Select Offenders will be reviewing this summer’s crop of Hollywood tentpole films with a scientifically tested set of criteria that was vetted, nurtured, dissected and regurgitated through the pop-culture gadflies who have nothing better to do than annoy other productive people in the YOMYOMF office. So, we channeled their nitpicks of the incessant reboots, remakes and rehashes that are part and parcel with Hollywood summer movies into this ongoing summer blog series called the SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER SHOWDOWN.
Since we’re a little late in the game (we’re already heading into July), we’re going to play catch-up this week with a series of blogs about the films that have been released already. In this edition, we dissect X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST.
BTW, this roundtable review is chock full of spoilers. You’ve been warned!
1. Remake, Reboot, or Recycled?
Liz: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (which will from this point on be known as X-MEN 2: ELECTRIC BUGALOO) is the sequel to the film X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, a reboot of the X-men franchise. I’m going to be real with you, I hated FIRST CLASS. Hated it.. Who gives a shit about a bunch of whiny teenagers and mopey, swinging 20-somethings? Not this lady. So, I wasn’t really looking forward to seeing this sequel. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this film. The storytelling was much more succinct and the characters were all way less bitchy. I’m also a huge fan of Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen so once I knew that they were going to be in it with scenes together, I was sold.
Dommah/THC: Dom said quite a lot about XDOFP in a previously published YOMYOMF listicle, but @ThorHulk would add this: NOT REALLY A RE-ANYTHING, BUT DEFINITELY A RETCON: AN ATTEMPT TO SYNCHRONIZE THE TWO X-MEN MOVIE CONTINUITIES INTO ONE STORY (THAT ALSO HAPPENS TO BE ONE OF THE MOST REVERED AND INFLUENTIAL X-MEN COMIC STORYLINES). SUPER-AMBITIOUS… TOO BAD MOVIE KIND OF STINKS.
David: This is an adaptation to one of my most favorite stories in the X-Men comic books and I loved it. Lots to praise, but also lots to pick at…
- Praise: Brett Ratner’s X3 is like Marty McFly’s hand disappearing during the “Enchantment under the sea” dance. A great feeling from the 2nd act to the very end of the film.
- Faults: COME ON! Bring Quicksilver with you everywhere!
They couldn’t have chose a better story than DOFP from the comics. And seeing Brian Singer come back in true form was refreshing to witness on screen. The story was shaped very well to bring the old and new together… all together it was great fun… even to this comic geek.
Anderson: It’s the second best X-MEN film, with X2 being the best and X-MEN: FIRST CLASS in third. It was great to see the bridge of the original trilogy cast with this new FIRST CLASS cast. I also love time travel stories, and similar to JJ Abrams’ STAR TREK, it rebooted history and erased the shit stain that was Brett Ratner’s X3: X-MEN UNITED. Actually, it erased pretty much everything that was established in all the X-MEN films except for the teaser and credit sequence of X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, as well as the WWII sequences in THE WOLVERINE. So, yeah, clean slate!
2. Asian Sidekick?
Liz: Well, there were three Asians: Bingbing Fan (Blink) didn’t really talk much, except to explain about her teleportation powers. She looked cool but this role wasn’t super dialogue heavy; Booboo Stewart (Warpath), like Bingbing didn’t have a lot of dialogue. He was really good at fighting as well as being super fast and super strong (And yes, those are their real names); Finally, Thai-Hoa Le as General Nhuan was great in his scenes opposite JLaw. He also did a great job playing Raven pretending to be General Nhuan. High fives for you, Thai-Hoa Le!
Dominic: Blink did not say much beyond “Hai!” but her teleporting trickery made her a most interesting warrior. Warpath used to have some sort of story besides “The Native American one with the stereotypical Native American codename.” The scenes with General Nhuan did demonstrate a new variation on The Asian Guy Not Kissing The Girl in a movie. The variations on that theme and the creativity put into executing them seem nigh-endless.
David: And the award goes to the Vietnamese General! He was actually quite entertaining. That’s what it’s all about… getting entertained.
Anderson: The thing I want to point out is the performance of Thai-Hoa Le as Mystique playing General Nhuan… Or was it Jennifer Lawrence playing Thai-Hoa Le as General Nhuan? Either way, what I want to point out and confirm is that Jennifer Lawrence’s attempt at speaking Vietnamese was a noble attempt, but it was pretty bad. It sounded more like Thai gibberish. But then again, although I am Vietnamese, no one understands me either.
At least it was better than most of the GIs speaking Vietnamese in PLATOON.
3. Explanasian or “Let Them Fight”
Liz: There was a lot of expositional dialogue because there were so many concepts to beat the audience over the head with. It was really important to make sure that the audience understood why the “old” X-men were hanging out with the “new” versions of themselves. And, like every X-men movie, we had the obligatory dialogue about how “mutants are humans too!”
