The X-MEN movies (Part 3: First Class – Apocalypse)

Last time in Part 2 we tackled all three Wolverine movies and Deadpool, this time we’re taking a look at the new (and far better) X-Men trilogy – First Class, Days of Future Past and Apocalypse!

 

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

Starring: Michael Fassbender (Magneto / Erik Lensherr), James McAvoy (Charles Xavier / Prof X), Jennifer Lawrence (Raven / Mystique), Kevin Bacon (Sebastian Shaw), Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), Nicholas Hoult (Hank McCoy / Beast), January Jones (Emma Frost), Lucas Till (Alex Summers / Havok), Oliver Platt (CIA agent), Zoë Kravitz (Angel Salvadore), Caleb Landry Jones (Banshee), Jason Flemyng (Azazel), Edi Gathegi (‘Darwin’), Rade Serbedzija (Soviet General), Michael Ironside (US Navy Captain), Don Creech (Stryker Sr.), and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine cameo).

Plot: Realizing that they should have hired Matthew Vaughn for X-Men 3 like he wanted, and that there was nowhere to go with the franchise after Brett “that smell on my thumbs is my ass!” Ratner ‘Batman-and-Robin’d-it’, Fox reboots the franchise with re-casted characters. Magneto hunts for Sebastian Shaw, a mutant that was in charge of the concentration camp he grew up in, while Charles Xavier works with agent Moira Mactaggert and the CIA to gather a team of young mutants. They must team up to stop Shaw from starting World War 3 while learning how to use their powers and accept themselves.

 

Erik Smash: Following the unbelievably terrible X-Men: The Last Stand and even worse X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Fox finally gets it right with director Matthew Vaughn! “X-Men: First Class” is a back-to-basics prequel / reboot that tells the story of how the X-Men were first formed by a young Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto!

xmenfirstclassposter-top-022811

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The X-MEN movies (Part 2: Wolverine and Deadpool)

Oh boy… well we survived the nightmare that was X3, but we’re not quite out of the woods just yet. After the initial X-Men trilogy (see Part One) started strong before crashing and burning, the studio decided to make a solo Wolverine spin-off, which sounded better on paper than in execution. This time, Erik Smash and I are going to rip into the X-Men spin-offs, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel, because against all odds Fox somehow managed to really turn things around with the release of “Deadpool” and “Logan” – proving to Hollywood that some characters work better with an R rating.

But first up…

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Directed by: Gavin Hood

Starring: Hugh Jackman (Logan / The Wolverine / James Howlett), Liev Schreiber (Victor Creed / Sabretooth), Danny Huston (William Stryker), Lynn Collins (Silverfox), Ryan Reynolds (Wade Wilson / “Deadpool”), Kevin Durand (Fred Dukes / The Blob), Will.I.Am (Wraith), Daniel Henney (Agent Zero), Taylor Kitsch (Remy LeBeau / Gambit), Tim Pocock (young Scott Summers / Cyclops), and Sir Patrick Stewart (Prof X cameo).

Plot: We finally get to see Wolverine’s history played out on the big screen, and it’s… it’s just awful. When the stars of the film don’t hide their disdain for it (both Jackman and Reynolds) and it is immediately ignored and forgotten by the rest of the franchise, you know you can sleep well as a director. And by sleep well I mean you should be horribly, horribly ashamed. Sigh…

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The X-MEN movies

The X-Men movies timeline

There was a long period of time where the only super hero movies we had were the Christopher Reeve Superman films, which (as we discussed HERE), had their considerable ups and downs (mostly downs), and the Batman franchise (which we discussed HERE, HERE, and HERE), but this was before the excellent Christopher Nolan reboot, so it was also mostly bad.

X-Men teaser posterThen the late 90’s hit and Marvel (with New Line Cinema) had a surprise hit on their hands with Blade, and all of a sudden it felt like there might be a chance we’d get some more. That’s when Fox dropped a bombshell and announced they were going to finally, FINALLY, release a live action X-Men film!

Say what you want about the first movie, and we will, but it really opened the floodgates for the huge wave of superhero films (that mostly sucked) for the early 21st century. For better or worse we probably wouldn’t have the Spider-man movies without this one!

Fifteen years later, and the franchise has had its ups and downs (notice a trend?), but found its footing again with X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past. Now, with X-Men: Apocalypse, Deadpool, and a third Wolverine film looming, the franchise appears to be in as good a shape as it has ever been.

But how did they get here?

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The Superman Movies! (part four)

Previously on All UR Movies Are Belong to Us, we tore into the Christopher Reeve Superman movies (and then briefly skimmed over Supergirl and Steel), this time we’re looking at the last two outings of the Last Son of Krypton… which could not be more tonally different!

