Thoughts on the X-Men/Fantastic Four Crossover Movie: Time Travel, Dark Phoenix, and Universe Building

So Bryan Singer has talked about the possibility of a Fantastic Four/X-men teamup movie. A lot of people online have been bitching about how they would have to use time travel to get the current casts together. I actually think this kind of works, because if we’re continuing to move forward with this new younger cast from X-Men: Apocalypse, it would be considerably less convoluted if they just time jumped everyone to the present rather than continuing to set them in the past until eventually they catch up with the time period of the original X-Men movies. And it’s not like that kind of thing is unheard of. In fact, recently in the comics, the original teenage X-Men have been brought forward in time and are now living in the present. You could totally do the same thing on screen, especially since time travel already exist in this universe. This way we can also see a return of some of the younger characters like Kitty Pryde and Iceman, who you can’t put in movies set in the 80s. Anyway, for the plot of the actual FF/X-Men crossover (assuming that the new FF does well enough for this to actually happen, and that it’s good enough that we actually want to see these two casts meet), I think they should do the Dark Phoenix saga. I mean, it’s arguably the most iconic X-Men storyline of all time, and they totally botched it the first time. But now they have a new young Jean Grey and a totally rebooted timeline, and if you think about it it’s totally perfect. In the comics the Phoenix Force is a cosmic entity, and the Fantastic Four do nothing if not deal with cosmic entities. But beyond that, the thing really lacking from X-Men: The Last Stand’s take on the Phoenix was that it never really felt all that big. She was like a pawn of Magneto, and they said she was a “class 5 mutant”, and I guess she disintegrated a few dudes, but the Phoenix should feel like an epic world-ending force of destruction. Having it threaten the whole world to the point where the X-Men and FF have to team up to deal with it is the perfect way to establish that. And if we are going to see the Phoenix again, they have to do something different with it, and adding the FF to the mix is the perfect way to do that, too. Now, I don’t necessarily want to see a large interconnected Fantastic Four/X-Men universe from Fox, but it’s clear that it’s going to happen either way, so we might as well talk about it. And considering the recent hot streak of X-Men movies, and not yet having seen the new Fantastic Four, I’m kind of cautiously optimistic about the whole thing. I mean with Marvel’s light, witty, no real stakes feel, and DC’s dark, depressing grit, the fox universe might be a good realistic middle ground of massive comicbook franchise, and I will say that the three Bryan Singer X-Men movies are better than anything in the MCU. Assuming everything goes well, a crossover movie with X-Men and the Fantastic Four dealing with the Dark Phoenix could be like the first major event movie in this new universe. Hell, you could even throw Deadpool in there for comic relief. This is probably way father in the future than anyone at fox has even thought about, and comicbook movies will probably hit their breaking point and fall out of popularity before any of this comes to fruition, but if it is going to happen, I think that’s the way you do it. And I for one would see the shit out of that movie, especially if you put Singer in the director’s chair.

