Posted by : Wendy B Thursday, 27 October 2011

Does this outfit make me look
inadequate as an actress?
As usual, I'm last to the party with movies. Get me some reliable and cost effective daycare sources, and I'll remedy that.  Anyway, we watched this last night, and this morning, I find myself needing to rant (well, technically, I was needing to rant half way through it, but managed to resist the urge.)

First up is Emma Frost played by January Jones. I was expecting this issue, as many had warned me that January Jones took the Halle Berry School of X-Men Non-Acting and didn't bother to actually review her source material, despite stating otherwise. I was initially pissed off about her costume, but, as it turns out, she couldn't act her way out of a paper bag, much less that Walmart bra.

Alas, I can't blame her alone for that mess. Writing and directing get nods of fail, too, for turning THE WHITE QUEEN into a bloody lackey. This is the woman who plays  Sebastian Shaw's Black King to a stalemate time and again because they are EQUALS. She is not the bitch who gets Shaw a sammich ice for his drinks. But, already knew about January Jones sleep walking through her role, so it wasn't a surprise I couldn't overlook.

So let's move on to my next problem: Darwin. When Charles and Erik head off recruiting and pick him up my husband and I joked that Darwin, being The Token Black GuyTM, was going to die, but as time progressed, alarm bells started to go off. Darwin? Who the hell is Darwin? I'd heard of all the other mutants on the team, but I hadn't heard about Darwin and would have to Google him to learn more. Not that that was a bad sign in and of itself, since there are so many X-related characters, but when I realized that this poor fellow hadn't even gotten any promotional time on posters or previews, I realized that it was no joke: he really and truly was going to be yet another victim of the Black Dude Dies First Trope. Not even Samuel L. Jackson can survive this trope (though it was pretty cool when he didn't, and LL Cool J later commented about this trope in the same movie).
Who will DIE????
I'd offer you a spoiler warning regarding Darwin's death, but really. It was just that obvious. Hell, even if he hadn't been Black, his sacrificial lamb status was so painfully clear. But he was Black, therefore the entire scene was made worse when it was preceded by Shaw making a pointed comment about slavery, and then looking at The Black Guy. I can imagine the script actually reading:

SHAW: "..blah blah blah ENSLAVED." [PAUSE TO LOOK AT BLACK GUY] "Blah blah."

Much like when, at the Oscars, a Black person is nominated or wins and the camera pans to Samuel L. Jackson, Will Smith, Queen Latifah, Halle Berry and Morgan Freeman. (It should also be noted that (this is the internet - of course it has been noted), in the same scene, Angel, the mixed race girl, switched over to the dark side, presumably to clean the house and help Emma with Shaw's other domestic requirements. Represent! Oh and in case you missed her motivations for switching sides, there was some ham-fisted anti-mutant dialogue just before the attack on the base and just before Angel decides to switch sides.)

Then, Darwin, who's ability is to adapt to survive, fails to survive having Havok's powers shoved down his throat by Shaw. Best saddeathface ever!

Even Michael Bay had the decency to not make Jazz's pending doom quite so obvious. Hell, he at least got to survive to the end. I generally don't like to look for racism in my entertainment, though, as a Black person, it's often hard not to notice, but this was so damn blatant in its ignorance! I expected a lot better from Mr. Singer and company. Then again, maybe the movie was set in the '60s to justify all the -isms.

This is the point where I wanted to shut this movie off, which says a lot, since the likes of Transformers 2 is on the short list of movies that made me feel this way. The only saving grace here was that my friends have repeatedly proclaimed it to be their favourite blockbuster movie of the summer. Plus I'm the chick that liked X-Men 3, so who am I to judge?

The slash! It writes itself!
Was it a great movie? No. Was it a horrible movie? Well, aside from the rather novice plotting and direction - which was surprising, considering Matthew Vaughn's resume - no. This is mostly because the film thankfully did not forget that it was about the story of Erik and Charles and managed to pick two actors who could work it and own it to make up for the rest of the crap and make room for so much Charles/Erik OTP love.

X-Men: First Class managed to make us sympathize more strongly with Magneto than the other two movies did, while simultaneously pointing out that Charles' "dream" is maybe not so nice, and also, Charles is an arrogant bastard who really only likes the pretty mutants. Most of this is played off of Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence, whom, I can now confirm, has the chops for Katniss. Was all of this character development enough to make an entire movie out of? Nope. But we'll make one anyway, because hey, franchise. Unfortunately, as the movie progresses towards the action climax that allows this film its "blockbuster" title, the drama at its heart becomes rushed; friendships and alliances are too quickly made and/or broken and additional characters are merely props.

In fact, who were the other characters again? Oh yeah, Beast, because we needed stuff invented within extremely short time periods. That guy who believed in fairies mutants and had a nice secret CIA base with no bullet proof windows to house them. Azazel, who would just be "The red Nightcrawler-type guy with a sword" if Shaw didn't use his name so much. I have no clue what Shaw's other henchman's name was and don't care about him enough to look. Emma got to say her name not once, but twice. Some nice continuity-based cameoes there, if we excuse the aging issues. Shaw was great, because, Kevin Bacon. Moira, we first got to meet in her bra and panties. And Havok and Banshee? Well, we needed someone to blow shit up and someone for comic relief and echo location, right?

Perhaps if I rewatch this movie, fastforwarding through everything but the Charles, Raven and Erik moments, I will find the intelligent movie that should have been, instead of the cut and paste "blockbuster" that we ended up with.

One Response so far.

  1. https://plus.google.com/u/0/102543948831967474502/posts/1LF6ACzKb3x

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This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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