Monday, November 14, 2011

X-Men Drive the Block Angry

Or ... David has watched some more films. This time I chose three which looked interesting. Two I had heard of, and one I'd never heard of ... so what did I make of them?

First off we watched the new X-Men film, called X-Men First Class, presumably because it's an origins piece as to how the X-Men came to first get together. I'm not familiar with the X-Men comics at all so have no idea whether what was presented was 'correct' or not, so all I have to go off is the film. In it we meet a young Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) who has a talent to read minds. He helps the government when a young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) tries to get vengeance on some thugs and they join forces against Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) in true villain form. The problem I had with the film was that it seemed very disjointed. It was more a sequence of 'what powers does this one have' than a coherent film, and although the mutants were very interesting, it quickly became a little boring. I liked the central idea with Mystique that no-one loved her in her blue form, and that she had to love who she was herself before anyone else would love her. The chap who became Beast was interesting as well as his 'talent' - to have hands instead of feet - seemed pretty useless to me, and it took him tampering with his own DNA to turn him into Sulley, the big blue monster off of Monsters Inc. I liked the dragonfly lady, but couldn't see why she would be able to hawk explosive spitballs around, and the lady who could turn into diamonds was also interesting. But overall ... despite the great effects, the film left me a little cold. Just an okay from me on that one. I think the earlier X-Men films were much better.

Next up was Attack the Block. And oh dear. From the off, the main protagonists are shown to be a bunch of little shits. The sort of kids that society seems to be plagued with these days - irresponsible, lacking respect for anything and anyone, speaking in a sort of dumbed down patois regardless of their ethnic origin, and basically troublemakers looking for trouble. They mug a girl (Jodie Whittaker) on her way home from work, stealing her ring and wallet, and then see a meteor land. But on the meteor (or is it some sort of spacecraft?) is an animal which the gang leader Moses (John Boyega) proceeds to chase and kill. But this seems to anger a pile of other space creatures who arrive, and they then chase and attack the yobs who end up joining forces with the girl they mugged to try and survive. To be honest, I disliked these kids so much that I was rooting for the aliens all the way through. Unfortunately the aliens are beaten and the surviving kids hailed as some sort of heroes ... it all left a bad taste in my mouth. I suppose on an intellectual level I can praise the writer and director for so accurately depicting these little shits, and the actors too for making them so unlikable. But a film needs heroes you can relate to and root for and this failed in that respect. The monsters are bargain basement, looking more like shaggy apes with joke-store glowing teeth than aliens - they reminded us of the Cybershades from Doctor Who a couple of years back, and they were rubbish too. Not a great film by any means, and certainly not one I have any desire to see again.

The third film I got because it looked like a thriller in The Fast and  the Furious vein, however Drive Angry is actually nothing of the sort. The first surprise is that it's a supernatural yarn, and the second that it's really good!  Nicholas Cage plays a mysterious drifter called Milton who seems to have supernatural powers. He joins up with a gorgeous waitress, Piper (Amber Heard), and the two of them head off after the Satan-worshipping cult, headed by Jonah King (Billy Burke) who have kidnapped Cage's granddaughter and who plan to sacrifice her. On Cage's trail is the Accountant (William Fichtner), a brilliantly portrayed being who is powerful and vicious and who just wants to get Cage back in check again. It transpires that Cage has escaped from Hell to perform his rescue, and will stop at nothing to achieve it. So Drive Angry plays out as a sort of road movie, but with supernatural shenanigans (in fact, the TV series Supernatural is probably part of the inspiration for the film), some great characters and performances, and some neat effects and ideas. It was a surprise to me that it was as good and as enjoyable as it turned out to be. The title, by the way, comes from the license plate of Piper's car: DRV AGRY.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Okay with my comics geek hat firmly in place:

The title for X-Men First Class comes from a series Marvel published a few years ago detailing revisited and expanded adventures of the original X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Angel, Beast and Iceman). The film was called that because, as you correctly say, they wanted to go back to the beginning. Because it's in the same continuity as the original trilogy they couldn't use most of the characters so they swiped a bunch from other points in the X-Men's history to use; which is fair enough I suppose.

With regards to the characters - Angel (the dragonfly girl) was originally a fly girl in Grant Morrison's run and the vomiting stuff is meant to be what flies do on food. She was introduced initially to be Wolverine's tag along (in a similar way to relationship Rogue has with Logan in the first X-Men film)but Grant wanted her to be quite disgusting rather than cute and spunky the way Kitty Pryde or Jubilee were (there's a scene in the first film where you have the three of them sat together which is intended to be a nod to the fact that all three girls have "Logan's sidekick" stamped through them like a stick of rock).

Beast's powers were badly shown in the film, he's meant to be very athletic and strong right from the start, rather than a weed with hands on the end of his legs. It may be that in the climate we have it was felt that a nerd who's also good at sports wouldn't be believable.

Didn't Xavier come across a bit like David Cameron? It was quite unsettling.

All in all I do think that the first two X-Men films were better - the third was a dire mess that needed some serious work as it was about 5 films thrown into one, and clumsily too.

I absolutely agree with you with regards to Attack the Block... and dammit David you've made me want to watch a Nick Cage film, something I try to avoid! (even if Drive Angry does sound like a Tales from the Crypt film in everything but the budget).