Ant Man Review

So I haven’t written a review in kind of a while. There have actually been a lot of movies I have some stuff to say about, like Tomorrowland and Jurassic World. The honest truth is that I’ve just gotten sort of lazy about this, and I don’t know how long I’ll keep doing this at all. But there’s a new marvel movie out, and if there’s one thing I never have a shortage of, it’s things to say about a new marvel movie. Now I want to make one thing perfectly clear right off the bat: I enjoyed this movie. It was fun, it was interesting, it was very funny, and at no point was I bored. It was well worth the price of admission and I’ll probably enjoy many rewatches of it. But here’s the thing about marvel; this is the twelfth movie in their cinematic universe. It would be naive to think at this point that they don’t have a pretty solid formula for pumping out fun, enjoyable comicbook movies that appeal to everyone and make as much money as possible. And I almost feel like a dick complaining about these movies, because as a comicbook fan, the fact that we even have a fun, enjoyable movie about a character like Ant-Man is like mind-blowingly awesome. But the truth is that as their formula for printing money has become more and more refined, these marvel movies have become more and more devoid of personality. I mean if you go back and watch the Sam Raimi Spider-Mans, or the Bryan Singer X-Mens, or even the first Iron Man, they feel like real movies. There’s a style, there’s a tone. You can feel the vision and creative influence of a director. Compare any of those movies to Ant-Man, or Guardians of the Galaxy, or any goddamn Thor movie, and there’s just such a contrast. These later movie feel mass produced, corporate. There’s something fake about them. And yes, a lot of superhero movies made at that time under those conditions were terrible. For every Spider-Man 2, there was a Fantastic Four. For every X-Men: United, there was an Ang Lee Hulk. For every Blade II, there was a Blade 1 and 3. And the way that marvel makes movies nowadays, they can pretty much guarantee that no movie will ever be legitimately bad. But they’ve also created a system with no risk. And without that, even though all their movies will be good, none of them will ever be spectacular. And that’s just a shame. My personal favourite superhero movie of all time is the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie, and I know that’s a controversial opinion. And as a die hard fan of comicbook Spidey, I recognize the changes to the character and the mythos that could bug other fans. But what I love about that movie is that you can tell that Sam Raimi has a specific vision of what he wants the story to be, and seeing the character through his eyes is a unique and wonderful spin on the classic version. I’m convinced that no marvel movie released now will ever feel like that. Instead they’ll all just be homogenous, indistinguishable chapters in a larger unfolding story, full of fun moments and endearing characterization, and cool nerdy shit happening. And that’s basically what comicbooks are, so as a huge fan of the medium, I’m going to enjoy it every step of the way. But I guess I’m just saying that there’s a part of me that misses the time when superhero movies were a big deal, and were actually interesting. And I guess this point could apply to a lot of recent marvel movies, but the reason it really hit me with Ant-Man is that this was so nearly an unique director driven movie. Edgar Wright developed this movie for eight years, and was canned right before shooting started because of creative differences between him and the studio. Now, Edgar Wright had actually been working on this movie since before Iron Man was even being made, because he was legitimately passionate about the character. And if you know anything about Edgar Wright, you know he would have made an insanely unique and memorable movie. Imagine this movie done in the visual comedy style of Shaun of the Dead. It would have been amazing. But instead marvel fired him because, I believe the sticking point was that Wright didn’t want the Falcon cameo in the movie. You got one pointless shoved in fight with another Avenger in exchange for the creative vision of an amazing director. So instead they hired some no-name with enough previous credits on his resume to prove himself capable, but without enough of a reputation to argue with anything marvel said, and put out a cookie cutter predictable enjoyable fun middle of the road superhero adventure flick. And it’s fine. And it’s fun. And I can honestly say that I enjoyed every moment while watching it. But it’s just so disappointing to think of what could have been. Real quick, thoughts on the actual movie: I liked Paul Rudd, I though Michael Pena stole the show, Michael Douglas was really well cast as an old Hank Pym, even tho I would have liked to see the character younger, the heist plot was fun but I wished they had committed to that theme a little bit more, and, finally, I don’t really give a shit about Ant-Man from the comics, but I do really love the Wasp. I think she’s the heart of the Avengers and it’s complete bullshit that she hasn’t been in either of their movies. And not only does this movie have the balls to not do the Wasp at all, but when they finally do drop the easter egg about her, the setup is for Evangeline Lily’s character to become her. Evangeline Lily sucks. She can’t act. I hate her. Don’t make her Wasp. These things are all upsetting to me. Anywho, kind of a long rant about a lot of different shit, but hey, I may not keep doing this much longer, might as well go out talking way too much about superhero movies. Sorry for no paragraph breaks that’s not how I roll. My official recommendation: go see this movie, you’ll enjoy it, it’s worth your money. But I think it’s time to stop expecting anything creative from Marvel. It’s at this point I’m really glad for the X-Men movies. I mean you can poke tons of holes in Days of Future Past, it’s far from a perfect movie, but at the end of the day it still feels more like an actual movie with a creative point of origin than anything marvel has put out in the last five years. And even though no one really talks about it, X-Men: Apocalypse is actually the comicbook movie I’m most looking forward to in the next year or so, more than Civil War and Batman V. Superman. But I’m rambling again.

