Web standards alert

Account: log in (or sign up)
onebee Writing Photos Reviews About

Mutant Enemy Prescriptions

In the world of action adventure movies, it's not uncommon for a hero to undergo a reversal of loyalties, in order to spice things up. Particularly in a franchise like the X-Men, it's a good way to add some new conflict. However, it's rare for that hero to come in a package as talented (or hot) as Famke Janssen.

One thing that's always surprised me about the X-Men movies has been the casting of Famke. When you think about it, it's all blockbuster names. Hugh Jackman is so popular he managed not to get laughed off the face of the planet for starring in Kate and Leopold. Hell, the man suffers fewer homosexuality rumors for hosting the Tonys than Tom Cruise does for getting married and having a kid. Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Rebecca Romijn – maybe these aren't superstars, but at least household names. Ian McKellen, aside from being omnipresent lately, is a highly accomplished actor. And then: Famke Janssen, whom no one remembers as Xenia Onatopp from GoldenEye – and fewer still remember from Made or Love and Sex. How did we get this lucky?

In the first film, it seemed kind of like a fluke that the role went to someone really talented instead of someone better known. But then she wasn't really sidelined to a supporting part, and she stayed in the foreground for X2. This time, she's pretty much the central focus of the film, and she gets two or three real powerhouse acting scenes, portraying her inner struggle and the delicate balancing act of having psychic and telekinetic abilities as her superpower – and her curse.

So, bravo for that, X-Men movies. Well played.

But I think this may be more than a coincidence. I think it reveals a commitment to quality that has kept the X-Men movies on the very short list of franchises which have maintained the high quality of the original. (A list which, to date, includes just three more entries: Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, and Toy Story.) Sure, a lot of people don't pick up on the magnificent performances – for example, the idiots who sat behind me and talked through any scene that didn't feature multiple explosions – but as an aggregate, the filmgoing public can generally sniff out the difference between a taut, engaging, well acted summer movie and, say, Fantastic Four.

Sure, X-Men: The Last Stand stumbles in some places. But overall, it does an excellent job of maintaining plausible justification for the ongoing human/good mutant/bad mutant feud-triangle. Rather than using a crutch like, "Darn, Magneto's evil," it infuses his battle against humanity with new fuel in the form of a pharmaceutical "mutant cure," causing a moral conflict in mutants on both sides of the struggle. And it does another thing, which is critical to preventing a long-running franchise from getting stale: it raises the stakes. Mutants are dying; good mutants are turning bad; mutants are turning human. The film doesn't shy away from shaking things up in the name of fresh conflict.

And that's where the X-Men series differentiates itself from a lot of other superhero adaptations: there's something at risk. The reason Neo went from awesome to ho-hum between The Matrix and its sequels is you didn't have to root for him anymore; he was invincible. With the X-Men, you're really invested in every battle, because more emphasis is placed on the story than on keeping everyone around for the next movie.

It's a lot more than I expected from a summer tentpole – especially this summer, with the main tentpole buckling under the weight of its colossal expectations.

Trailer Watch

While it wasn't specifically advertised at this screening, Click is challenging The Interpreter for Worst Movie Trailer of All Time. In case you're unfamiliar with the film, it lifts the dullest line you've heard at a dozen stand-up comedy open mike nights - "Wouldn't it be great if the mute button on your remote worked on your wife?" - and attempts to stretch it in to a 90-minute story. The comedic potential of this idea is entirely exhausted within the course of the two-minute trailer – and there aren't even any laughs. However, "Electrodes to the Genitals" will still outlast "Click on DVD" as a torture method – while Click will be less humane, the electrodes will still be cheaper.

I have to admit, the trailer for Ivan Reitman's My Super Ex-Girlfriend shows some potential. Teaming up the non-related Wilsons Luke and Rainn is an inspired choice, and Uma Thurman is due to wow us again. Fuck, after Prime, she downright owes us. The trailer starts out with Luke approaching Uma on the assumption that she may be shy and composed on the outside but underneath she's a wildcat – a particularly fond fantasy of my own. This alone is a good enough romantic comedy. Then, about halfway through, it's revealed that Uma's outburst over their break-up goes beyond most girls': she's got super powers with which to wreak her revenge. At this point, it starts to sound like the pitches in The Player when they were making fun of how bad Hollywood pitches are. However, before the trailer is through, it sports a few redemptive moments – among them Anna Faris, ready to steal as many scenes as she did in Just Friends – so maybe the movie won't be a disaster after all. (Plus, it is a really fond fantasy.)


One of the least attractive things someone can say is, "I'm bored." It reveals a staggering lack of enthusiasm, imagination, and intellect. Most often, "I'm bored" can be more accurately read as, "I'm boring." Ugh.

However, the process of creating onebee can sometimes feel a bit... routine. If it's that way on my end, I can only imagine the agony on yours. To spice it up, I've decided to try adding regular features to some of the columns. Along with the semi-regular Trailer Watch feature, film reviews will now also contain the Colorful Bear Index (CBI) – a laughably vague one-sentence synopsis inspired by the infinite champion of such synopses: "Colorful Bears Interact with the World."

CBI: Pharmaceutical innovation escalates turf war.

Your Comments
Name: OR Log in / Register to comment

Comments: (show/hide formatting tips)

send me e-mail when new comments are posted