My personal favorite exposition was the reason as to why 1970s Charles Xavier was addicted to drugs. Druggie X was addicted to a serum that Hank McCoy (aka the Beast) created to suppress a mutant’s powers. The serum allowed Druggie X to walk but also to be an uncaring ‘70s douche bag. The reason why Druggie X didn’t want his powers was because HE JUST DIDN’T WANT TO DEAL WITH ALL THE RESPONSIBILITY OF BEING AWESOME (aka being a powerful telepath). And also because he just wanted to be able to walk. And also because he was super heart-broken about Raven/Mystique/JLaw. I get the wanting to be able to walk part but the DRAGGING ON about Professor X’s drug problems and him deciding to overcome it was so heavy handed that even my mom felt like she was beaten over the head with it. And, yes, I’m throwing my mom under the bus here… sometimes she misses big plot points when watching movies so for her to not only understand a concept but feel like she was being bludgeoned by it only proves how over the top this was.
Dommah/THC: MID-FILM SCENE BETWEEN BOLIVAR TYRION & ABERCROMBIE STRYKER WAS 900 MINUTES LONG AND BROKE EVERY RULE OF DRAMATIC NARRATIVE:
1) NO NEW INFORMATION INTRODUCED
2) CHARACTERS HAD NO OBJECTIVES EXCEPT LIST PLOT POINTS ALREADY MENTIONED EARLIER
3) NEITHER DUDE WANTED ANYTHING OR WAS CHANGED IN ANY WAY BY END OF SCENE
4) NOBODY SMASHED ANYONE ELSE WITH PUNY TELEKINETIC CAR-TOSS OR OPTIC BLAST OR ANYTHING
5) THEY DIDN’T KISS.
REALLY AN INCREDIBLY BAD SCENE. HULK LIKE WTF HULK COULD’VE TAKEN NAP.
David: It seems like they had to explain everything, which didn’t bother me that much, but they laid it thick on the Professor’s “walk but no powers” drug. It’s kind of a dumb drug if you think about it.
Anderson: This whole film is one big ass DEUS EX MACHINA. But hey, they had to eliminate Ratner’s movie from the official X-MEN movie canon, so I am okay with that.
4. Ground Zero Metropolis aka How much mass destruction?
Liz: Well, in one version of the future, the world is just a big old sad face interment camp for mutants, so I guess we can just assume that everything in the world is a big ol’ hole of suck. In the 1970s, the only destruction happened to Raven’s/Mystique’s heart and the front lawn of the White House. No biggie. The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium was also destroyed in this film. Magneto lifted that stadium and put it around the White House, which was a little bit of head scratcher since most of the stadium was made of concrete but I guess there was metal rebar in there so he could “technically” lift it up.
Dommah/THC: SO IN FUTURE X-MEN GET KILLED EVERY COUPLE DAYS THEN GO BACK IN TIME SO CAN GET KILLED AGAIN? THAT’S KIND OF DEPRESSING. LIKE WHEN HULK HAS TO BE PUNY BANNER FOR A FEW DAYS AND GO BACK TO WEARING SHOES.
HULK THOUGHT THEY WERE TRYING TOO HARD TO MILK PATHOS OUT OF KILLING THE SMALL ASIAN GIRL. BECAUSE, HAPPENED SEVERAL TIMES. ALWAYS STABBED THROUGH MIDSECTION. MAYBE SINGER TOOK FILM SCHOOL CLASS ON “HOW ASIAN WOMEN ARE ALWAYS SUPPOSED TO DIE IN MOVIES 101.”
David: I was waiting for all these janitors and custodians to hang from the stadium’s edge yelling for their lives. No such scene.
Anderson: it wasn’t the egregious massive human death toll like MAN OF STEEL or GODZILLA. In fact, we debated about the mass human carnage in MAN OF STEEL soon after it came out last summer.
5. Nolan or Schumacher? — Which kind of Batman is this movie, the gritty, grounded in reality Dark Knight or the nipples on rubber sculpted muscles, kind of gay Batman?
Liz: As much as the concept of a sentinel-ravaged future seems like a Nolan concept, this film was all Schumacher. The “present” looked like the old X-men movies (aka Cheese ball McGee) and the past was so entrenched with 1970s kitsch that I felt as though the set decorators took Doc Brown’s DeLorean and raided my grandparent’s home. Also, the majority of the “emotional” scenes were very over the top/soap-operay in their delivery aka Schumacherland.
Dominic: Oh, most certainly Schumacher. Truly, verily, deeply, Schumacher.
David: It’s Schumacher. A light, not too much to think about fun.
Anderson: I would say Wolverine’s 70s wardrobe and young Magneto’s ascot is Schumacher all the way, especially since Hunky Jackman and Fassbender wore them. And this also calls out to the homoerotic fan-fiction that is out there involving Fassbender and James McAvoy. It’s pretty hilarious!
