Posted tagged ‘wolverine’

X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men – Movie Review

June 14, 2010

Press Rewind if I Haven't Blown Ya Mind.

What’s that? Pryde of the X-Men isn’t a movie? Well, you’re right in the respect that it isn’t a feature length motion picture. No, instead, it’s a scrapped television pilot sent straight to VHS to in efforts to entice kids and pacify man-children clamoring for yet another animated action adventure. Therefore, as the majority of its target audience would refer to it as ‘my X-Men Movie,’ we’re calling this a Movie Review. On June, 4th 1993 on my first day of summer vacation ever, this VHS was the first videotape I ever rented. Commemorating that anniversary along with the various Pride festivals this past weekend (which, as I discovered, are surprisingly NOT X-Men related at all) made this seem topical. Now, on to business.

Pryde of the X-Men was the first animated adventure starring everyone’s favorite mutants. While they had previously made appearances in the 1960s “Sub-Mariner” cartoon and the 1980s “Spiderman and His Amazing Friends” series, this was their opportunity to carry a half-hour and see if the Blackbird would fly on Saturday Mornings. Well, after failing to connect with test audiences in the mid-80s it was relegated to “Special Presentation” status that networks used to run when they want to make a “special event” of something they know would not and will not lead to anything else. It then remained in the Marvel Vaults until the popular 90s “X-Men” show and 2000s movie made the brand hot again, allowing the pilot to be an ever-flowing teat on the mutant cash cow.

"Oh, Hi X-Men!"

Pride of the X-Men focuses on teenage Kitty Pride’s first day with the team as Magneto storms the X-Mansion and steals Professor X’s iPad valuable supercomputer Cerebro which he needs to redirect a comet to smash into the Earth. The X-Men travel to Magneto’s asteroid and SPOILER ALERT! save the day. Over 20 minutes we get glimpses of potential toys the colorful characters, action and, dare I say, potential conflicts?! Realistically speaking, it’s hard to judge a pilot because, as many forget, most pilots suck. They’re “solid” at absolute best, and even then never really come anywhere near to the level of quality a show can reach. All things considered, I can think of *maybe* two pilot episodes of a show ever that I would consider “good episodes.” That in mind, it’s still just alright.

Watching this for the first time in years, I’m immediately taken aback by how stunning the animation is. This was produced by Toei Animation (most famous for “G.I. Joe” and “Transformers”), and even by their standards the stylization is exceptional. The action is also fluid and the editing is really well done. While the bare-bones story doesn’t allow for much to be done with these tremendous advantages, they really are something special.

The real legacy of Pryde of the X-Men is twofold. Most notably, it’s the basis for the 1992 painfully classic Konami X-Men Six-Person Arcade Game. Yes, the plot was lifted and turned into countless hours of quarter-spending English-butchering action. And by butchered I mean mercilessly slaughtered. Also memorable about the film is the startling revelation that Wolverine is Austrailian. Eerily predicting Hugh Jackman’s involvement with the character by over a decade, legend has it a line of dialogue involving Wolverine mocking an Australian character by calling him a “dingo” went unchanged after the scene was altered to have him addressing a non-Austrailian character. As a result, we have a Canadian character who talks like this:

Overall, the story falling short of the visuals really stands out and make the entire affair somewhat empty. Austrailian Wolverine aside, the voice talent is really well done, and the dialogue so freely using concepts like death and prejudice was pretty ahead of its time, particularly for a Reagan-era cartoon. As a launching point for a series, I can understand the hesitance and its failure is probably for the better with how quickly it would have become dated, as opposed to the timeless far superior 90s incarnation. Still, without factoring nostalgia, it’s a nice artifact of what 80s children’s programming was geared for, with hints of where it was going to go within the next decade.

We give X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men a Three Out of Five.

Oh, and as a bonus, I’ve worked my Catholic magic to put the entire thing up here to watch right now! Hooray internet!

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!


X-Men Origins: Wolverine – One Year Later

April 30, 2010

Genesis 18:20

During his 1817 visit to Florence, Italy, French author Henri-Marie Beyel fell victim to a psychosomatic illness now known as Stendahl Syndrome. Characterized by fainting, catatonia and intense hallucinations triggered by being overwhelmed by art, it is believed to be the result of a literal sensory overload. With the majority of the outbreaks happening in Florence where works are particularly lush and plentiful, one could make the argument their art having such an impact the highest compliment an artist could receive. But what about when a work of art causes an overtly negative reaction that pushes its viewers to the absolute limit causing a passionate outburst of violent anger? So was the opening night screening of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, or as actor Steven Trolinger put it, “the worst thing that has ever happened.”

