X Men— X-Troverts Xtraordinaire

I have to admit,  I have not been the world’s biggest fan of  the X Men, either the previous movies or the comic book originals.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved Marvel comics as a kid growing up, but I mostly focused on Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, Captain America (who shows up in theaters next month) and the like.  There were lots of different comic lines in the Marvel arsenal, and X Men, as far as I was concerned was down the depth chart.   There were various reasons for that.  For one thing, the original X Men mostly got replaced in later years by other characters I did not like as much.  And sure enough this movie has those later incarnations of X Men,  with the exception of Professor X, who I have always liked as a character (Charles Francis Xavier– a good Catholic name for a telepathic scientist).

Let us however for the moment consider the merits of this particular re-boot and myth of origins about the X Men. First of all,  and surprisingly to me, Kevin Bacon makes a good bad guy. Who knew?  And in the weird parallel universe of unexpected parallels, the name of the character Bacon plays is Klaus Schmidt, also the name of the real archaeologist I have just written 4 posts about on this blog on Gobeckli Tepe (which will appear shortly).  In fact the cast as a whole is darn good— James McAvoy as Mr. X, Oliver Platt (of West Wing fame) as the CIA dude, Michael Fassbender as Magneto,  to mention a few.  The cast is good, and there is precious little fat in the plot line. It moves along nicely.  Secondly, I like the setting of the story in the context first of WWII and then of the Cold War in the early sixties with clips from JFK.   This is well done.   Thirdly, for a movie with lots of CG and special effects, they are not intrusive, and it is a relief this movie was not in the gimmicky 3 D.  I got a ticket to the early bird show for 5 dollars.  Not bad.

The M.O. of the X Men stories is about those who don’t fit in or conform to normal human society and the travails of being such a person.  But then this is a common Marvel theme (see Spiderman for instance).   It is not a theme unique to the X Men stories.  And to really like a story you have to like the characters, and for me, while these characters are interesting, they generate very little empathy in my case. They have interesting powers, but they are not very interesting as people, nor frankly very believable as characters.  There are exceptions.  I did think the portrayal of Raven made her a more approachable character, but most of the rest were one dimensional figures.   Not so Professor X who is very engaging, complex, and highly principled when it comes to using his powers.   He is not a teenager on the loose with superpowers to spare. I found it a bit trite and annoying the number of times the theme— ‘just be who you are, you have no need to hide’ came up.  Actually mutants have good reasons to hide and to not be themselves.   But in the age of omni-tolerance and ‘everyone is beautiful in  their own way’ this theme no doubt plays well.   Frankly however, as the character of Magneto shows,  being yourself by which I mean acting on your genuine feelings is not at all the same as being your best self.

At 2 hours and 11 minutes and with a PG-13 rating this movie does not suffer from being either boring or offensive, but it is also not a genuine blockbuster summer film, despite some reviews.  Think cherry bomb rather than atomic bomb if you wish to use the metaphor ‘this movie was the bomb’.     Yes, it has some good scenes, but it is surprisingly lacking in humor or good one-liners.   One could say this is a movie where the odd get even.  But oddly, that theme plays unevenly throughout this film, and does not work as well as it should.  Oh well, we can hope Captain America can come to our rescue next month.

  • Rick

    I too am more interested to see how Captain America turns out, especially as we look forward to The Avengers next year.

  • Jared

    splitting hairs here… this film is technically not a reboot, but an origins-base prequel that is still on the same continuum as the other recent x-men films.

    i never had high hopes for it since the last two (wolverine and x3) were subpar, but i will still probably give it a view when it makes its way to dvd.

  • Lyn

    I saw it today as well. Not bad, had fun with all the nods to the “future” X-Men movies. A few funny lines, but you’re right, while the cast is competent they didn’t have the chemistry needed for the super fun romp I thought this would be. But if you’re interested in the backstory (at least as conceived for this franchise) this addition/edition is a good one. No trailer at the end of the credits, though! But if you see Thor, wait for the trailer.

  • http://saintsandsceptics@blogspot.com graham veale

    Okay,

    The whole “X-men” movie franchise is sub-par, and not worth taking seriously.

    There is a distinct lack of tension. For example, X-men 2 has mutants strolling into the Whitehouse and threatening the President at will. Teenage mutants eliminate eliminate Special Forces units with ease. So how on earth are mutants threatened? The comic books created the Sentinels to answer this question. In the film we can call them nasty names, I suppose. Beyond that, they can take over at will. (Frankly, the “ordinary soldiers and police officers come across as underdogs, and I ended up rooting for them).
    The only real conflict is between naughty and nice mutants. Which comes down to “who has the coolest power”? Which becomes an excuse for special effects.
    We should demand much more, or much less, from pop-corn movies (as “Super-8″ reminds us). Because “Jaws” borrows from “Moby Dick” it becomes a film about death. “The Birds” picks up on the themes of death and alienation. Yet both are excellent pop-corn movies. Of course, their directors did not earn their spurs making pop-videos. They did not have comic books as source material. (Yes, I love comic books, but the Silver Age comics were for kids!)
    Alternatively, we can go down the route of “Battle for LA” and “2012″, drop any pretence of reason, and just go for the roller-coaster ride. I’ve more time for these big, dumb, honest movies, than silly cinematizations of pre-teen material that try to have a political sub-text.

  • http://howtobeablogger.org Gregory Despain

    Thanks again, Very good inforamtion

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