Halloween the Complete Effn’ Collection!

When I first heard of this set I was absolutely enthralled. The idea of all the Halloween films in one set stunned and excited me as to the possibilities that lay ahead. What more could be offered? Well, turns out, not too much BUT Anchor Bay, Scream Factory, Trancis, Universal and Miramax threw everything plus the kitchen sink into the set that does set the bar in terms of content. So there’s no complaining over the use of the word ‘complete’.

So let’s break down this set shall we. I’ve gone over this is my head numerous times and I’ve decided the easiest way to do it is to start our with what is new, what is exclusive, the stuff you already own and stuff you don’t get.

New

Technically it takes getting to disc 9 to finally see original material on the set but it is the disc people have been waiting for. From 1995 it’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers - Producers Cut! First of all the transfer for this particular cut of H6 is eyeball searingly wonderful. For the first time this movie looks like a well shot movie and not some direct to video dump. It’s amazing and a perfect example of what restoration can do to film even just 20 years old. Second of all, the bonus features, while not full documentaries, are pretty informative and revealing as one would expect from the folks at scream factory. So is this cut a major improvement. No but it is fascinating never the less and certainly more in keeping with the tone and tradition of the series. The producers cut certainly is not entirely worth the extra $100 a person will pay but on its own merit it’s a superb disc.

In addition to the new producers disc, you get three brand new 40 plus minute documentaries about Halloween 4, 5 and H20!! Think of them as a sort of catch up for the discs that were released in the past. I must say, that although the price is steep, these featurettes are well made, feature plenty of interviews and very insightful. The H2O doc even has Jamie Lee Curtis dammit! For me, once I watched these features I was satisfied with the purchase. Probably not enough for most folks but for a Halloween mark like me, worth it.

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The final disc has two of the major docs, for H4 and H5, but it also includes a lot of stuff that was never offered or carried over from older dvd discs. Like the “Halloween Unmasked” featurette narrated by Dee Snider, the two H4 and H5 featurettes from 2000, and pretty much any trailers that hadn’t been included on their initial releases. Including Rob Zombie’s films. Also, on said disc is a handful of Sean Clark’s Horror’s Hallowed Grounds episodes that were not previously offered and lastly, but not leastly, a high-def presentation of Halloween 78 the TV cut! While the additional scenes are NOT high-def it’s inclusion is nice to have.

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Exclusive

So maybe the biggest misnomer of the set is that is houses 5 extra discs not offered on the cheaper release but a closer look reveals you owned most of it anyway. Three of the “exclusive discs” have come with their respective titles before.

Disc 2 is the 2007 or 25th anniversary transfer of Halloween 78’. While it may seem perfunctory, truth is it houses maybe the best documentary made on the original film. Most of the news is old hat for most fans but it does make a strong case for the movie’s importance and is a wonderful introduction for newbies.

Disc 4 is the TV cut of Halloween II. Great …except it’s formatted for fullscreen broadcast and on DVD in standard definition and it had been offered a few years ago by Scream Factory anyway. Hey, it’s included at least and it is more reason to sell that older release.

Disc 13 is the, also previously offered, 4 hour making of documentary of Robert Zombie’s Halloween. ..Why not 5 hours that’s what I say ;) Again it’s here at least. And finally,

Disc 9 Producer’s Cut

Bonus Disc Halloween 78 TV cut, H4/H5 features, etc.. 

I’ve covered the other two original discs; the Producer’s cut disc and the “Bonus’ disc.

Stuff you own

The rest of the set, you probably own:

Disc 1: Last years 35th anniversary edition of Halloween

Disc 3: Scream Factory’s edition of Halloween II

Disc 5:Scream Factory’s edition of Halloween III

Disc 6: Halloween 4 (2011 re-release/2006 transfer) …but no Q&A!