Overall Rating: Generically Good/10

Mad Max: Fury Road Review

So this movie was straight up awesome. They basically took everything that was great about the franchise and boiled it down to the raw. The whole movie is just one long badass chase full of explosions and car wrecks and gruesome deaths. Tom Hardy does a great job of portraying the stoic badass Max, who, like in Road Warrior, has barely any actual lines. Which is a good thing I guess, cause Hardy’s Australian accent could probably use some work. And I actually didn’t hate Nicholas Hoult in this. Usually that guy really bugs me, and I’m not quite sure why. He’s just such a slimy little butthole, I wanna punch him. He’s also totally miscast as Beast in X-Men. But I digress. I didn’t think he did a great job in this movie, but his character was interesting and he was good enough that I was able to enjoy the performance. But it’s Charlize Theron who really steals the show. This franchise makes up for its lack of interesting female characters (unless you count Tina Turner, which you shouldn’t) pretty damn well. She’s totally badass and we really become invested in what she’s trying to do. In fact, she almost becomes the main character, with Max just along for the ride. When asked in an interview where this movie takes place in relation to the others on a timeline, director George Miller suggested that Max exist as somewhat of a legend in this world, with all sorts of different stories existing about “the road warrior”, and that this is just another one of those stories. I like that idea, not only because the loose continuity allows for them to make a fourth movie 30 years later with a new actor without having to do a reboot, but because it sort of allows each movie to be its own self contained story. It almost become more of an anthology series, just different tales throughout this apocalyptic wasteland, with this drifter character of Mad Max as the only common element. They imply this even more strongly at the end of the movie, while Charlize Theron’s character is standing victorious and being cheered for while she looks down to see Max simply vanish into the crowd. If they do more of these, which I’m sure they will, I hope they stay consistent with this format. Sometimes an underdeveloped protagonist is better than an overdeveloped one. See: Dredd. Anyway, this is exactly what action movies should be nowadays. I mean you got your dark brooding Nolan movies, and that’s fine, and you got your big fun happy Marvel movies, which I like too, and you even have your big dumb fun stuff like Fast and the Furious, which is hilarious, but nobody is just making awesome badass violent non stop action thrill rides any more. Except George Miller, evidently. Go see this fucking movie.

Overall Rating: A whole vehicle dedicated to one guy with an electric guitar and a flamethrower hooked up to giant amps just playing tunes for your whole post-apocalyptic car gang/10

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Review

So this one is kind of where it all falls apart and just becomes silly. First thing you need to know is that Mel Gibson rocks super long hair for the entire first half of the movie, which is sick. The second thing you need to know is that the villain is aging pop star Tina Turner. There’s also a town that runs on pig shit, a gang of kids who talk in weird future speak, a pilot character played by the same guy who played the pilot character in the second movie but who is definitely a different character, and most importantly a midget who rides around on top of a large mentally retarded man. Yeah, this movie’s whack. Apparently George Miller wrote this script as a completely unrelated apocalypse movie, but then decided, fuck it, I’ll make it a Mad Max sequel. He was also so depressed during filming that he only wanted to direct the action sequences, and got some Australian sop opera director to do everything else. Sounds like a recipe for a really great flick. As troubled as the production sounds, this movie clearly has a much higher budget than the last. They go crazy with the post-apocalyptic sets and clothes and stuff, but most notable is how haam they go on the custom vehicles. In the last couple of movies they all looked like normal cars, with maybe a few modifications here or there, but in this one everybody’s driving some kind of crazy dune buggy looking thing. The one downside of the big budget, though, is that the studio insisted on a PG-13 rating, which I guess meant they had a limit on how many deaths they could show, because literally every time you think Mel Gibson kills somebody they cut away to a shot of them getting up and being ok. Anyway, this definitely isn’t a good movie, but it does have some classic moments. Probably the highlight of the whole thing comes right around the end of the first act, with the battle in the titular Thunderdome. Mel Gibson and a mentally handicapped man bounce around on bungee ropes in a large cage trying to kill each other while the crowd chants “two men enter, one man leaves” over and over again. Awesome.

