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Beauty and the Beast (2017 Film)

Last night I saw Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s latest live-action remake of one of their classic cartoon masterpieces. It’s good. You would already know that if you’ve seen the cartoon. And if you’ve seen the cartoon, you’ve seen this movie. You know what happens. There aren’t any M. Night Shyamalan twists. They added some backstory and more character details, there are a few new songs, but it’s the same fucking movie.

That’s not a bad thing. The cartoon was the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. I’m sure this version will be nominated for a few awards as well. It’s already a blockbuster success and nobody should be surprised about that. It stars Emma Watson as Belle. Motherfucking Hermione Granger! You know how many Harry Potter fans were already invested once they heard about the casting?!? A lot. Like more than twelve. There are lots of Harry Potter fans. Dozens.

The only bad thing I can say about the movie is that the new songs are terrible. Terrible. Especially the Beast’s solo right before the climax. It totally ruined the mood. And you don’t want to ruin the mood right before you climax. I know that characters express themselves through song in musicals, but geez, enough is enough.

The special effects are top notch. Ewan McGregor’s accent is not. The story takes place in France, yet everyone speaks with a British accent except for one ridiculous French accent. But he can sing so he gets a pass. 

It’s a good movie. It’s worth paying money to see in the theatres. You might even splurge to see it in 3D. Not many movies are worth paying money for these days. This one is.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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X-Men: The Last Stand

The X-Men are back on the big screen for the third time and Brett Ratner does everything he can to ruin everything that Bryan Singer tried to accomplish with this trilogy. Most of the main characters from the first two movies reprise their roles, but there are way too many characters to give anyone a decent amount of screen time. The end result is a bunch of mutants running around fighting each other but you don’t give a fuck about who is fighting or why.

The movie starts twenty years before the events of the main story, a middle-aged Charles Xavier and Magneto meet with a Class 5 mutant named Jean Grey. They have a brief discussion about how powerful Jean in, and whether or not she will control her power or if it will control her. The movie jumps ahead another ten years to a young Warren Worthington III as he tries to hide his mutant wings from his disapproving father.

The movie jumps to the present day as Worthington Labs announces a cure for the mutant gene. This causes a huge rift in the mutant community. Some mutants want the cure and others view it as a form of extermination. Magneto uses it as a chance to recruit more mutants to join his side. He recruits Callisto, Psylocke, Arclight, and Kid Omega (who should be named Quill, but whatever, details aren’t important).

Meanwhile the X-Men have lost Jean Grey from the events of the second movie, and Cyclops still hasn’t gotten over losing her. Shadowcat (Ellen Page) and Colossus have bigger roles on the team, and Beast (Kelsey Grammer) also joins the X-Men. Cyclops is all emo and goes to Alkali Lake and Jean reappears and the two are reunited. The joyous reunion is short-lived because Jean Grey is no longer Jean Grey, now she is the Phoenix.

Magneto keeps on recruiting more mutants to his cause. When he frees Mystique from her mobile prison, he also frees the Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) and the Multiple Man. They join the Brotherhood of Mutants without any persuasion, as soon as they are introduced they are recruited. How convenient. When Magneto and his posse go to recruit the Phoenix/Jean Grey, they bump into Xavier and a few X-Men who have the same idea. Magneto and Xavier both try to persuade her to join their side and Xavier ends up getting disintegrated.

The X-Men are without their leader and Magneto gets ready for an assault on Worthington Labs to destroy the cure. The remaining X-Men (Wolverine, Storm, Beast, Iceman, Colossus, and Shadowcat) form their last stand and try to defend the island. There is a mutant battle and mutants fight and mutants die. Jean momentarily regains control of herself and asks Wolverine to kill her and the Phoenix and he does even though he doesn’t want to.

There’s a scene after the credits where it’s hinted that Xavier has transferred his consciousness to a comatose guy. If genes are responsible for mutation, this new body shouldn’t have any powers, just throwing that out there.

There are a lot more mutants in this movie than in the previous two. They add mutants without establishing who they are. Callisto, Kid Omega, Psylocke, Arclight, Multiple Man, and the Juggernaut are all new mutants and they don’t waste anytime trying to establish their characters. They literally come onscreen, say their name and mention their powers and pledge their allegiance to Magneto. Super lazy writing.

The  X-Men are also treated like an afterthought. Cyclops is barely in the movie. Rogue’s character is completely wasted. She never even obtained the ability to fly like she did in the comics… she voluntarily gets the cure and stops being a mutant. Xavier dies simply for shock value. Colossus is on the team for the whole movie, but he has fewer lines than he did in five minutes that he was in the second movie. And where the fuck is Nightcrawler? Adding Beast was a nice touch, but you couldn’t have another blue mutant on the team?

