As a big film ponce I’m not a massive fan of the big budget blockbusters that bundles of people flock to see time and time again.
This particular point of view is aimed at the not so marvelous comic book movies. I do like comic book characters, well some of them, but not the films they jump into these days, the action packed one-liners that are getting ever more ridiculous in an attempt to push their subjective hero’s to the maximum.
What they lack in story they make up for with long winded action sequences and a baddy that seems impossible to defeat, right up until the last quarter of the film, when the hero finally realizes that they are in fact super human and the baddy is just a jumped up power fiend with a weakness for pride & honor or something.
Which is odd, seeing as the comic books these wildly interesting characters spawned from revolved around the story and characters, with fight scenes that barely rivaled “Pow” and “Whaam”, dialogue pretty much stays the same, lazy script writers.
One of my many problems with these films is the way that they pretty much transfer a comic and put it into film. Take me as a bit of a cynic, but I’d much rather see a 3D version of the hero’s we so often fantasized about, a character come to life rather than a 2D stereotype of their former drawn selves.
But enough of the ranting, how I bloody love a great British rant, I want to pick out my most recent favourite in the comic world films, one out of the consistently inconsistent X-men franchise, and that is the first class First Class.
It was a fresh take on a group of misfits that have a past as interesting as it’s future, I’m surprised they didn’t open the franchise with a how they came to be story, but very glad they didn’t because Matthew Vaughn gave the film such a beautiful base, a set of characters that were as deep as the colours they were living in, super stylish and with a story to get invested in, (I don’t think it’s possible to get away from villains that want world dominance and to start world war three, they ought to take a leaf out of Putin’s book, so I’ve given up contending the greedy power hungry villains.) the story had a realness that was as much a surprise as it was a joy to sink into.
One thing I appreciated was seeing the characters in a different light, seeing a side of them we hadn’t seen before and to give Xavier a hard time finding and coordinating his team, without making every scene with a group a laughable affair like the hilarious scenes that the avengers gave us, (too full of sass and terribly stitched together lines that tried so hard to sound and look cool, and we all know, that ain’t cool) was a great start to my favourite X-men movie and a worthy second place on a comic book film scale, second to, of course, Chris Nolan’s Batman – A showcase in how to do it right: well known characters in a fresh story. (I wonder who’s bright idea it was to start up another series already, next there’ll be a tv show
To oppose my enjoyment in this film, I’ve got my piece about the ending, it’s rare these days to come out of the cinema without having something to say, so here’s mine.
For any prequel, we come to see how things started out, we all know the characters and what they’ve been up to in their futures and so we all tend to know a fair bit more about the characters than they do themselves. This is a beautiful platform for irony and foresight, bringing the audience into the film with the characters, we as an audience can get so much more involved and invested if foresight and irony are used in a way that Shakespeare would be impressed with.
We all knew that at some stage Xavier would become paralyzed.
We all knew that Erik would become a villain as Magneto.
And I for one was more than surprised when those two, very large changes and twists in the characters fates were revealed right at the last scene. This confused me, before it frustrated me, why, when the whole audience knows that it will happen, why would a writer put those two challenges into the end of the first movie that is bringing to light their pasts, yes put the ideas into motion, I like where Erik left off, trying to make right where he has been wronged, yet still holding strong feelings for Xavier, still not quite Magneto. That works as a good end to lead into a second film.
But I can’t get over the paralyzing of Xavier, it’s just too soon and more importantly too obvious, coming from the man with the ending of layer cake under his belt, it seems Hollywood got the better of him and the production company kept a close eye on the last minutes of film.
It frustrates me because I would have loved to of seen a sequel to the prequel, I for one have had about enough of the old cast of X-men, they’re too much like the comic book films that don’t do any justice to the characters and stories that earned them time on the silver screen. I would have liked to seen Xavier battle with Erik, the two pulling in two very different directions and each trying to get the other thinking in the same way, each trying to get the other to become better.
It’s not just the fact that they ended the first film on a character pivots that could’ve made a heartbreaking second act downward spiral for Xavier and the chance for Erik to become more Magneto with the power of the team behind him, he could be leading them all down a darker path while Xavier struggles to come to terms and manage with paralysis, honing his talents.
Instead, we see the return of the first stand crew mix, straight away, second film in, with the originals. True to comic book folklore but most definitely an Alien vs Predator type film, a final squeeze to get the last drops of life from the franchise and cast, before the next bunch stroll in.
One thing that really gets my goat is when a film that comes from a book, short story or comic just doesn’t make a good transition from the pages to the screen.
