Mini Reviews: X-Men Days of Future Past & The Monuments Men

X-Men: Days of Future Past

x-men-days-of-future-pastI’ve discussed my feelings on X-Men in general before, but in case you don’t know, I don’t really love the franchise, but I keep up with it anyway. I thought 1 & 2 were pretty meh. I actually liked 3 OK, but everyone else hated it. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was OK. I did really enjoy X Men: First Class. The Wolverine was fine. X-Men: Days of Future Past was thankfully more in the First Class vein, and I enjoyed it.

First off, if you’re going to see this movie (and you haven’t already), you might want to brush up on your X-Men movies because I was confused a few times and had to ask my husband a few questions after the fact. Also, I somehow missed the memo that the first part of the movie was in the future, so that part confused me too. So just know, it’s in the future! Well, until it’s in the past. But that part is pretty obvious. 🙂

This movie is heavy on Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence as Wolverine and Mystique, which I wasn’t expecting, and of course on Charles Xavier and Eric/Magneto, mostly on the portrayals done by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. The whole cast is great, but if you’re looking for a lot of people from First Class, you’re not going to find many outside of those already mentioned. Most of this movie also takes place in the 70’s, and I thought the way they filmed much of the 70’s storyline was great with a grainy film look.

My two biggest reservations about this movie though are that the cast is so large that you don’t get as much of any one character as you’d really like (unless you’re a big Wolverine or Mystique fan), and that the story felt a bit convoluted to me. The idea of changing this one thing to change everything else and then not expect that it couldn’t go wrong another way seemed really naive, and then of course when that did happen, how they managed things didn’t feel like it would have actually worked well enough. And what happened to Magneto after the 70’s story? I’m dying to know!

You’ve probably heard a lot about the addition of Quicksilver in the movie, and that scene in the kitchen was a lot of fun, definitely a high point in the movie. His time was so brief though that it almost felt pointless. But not pointless enough for me to mind him being there, since it was entertaining.

x-men-days-of-future-past-quicksilverThis is a hard movie to only “mini-review,” yet at the same time I don’t want to go on and on about it. If you enjoyed First Class, then see this movie.

4stars2Also check out:

Funk House of Geekery’s The 10 Best and the 10 Worst of X-Men: Days of Future Past

Natalie’s (Natflix and Books) review

Reading and Running’s explanation of the X-Men franchise timeline

The Monuments Men

the-monuments-menSo imagine if Danny Ocean (Ocean’s 11) was into art and had a purer heart and lived during WWII, and you would kind of have an idea of the premise of The Monuments Men. This was an interesting sort of movie. It’s written and directed by George Clooney, and while it was beautifully filmed, it’s clear he doesn’t have much screenwriting experience (though I did look up his writing experience and he did also write the screenplay for Good Night and Good Luck, which was a snore of a movie for me when I really thought I’d like it). The first part of the movie has a very strange pace and it felt very disjointed. We’re “introduced” to the different Monuments Men, though not in a very coherent fashion, so it took me a while to remember who all these people were.

But once you realize who everyone really is and get into the story, it’s interesting. There was a really poignant scene where Bill Murray’s character gets a recorded message from home that really stood out for me in the movie. There are other little vignettes, just glimpses into these these men’s missions, that build up to the climax of them finding particular art that they have been seeking for much of the film after the death of one of their own.

The Cate Blanchett character was a disappointment for me since she’s a great actress and her character was so distant and not very interesting. She’s so cold for most of the movie, and then warms up to Matt Damon’s character after she realizes he and the other Monuments Men want to genuinely protect art, so much so that she’s coming onto him (even though she knows very well that he’s married), and it felt weird and unnatural. Thankfully Matt Damon’s character, James, didn’t give in, but it just felt a little odd. If all that really happened in real life, I’m sure it unfolded in a more natural way than the way the movie presented it.

To me, this movie felt like it was just scratching the surface of something larger, just trying to give me a glimpse into a much grander story. During the credits I Googled to see if there was a book and then proceeded to add it to Goodreads, because I wanted to know the whole story instead of just these little parts. This movie wasn’t enough, and some of the script was weak, but it gave me a craving for more and had some interesting elements to it.

3stars2If you’ve seen either of these movies, let me know what you thought of them! 