 

Superman Returns - poster with Lois

SUPERMAN RETURNS

Directed by: Bryan Singer

Starring: Brandon Routh (Clark Kent / Kal-El / Superman), Kate Bosworth (Lois Lane), Kevin Spacey (Lex Luthor), James Marsden (Richard White), Parker Posey (Kitty Kowalski), Frank Langella (Perry White), Sam Huntington (Jimmy Olsen), Eva Marie Saint (Martha Kent), Kal Penn (Henchman #2), and Marlon Brando (space dad hologram).

Plot: Nothing happens for the first 90% of the movie, and then for the last 10% the stakes are finally raised to EVEN MORE nothing happening. Also, Superman is a deadbeat dad who spies on Lois Lane constantly, never punches anything, and has a dorky bastard kid with superpowers and a terrible haircut. Speaking of terrible haircuts, Lex Luthor is back at it again with another ridiculous scheme involving real estate!

 

Comic Zombie: Superman Returns is the exhibit A some people point to when they say that superhero movies shouldn’t be made by fanboys (to which I counter with The Avengers). It seemed like a no-brainer: Brian Singer had just made two very successful X-Men movies, it has a solid cast (on paper), a huge budget, and was a do-over for parts 3 and 4, which this film pretends never happened. Just like the rest of us.

I mean, nothing could go wrong this time around, right? Right??!!

WRONG! - Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey)

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The Superman Movies! (part 3)

Previously on “All Ur Movies Are Belong To Us!”…

The Superman Movies: Part One (Superman: The Movie, Superman II – both versions)

The Superman Movies: Part Two (Superman III, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace)

Supergirl2

Supergirl (1984)

Directed By: Jeannot Szwarc

Starring: Helen Slater (Supergirl), Faye Dunaway (Selena), Peter O’Toole (Zaltar), Hart Bochner (Ethan), Mia Farrow (Alura), Brenda Vaccaro (Bianca), Peter Cook (Nigel), Simon Ward (Zor-El), Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen), Maureen Teefy (Lucy Lane)

Plot: Supergirl does stuff and… it’s just so bad. I can’t.

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The Superman Movies! (part two)

We discussed the surprisingly solid “Superman: The Movie” and it’s inferior sequel, Richard Lester’s “Superman 2” (and it’s much, much better alternate Richard Donner cut) here in Part One. I suggest reading that before diving into hell here, if for no other reason than to remind yourself that Superman movies can be fun, if not outright good, because these two train wrecks will do everything they can to prove that statement wrong…

 

Superman III

Superman III (1983)

Directed by: Richard Lester

Starring: Christopher Reeve (Clark Kent /  Kal-El / Superman / Evil Superman?), Richard Pryor?! (Gus Gorman / low-budget Brainiac?), Annette O’Toole (Lana Lang), Robert Vaughn (Lex Luthor Ross Webster), Jackie Cooper (Perry White), Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen), and Margot Kidder (Lois Lane – cameo).

Plot: Webscoe (really?) CEO, Ross “I’m not Lex Luthor!” Webster, blackmails Gus “I’m Richard Pryor!” Gorman to help him use his computer to take over the world or some stupid shit that’s not worth mentioning, and to use a “weather satellite” to somehow (?) decimate the coffee crops in Colombia so he can monopolize the coffee market… I promise, I’m not making this up. Superman reunites with his ex-girlfriend Lana Lang while on a trip home to Smallville, and while there is exposed to a weird off-brand form of Kryptonite that makes him a huge asshole, going around straightening the leaning tower of Pisa and blowing out the Olympic flame (what a dick) before going on a drinking binge (what?). Superman splits into two personas: Dickhead Superman and Morally Righteous Superman. Mr. Moral beats Mr. Dick, the regular Superman is back, and beats the bad guys. Audiences wiped away the blood coming from their noses.

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The Superman Movies! (part one)

Superman 1978

The first, and greatest, super hero, Superman has had a rather mixed bag when it comes to adaptations of his comic book adventures. There have been numerous television shows, radio serials, animated series, animated movies, video games, and live action movies, more of which were either just ok or straight up bad than good.

Superman actorsWhat is it about the big, blue boy scout that leads to so much crap?

You would think the elements that have been in place for 75 years now would be easy to adapt to the big screen, or the small screen. It’s not like there aren’t literally hundreds of pre-made stories in his publication history that are begging to be filmed and thrown on the screen, yet time and time again people think they can ‘improve’ upon the man of steel and his epically large library of awesomeness, and time and time again they fail miserably.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some success stories… “Superman: The Movie” was a high point, as were the Bruce Timm animated series and his representation in that same universe’s “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited”, as well as a handful of direct to DVD animated movies that did well. Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” may have divided some fans on its quality, but both Erik and I will go to our graves defending it.

Man of Steel

But for each of those, there are Superman 3, Superman Returns, Lois and Clark, most seasons of Smallville and the dreaded Superman 64! It’s curious. And as bad as those are, you wouldn’t believe some of the utter shit that almost got made. (6 Terrible Superman movies, you won’t believe almost happened!)

For now, just to keep things relatively simple Erik and I are skipping 1951’s “Superman vs the Mole Men” and are only going to discuss the live action feature films, starting with…

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