Disc 7: Halloween 5 (2011 re-release/2006 transfer)

Disc 8: Echo Bridge’s release of Curse

Disc 10: Echo Bridge’s H20 with BONUS features & original aspect ratio

Disc 11: Echo Bridge’s release of Resurrection

Disc 12: Zombie’s Halloween 2007

Disc 14: Zombie’s Halloween II 2009

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the stuff which is lacking. While the set is as complete as it’s namesake their are some missteps for a $100 plus product. Yes, the Q&A, as well as, the entire 25 Years of Terror Documentary is missing, the Terror in the Aisles doc is not here and I didn’t see the goofy intros from previous discs but none of that is a major concern,

What is disconcerting, however, are that some older transfers don’t pull their weight for such a expensive box. Frankly, H4, H5, H6-Theatrical, H20 and even Resurrection could use new transfers. All these mentioned movies look just ok to passable and, while I’m not asking for million dollar restorations, a fresh scan would have been really really appreciated. That said, knowing all the companies and  interests involved. I suppose, that’s shooting for the moon.

Overall though, I still think this is a nice treat to yourself if you love the franchise. As it houses all the major elements of the entire collection and adds some nice touches.

So, at the end o’ the day, is it worth it? The answer is ….Yes! … for fans only ;)

I’ve never been a fan of Rob Zombie’s movies. Despite a great eye for detail his films always came off flat and shallow. I like H1K as a guilty pleasure, I think the Devils Rejects is overrated shit, and his Halloween movies are cinematic failures on Star Wars prequel levels.

So you’ll have to dip me in shit because I loved Lords of Salem. It’s a slow dreary descent into visual bliss of an apocalyptic nightmare. Yes it can be random and slightly silly but overall it works. Yes! #robzombie #lordsofsalem #horror #witches

I’ve never been a fan of Rob Zombie’s movies. Despite a great eye for detail his films always came off flat and shallow. I like H1K as a guilty pleasure, I think the Devils Rejects is overrated shit, and his Halloween movies are cinematic failures on Star Wars prequel levels.

So you’ll have to dip me in shit because I loved Lords of Salem. It’s a slow dreary descent into visual bliss of an apocalyptic nightmare. Yes it can be random and slightly silly but overall it works. Yes! #robzombie #lordsofsalem #horror #witches

The Halloween Box …set

I’m planning a more involved review of the “new” Halloween box set. In the meantime I’m attaching a couple of screenshots that show the difference between a remastered transfer and just a transfer. Proving once and for all that, despite whatever the next big step in home theater technology there is, be it DVD, Blu or 4K, unless there is a concerted effort towards film preservation, its all for naught. Evidence below:

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Can you guess which transfer was done by Scream Factory? 

Remakes!!! …you gotta roll

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Below is an IGN article about the much threatened …I mean promised, Escape From New York Remake. Up for the role of Snake Plissken is Sons of Anarchy guy, Downton Abby guy and Walking Dead guy.

Jon Bernthal needs a break out role. He would make a great action star and any “action” role that by passes the extremely banal, Kevin Bacon, Ethan Hawke, Colin Ferrell, Adrian Brody or Christian Bale is great in my book.

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Yes!!!

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Please, no…

But the real question should be, will it be any good?

I used to hate the very notion of remakes. I lived my personal Vietnam of “Texas Baysaw Massacre” of 2003. It was not pretty. But as the years have gone by, while it still unsettles me to see a remake/reboot/re-imagining (r/r/r) of one of my favorite franchises, I’ve come to terms it’s all our own fault. We movie watchers just won’t get off our fat asses unless it’s something we can identify with before actually driving some place to watch bigger than TV, TV in a theater,

So franchising is in full effect and that includes the whole r/r/r stuff. So bitch, (and, oh yes, we will bitch) but even when a movie is as fashionable as Snowpiercer, the truth is we still don’t go. ..Unless it’s Star Trek, Star Wars, or any other toy we used to play with these “un-regognizables” get little love.  

Which is too bad since I do believe there are talented writers, directors and even producers who want deliver quality original stuff. There just isn’t a market for it. But even so, frankly, I’ve enjoyed most r/r/r I’ve seen lately. There may have been some imperfect or even downright beastly re-duds but since mid aughties they have been given some fat ass budgets and much love in the production department and even despite their lead actors, overall, I’ve enjoyed the new Predators, Robocop and even Total Recall. 

So I’m ready for Bernthal’s “Call me snake”. Just make it good. It’s all I ask.

2014 Bummer Summer?!

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So here we are it’s the end of August 2014, how was your summer? I know, it sucks.

