X-Men Origins: Wolverine tells the origin story of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). The film follows the story of a young Logan living in Canada with his girlfriend Kayla (Lynn Collins), but after she is brutally murdered by Logan's half brother, Victor (Liev Schreiber), Logan wants revenge. HIs former boss and U.S colonel, William Stryker (Danny Huston), offers him a chance at doing this, but it comes at a dangerous cost.
For me this is the only "bad" X-Men movie. When the majority of people look back over the X-Men series most will agree that they failed two movies: this and X-Men: The Last Stand. If you read my review then you'll know I didn't hate that movie, but this on the other hand is rubbish. It's the only X-Men movie that I thought absolutely failed. It's cheesy script, atrocious CGI and just dull/pointless premise is enough to put most fans to sleep. If only the movie had less screaming.
There's rarely a moment of decent CGI here in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. By some unfortunate mishap the CGI in the X-Men movies seems to have gotten worse and worse as more films were released (this is fixed once First Class comes along) and this is the worst example yet. Throughout all of the crappy special effects there is one that stands out as the absolute worst and this occurs during a fight between Gambit and Logan. I won't spoil what it is as it's a spoiler, but if you unfortunately have to sit through this movie then you will know the moment when it pops up. It's laughably bad.
The dialogue is overly cheesy and just not funny. For a series that begun with a realistic approach to the situation it's embarrassing to showcase such a terrible screenplay. Much like the CGI, there's many instances with dialogue so bad that it's laughable. Except when the intentionally funny dialogue comes along it really isn't funny. The scene where Wolverine is looking at his adamantium claws for the first time is possibly the dumbest, most out of character moment in the entire X-Men film series.
The whole premise of the film is dumb and pointless. There's no real need to tell the origin story of Wolverine because part of the mystery that exists with his character is that he can't remember his past. X-Men Origins not only explains what happens, but is mostly unfaithful to the comics while doing so. I haven't even touched on the point that half of this movie is dumb and doesn't play into the overall story in the least bit.
To sum up, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the only real terrible X-Men movie with a cheesy, unintentionally hilarious script, absolutely terrible special effects and a premise that's dumb, unfaithful and pointless.
X-Men: The Last Stand begins with a so called "cure" being created for the mutants, a cure that transforms them back into a regular human being. Magneto (Ian McKellen) doesn't take lightly to this news and bands together an army of mutants who are determined to kill all those responsible for the cure. The X-Men must now get over their mourning and previous issues with each other to band together for one last fight against this rebellion.
X2 set this up to be something big that ultimately ended disappointingly. If you have not seen X2 I warn you that I will be talking spoilers in this paragraph. The second film in the X-Men series concludes with a war raging up and the recently deceased Jean (Famke Jannsen) returning as Phoenix. When Bryan Singer departed this project to film Superman Returns, practically everything that was in the original script was torn to shreds and a new film was developed. I do not hate this movie, but the final product does come as a disappointment over the previous two instalments.
With all the flaws that this film has there's still plenty of fun to be had. I will get nitpicky with this movie very shortly, but with those soon to be announced flaws aside this movie is a lot of fun. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) returns to his badass, occasionally hilarious ways and the action throughout the film is a blast, literally in some cases.
The few action sequences that are present in the film are mostly impressive. The X-Men films have never been about exploding action in our faces for the entire runtime of the movie, but the action is never invisible either. It's always been a series with good character development. In X-Men The Last Stand all the character development is thrown out of the window for an action packed and unsatisfying conclusion. While there are many problems with the ending, the action that takes place is a lot of fun. Seeing a bunch of mutants fight to the death on an isolated island can rarely disappoint. Well for the most part anyway.
Plenty of characters in the film are completely wasted. WARNING I WILL TALK MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH! A few characters that are featured in the superior X2 are jus ignored and not even mentioned in this film such as Nightcrawler, a fan favourite. Not to mention that plenty of other characters are tossed away like they're nothing in the first act such as Cyclops who dies practically straight away and Mystique who is cured soon after. Towards the end of the movie they also cure just about every bad mutant as well as kill off many of the good ones. It's just ridiculous to see them pointlessly kill or cure several of the key characters.
To sum up, X-Men: The Last Stand is disappointing after the previous films and has many problems throughout, but there's still lots of fun to be had with it such as impressive action and good old Wolverine badass-ness. Yeah that's about it.
X2: X-Men United (or just X-Men 2 in some cases) continues the story of mutant superhero, Wolverine (once again played by the perfect Hugh Jackman) as he is continuing to fight with the X-Men. When the Mutant Academy is attacked by a man named William Stryker (Brian Cox), the X-Men must team up with their arch nemesis Magneto (Ian McKellen) if they are to have any chance at getting the kidnapped Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) back.
X2: X-Men United is a large step up from the first film. There's very little to complain about with this rare superhero sequel that somehow manages to exceed the standards set by its predecessor. Hardly any sequels are capable of doing so, action films in particular, but X2 did! The action is bigger, the characters are more developed and emotion is even brought into the gist of it all.
Bryan Singer is more confident in the director's chair this time around. In my review for the first X-Men (here) I was already exclaiming how great a job Singer did with directing, but with X2 he's able to be a bit more creative which, of course, makes a much better film when done right. X2 just goes to show that Singer should always get the final say (cough cough Last Stand).
