Saturday, June 3rd, 2006

I Can't Stand It

I should let you know that in the interest of saving time, I had already partially written an awful review of X-Men: The Last Stand before going to see it last night. Just to give you a sense of my expectations for the film. Well I have to say, when I got home I felt compelled to rewrite it. IN ALL CAPS. Note in advance – I have been reading X-Men comics for 25 years. Yeah, I’m one of THOSE people. Just so you know.

Seriously, that was… a most unfortunate cinematic experience. I’m tempted to post many spoilers so you won’t feel compelled to go see it in the theatre, but that’s a little unsporting. After all, it appears that some people enjoyed it. I don’t know who these people are, nor do I want to.

But generalities should be enough to convey my impressions. While it opened reasonably promising, after around 20 minutes things started to go off the rails and – like Juggernaut – gained momentum and became unstoppable. The dialogue was bad, the pacing was bad, the plot – while not fundamentally flawed in concept – was terribly executed. And even as major characters shuffled ignobly off the mortal coil, sometimes even off-screen – there was no emotional resonance to their passing, just the sound of actors celebrating the end of their contracts with Fox. Basic laws of reality that even comic books don’t normally ignore – like how long it takes to get from New York City to northern Alberta and San Francisco are out the window. That may seem extra nitpicky, but come on X-Men 3, you’ve already taken my dignity. Leave me physics. The whole thing felt like one of those half-assed fill-in guest artist/writer issues you used to get back in the day. Not well thought out, produced, or showing the slightest bit of care from anyone involved. Which is actually pretty close to the truth – if I recall, they began shooting before the script was even complete in order to make the scheduled release date.

Still, there were some positives. Kelsey Grammar was quite good as Beast. Some of the action scenes were pretty exciting (if you ignored the fact that most of Magneto’s mutant army seemed to have no usable powers besides running and yelling). Juggernaut vs Kitty Pryde was a pretty good demonstration of both characters using their powers effectively. Kitty was cute. Um… it wasn’t that long. That was also good.

It’s a real shame that what started out as a fine franchise should end on such a sour note. Bryan Singer, I hope you see this film and feel shame for what you’ve done. Or not done. But with it taking in such huge box office money, it wouldn’t surprise me if the studios greenlit a fourth film – maybe with Ratner in charge again. Chris Tucker as Bishop, anyone? Seeing as how almost all the principals from the first three films have perfectly good reasons (like pride) to walk away from the series, it would open the door to a whole new team of younger, cheaper mutants and really, isn’t that the real point of the films for the long-time X-fans? To see their heroes adapted to film and then complain about what a shoddy job they did?

Miami Poetry Review cobbles together a list of 10 directors who know how to make a comic book movie. NOTE THE ABSENCE OF BRETT RATNER’S NAME. Of course, their top guy has never actually adapted a comic book to film, and their #3 and #4 picks have done it exactly once. But still – NO RATNER.

And thanks to whoever anonymously sent me the YouTube link to this Secret Wars Re-Enactment Society clip. It is the awesome. Far better than X-Men 3.

Wilco’s Glenn Kotche answers questions from drummers for Harp and reveals just what it is he does during “Poor Places” live when he sticks those tubes in his mouth. No, he’s not taking massive bong hits, he’s altering the pitch of his toms. Madness. Sheer madness.

You Ain’t No Picasso has news that The Decemberists will release their major label debut The Crane Wife on October 3.

I got linked from today’s Anti-Hit List in The Toronto Star for a song I never posted or linked to. Weird.

Thanks to Dodge for premiering the new Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s video.

Video: Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s – “Quiet As A Mouse” (YouTube)

The latest Matador news update has a couple interesting tidbits – Belle & Sebastian have a new video for “White Collar Boy” premiering online June 13 and are releasing an iTunes-only single for same with four b-sides June 26. Also releasing a digital download single is Mogwai (apparently iTunes is all the rage with the Scots) for “Travel Is Dangerous” on June 20. The UK gets a physical CD version the following week. And check out the artwork for the new Yo La Tengo album, out September 12. I’m a little disappointed it doesn’t actually say I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass in big block letters, but this is probably more tasteful. If you’re into tasteful.

A little bit of Victoria visits on August 5 as Wolf Parade and Frog Eyes play The Phoenix. Tickets $15, on sale next Saturday.