Overall Rating: Tina Turner’s gross old mom cleavage/10

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior Review

Now this is what you think of when you think Mad Max. The original movie actually didn’t originally come out in America, and so the sequel was released in this continent as a standalone movie called The Road Warrior. Most people didn’t ever know there was a Mad Max 1 until years later. Anyway, so this is the one where all the classic stuff you associate with the series comes from. It starts with an explanation of how the government collapsed falling an oil crisis, and now the highways are ruled by waring gangs out for fuel. This one is much more post-apocalyptic than the first one, to the point where they almost feel like completely different worlds. I would complain about the inconsistency, but it makes enough sense that society would continue to break down further the more time passed with no government, and I actually think it reflects the character in an interesting way. In the first movie he’s just trying to be a normal guy, with his wife and kids. He’s trying to remain sane and normal in a crazy world, just like the remnants of society trying to maintain civilization in a world that no longer has any law or order. Then in the second one, after he’s had all that ripped away from him, it’s like he’s stopped pretending and just embraced being as mad as the world around him. And the rest of the world has followed, hence the transition from small towns with some form of law enforcement to a bunch of crazy people wearing animal skins and crazy masks shooting arrows at each other. Another neat little touch is that they actually stay consistent with Max’s injuries from the end of the first movie, giving him a leg brace from where he was shot in the knee and a missing sleeve on his jacket from where it would have been cut off by doctors treating his run-over arm. Not a huge factor in the overall experience, but a nice little detail that makes the world more believable. Anyway, this movie better than the first one. Why? Well, the budget is higher, the stunts are cooler, the environment is crazier, the villain is more intimidating and there’s a small feral child who kills people with a big metal boomerang. So all those reasons. But the real highlight of the movie is the last twenty minutes or so, which is just one long extended chase scene with a whole gang of dudes in cars and on bikes are trying to stop this one huge fuel tanker that Mel Gibson’s driving. It’s some totally brutal, bloody, intense, kickass car action, and at the end of the day that’s really what we’re all here for. 

Overall Rating: Finally a movie that has the balls to kill the dog without spending fifteen fucking minutes trying to make everybody feel sad about it/10

Mad Max Review

So the new Mad Max movie comes out this week and you probably already know how totally fucking awesome it looks from the trailers. And, well, I just wouldn’t feel right going to see it without sitting down and watching the first three movies first. Before now, the only one I’ve really seen is the second one, and it was long enough ago that I don’t really remember it, so more or less I’m going into this whole thing fresh. Now the thing I keep hearing about these movies is that the second one is the only one worth watching, that the original doesn’t hold up. But I had to watch it anyway, because doctors say there’s something severely wrong with me. Anyway, fuck everyone who said this movie is shitty by today’s standards cause I thought it kicked ass. It’s a little slow moving, and there are a few long stretches were stuff keeps almost happening, but then not really. There’s not really much of a plot either, or at least not a very complicated one. But to me this movie feels less like a single story and more of just an introduction to this post apocalyptic future world. And I use the term “post-apocalyptic” very loosely, because it sort of just seems like regular Australia. I mean, there’s no government and the world is full of roving bike gangs, but other than that society seems pretty intact. It’s actually sort of interesting to see a movie apocalypse where people still kind of have there shit together instead of just the usual single pockets of survival type thing, but going back and watching it now it’s not really the world you picture when you think Mad Max. Anyway, where the movie really excels is in all the cool car stunts. If you just want to see a whole bunch of really awesome, well executed car/motorcycle crashes without the use of any CGI, this is the place to do it. Probably the highlight is the opening chase, where all the cop dudes are chasing this guy Night Rider (no relation). It’s just car getting mangled after car getting mangled, and it’s awesome. There are also a whole bunch of motorcycle crashes where you can tell they actually just got dudes to crash their motorcycles and by the look of some of them it’s a miracle no one died during filming. The movie a weird low budget indy Australian movie from the 70s, but it’s probably the best possible version of that, and I was honestly entertained the whole way through. And it’s funny hearing Mel Gibson with his Australian accent, cause he doesn’t really have one anymore.

