Thursday, July 27, 2017

A SUGGESTED ORDER FOR WATCHING THE X-MEN MOVIES

written for a friend who hasn't seen them

by Alfred D. Byrd

[A PLEA: I've written this blog as much as I could write it without spoilers for persons who haven't seen the series. If you comment on this blog, please avoid spoilers in your comment.]

****X-MEN (2000). You must watch this movie first to get the full effect of its opening scene. I take away one star for Storm (Halle Berry's role was badly miswritten on at least two levels), Frog, and especially Storm v. Frog. Otherwise, the movie is a magnificent blend of writing, directing, and brilliant casting. A great antagonist doth a great movie make.

*****X2 (2003). A greater villain doth a greater movie make. 'Nuff said. (You know that I began to read Marvel back in the '60's if I use that phrase.)

** X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009). Many fans of the series will tell you not to watch this movie. If you do watch it, it fits best here, as X2 alludes to Wolverine's motivations in this movie, and this movie contains massive spoilers for X2. This movie has a magnificent opening half that focuses tightly on the many levels of conflict within and around Wolverine. When he rides off to sneer and bloating in Las Vegas, the movie stumbles badly. Hardcore fanboys, who hate what the movie does to the character Deadpool, give this movie a * or a BOMB rating. As a writer, not a fanboy, I think that the movie deserves better press than it's gotten.

* X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006). It's difficult to pull off "everything but the kitchen sink" without the kitchen sink's showing up for clobberin' time. (Oops, that's an F4 line!) This movie doesn't pull off the trick. I predict that the MCU is about to learn the same lesson that X-Men:The Last Stand taught its series. Still, you need to watch this movie, as it ties up the conflicts from X-Men and X2 and provides motivation for the Wolverine in his 2013 movie of the same name. As a writer, you can learn from The Last Stand that too much is just too much.

***THE WOLVERINE (2013). Like the earlier Wolverine movie, this movie is magnificent as long as it focuses tightly on the many levels of conflict inside and around the Wolverine, as this movie does for longer than its prequel did. This movie even does the impossible by giving him a cute sidekick. A comic-book ending broke the movie's spell, but it's still well worth watching and is required viewing for the scene in the closing credits.

****X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (2011). In terms of internal chronology, this is the earliest X-Men movie, but watching it any earlier in the series would spoils parts of just every movie that I've already listed. The movie does a magnificent job of casting earlier versions of characters from the "later" movies, and it's so much fun for me to visit the '60's again. If not for what the movie did to the character Emma Frost, I'd give it five stars. Maybe, there's a little fanboy in me after all.

*****X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014). It's always amazing when a movie pulls off a time-travel plot, and this one does so in style as we get to see both the "old" and the "new" versions of our heroes in a cross-time conflict. The movie is chock-a-block with fine antagonists. Peter Dinklage almost makes me want to watch Game of Thrones. I must confess that I'd watch this movie over and over just for Quicksilver's "music video." [NOTE to fanboys who are about to flame me for my being inconsistent: this is a tease, not a spoiler!] At the movie's end, you'll understand why I say that it's best viewed in this spot. My five-star rating applies to the theatrical-release version of the movie. I take off one star for the director's cut, as the extended footage is extraneous to the movie's core conflict and breaks the movie's tension. Now, I'll really get flamed by fans of the movie version of Rogue…

**X-MEN APOCALYPSE (2016). An Apocalypse is only as good as its Antichrist. How can you respect an Antichrist who can barely move and has to wheeze his lines because his costume it too heavy even for Superman (who's been a crossover character in the Marvel universe a time or two) to lift? Too, the kitchen sink makes an encore appearance in this movie. I'd give it one star but for its getting Storm right at last and for Quicksilver's glorious encore "music video."

I must confess that I haven't yet seen DEADPOOL and LOGAN. Thus, I won't comment on them or rate them. I have read enough about them to gather that Deadpool fits well after Days of Future Past and that Logan is chronologically the last of the series, after even the upcoming Deadpool 2 and X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

Enjoy, X-newbie!

If you liked this blog, you may be interested in how I've written superheroes in my Orion series: Daughter of Orion, Message of Orion, and Mission of Orion, all available from Smashwords, Nook, and other on-line booksellers with the exception of Amazon. You can read Daughter of Orion for free!

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