X-Men is a movie I got by accident, so I decided to watch it while I had the chance, because I had heard some reasonable things about the movie, at least relative to a "blockbuster sci-fi summer action movie" - low competition, to be sure! It sure boasts some big name actors, including Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Halle Berry among others, as well as being directed by Bryan Singer, of Usual Suspects fame. It is the story of two "mutants" who get recruited into a special secret academy for mutants, as they battle an evil group of mutants and the prejudices of the general society.The movie starts with Rogue (Anna Paquin) rudely uncovering her power of absorbing other's powers as a teenager, then becoming an outcast. She starts wandering, coming across a bar where Logan (Wolverine, played by Jackman) battles others in a caged bare-fisted brawl. They then get attacked by other mutants, and are rescued by yet another group. They find out their rescuers are led by Professor Xavier (Stewart), who has a private academy for kids showing mutant powers. This shields them from the outside society, who are agitating for a law requiring registration, and in general show a great prejudice against all of them. An ex-colleague of Xavier, Magneto (Lord of the Ring's McKellen), has formed a group of mutants anxious on taking over and Xavier's group is opposing them. Magneto, who's powers are the coolest - he is a human magnet, so you'd be surprised the mischief he can get into - is going to sabatoge a meeting of the world's leaders on Ellis Island by placing a device that will turn them all into mutants into the torch of the Statue of Liberty. The X-Men must stop that plan, especially as he has evil plans for Rogue in the process. They do. As a fairly short movie, X-Men has an even harder time getting past the exposition of mutants, future society and such and into the story than most sci-fi movies have. It is a problem in general with the genre, and the short running time doesn't help. I think a lot of stuff must have ended up on the cutting room floor, because a several plot twists simply aren't explained at all. And the denouement is reached in a hurry, before we can even begin to associate ourselves with the bickering X-Men. The acting is reasonably strong, especially from Paquin and Jackman. Barre is almost imperceptible as Storm. My favorite evil mutant was Toad, played with delight by Ray Park. The sound on the DVD is excellent, as you might expect, although the visuals weren't as crisp and special as you might think from a new summer blockbuster. All in all, a light and forgettable movie, without enough of a hook to make me put X2 at the top of my "To Watch" list!
March 2004 Archives
- His Girl Friday, the classic Howard Hawks / Cary Grant / Rosalind Russell movie.
- Nine Queens, an Argentinian entry into the heist oevre.
- Two from the book Cult Movies, a cool hardcover I picked up on the cheap a while ago that lists neat movies. These are two movies that were filmed at the same time: The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind. It was the former that had an entry in the Cult Movies book. I was puzzled to find that the Ride in the Whirlwind DVD is actually X-Men! It is even labeled as Whirlwind, but nope, upon playing it is X-Men. Weird.
- Heavy Metal, in a doublepack with Heavy Metal 2000. The former is an old high school favorite. Wonder how it ages? Great soundtrack.
The Last Seduction is a modern film noir, featuring Linda Fiorentino in a breathtakingly sultry performance as the femme fatale, playing Bill Pullman and Peter Berg like a maestro, sinking them into her psychopathic maelstrom.
Clay Gregory (Pullman) is a med student struggling to make ends meet, while his wife Bridget works at a telephone solicitation company, heading up a bunch on phone drones, exhorting them to better performance selling "priceless" coin sets. He gets involved in drug deal, selling prescription drugs for $700,000, perhaps finally solving their financial problems.
But she absconds with the cash, leaving him at the mercy of a thumb bending loan shark and his $100,000+ debt. She stops in a small "cow town" outside of Buffalo, NY on her way to Chicago, and gets involved with Mike Swale (Berg), a man looking for a way out. She stays, gets hired as a "director of leads" for an insurance company, and tries to keep a low profile as her husband hunts her down.
She comes up with a pretty amazing scheme for finding wives who probably want their husband dead, and tries to get Swale to help out. Much twisting and turning happens, as Clay finally tracks her down, and she shows just how heartless she can be.
The Last Seduction is an interesting movie, but one that I felt tried way too hard. Right from the start, when Fiorentino is exhorting her minions to sell more in the coarsest way possible, it seemed to be posing - all show, no heart. Another example is the fact that it must rain a lot in New York, as every single time a car was shown on the road, the road was wet, which is an auto commercial way of showing off a car. There was also an uncomfortable wavering between cold, dark evil, and humor.
But the denouement was really wonderful, and it kept me on my toes. Fiorentino gives a bravura, if slightly over the top performance, while both Pullman and Berg are solid. The supporting cast was also very good. The DVD itself was completely bare - just the movie and scene selection, while the picture was average at best. It was originally a cable movie, and I think the lack of budget showed. But definitely worth a rental, if you want to see a totally evil femme fatale at work.