Not only is it hard to ruin already credited work, but also doesn’t give an audience any faith in writing. Films rarely get the same amount of depth that comes from the pages, but the story is still being brought to life and all that it needs is a good translation into script, trim the fat and lean it down, but whatever the fat, don’t cut and scrimp on character, don’t waver from the story, and make sure the dialogue is natural and not too written.
Back to the rant in hand, I feel a meeting of both casts of the x men series wouldn’t of been such a problem if we had at least seen them try and keep the new series separate, if they hadn’t ended the film like they did and instead followed on into another film, where we get to see more of our favourite characters growing into the X-men, more past to feast on and foresight to keep us on the edge of our seat, fiendishly chewing on finger nails.
And what a success the first Origin film was, a strangely short series considering the vast amount of characters available to delve into. And to all those who say Wolverine is the only one who’s interesting enough to hold his own movie, aren’t you in the least bit intrigued at how the rest of the not Wolverine members came to be? Not even one bit of intrigued at how Cyclops got on in his teens?
So what if there isn’t much past to dredge up, a writer is credible only for their creativity, yeah they’re playing with pre made characters, but we all used to make up scenarios for our toys to act out, no need to get uptight about how fanboys and girls are going to take it, they’d appreciate a respectable film that doesn’t fade away like a poorly taken polaroid. I’d like to see who ever is in control of letting these films be made, make something for the different medium, something exciting, something new.
And all this results in my not wanting to go and see the latest X-men shenanigans. I can’t take another catastrophic save the world fiasco, let alone with all the troubles and gliches that come from time travel and then the effects of a double sized cast, narrower dialogue and next to no time to get to know any of the characters, again another spike at the lack of a fresh series.
All I can think about is how the characters interact with one another, a Professor X looking back at his former, full bodied self and also a chance to twist Erik’s thumb to not be a nob and go all evil Magneto and The Brotherhood.
Wolverine being wolverine, who doesn’t like that, we can just leave him to go a bit rogue, save the world and have a cigar.
A chance for mystique to get up to no good and generally be a confusing, whose side are you on twist to the party.
And whom are we left with? A few other mutants who can’t quite get into the limelight, constantly over shadowed by, not the army of alien robotics that are going to be attempting the destruction of the world, but by the mess that is going to be created from an already large ensemble cast almost doubling, with a light bit of time travel to get everyone suitably confused to boot. Bring forth the physicists to point out some flaws, they’ve got rather good after their Looper warm up.
There looks to be too much happening at once, yet another “it’s based on an actual comicbook storyline” problem for everyone enduring it, I’d like to know how many comics it took to tie up that storyline. The problem being, it is a legitimate comic book story, but as I have and will keep saying, it’s not easy to just transfer anything into a film, something has got to give.
Unless you’re Peter Jackson and you manage to make three long films out of one not so long book, the opposite side of the scale of the not quite right book to film dilemma. I won’t get into it now but we could’ve seen The Hobbit as one film and then crafted a very nice trilogy out of the other Baggins books in the same Hobbiton collection, instead of stretching out the hobbit, filling in spots and picking out lead villains form different books and mashing them all into one happy trilogy that makes me wonder how The Lord of the Rings got away unscathed, to sound like a fool – I was expecting to see the Hobbit done in a similar fashion to the Lord Of The Rings and be reliant on Tolkien’s writing to pack the punches for themselves.
Though I do like the idea of not keeping to the straight and narrow, mainly when talking about comic books, they can keep going as long as writers keep doing so, the same I reckon, will be best devised in the film industry, when producing the bloody things. Get a good writer to write a good story for the characters to deal with and not see comic book preachers chopping up random lines and letters to patch together films that would resemble a 90’s ransom note, put together with the tatty magazines you get to peruse while waiting for the dentist to take a peek at your teeth.
I can’t imagine that Bond would just stop when they run out of the books; it’d just spark a fire for writers to do their thing and create some new adventures for the British icon. Now that is a franchise that has become truly great, some slumps here and there but fully on its feet thanks to Mendes.
And here I am, hoping for a lift in the quality of comic book films, yes the base target audience is children, but you take a look in a comic book store and count how many under fifteens there are.
Now, I ought to go and see Days Of Future Past, but with a description like this:
The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.
It’s very hard to summon up the will power.
However, there is hope still for them to recover this time travelling snag, already there is a date for the next X; 2016, back to the First Class cast, good.
Name? X-Men Apocalypse, I’ll let you judge that book by its cover.