Page to Screen: X-Men — Apocalypse (2016)

xmenapocalypse2016

X-Men: Apocalypse
based on
X-Menby Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

★★★½☆

2016 • 144 minutes • 20th Century Fox

I’ve mentioned that seeing Batman V. Superman: Grimdark Grimdark Grimdark kind of broke my cinematic criticism—nowadays, if a movie doesn’t actively make me weep in exhaustion for humanity, it’s already streets ahead. A curse, true, but it’s also a blessing. I’m starting to think of it like being deathly afraid of something and then finally experiencing it. No film will ever be that bad again. I can take anything that cinema can throw at me, because I actively sought out and paid for the worst. Cinematically speaking, I am now invincible.

I already had a similar attitude to X-Men: Apocalypse even before Batman V. Superman: Grimdark Grimdark Grimdark broke me like Bane breaking Batman’s spine. After X-Men: Days of Future Past, it became obvious that the reason to go see an X-Men movie was to follow the continuing saga of Charles Xavier and the X-Men, see some great character moments, and have a giggle over some of the sillier aspects of the proceeding that are, nonetheless, endearing, like a deeply loose grasp of the concept of the passage of time.

You know, sort of reading X-Men comics.

Continue reading

Page to Screen: Captain America — The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
based on a story by Ed Brubaker and characters by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

reviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstarreviewstar

captainamerica2film

On May 6th, 2016, Captain America 3 (No Sleep Till Stalingrad, one presumes) will open opposite Batman Vs. Superman (Grimdark: The Movie, one presumes). This is not so much the two titans of the comic book world taking their eternal battle to the silver screen as much as it is Marvel asking DC and Warner Brothers if they want to see a pencil disappear. As Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes to a close—we’ve only got Guardians of the Galaxy later this year and then its onto phase capper Avengers: Age of Ultron—the success of Marvel Studios (especially now that it’s in the hands of Disney) is envied and unparalleled. DC and Warner Brothers aren’t the only ones attempting to mimic the formula (although they are the only studio hilariously doing it backwards); Sony Pictures wants to do one Spiderman film a year and Fox’s The Wolverine may be the first in a line of films featuring single mutants. (X-Men Origins: Wolverine need not apply.)

Continue reading

Page to Screen: Thor — The Dark World (2013)

Thor: The Dark World
based on characters by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, and Walter Simonson

thorthedarkworldposter

Out of the sprawling Yggdrasil that is the Marvel cinematic universe, you’d think I’d be the most inclined towards the Thor branch—I mean, it includes sweeping space fantasy, lady scientists, and an earnest, dorky sense of humor, all things that are directly up my alley. But the first Thor film didn’t work for me on the level of, say, Captain America: The First Avenger. I liked all the individual pieces, including Tom Hiddleston’s star turn as Loki, but something about the way all the pieces were put together didn’t click for me. Still, it seemed a problem of execution, not of potential, and that’s the magical thing about long-lived stories: the potential is never wasted, only set aside for that moment. (Thus my eternal and increasingly pigheaded optimism about Harley Quinn at the moment.)

Continue reading

Page to Screen: Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man 3
based on characters by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby

ironman3film

As much as I enjoyed Iron Man and Iron Man 2, I don’t really think of myself as an Iron Man fan. In the Marvel universe, I usually gravitate to Thor and X-Men. (How excited am I about the new all-lady team? SO EXCITED.) So I didn’t make plans to go see Iron Man 3 at midnight, as I usually do for big franchise films—I like not being the only one in the audience gasping, clapping, and cackling. Plus, it was during my last round of undergraduate finals. And yet, when the reviews started piling up, I tuned them out, in an subconscious attempt to remain unspoiled. Deep down, I wanted to see it. When an opportunity to see it on opening day came up, I took it.

Continue reading

Page to Screen: The Avengers (2012)

The Avengers
based on characters by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

So there we were, in the theater at midnight, a band of geeks more or less in costume. To our left, a tiny Hulk-loving girl; to our right, some genuine hippies. I turned and grabbed Megan by the hand. “Megan,” I said, “we’ve been waiting four years for this. Four years.” The excitement was, as they say, palpable. To a geek, we fidgeted through the trailers (okay, we sat up straight for The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus, and I teared up at Brave), and then the lights went down. Two and a half hours later, we strode out into the early morning, our minds utterly blown. Ultimately, the experience was better than the movie, but it was still extremely worth it.

Continue reading

Page to Screen: X-Men — The Last Stand (2006)

X-Men: The Last Stand
based on characters by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

After making my way through the rest of the X-Men films in short order, I was looking forward to X-Men: The Last Stand. As I mentioned in my review of X2, I watched both of these films in one night, amped up on my newfound love for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (And I, personally, include the X-Men films in that universe, since only rights and differing studios kept Wolverine and Magneto out of Captain America: The First Avenger.) After X2, which was loads better than X-Men, I was looking forward to X-Men: The Last Stand. Oh, how incredibly disappointed I was.

Continue reading

Page to Screen: X2 (2003)

X2
based on characters by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Well, it was inevitable, considering my love for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and my love for bad movies. Seeing X-Men: First Class last summer made me fond of the mutants for the first time in my life, and I wanted to see more of their big-screen adventures, or at least watch the entire trilogy. While I don’t remember seeing ads for X-Men, I was paying more attention to movies when X2 came out, because this was the year The Return of the King was released. (If it doesn’t relate back to Tolkien or Zelda, I probably wasn’t paying attention.) So I nabbed it at the library while shelving and took it home.

Continue reading

Page to Screen: Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2
based on characters by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby

Somehow, I completely missed Iron Man 2 when it came out in 2010. It’s not that I didn’t want to see it—the trailer looked fantastic—but I just never got around to seeing it. Or renting it. But when Netflix made the ridiculous decision to split its streaming and DVD services, I had to move fast; on top of that, it was time to get caught up for The Avengers.

Continue reading

Page to Screen: Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man
based on characters by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby

When Iron Man came out, I went to go see it with my dad—we bond over superhero movies and Pixar films. I’d heard nothing but good things about it, and I quite enjoyed it. But as the Marvel film universe gathered speed in 2011, I started getting excited for The Avengers, despite the lack of Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner. (We’ll get to The Incredible Hulk, I promise.) That meant I had to watch Iron Man 2, which I’d passed on when it came out, which meant that I had to reacquaint myself with Iron Man the first.

Continue reading

Page to Screen: X-Men (2000)

X-Men
based on characters by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

I love bad movies. In my college’s Film Depreciation Society, my title is “Hobbit Wrangler”, which, more or less, means that my taste in bad movies runs to big budget mediocrity, which we’ve seen before in my love for Disney’s 1993 The Three Musketeers. There’s something endearing born when a production and a studio believe in a project and it doesn’t quite work; but the love (or at least a financially-motivated fondness) is still there. My laziness and my love for mad movies collided when Netflix put 2000’s X-Men up on Instant, which I immediately devoured.

Continue reading