The worst addition to the franchise was Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Angel (Ben Foster). They introduce his character in the beginning, he has a dramatic escape from being forcibly given the cure by his dad, he comes to the mansion for sanctuary, and he saves his dad from falling. That’s his arc. He doesn’t join the X-Men. He doesn’t fight. He just wastes screen time and keeps other characters from getting developed.

The first two movies balanced action who deeper themes of acceptance, of tolerance, of being proud of who you are… this movie is just noise and fireworks. Ratner takes all the characters that Singer established and ruins them. He takes all the care and thought and attention to detail and casts it aside. He doesn’t care that the first two movies were foreshadowing something great, he wants explosions and meaningless special effects. And he delivers. This movie looks awesome. It’s just not coherent and the story sucks and any decent performances by the actors are lost in the chaos. This is a terrible way to end a great trilogy.

Critically Rated at 8/17

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X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class is a prequel to the X-Men trilogy. The studio plans on it being the start of a new trilogy. It’s the origin story of Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr and how they became Professor X and Magneto. It’s set in the swingin’ sixties, right around the Cuban Missile Crisis, which plays an important part in the film. I love movies with alternate histories, it’s better that blatantly sabotaging history like they did in Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor.

X-Men First Class Poster

The movie starts out with a familiar scene: a young Erik Lensherr is being separated from his parents in a concentration camp and he demonstrates his ability to manipulate metal. An evil Nazi doctor (Kevin Bacon) tries to get Erik to recreate the event and kills his mom. For motivation I guess. And so Erik gets a little emotional and unleashes his powers.

Meanwhile back in America, a young Charles Xavier meets a young runaway shape shifter named Raven Darkholme, and he invites her to live with his family within ten minutes of knowing her and without consulting with his parents. It was a simpler time back then.

The movie jumps to the 1960s and CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne from Bridesmaids) finds out that a former evil Nazi doctor, currently using the alias Sebastian Shaw, is planning on starting World War III. He’s the leader of the Hellfire Club, filled with mutants like the telepathic Emma Frost (January Jones), the teleporting Azazel, and the tornado-maker that they call Riptide for some stupid reason. Moira decides she needs to find an expert on mutants, and she turns to Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) for help. Charles and Raven decide to help the CIA stop Sebastian Shaw and the Hellfire Club.

Meanwhile Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) is busy tracking down former Nazis and killing them, all the while searching for Sebastian Shaw to seek revenge for killing his mom. Erik, Charles and the CIA all find Shaw at the same time, and shit goes down, Shaw escapes, and Erik and Charles become friends.

Charles and Erik meet Dr. Hank McCoy, and Charles makes his first use of Cerebro to track down mutants to join their cause. They recruit the winged stripper named Angel, the ultrasonic screamer Banshee, the rapidly evolving Darwin, and Havoc the hula hooping energy blaster. There are some pretty lame powers. A spitting dragonfly lady?!? A man with such a shrill scream that he can use it to fly?!? Darwin has an awesome power, too bad it looks stupid as fuck on screen.

While the young recruits are bonding the plot keeps trudging forward and eventually the Hellfire Club manipulates a Russian general into sending weapons to Cuba, thus starting the Cuban Missile Crisis. The X-Men go to battle with the Hellfire Club and Erik gets to Shaw and gets his revenge.

Erik goes crazy with power and tries to destroy a bunch of military ships. Charles tries to stop him and they fight and Charles ends up getting shot. Erik is sad that Charles got paralyzed and stuff, but he decides to part ways with his friend, taking Angel, Riptide, Azazel and Mystique with him. The movie ends with Erik, now calling himself Magneto, recruiting Emma Frost to his side… The sides are set for X-Men: First Class 2 – How Xavier Goes Bald.

I would rate this the third best X-Men movie. X2 is the best, followed by the original X-Men, and First Class is after that. The film was rushed into production, and there are a few parts where it is evident, but for the most part it’s a solid script with a lot of good moments. The cast lacks the star power of the original trilogy, and a lot of the mutants are second string. They changed a lot of stuff from the comics. There are some cool fight scenes, but I was disappointed with a lot of the powers. They are pretty second-rate. There are way too many mediocre mutants showcasing boring powers.

The third X-Men movie was a huge setback for the franchise. The Wolverine movie had its moments, but it was a terrible movie and butchered a lot of good Marvel characters. First Class is a step in the right direction, and even though it has a few flaws, it still redeems the franchise.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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