Harbourfront has released details of some of their free Summer concert series – of particular interest are “Power Of Place” which has Jason Collett and The Dears ringing in Canada Day on July 1, “From the Peg” (July 28-30) which will feature a performance by The Weakerthans and “Indie Unlimited”, which in addition to mainstage shows by Great Lake Swimmers on August 26 and Bell Orchestre on the 27th, will feature loads more bands (TBA) playing the Brigantine Room, organized by the folks (or folk, really) behind Over The Top.

I’m pleased to see that The Diableros are opening up for Camera Obscura at the Horseshoe on July 4. I’ve failed miserably in catching any of their many, many local shows in the past but I’ve already got my ticket for this one.

Filter has posted their almost unbearably precious Cat Power cover story from a couple issues back online for all to see. While the writer did seem to get a rather uncommon degree of access to Chan and there is some insight to be had, the delivery is almost unbearable. Read at your own risk. And though widely reported (not just by me) last month, I can’t find any evidence that Ms Marshall’s July 3 show at the Danforth Music Hall is actually happening. She is still in Montreal on the 2nd, however, so perhaps it’s just i-crossing and t-dotting that is holding things up (though I get the feeling that’s not the case). However the Montreal show – part of the jazz festival – will be a solo event so maybe we’d be better off holding out for a full band show. The Greatest is a record that really needs the full instrumentation.

BrooklynVegan has Fall tour dates for The Raconteurs. No Toronto date, but BV’s list ends September 30 in Montreal. Anything can happen after that. ANYTHING.

np – The Hylozoists / La Fin Du Monde

By : Frank Yang at 9:58 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Eric Grubbs says:

    Maybe I should blog about this myself, but how long has Brett Ratner become this punching bag of sorts? It seems like in the last two years he has, and as a frequent reader of sites like Ain’t It Cool and Defamer, the backlash seemed to arrive out of nowhere.

    I’ve only seen a couple of his movies (Red Dragon and Rush Hour 2) and did not think they were terrible nor great. They were what they were and that was that. So, why all the "hack" talk?

  2. Yan says:

    This is completely unrelated to anything, but have you encountered this?

    It’s covers of the Pixies done in the style of Prince, the Beach Boys, Tina Turner, and Jimi Hendrix. And it’s amazingly convincingly done.

    Just thought it might interest you, Frank–assuming you haven’t seen it already.

  3. Frank says:

    Ratner gets the flack because he’s the director. I’m sure the rot goes far deeper than him, but them’s the breaks. If it was a great film, he’d get the hosannas but since it was awful, he gets the blame.

  4. Five says:

    But look what you get to look forward to! 4 spin-offs.

  5. sam says:

    <i>did not think they were terrible nor great. They were what they were and that was that.</i>

    there you go. i think you answered your own question.

    a hack is someone for hire.
    i’ev hated his work since Rush Hour. then out of the blue someone handed him this huge Red Dragon project (and he botched it). his work is superficial and visual. at best, that’s a video director. you don’t go trying to work on potentially emotional material. especially if you’re only interested in blowing stuff up. he’s the poor man’s Michael Bay.

  6. distopian_dreamer says:

    It reminded me of the storyline from the "What If" imprint. Though the story ended with Phoenix destroying the galaxy or something like that. The little blurb in the end after the credits was kind of retarded. But at least the Superman trailer was cool…

  7. Jason says:

    man … you really really really really superly love xmen

  8. Eric Grubbs says:

    My post on hacks is here:


  9. Frank says:

    note that I never called Ratner a hack. Just the man in charge of making a bad film.

  10. Karl says:

    Ratner caught advance flack because he was replacing Singer and Ratner’s prior work demonstrated none of the skills necessary to a character-driven action piece. The final product proved this correct. Imagine how bad it would have been if you didn’t have Stewart, Jackman, Berry, etc., who already had two pics to develop their characters. Even at that, the flick has Wolverine moving out of anti-hero mode… bad, bad, bad. (That being said, I think I liked it a little more than Frank, and I was buying the book during the original John Byrne run, so I know the Phoenix saga pretty well).

    And speaking of YouTube, note that the "spoiler" scene that ran after the credits is (or was) posted there. Also, the funny line the Juggernaut delivered to Kitty seems to have been inspired by a viral video posted there.

    As for a fourth flick, it seemed like Ratner and others were talking more about the Wolverine and Magneto projects even before this weekend. And with X3 plummeting anout 67% this weekend, the studio may rethink it further.