Well, I think movie wise, it wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be. Yes, it only had a few highly anticipated movies BUT if it did have a ton of sequels and franchises, we’d be bitching about a ton of sequel and franchise movies. That said here’s my snapshot of The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly:

The Good

Godzilla

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It certainly had it’s logic issues, boring characters and is anyone else a bit tired of Bryan Cranston?, but overall a solid big budget Godzilla movie. Which, included some standout scenes like the trestle scene and a wonderful finale in San Francisco. I wish Gareth Edwards was allowed to flex a bit of his character development muscle he showed in ‘Monsters’ but he still managed to deliver one of the best giant monster movies of the decade.  

X-Men: Days of Future Past

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I thought Bryan Singer’s return to the X-Men show was terrific. I was hoping for a little more X-Men in the future and, yet again, Storm is reduced to just rolling her yes white but the 70s story was engaging and fun. The acting was particularly good from McAvoy and Fassbender. Plus mystique gets her best screen time in the entire series and, I still insist, Hugh Jackman is just now becoming a perfect fit as Logan. Dramatic, funny and setting the bar for the story. Plot holes be damned, this was a great movie.

Guardians of the Galaxy

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I think this movie has the danger of being too hyped, since the story is pretty typical for a comic book movie, BUT James Gunn’s emphasis on character and humor, often very neglected areas in summer movies, was very well done. Plus the effects were fantastic and fitting. (Unlike Thor) and the concept has milage for future installments. I don’t wanna huff and puff this movie too much, since the rest of the web already is but I did enjoy it from beginning to end. Best movie of the summer.

Hercules

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Yes, Hercules. This movie was being dumped on before even being seen. Fanboys hate the Ratner so this movie was DOA when it landed. Yet I thought it was silly popcorn fun that didn’t take itself too seriously. It was what Scorpion King wanted to be, a modern Beastmaster and Hercules is exactly that. Fun!

Transformers 4

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Yes, it’s just another giant Baygasim for 3 hours. But it did deliver what I love about his films: amazing stunts, huge set pieces and terrific 3D. The CGI is still dodgy and his omission of even just general logic deserves the blasting it gets from critics but I enjoyed it for what it was. Plus after 3 movies, you only have yourself to blame if you hated it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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I’m glad they’re fully committed to making movies just for kids with ADD but i seriously can’t remember this movie. I laughed at some jokes and I didn’t hate the CGI or even Megan Fox but that cliche plot and hyper hyper editing did zero favors for this movie. That said I still did enjoy it but in that guilty pleasure kinda way. Let’s just say I wore my 3D glasses all the way to the parking lot so no one would see me. …You know who would have directed the shit our of this movie? Eli Roth. I shit you not. He knows potty humor, building tension and getting the most out of FX. Heads up Mr. Bay, he needs the work too.

The Bad

Maleficent

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Great idea with the perfect casting and yet they just had to muddle it up with pedestrian storytelling and very dodgy CGI. If you can imagine Tim Burton phoning it in, even more than usual, then you get Maleficent. Which is too bad it came perilously close to having some good moments and revealing Jolie as more than just her icy persona.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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Technically a very good movie with some astounding CGI performances  but, sigh, it just kinda bored me. the build to the climax of the movie was just so typical. Some people are bad, some are good, mistakes can seem villainous but are often just misconceptions and blah blah. If they didn’t lean so much on the preach and had more Gary Oldman it would’ve been elevated to great.

Edge of Tomorrow

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Mr. Cruise may be a falling star but his decisions to get behind interesting movies is still a good quality in his pocket. Plus it features the very very underrated Emily Blunt. Frankly, the time twisting concept was much easier to swallow here than Inception and proof that a strange boundary pushing plot does have it’s place in Hollywood. That said, despite its plot twisting concept, I still felt the movie was pretty predictable. Once the we figured out the main force behind the time wrinkle it all fell into genre cliché and the last 30 minutes was rather run of the mill. I’ve gone back and forth on this but I’d have to say there’s nothing here that makes me really love this movie. Except Emily of course.