6. The Asian Recast?
Liz: Kitty Pryde could have been Asian. I like Ellen Page but Kitty totally could have been played by a slew of incredible Asian actresses… like Elizabeth Ho. I hear she’s a gem of a gal. But honestly there are so many wonderful ladies who could have played that role from Brittany Ishibashi to Jamie Chung to Brenda Song.
Dommah/THC: DISAGREE. ELLEN PAGE IS WONDERFULLY CAST AS KITTY PRYDE. SHE WAS ONLY ONE IN X3: THE PUNY STAND WHO DID ANY X-ACTING. KITTY PRYDE NOT ASIAN. OF COURSE, BLINK NOT ORIGINALLY ASIAN EITHER. BUT NO ONE EVER BOUGHT A COMIC BECAUSE BLINK WAS IN IT.
X-FRANCHISE PRETTY LAME IN REPRESENTING ASIANS OR ANY PART OF X-MEN’S CULTURALLY-DIVERSE ROSTER. MANY X-PEOPLE WERE CONCEIVED AS ASIAN OR SORT OF ASIAN BUT HAVE NEVER BEEN IN PUNY MOVIE FRANCHISE. SUNFIRE, JUBILEE, NICO MINORU, PSYLOCKE, ARMOR, OMEGA SENTINEL.
WE REALLY NEEDED ARMOR TO BE IN X:DOFP, ACTUALLY. MAYBE COULD NOT BECAUSE JOSS WHEDON CREATED THAT CHARACTER. ARMOR WOULD’VE BEEN PERFECT FOIL TO HELP WOLVERINE’S HAZY MISSION, HAS COOL VISUAL POWER FOR FIGHTING SENTINELS, AND IS SNARKY JAPANESE AMERICAN GIRL. (BECAUSE, JOSS WHEDON.)… OH WELL.
FUTURE JUBILEE ALSO WAS WRITTEN IN EARLIER DRAFT AND CONCEPT ART RECENTLY RELEASED ONLINE ON WHAT SHE LOOK LIKE!
OBVIOUSLY SHE IS NOT IN MOVIE BECAUSE HAVING 2 ASIAN FEMALE CHARACTERS WITH SPARKLY POWERS IN SAME MOVIE WOULD BE CONFUSING. TO IDIOTS. (ONE’S A TELEPORTER, ONE’S AN EXPLOSIVE PLASMA GENERATOR, COME ONNNNN)… ALSO NO ONE GETS TO WEAR A COLOR IN X-MOVIES, EVER. WOMEN. MUTANTS. NO ONE. SINGER SMASH PUNY COLORS.
Anderson: They could’ve had Sunfire instead of Sunspot in the movie. I mean, there’s way too many Marvel characters who turn into fire dudes anyway. It’s interesting that another Marvel property, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. has strong Asian representation but not X-MEN. Apparently, the new FANTASTIC FOUR reboot will have Michael B. Jordan, an African American, play Johnny Storm. I’ve always thought that the following Asians would play good mutants:
Wait-a-sec, these kids are all Korean! K-Pop artists are pretty much mutants, right? Oh, and this criteria point has opened my world to some sexy Psylocke cosplay! Helllo, ladies!
7. Banana Rating — 1 banana worst to 4 bananas best
Liz: A solid 2.5. I enjoyed myself and thought that despite all the expositional dialogue, the overall story was fun and the action sequences were very entertaining. Plus, it had my two favorite actors in it (Sir. Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen).
Dominic: 1 banana. Maybe half a banana. A bloated, thoughtless, vast waste of potential. Like Niffleheim, except with gratuitous lava lamps.
David: This movie did the comic justice. It brought the mutants out to play and they played hard. A 3.768 mutated bananas out of 4 bananas.
Anderson: 3 Bananas! It’s the BACK OF THE FUTURE PART II of the X-MEN franchise. It’s all plot and machinations, playing with time travel like one big Rube Goldberg machine, but it was still a fun ride.
About the contributors:
Liz Ho (@elizabethhoacts) I am a fortune cookie: a crispy-Asian-American-treat that will give you useless advice & lotto numbers. I love Star Trek, alpacasso, Star Wars (IV-VI), makeup, reading, and taking daily pictures of my ewok of a dog named Cooper. I am also an actor.
Dominic Mah (@dommah) is a writer, director, erratic blogger at dommah.com, and rock musical enthusiast. He tweets pop-culture critique as @thorhulkcritic. Pretty soon he will be premiering a new reality web show about karaoke bars at melancholyball.com.
David C.P. Chan is a visual effects artist and a card carrying “gerd” (geek and nerd) combined. I quote movie lines at least 50 times a day and will school you at the game of Risk!