X-Men: Days of Future Past

July 8, 2014

[Drift #22]

We round off our X-Men series with a discussion about Days of Future Past. Further proof that you can have a complex, sci-fi blockbuster which the audience doesn't need to fully understand in order to become one of the highest grossing movies of the year. 

If you haven't yet seen my explanation of the multiple timelines in the X-Men movie chronology check it out on YouTube. "Days of Future Past Explained [X-Men Movie Timeline]"

I've included it at the end at the 01.13.30 mark if you need a refresher going in, though without diagrams it gets even more complicated. I've also followed that up with further questions from Sharon at 01.22.50 to close out the show.

00.03.06: Days of Future Past Review
01.13.30: X-Men Timeline Explained
01.22.50: Some Questions

This is effectively the second installment of a new trilogy starring the young Charles and Erik, also designed to clear the decks for future films without getting bogged down by what has to happen in the future (although it's still in our past and oh I've gone cross-eyed). 

With another brilliant set of performances at its core and the spurious accolade of being the second X-Men movie that doesn't stumble at the ending this is a worthy new step in what appears to be a very much ongoing franchise. 

We'll be back next week with the first of five Planet of the Apes podcasts covering all eight movies. If you haven't yet seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) we recommend you do so first.  In part because you will understand our perspective on all of these films but mainly because it's brilliant and totally worth your time.

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The Wolverine

July 1, 2014

[Drift #21]

This one kind of came out of nowhere. Since Wolverine hasn't been an enjoyable and compelling lead since 2003 with X-Men 2 it was a surprise for him to suddenly reclaim his onscreen presence a decade later after we'd had a new Spider-Man, two new Hulks and two new Supermen, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America the rise and fall of The Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider and the entire Dark Knight Trilogy.

Wisely avoiding tying this in too heavily with the established X-Men continuity this takes the form of a stand-alone action thriller closer to something like Man on Fire than the average mutant adventure. Logan is grieving his actions in X-Men 3 and mourning the loss of Jean, exiling himself to the Canadian wilderness. He is tracked down and summoned to Japan and the lion's share of the film is a reflective, taut rōnin story, steeped in this distinctive eastern culture, caught part way between the past and the future. Virtually no mutant powers beyond Wolverine himself, a plot filled with intrigue and hidden motivations with multiple serious, more-than-competent characters, several of them female. 

It's arguably the second-best X-Men film, but as is tradition they completely fudge the ending. And I mean REALLY fudge it. Like *tap measured, skillful director James Mangold on the shoulder and replace him with a fornicating baboon* fudged. That's the level of bonkers tone-shift that follows a natural climax point. You know in some parallel realities the Fox executives didn't step in as the greatest enemies of the X-Men series', forever preventing them from achieving true greatness.

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X-Men: First Class

April 1, 2014

[SOM #91]

This time we dive deep into the best X-Men movie and actually one of the very best superhero and comic book movies of all time. 

What started as a Magneto spin-off got combined with a reboot and turned into a flashback/prequel/period piece/James Bond homage/romantic drama/reboot for the series. With all those goals to accomplish it's a wonder it turned out as well as it did. 

It's not without its flaws, but the strengths on display are myriad and powerful. We discuss the shaping of Charles, Erik, Raven and Hank in these vibrant, formative years. 

Next time, the surprisingly not-terrible return of... The Wolverine. 

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine

March 30, 2014

[SOM #90]

I never thought I'd find myself defending this film.

In actuality we're not, we're just saying it's not the worst X-Men movie and stating the few reasons why it's not entirely awful. Don't get us wrong, it's a stinker nonetheless. Tedious action, lame mutants, barely characterized beyond their powers (again), CGI claws that never fail to distract, stupid script riven with plot holes, ruined fan favourites Deadpool and Gambit, balsa wood performances and most of the cast seem like they're having a thoroughly terrible time.

Worst of all this mishandled not one but two key Wolverine stories. Weapon X and Origin, in a way that means there's no point attempting them again, so sour will the taste of this remain. It very nearly killed the already flat-lining X-Men series.

But we're the best we are at what we do and what we do ain't pretty, so we also highlight the few stronger points that make it not quite as complete a failure as everyone remembers. The pinpricks of light in the darkness. Enjoy... Bub. 

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X-Men 3: The Last Stand

March 29, 2014

[SOM #89]

This is the worst. 

The very worst onscreen incarnation of the X-Men, and not simply because it screwed up the Dark Phoenix saga in a way that will take many years to remedy. 

It is in point of fact abundantly clear on investigation that meddling Fox executives combined with a creative team who seemingly didn't care what occurred onscreen or what state they left the series in once the enforced release date was reached created the perfect Storm to send a potentially accomplished franchise hurtling into the doldrums. It's one of the few movies that actively required erasing from existence to correct the horrendousness that it entailed.

But allow us to elaborate on these points. We promise that even if you disagree with our impassioned rantings that you'll be entertained. 

Next week, the one that's actually a tiny bit better, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. 

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X-Men 2: Mutants United

March 28, 2014

[SOM #88]

This is one of the all-time fan-favourite X-Men films, following up on the promise of the slight original with far more detail, exciting action, grander scale and emotional wallop. We give it a ton of credit for its strong points which expand the world and further legitimizes the mutant conflict.

However this movie also contains two of the most series-breaking scenarios at its climax. Everybody was having too much fun at the cinema to notice at the time and nobody ever mentions this, but we're going to... X2 pretty much destroys the characters of both Charles and Erik in a way that is only remedied in First Class eight years later. 

Overall it's still a very strong entry in the series and far above the dregs of The Last Stand and Origins, but there are character and narrative inconsistencies that need to be taken into account.

Next week, it all goes horribly wrong!

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X-Men

March 27, 2014

[SOM #87]

This is the first of our X-Men podcasts covering the initial seven movies. 

Looking back on the 2000 original it is both extremely important in legitimising the real life comic superhero movie for modern times and increasingly a relic of a bygone age when this sort of thing was considered a flaky risk and where low budgets, self-conscious cast members, dismal costumes, short running times and pedestrian action sequences were acceptable.

That being said there are also some excellent performances within, especially Stewart, McKellen and the breakout star, Huge Action. Had this been a mishandled flop, the course of the Marvel movie might have been very different. Then again, Spider-Man was already in production and it’s possible a reboot would have changed the course of the X-Men in movies, one that has instead sailed on for fourteen years and off into the future.

On that note if you’d like to better understand the convoluted, contradictory history laid down in the X-Men movies be sure to check out “X-Men Movie Timeline [Days of Future Past Explained ]” on YouTube. It clarifies a hell of a lot with a three-universes theory that compliments and augments the explanation given in the seventh movie. 

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