Sunday, July 31, 2011

X-Men First Class: Random Thoughts

How an Oscar for Tom Cruise Could Have Changed it All

This post is going to be a very quick rundown of my delayed viewing. Spelling, syntax, and fully-formed paragraphs sentences will be thrown out the window today, folks.

-Kevin Bacon & Oliver Platt both had their first roles in a high-profile Oscar caliber movie in years with Frost/Nixon. Same casting director? Bacon as the main villain is just odd. Except for Sleepers, I’ve never seen him as super-villain material. Perhaps unknown actors work best in super villain parts. For example, most Bond films have this with the last four films-World is Not Enough (Referring to the guy who played Renard, not Marceaneau of course), Die Another Day, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace-going this route.

-I think this is the first time Magneto and Mystique were shown kissing and it was the only kiss in the movie (it’s possible that Xavier/McTaggert kiss was her imagination). Was it ever explicitly stated that Mystique and Magneto were lovers in the other trilogy? Magneto was played by the most openly gay actor in Hollywood (pretty much every interview with Ian McKellen 2000-2006 made reference to his being gay and an activist about it) which always made it a tough sell that McKellen's version of Magneto was heterosexual and equally as attracted to Mystique (that's a whole other tangent). The scene in X3 where Mystique morphs back into a human and Magneto leaves her seems to show that it was unrequieted love. It's consistent in both parts.

-Speaking of homoerotic, Erik and Charles were pretty close, weren't they? Especially when Mageneto held Xavier in his arms. Even so, I was never entirely sold on the strength of their friendship. We were told about it, sure, but not shown it as much.

-Why do James McAvoy's characters have such a high libido? It's hard to take him seriously as an innocent doctor in a bad situation in Last King of Scotland when he's shown seducing or trying to seduce every woman in sight (sorry for going off on a tangent again). Same here, did he have to try to hit on Moira. I can see him hitting on the first coed in the bar, but it just makes him look a little more like a free-spirited adolescent with ulterior motives with McTaggert than a very mature leader. It didn't sound right either time he said "Groovy" (although that's unrelated to his libido). It was a tough balance to strike, however and I think they did reasonably well

-Interlacing the X-Men with history was really a nice touch. I might have been a little more pleased with Casino Royale if it was grounded in a concrete point in history.

-There were some continuity problems like Magneto and Erik being shown to later be recruiting Jean and Erik could walk. Some people say that the film wasn't trying to be consistent with X3 but just X1 and X2. BS. X3 was signed off on by Singer and it has X-Men in the title. That's picking and choosing too much. However, it does strike me as pretty blaring that Cyclops, Jean and Storm being his first class of recruits is ignored here. Couldn't Cyclops have been used instead of Havlock?

-Biggest plot hole: Shaw was just foolish at the beginning. Why would he expect Erik to want to learn with him and have a lot of fun together with him when he shot his mother. Sure, it boosts his bad guy credentials to cold-bloodedly shoot his mother and a more maniacal villain might do just that, but surely an intelligent man such as Shaw could see he's creating his biggest enemy. I guess we later learn that Shaw is also a mutant and might not have feared Magneto's powers very much but I feel like they only made Shaw a mutant just to explain away plot holes.

-These scripts have gotta be pretty hard to write in a way that builds up action and tension when you have so many dues-ex-machinas at your hands. Xavier can freeze anyone's thoughts and make them do whatever he wants. Should it come with an Achilles Heel of some sort? Perhaps, if Xavier controls the minds of more than one person, for example, he gets drained? Even Havok could have taken out all the missles if he took off his suit and just fired in every direction. For this reason, it was entertaining to see the scene where Azazel just kills the entire staff at that CIA facility, because realistically it would be no contest.

-Why did Charles and Xavier have to become enemies so fast at the end? That felt like a false moment. It felt like the scriptwriters were just looking to check the last box on circumstances that needed to be in place for X-Men 1 to make sense. I would have much rather seen signs of tension than a formal split. Besides, Charles is sort of in a lot of pain as he's just been shot. Why didn't he focus

-Banshee, as I understand it, is Scottish. Definitely would have made his character far more interesting and would have been true to the comic books which had a worldly feel to it with so many foreign team members.

-There were a couple of PAINFUL exposition scenes in there. The six new recruits showing off their powers was not only a scene inserted solely for the purpose of efficiently introducing the characters to the audience (why not just have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-style opening credits scene) but it was belabored and sophomoric. By showing off their powers and cheering, these guys felt more like middle schoolers at a slumber party than people hired by the CIA. The previous intros to Banshee and girl Angel were far more impactful and if they expanded Darwin's previous intro in the cab to show his powers (or better yet, had Magneto and Xavier meeting him in a swimming pool rather than a cab) and revealed Havok's powers later, you could have cut the whole scene out.

-This is especially disappointing because the X-Men film series has been highlighted by great character introductions: Seeing Sabretooth pop up on the side of the road, learning Wolverine's a mutant by seeing him draw out a blade when a guy wants to beat him up, Jean Grey casually picking up surgical tools with her mind when she's operating on Wolverine, etc.

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