It’s hard to believe one year has passed since the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, henceforth referred to as The Events of 5/1. Before we continue, I’d like to point out that I absolutely do not care in the slightest about a film’s faithfulness to its source material. While my familiarity with the Marvel Universe is above-average, I can recognize that comics and film are both different mediums and can divorce the merits of one when evaluating the other. My loathing for this film isn’t because I feel some nostalgic loyalty, but rather because it is an absolute abomination on every imaginable level.

Leviticus 18:25.

For every hyperbolic critique people tend to lob at a movie, this was perhaps the first time that all of them were true. Most glaringly, there was no plot. No story. At all. Some of you reading this now may remember thinking the “movie” was “OK,” “wasn’t that bad” or that you even “liked it.” Well riddle me this, what was the “movie” about? I challenge you, in once sentence, to describe The Events of 5/1. The whole 82 minute running time is an attention-deficit fueled* experiment in human endurance. Don’t get it twisted, I love a good summer blockbuster shiny-go-boomy movie as much as the next real American, but if I’m going to turn my brain off I don’t need it pried from my skull.

“Director” Gavin Hood is the “film’s” cinematic angel of death. His inept handling of The Events of 5/1 seems to almost be intentional. Either that, or he has perhaps never seen a motion picture before and doesn’t understand how they work. Evidence for this is seen in an overhead shot of a character looking to the sky and screming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” happening no less than FOUR (4) times in the film. Even what would be the film’s highlight, the opening scene of Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds, some truly inspired casting) smart-mouthing a room full of soon dead bad guys, becomes inverted into one of the film’s greatest flaws as we don’t see the character for another seventy minutes until he returns with his mouth sown shut and everything endearing about the character removed.

Psalms 7:14

But the silver lining in the F-5 funnel cloud that was The Events of 5/1 was seeing it opening night in New York City and, for the first time, seeing an entire audience turn on a “film.” Even with the bootleg leaking over a month prior** the entire theater was sold out and packed into Union Square like chickens in a slaughterhouse. The first five minutes seemed fine, heroic action was cheered and one-liners were repeated with the word “bitch” added to the end, all-in-all a typical opening night Manhattan screening. But then, the first “NOOOOOOOO” happen and the audience stared in dumbfounded silence. Were we not in on some joke? Ten minutes later, serious revelations were met with laughter, moments of heartbreak were heckled and action sequences were met with outright groans. Yes, it was that bad and this summer movie “opening weekend” audience knew it. It got so bad that when the credits rolled, the audience (and I swear to gosh this happened) rose to their feet and BOO’ed the movie while pelting the screen with garbage. There was no smattering of applause as rows of disenchanted moviegoers cleared the theater row-by-row with heads hung like a Catholic funeral. When it came time for the bonus scene at the end of the credits, I optimistically yelled from the balcony “HANG ON EVERYBODY, THIS IS GOING TO REDEEM EVERYTHING!” not anticipating that us remaining moviegoers were to be subjected to the absolute worst most hackneyed written moment of dialogue in the history of cinema. The audience boo’ed again, and we all went out separate ways in order to drink to forget.

1 Kings 21:20

With it still having an impressive weekend and Fox hoping to make a sequel and several spinoffs, some are clamoring for a reboot of the franchise. I disagree as, living in a world where X-Men Origins: Wolverine was made and released, I think we need a reboot of humanity as a whole. It’s important that we never forget the Events of 5/1 or else we are doomed to repeat them. Just as the Bush Administration will be defined by 9/11, Obama’s legacy will be that of letting The Events of 5/1 happen under his watch. I attempted to find a copy of the film to listen to the director’s commentary, hoping there would be some explanation for letting such an atrocity take place, but it’s been stripped from all the copies at rental outlets and only made available through the deluxe $34.99 Blu-Ray edition of the film and I flat-out refuse to contribute any more to their evil empire.

We Give X-Men Origins: Wolverine aka The Events of 5/1 a Zero Out of Five

Until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*Realistically speaking, if there was a fuel for the film it would be some mixture of Surge, Red Bull and the liquid at the bottom of the ham in your Lunchables.

**A bootleg which, in all honesty, is a superior cut if only for using the scores of The Dark Knight and Transformers in place of Harry Gregson-Williams’ series of noises.