Best X Ever

X-Men: Days of Future Past, directed by Bryan SingerI imagine the birth of X:Men: Days of Future Past was the result of blatantly cynical studio scheming. Some years ago a bunch of studio executives at Fox probably held a secret huddle to plot the future of the X-Men franchise. The trilogy--including the well-received X-Men (2000) and X2 (2003), and the widely-reviled X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) had been successful, though not spectacularly so, grossing $1.2 billion over three movies. … [Read more...]

Thor’s World is Becoming Cliche

Review of Thor: The Dark World, Directed by Alan TaylorAs the Avengers films become more intertwined with one another, they are becoming both more self-referential and more confident in the type of action drama they are trying to cultivate. At the same time, these films are increasingly mainstream with very few surprises.The first question about most sequels is: how does it compare to the first? Thor: The Dark World is decisively better. The action sequences, the graphic effects, and the … [Read more...]

The Wolverine and the Curse of Immortality

Review of The Wolverine, Directed by James MangoldWolverine was always the coolest of the X-Men.  He had a shady past, an invincible adamantine skeleton, regenerative healing powers, and (most importantly) really big knives that spurted from his arms whenever he got mad--which was the best part of every episode of the early ‘90s Saturday morning cartoon (which had the best opening theme of any cartoon I can remember).  He got his own movie, sort of, in X-Men Origins:  Wolverine (2009), a pass … [Read more...]

The Lone Ranger: Pirates of the Old West

Review of The Lone Ranger, Directed by Gore VerbinskiWe can sum up The Lone Ranger with a simple comparison: it is Pirates of the Caribbean out west.It makes sense. It comes to us from the same gang – director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer – who brought us the Pirates franchise and features Johnny Depp in a starring role as an off-kilter, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants hero.Imagine Captain Jack Sparrow as a Native American, and you have Tonto. With his long, black h … [Read more...]

Man of Steel: Clark and Kal-El More Interesting Than Superman

Review of Man of Steel, Directed by Zack SnyderIt’s been said that every hero is a type of Christ, so meet the newest one as he introduces himself to America’s generals:“You’re scared of me because you don’t control me. You can’t, and you never will. But that doesn’t make me your enemy.”Man of Steel, the latest Superman reboot, begins on the otherworldly realm of the planet Krypton, which is on the verge of destruction thanks to the corruption and abuses of its own people. In a wo … [Read more...]

Man of Steel: Powerful enough to entertain

Review of Man of Steel directed by Zach SnyderBy COYLE NEALThe Superman story has been told (and filmed) so often that it is undoubtedly a challenge for filmmakers come up with a new ‘take’ on the story that is both interesting to the viewer and faithful to the canon (assuming that "faithfulness to the canon" is a virtue to be pursued rather than a rule to be cast off—which of course is not an assumption we can always make). Chock full of nods to earlier Superman adaptations, Man of Steel … [Read more...]

Iron Man 3 and the Obsession with Scientific Progress

Review of Iron Man 3, Directed by Shane BlackThe United States is a technologically-obsessed society in a technologically-obsessed era. The line between magic and science in Hollywood films has begun to fade. The Avengers franchise is a perfect example. The Avengers movie involves gods and supernatural forces, but these are part of the same world as the magical Tesseract cube, which is integrated into human science. Or think of X-Men where scientific reasons (i.e., genetic mutations) create … [Read more...]

Iron Man 3 is worth every nickel

Review of Iron Man 3, Directed by Shane BlackDoes this movie even really need a review? As with everything else in the Avengers oeuvre to date (with the possible exceptions of Hulk and The Incredible Hulk), Iron Man 3 is a lot of action-y goodness with light moral thematic underpinnings. Which is exactly what we want from a comic book movie. Those that over-moralize at the expense of action inevitably fail, as do those that cut the moral out completely in favor of big-name stars or … [Read more...]

The Dark Knight Resurrects

Review of The Dark Knight Rises, Directed by Christopher NolanBy KENDRICK KUOIn continuation of Alexis and Paul’s tracing of Christian themes in blockbuster action films, I’d like to add my own voice. Both have argued for the power of Christian mythology (in the true, Narnian sense of the term) in the storyteller’s craft. Tales that touch us most deeply are those that echo the Great Story and its handmaiden themes. With this, I am in full agreement. Paul addressed both the Christological aspe … [Read more...]

Dark Knight Rex

Review of The Dark Knight Rises, Directed by Christopher NolanBy PAUL D. MILLERWhat do you get when someone rewrites A Tale of Two Cities, sets it in modern-day New York with Fritz Lang’s Metropolis underneath, turns Robespierre into a drug-addled terrorist warlord modeled on Darth Vader, and ends it with an apotheosis copied straight from Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus?  You get The Dark Knight Rises (2012).Christopher Nolan’s Batman finale is one of the most ambitious, sophisticated, and … [Read more...]