Monday, August 7, 2006

Movies Review 2006

X-3, Superman and Pirates 2 vie for the award of biggest waste of time

“What have I done?”

Even Sir Ian McClellan couldn’t remove the cheese from this line at the end of X-men 3 when his dastardly plans begin to backfire. Half the attraction of a film like X-3 of course is the visuals, and they were great. The story too I found to be a good idea. But the dialogue!! McClellan does a good job with bad dialogue, but the awful script couldn’t help but shine through. It was just not believable that his (less than) rousing speech to the “bad” mutants rallied them to his cause. More believable would have been shouts of “Hey, what’s with the weird cape?” There was enough bad discourse to go round; Jackman/Wolverine got stuck with a pep talk to the younger X-men that would have only looked good in a Star Wars script. It wasn’t an epidemic of badness though, and while not as good as the first two, a very worthy trip to the big screen.

Next up for this boy was Superman. The man of steel started at a disadvantage in that he was never my superhero of choice when I was a kid. But, Brian Singer was at the helm and again, visuals have come a long way so it would be good to see superman do stuff more realistically. The highlight of the film for me, unlike most critics I’ve read, was the space shuttle/jet plan sequence—a rescue to make everyone stand up and cheer. Except for the grounds keepers at the stadium, who then had to run a baseball season after a Boeing had ruined the field.

Spacey was a great Luthor, and Routh was a surprisingly good Superman. But, and here's my real hang-up, Superman has always been the all-American hero, the wholesome icon for boys everywhere to emulate. So having the hero of the rising generation fathering a kid outside of marriage and disappearing to leave their mother to raise them I found unfaithful to the character.

From about halfway through, the film just took a dive the red-caped wonder himself couldn’t pull out of. How does he (relatively) easily lift a continent when he just had so much trouble with a spinning plane?

While X-3 won my personal award for most anticipated, Pirates 2 seemed to command the greatest expectations from the movie-going world in general. With much Ah-Harrring and buckles being swashed, the much-loved characters returned to the big screen and the biggest opening revenues of any film so far this year. What I could not work out was whether each character bought a storyline with them, or if none of them did. Either way, the ensuing tangle of running round the Caribbean in great looking, but surely very warm, costumes confused me no end. “Why” I asked my viewing companions at one point of fabulously choreographed sword-fightery “are they fighting?” And they didn’t know either. It’s all very well having great sequences but I couldn’t figure out what each character was after. Allegiances became cross purposes, enemies formed allegiances, friends sell each other out…and them it all changed back again. And Davey Jones who did not seem happy with his immortality, seemed intent on saving it.

Ty Burr of the Boston Globe summed it up perfectly for me as "...a noisy and lazy stopgap movie that goes absolutely nowhere and takes 2 1/2 hours to get there." For me it would have been far better to do stand alone stories for episodes two and three rather than use two as an overly long and storyless introduction to the third.

Part of the fun of movie going is the going itself. X-3 I saw opening night at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood and Pirates I saw at the El Capitan where props and costumes from the movie were on display. Superman I saw at the IMAX with 3-D effects added to about 20-minutes of its length (why that’s not a good idea I’ll leave out of this entry). I saw them all with friends and reveled in the atmosphere of overly priced concessions. Had they just been in a regular theater, like my viewing of Pixar’s lacluster summer offering Cars I’d have been really unhappy.