Expendables 3

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Major disappointment. What do you love most about the Expendables? Now take that out and fill the middle of the movie with boring characters you don’t want to route for. Plus they missed an opportunity to flesh out the Expendables history and even offer some redemption. Oh well, why go out with a bang when you can go out with a whimper.

The Ugly

Snowpiercer

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Atlas shrugged for liberals (and I am a liberal), an anti-elite nonsense fable for drum beating hippies to watch and drink the “fuck da man” cool aide to. Brazil for dummies. I anticipated every frame of that movie and nothing surprised or interested me. Hey, guys, don’t make me rally for the capitalist pigs with whiny dystopian nonsense but that’s exactly what Snowpiercer does. I wanted the Train to crash and the polar bears to eat anyone alive. 

White Lightning & Gator on Blu!!!

Hey! If you’ve ever wondered why a weeny like Burt Reynolds was so darn famous, look no further than these two movies finally getting proper treatment in 1080 and finally released in their original aspect ratio!

In addition to Deliverance, these two movies added some muscle to the mustachioed mystique of ol’ Burt. In both movies he does stunts, kicks ass and drives cars …fast! In fact, I miss these old hillbilly movies about moon shine and run’n from the law that were quite popular in the 70s. 

Below is the amazon link and I recommend these films for your collection! Stick’em up there right next to your Doctor Who sets, so your friends complain :)

Why China will dominate North American box office

So you think our US box office is a big deal? It is, but not forever and things are changing. We’re going to see a new Pacific Rim and, plenty more, Transformers movies despite US audiences being kinda meh about them. 

All because China dominates the gross earnings now. This will not only dominate what movies get made but also HOW they’re made. Are you ready?

Frankly, I am interested to see how US audiences react to no one giving a shit about their opinion anymore. What does Harry Knowles or JoBlo think? …Who gives a shit. 

Article below:

Blu Ray Bitch’n …just some things I wanna complain about.

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Recently there has been a few blu ray packages that have come out which have irked me. Now to lay some ground work ahead of time let me say this, I like Blu-Ray buuuuut it’s annoying as all hell! In addition to buying half my collection again, self inflicted I admit, the enthusiasm and eye for detail that had accompanied DVD has suffered a big loss.

Most blu rays for new movies get sparse extras in lieu of the higher bit rate and have the balls to tout themselves as multi disc sets despite being the same product but only in a different formats on separate discs.

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Also, unless a movie has been officially licensed by a specialty company, most older films only get upgraded to the higher format without any work on the old transfer or negative. Which essentially doesn’t improve the quality of the movie. It only allows a film to NOT look like shit on a bigger TV. You need a company like Criterion, Synapse, Blue Underground or Shout Factory to work on title to see any improvements. Yes, occasionally, a new transfer from a major studio happens and the results are often magnificent. (I.e.: Jaws, Lawrence of Arabia, Blade Runner) But that is far and few between, for the most part we get just a simple upgrade from the DVD and occasionally from way back to the VHS negative! I’m looking at you Echo Bridge.

But amongst these and many other annoyances, recently their have been a few sets released that have, frankly, pissed me off.

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Robocop, Rocky and The Man With No Name Trilogy are in my sights today, Damn it!

I’m happy that the movie studios decided to give a new transfer to the original RoboCop, Rocky and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly but why then package them in with their respective counterpart films and not give those films upgrades? 

This is especially true with Rocky and Leone’s set. I want Fistful of Dollars and Rocky II to get upgrades just as much as the other films. I mean, at least try! You don’t have to spend a million dollars but maybe striking a new transfer, cleaning and new coding could do wonders! At leafs Robocop’s sequels were fantastic so only the original needed work. But Rocky and the Westerns did.

In Leone’s set they definitely could have at least added Duck, You Sucker in Blu called it the man with no name, put Eastwood’s mug on the cover and the fans would have been very forgiving of the misrepresentation if it meant getting an extra Leone movie on Blu as a special feature. No!?

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Look, studios, Blu Ray is the last physical media that we have before it all goes digital. Then we can say goodbye to special features new transfers and excellent home theater presentation. Until then let’s celebrate classic movies by putting the best foot forward and giving us a reason to spend money. Ok?

And if you don’t believe me as to the futility of the Blu read on..