Like with the first film, there's plenty of character development to go around as well as backstories to be unfolded. With the first X-Men movie there was little discovered about the majority of the character's origins, but with X2 we get to understand more about where they come from and how there powers came to be. This origin also leads onto a change in their present day selves and how they react to many of the situations and dilemmas that they're faced with.
I always love a good joint forces movie and with X2 they show how to get it done right. There's only a small group of films that go for the good guys must team up with the bad guys sequel and when this can be done well I love it. X2 will probably slot in at number 1 spot because it shows how to do it right. Throughout the entire series there's always an aspect of good teaming with bad, the Professor X and Magneto storyline, but X2 has it for the majority of the film. When good and bad get together almost anything can happen and it does!
To sum up, X2 is a large step up over the first film with more confident directing, bigger action, added backstories and character development, many scenes with great emotion and an example of good teaming with bad done right.
4 1/2 Stars
X-Men was one of the first ever superhero movies to really knock it out of the park, so to speak. It follows the story of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), a mutant with animal like abilities, as he is recruited by a group of fellow mutants that each have their own set of superhuman abilities. They all fear that bad guy Magneto (Ian McKellen) is about to bring an all out war that could threaten the existence of mankind as well as Wolverine's young mutant companion, Rogue (Anna Paquin).
X-Men still manages to hold up against the modern superhero films. X-Men was one of the first real game changing superhero movie to hit cinemas (game changing as in having many heroes to root for) and from then on out they got bigger and were released more frequently. Sure there were others that came out prior to X-Men's release, but none of them have held their ground with the modern audience as much as this film, or its sequels, have. In fact, X-Men still manages to slot in as one of the better superhero films that we've ever received.
The film takes a ballsy decision to not show the origins of these characters. With practically all superhero movies we always begin with how these heroes evolved into the heroes we know them for, but with X-Men this isn't the case. The film begins a few years into the future and all of these mutants are already mutants. There's no backstory and no unfortunate event that takes place that makes us care about them and feel for them as their journey takes a perilous turn. Instead we catch them up to date in the modern world and as we progress through the film we learn more about them and begin to care for them.
Hugh Jackman is Wolverine. Before making this film, the Aussie actor Hugh Jackman hadn't really caught the eye of most of the general public. After this movie his career was skyrocketed to what we know now. His large, masculine physique is perfect for the look Wolverine and his performance proves he's got it all. I couldn't imagine an actor that's more suited for a role that Hugh Jackman and Wolverine. The two are practically one of a kind and a recast is dreaded among comic book fans and Marvel movie fans alike. There literally is not a more perfect choice for this character.
Bryan Singer gives his famously polished direction. Singer, who also helped with the writing process of the movie, was able to use his brilliant directing skills to finally bring the X-Men universe to the big screen. With a fast paced, action packed and occasionally witty screenplay, Singer morphed it into a sleek action/adventure movie that's engaging, original and just entertaining.
To sum up, X-Men is a classic superhero movie that still holds up fine against modern superhero movies. The film takes many risks, but it all pays off with polished direction, a fast pace, plenty of action and an emotional and witty screenplay.
The thought process of Lars Von Trier when writing his films cannot be explained by any sane person. Antichrist follows the story of an unnamed couple (played by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) after their infant child passes away. This event causes their marriage to hit a wall and their sanity to lower. In an attempt to fix their problems they retreat to an isolated wooden cabin in the woods, but as the film goes on their sanity levels lower and the evil that is present in the world takes hold.
I did not intend for this to be the first Lars Von Trier film that I review. I only saw my first film of his last week, Melancholia, and I have not been able to stop thinking of it, yet I can't come up with any points for a review. It's a film I hope to rewatch soon so I can give it a review. After watching Antichrist it seems that there will now be two films that I will not be able to get out of my head and for different reasons entirely. Lars Von Trier has been called one of the most controversial filmmakers and this statement is just too true. His style of filmmaking and the content of his movies is enough to start riots and it's a shock that they don't.
Antichrist is not a film for the faint hearted. The film is both explicit in its content and slow in its pacing. For the first hour or so of this movie there is a lot of tension, haunting imagery as well as many provocative moments. The film's frequent sex scenes are far from erotic and they ensure an uncomfortable viewing. Once the final act kicks in, as well as occasional moments in the second, the amount of grisly images increases rapidly. The film got to a point where I was forced to watch through the gaps between my fingers and that's something I rarely do. For a film to make that big an impact on me it must say something about how well the film is made.
The performances were unbelievable. The film's actors push themselves through what I can imagine would be some of the hardest to make moments and this pays off by the time the credits come along. Just by judging the poster you can imagine that the film is both uncomfortable to watch and uncomfortable to make, but Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg are absolutely amazing as their characters dive from a dark place into an even darker, more sinister place.
The cinematography is spectacular, but what is filmed isn't. The content of the film is haunting and undoubtably will spark a cringe from the viewer, but this is aided by the breathtaking cinematography. The cinematographer, Anthony Dod Mantle, did a cracker of a job with last year's Rush as well as with his frequent collaborations with Danny Boyle. When teaming up with Lars Von Trier it was nothing, but beautiful. Between all the film's sex and violence, there's something magical about it that's been brought up through the cinematography. Mantle and Von Trier managed to capture life in its dark reality and that's something only a few filmmakers can do. I am both thankful and worried that directors like Lars Von Trier exist in this world.
To sum up, Antichrist is a not for the faint hearted with its grisly images, controversial content and unsettling sex scenes, but the performances were unbelievable and the cinematography manages to capture something beautiful.
3 1/2 Stars