning the myth of the Norse god of thunder into a science fiction epic.  Then again we live in a world where Abraham Lincoln has been fictionalized as a vampire hunter so maybe this version of Thor isn’t completely out of place in today’s society.   This film was directed Kenneth Branagh one of the most well known names in the world of Shakespeare (He’s directed several film adaptations of his work) and despite not really being known for his big budget action films he sort of makes sense as the person at helm of a movie like this. But the question is this: is Thor a good film or even a decent follow-up to The Incredible Hulk and the Iron Man franchise?

The answers lie after the jump, verily.

[WARNING: There are a few relatively minor spoilers in this review, but spoilers nonetheless.]

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: Water for Elephants

I don’t want to badmouth Twilight because this is neither the time nor the place but I must mentioned that I have several problems with the franchise ranging from story elements, characters and marketing for the movies but for better or for worse Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are the public faces of the franchise.  So if you hate Twilight its really easy to hate those two.  Yeah it’s not exactly fair but someone has to take the hit and I don’t know what Stephanie Meyer looks like.  The best way to escape that trap is to prove you’re a talented actor outside of whatever crap generated all that wrongly blamed animosity.  With Stewart I’ve seen a few of her flicks, The Runaways (Which she was pretty good in but certainly better than co-star Dakota Fanning) and The Cake Eaters (Which she was pretty goddamn good in, despite the title making no freaking sense).  While her performances didn’t redefine my views of what it is to be a thespian or anything she did show me that’s she’s a versatile actress who deserves a bit more credit.  If locked in a room with one of my other Hollywood punching bags (Like, let’s say, Megan Fox) and forced to fight to the death armed only with their acting ability I’d wager that she’d go all “Sub-Zero” on them and emerge victorious.  Also I’m oddly soothed by her voice and I’m not sure why.

Kristen Stewart Wins!
 However I have never seen a movie starring Robert Pattinson and, as he’s a “pretty boy” far richer and more successful than I’m likely to ever be, I have a much more serious frothing anger towards him.  Now this is where Water for Elephants comes in.  Based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Sara Gruen it was directed by Francis Lawrence.   This film is mostly about being in a circus but I know next to nothing about such things save for the gut feeling that those who live that life, as well as professional wrestlers and possibly magicians, look down at me and mine with their secrets and lies.  CURSE YOU ALL!   Anyway this film and a lot of positives going in but I hesitated because Pattinson makes me hate myself but I’m nothing if not a sucker for punishment, so here we are.

Full review after the jump.

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