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/pat-higgins/blu-ray-is-dead_b_3572399.html

Just a little update:

I love how there’s a new Spielberg set with four hotley anticipated films from fans and then the rest are one’s we and every other person already bought! Just to justify the $100 plus price tag. That sucks.

Good is? …Good Storytelling!

Whilst watching the “Kong” animated series with my daughter it struck me that, while the show itself seems like puerile absurdity for kids it actually has a fun serial quality to it that could work. …Were is done better!

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When I hear a movie’s detractors take a movie down, its usually done with name calling and when asked why specifically, a person will say it was “boring” or “stupid”. When you ask a movie geek ‘why’, they actually have more annoying responses like, “no originality” or the “original is better”.

To me a movie isn’t about one thing specifically and most of all it isn’t about the story! We wouldn’t be so obsessed with sequels, remakes, adaptions or prequels if that was the case. To me a movie is only as good as it’s storytelling. 

I always laugh when I hear there’s a script leak or spoiler released before a movie’s release. Why is Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or any other major book adaption making billions of dollars if that movie’s plot was revealed? Audiences crave an experience and that experience is always better when told to them with atmosphere, mystery, suspense, a climax and intrigue.

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When watching Back to the Future I was struck at how one scene plays into the next and how it sets up a question for the viewer only to answer it immediately or by the end of the film. Why is Marty interrupted from kissing his girlfriend in the park by a woman who is telling him about a broken monument that was struck by lightning? Why is bad that Marty stopped his father from getting hit by a car? What happens when a teen from the future even meets his father who is also a teen? These questions are meant to compel the audience into watching the next moment of the movie and once you’re hooked a good film ‘gets’ you with a desired conclusion that make the entire expirence worth it.

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Not all good films work like Back to the Future but the idea of building questions in an viewers mind is usually a basis for most. So how the question is asked is the oat important piece to a good movie. In “Once Upon a Time in the West” we meet the man with the Harmonica played by Charles Bronson. He almost mysteriously appears and suddenly and purposefully puts a monkey wrench in every characters attempt to do anything. Why? Even though the story is compelling enough without him his presence is jarring and almost bizarre. When we do find out what he’s up to the reveal makes watching the movie for 3 hours worth it! This is good storytelling.image

I often get dinged for liking a lot of the crappy, crappy, crap movies. But what people don’t understand, is that often, I like them because they have a nugget of the compelling that, were the storytelling better, the movie would be good. Most storytelling in most films is bad, for a variety of reasons, but that’s just how it is. It doesn’t stop me from liking something but it does allow to differenciate the good and great. 

Kong has fun elements to it: Kong as a hero, a kid as his partner, a goofy friend for humor, his grandma as not only a genius but family and an outsider girl who brings a dash of danger and sex appeal. Where the material written for an older audience with strong story telling you’d have a hit.

Think about what compels you and how the story is told when you watch a movie or series so, at the very least, you have better reasons to hate or love something.

Reel Quick -Maleficent

To sum up. There were countless wasted opportunities to make Maleficent a good movie. Instead first time director, Robert Stromberg, seemed inclined to hit every conceivable fantasy cliche from the Hobbit, Harry Potter and recent Tim Burton. On top of that scenes between actors were stilted, opening shots were awkward and Angelina herself would have seemed to be phoning it in were the role not perfectly fitted to her personality.

Quick point. (spoiler) It would have been much more effective to show only little Maleficent in wings so that at the end of the movie when she gets them back it’s has a bigger impact. Of course that’s what a seasoned director brings and not an effects guy. Remember directing is storytelling.

PS: Disney may want to seriously reconsider their live action out put. I.e. John Carter, Tron Legacy, Prince of Persia, etc..

Ok, Who Likes X-Men 3? …hello, anyone?

Me. That’s who.

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First and foremost let me start out by saying I’m not an X-Men fanatic. I haven’t read all the issues or very many really. I’ve followed X-Men in the past enough to know most of the big story lines but if I went one on one with a true believer, I’d lose. That said, like many teens in the 80s, I was obsessed with Wolverine and even own a few of the coveted Claremont/Miller issues.