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Movie Trailer Round-Up!

I’m excited about several movies coming out this month: Ender’s Game, The Book Thief, Thor 2, and Catching Fire, and I’m also excited for some other upcoming movies that recently released trailers. But first, the final Catching Fire trailer…

So excited! I’m still firm in my belief it’s going to be better than the first movie. Then Captain America: The Winter Soldier…

Captain America is my favorite Avenger because he’s such a gentleman! But he also knows how to take care of bad guys! And then last but not least, the new X-Men movie…

The trailer has made me really excited about the movie. I have shared before that X-Men is not my favorite franchise, but this looks really good, And though his role is minor, I’m glad Shawn Ashmore is back; he was my favorite in high school.

Any other good trailers you’ve seen recently? What movie are you most excited for? 

catching-fire-comic-con-trailer

Review: The Wolverine

the-wolverineAmong all the comic book flicks I watch, I have to confess that the X-Men saga has never been my favorite. A few months ago I watched about twenty minutes of the first X-Men movie while it was on TV and it reminded me that I just don’t really care for it. I’ve watched it several times with my friends and my husband, and I don’t think the movies are awful and beyond watching, but I have never connected with them and there are definitely some really dumb parts (especially whatever comes out of Storm’s mouth… shudder). That was until X-Men: First Class, which I really loved the first time I saw it. I don’t love it as much now, but it’s still definitely my favorite of the franchise and I feel it’s heads and shoulders above the rest. I went into The Wolverine with lowish expectations… I thought I would probably like it decently, since most people seemed to like it better than Wolverine: Origins. I can say that The Wolverine pretty much met those expectations of me liking it well enough.

The movie takes place after X-Men: The Last Stand, and Logan is trying to hide out so he won’t bring harm to anyone. He still has nightmares about past instances in his life, and the one that we see at the open of the film is from WWII, when he saved a Japanese soldier from the blast of the nuclear bomb that is dropped nearby. Back in present day, we see Logan followed by an Asian girl with bright red hair, who eventually introduces herself to Logan and explains that the man he saved that day is dying and wanted to see him one last time to say goodbye. Logan reluctantly agrees to go to Japan with the girl, Yoshi Yosemite Yukio, who my husband and I like to refer to as Red.

Logan goes to Japan to find that the old man does not just want to say goodbye, but offers Logan to relieve him of his immortality by taking his healing ability so that he himself can live and Logan can die in peace. Even though Logan does not think he has much to live for, he basically says that’s a rotten deal, thanks but  no thanks, and walks out. Meanwhile, he observes the reaction of the old man’s family members around him: the man’s son and granddaughter. The granddaughter, Marco Monaco Marigold Mariko, is clearly distraught, and we find out that her life has been threatened.

The old man dies and at the funeral, Logan carefully observes the activity of everyone around him, aware that trouble may be stirring. Sure enough, it turns out  that there are a large number of men out Mariko, and after fighting off several baddies, Logan gets her away safely.

Predictably, the two end up falling for each other, even though it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. And of course, Mariko is captured again and Logan and Red have to track her down and save the day. Instead of giving away any more of the story, however, I will leave it at that.

I liked both Yukio and Mariko pretty well and thought they were fairly well-developed characters. Yukio seemed to have an interesting personality and Mariko I think proved at the end that she was more than just a pretty faced love interest (though Logan’s nickname of her, “Princess,” is quite fitting). I never fully understood the motives of the villains though (just greed?), and especially did not care for Viper, who they might as wall have cast Uma Thurman for and called her Poison Ivy because they were crazy similar.

But to be fair to the writers of the movie, she is a character from the comics.

But to be fair to the writers of the movie, she is a character from the comics.

I had other likes and dislikes but overall, this is a fairly fun action flick that adds maybe a little bit more to the franchise and to the character, but not a lot. The part of the movie that stirred my curiosity the most actually turned out to be the stinger, the scene within the credits, which sets up the forthcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past. It was sort of interesting how almost the entire movie takes place in Japan, completely out of Logan’s environment, but I suppose that helps us realize that mutants are worldwide. For its decent entertainment value with nothing earth-shattering in the plot, I give The Wolverine three out of five stars.

3stars2

Have you seen The Wolverine? What were your thoughts? How do you feel about the X-Men franchise as a whole?