Overall Rating: Also the final scene of this movie inspired the entire Saw franchise so that’s pretty cool/10

Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

So what can I say about Age of Ultron. Well, it’s not as good as the first movie, not by a longshot, but it’s a little tough to figure out why. Maybe it was because of the much more convoluted plot. Maybe it was the awkward pacing. Maybe it was this one’s far lesser ability to juggle all it’s characters than the last one. But at the end of the day it just didn’t feel as special. Somehow when the Avengers leap into a 40 minute long battle with a massive army of easily defeat-able identical looking canon fodder it just isn’t as exciting as it was the first time. Now, it sounds like I’m shitting on this movie kind of a lot, but I actually did like it. Vision was really really cool, I loved the Black Widow/Hulk romance, and I think Hawkeye actually ended up stealing the whole movie. Like I said tho, this movie does not do a great job balancing all it’s characters, and I kind of felt like Captain America and Thor didn’t have a lot to do other than hit stuff. Even Iron Man, who seemingly should be the emotional thrust of the movie having accidentally created the main villain, doesn’t feel like a huge presence during most of the third act. As for the plot, it was pretty goddamn convoluted. I feel like a lot of what held it back is the unnecessary inclusion of the mind gem. Yes, Thanos is out there collecting infinity stones, and I know Marvel likes their super long buildups, but we got so much of that shit in Guardians last year. We all know Infinity War is coming, you don’t have to try to smush all the crazy cosmic shit together what should have been a fairly simple and earthbound story about an evil robot trying to break up the Avengers. It really just makes it confusing for the non-comic readers. Hell, even I found it confusing, and I know all about this shit.

But lets’ talk new characters: first off, Vision. Fucking awesome. ‘Nuff said. As for the twins, I actually really liked Quicksilver. I mean he didn’t steal the show or anything, but he did a great job playing a pissed off young guy, and he had some pretty funny lines. And while it was no Days of Future Past sequence, the super speed effect was actually pretty cool. Scarlet Witch was pretty meh, tho. I mean, as a comic fan it bugs me that instead of giving her reality altering abilities they just made it telekinesis and telepathy, but I get why they did that for the sake of the audience. It’s more so that just doesn’t seem to have any real character of charisma. She’s just sort of moody the whole time. I guess maybe it’s just cause she doesn’t get enough screentime, but hell, who does in this movie. I guess maybe we’ll see a little more of them in six months when they release the extended version (which yes, they are doing, because apparently they cut out almost an hour). Also maybe we can find out what the hell the deal was with that whole Thor subplot that lasted two scenes and made no sense. But what about the man himself. Or, robot, I guess. Fucking James Spader. A big complaint about these Marvel movies, or at least the ones in this universe, has always been the lack of compelling villains. Most of them just sort of go crazy for no reason, usually resulting in them copying the hero’s abilities somehow. Even Loki, charismatic as he is, isn’t really a match for the Avengers. This movie came with the promise that Ultron would finally be an interesting, compelling villain for this super-team to go toe-to-toe with. And, well, they didn’t do a great job. I mean I wanted to get behind the idea that his flawed programming causes him to believe that the only peaceful world is one without humans, but every time he talks he just sounds so full of shit. He’s always going on about evolution and junk, and how people need to evolve to survive, and it’s like dude, you’re trying to wipe out all life on earth, that’s not how evolution works. And he goes out like a bitch near the end, anyway. Overall this movie is still super entertaining. There’s lots of fun Whedon dialogue (some have said too much, but I’m into it), there’s cool comic book action (the Hulkbuster fight is definitely a highlight, although I sort of wish it had held more weight in the actual story), and the way all the characters interact is really great. They really feel like they’ve been a team for a while, and I gotta say every performance is awesome. Btw, shoutout to Linda Cardellini, nice to see ya gettin work, girl. Overall, it kind of just feels like there was too much going on here to get all into one movie, and again, maybe the extended cut will fix that, but watching it today I kind of just wish they had cut back on a few ideas and tried to tell a simpler story. If you’re a massive marvel fan like me I would tell you to see it, although you no doubt already have. However, if you’re an average movie-goer looking for as good a time as you had watching the first Avengers, this isn’t really that.  

Overall Rating: Ultron’s funny little robot eyebrows/10