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Second, I’m not a fan of Brett Ratner. I’ve seen his Rush Hour films and a few others and I’d have to say for the most part he’s a banal director with nothing remarkable to his credit. In fact his take on Red Dragon is pretty crap. But I’m not a “hater” as it were and I do know he’s a bit of a fanboy as he often turns up on featurettes about Jackie Chan and Eddie Murphy. So I know he knows, at least, a thing or two.

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But ‘X-Men The Last Stand’ has always perplexed me. Simply because, and I say this before taking deep breadth with the knowledge of the ire this comment may inflict upon myself, I find X-Men 3 to be a pretty darn good movie. And more often than not, I see and hear a lot of deriding not only this movie but also Ratner himself. 

Here’s a few comments from imdb:

"F U Brett Ratner your movie is meaningless.."

"Brett Ratner is a chode"

"(Sucks more…)Then being forcibly masturbated with hot sauce as lube”

And that was just a few minutes looking.

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I mean, I think I get it. This movie has it’s share of plotholes but most blockbuster movies do. What the problem really seems to be, is in 90 minutes Three major characters are killed and three others lose their powers. In one movie six very prominant characters become obsolete. I get that.

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But as a whole I think this movie is very fun and, frankly, has the best performance by Ian McKellen and Famke Janssen in their entire franchise history. Even the emotional ending between Jean Grey and Wolverine works for me despite it not being entirely logical. In fact I’m not the only one who has this ridiculous thought. Despite a negative review Harry Knowles is forgiving of Ratner:

"This isn’t Brett Ratner’s car wreck… oh sure, he was just the hired hand at the wheel who managed to keep the car basically on the road, but he didn’t pick the car, nor did he fill the tank. No, this car, road and explosions were timed, set and sabotaged by Tom Rothman. I actually believe Brett could have made a pretty decent X-MEN movie had he been given the time to adequately adapt the film. "

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That comment has sat with me over the years when hearing criticism of X3. Yes, it’s not a great movie: it’s very underdeveloped, characters die and X-Men fans are left behind in favor of “the masses”. But…

As a movie we are introduced to a wrinkle of X-Men mythology that is very interesting. The “Cure” to human mutation. What if, in the mid 60s, African Americans could be turned white? What if a homosexual could take a pill and become hetero? Say what you want but that main plot point in the movie is handled pretty well. It is met, initially, with disdain but then some give it some thought and a few even desire it. Even if a solution seems unethical, often there are many who concede to it. While the main thrust of the movie seems headed to a giant showdown, the internal plight is universal and very relevant. In fact, I find it the most compelling story of the first three films.

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While some characters have minimal screen time (Storm/Rogue) others seem to enjoy strong arcs. The best of which belongs to Jean Grey, her character becomes the main antithesis to the Cure, once she is, somewhat confusingly, resurrected, she becomes a walking apocalypse to human beings. All the while being torn over her total superiority over humans and mutants alike but also feeling latent compassion for them particularly Logan.

(Spoiler alert…)

This ultimately leads to a somber but emotional finale where Wolverine faces off against her, and despite facing his own demise and losing the love of his life, he kills her. Despite the movies better efforts to just be a popcorn film this scene is still very emotional and worthy ending in the three film arc. Ratner nails the emotion needed in this scene and then ends the movie with some fun teases.

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Yes, the movie is rushed and yes many of the characters seem bland but compared to most of the blockbusters this movie seems solidly footed in descent material to ponder. Plus while I can appreciate fans being disappointed by this movie, it’s certainly head and shoulders above other super hero movies like: Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Hulk, Ghost Rider, Electra and thouest biggest turdith: X-men Origins: Wolverine. Woof!

I was very happy this weekend when I saw Days Of Future Past and it’s “retcon” of the original X-Men movies. It was a return to form for Bryan Singer and Fox studios. It seems that they are well aware of the mistakes of the franchise has made and, after Disney’s acquisition of Marvel, grateful to the X-men films and what they have done for the studio. While I like The Last Stand, no doubt it, along with it’s idiot brother ‘Origins’, are low points everyone wants to put behind them. 

But let’s still look at the bigger picture when beating on X3. It’s a good movie that could’ve been great but it’s still good.