My Week With Kate and Spence

kate-and-spence              KHBlogathon2015-ST

This month has been a down sort of month. Finals are enough to choke every last bit of energy I have left. Life has become an overwhelming barrage of things, one right after the other. I’m out of time. I really don’t have time to be writing this blog post.

Oh well. I’ll make time.

For the past week or so, I have developed an extremely strong obsession with Katharine Hepburn – arguably the greatest actress to ever grace the American silver screen. Kate Hepburn has been like a friend to me in these difficult past few weeks, particularly because I’ve spent the past four or five days watching nine of her films. That’s right, nine of them.

Not just any nine, though. No, these particular nine were the films she did with Spencer Tracy, with whom she had a famous relationship, both on-screen and off. These nine films, most of which I had never seen before, are the best, clearest example we have of their sizzling chemistry and deeply complicated relationship.

Through the entire journey, I made sure to take plenty of gifs of Katharine’s best moments, because I love her so. And while I certainly can’t say I loved every film they did, I never didn’t love Katharine. She gave a fantastic performance every time. So did Tracy, whom I now have an immense respect for as a film actor.

So…let’s get started. This is my week with Kate and Spence.


Here be spoilers.


Woman of the Year (1942)

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Woman of the Year is by far the most romantic of Kate and Spence’s films. The film is all about finding new love, and boy do these two find it. If you watch it with the knowledge that the two actors got together sometime during or after the filming of this flick, it makes the experience of watching it even better. You can just see how deeply, genuinely intrigued they are by each other.

Why do I say it’s the most romantic? Well, it’s definitely the most physical. They have a total of – and I may be miscounting here – seven or eight full-on kisses, some of which barely get away with the 3-second rule (during the time this was filmed, kisses could be no more than 3 seconds long). And, well – I don’t know how else to say it, it’s just sexy. 

I have a major problem with this film, but I’m willing to postpone discussing it in order to gush about Katharine’s outfits. Can we just talk about this for a second?

WOMAN OF THE YEAR, Katharine Hepburn, 1942

I want this

Okay…done being distracted.

Apart from the last fifteen minutes of the movie, which is what I have a serious problem with, Woman of the Year is wonderful to watch, mostly for the scene at the bar/taxi/Tess’s apartment. It’s the most romantic part of the film, and it features the most kisses. One thing I really love doing when watching old movies is looking for implications of sex – not in a dirty or creepy way, but because I love seeing how much they try to imply without being totally out there because they can’t be totally out there.

In Woman of the Year, for instance, there’s a scene where Kate’s character Tess has Spencer’s character Sam take her home. They have a very romantic taxi ride and then they walk into her dark apartment, and the music swells very romantically but with a hint of foreboding. Watch the scene closely – he knows where this is going and she knows where this is going and it’s only because Sam’s “a bundle of nerves” that it doesn’t happen.

I think Woman of the Year is looked down upon in modern times, at least the last fifteen minutes are, because it’s the story of a remarkably strong and independent woman who feels guilty for being strong and independent and by the end resolves to quit her job so she can clean and cook for her husband. It was a different time, of course, but it still bothers me. This movie could have been very progressive and if I remember correctly, they changed the ending at the last minute because Tess Harding was just too powerful for a woman. This was apparently against Katharine’s wishes, though, so console yourselves with that.


Keeper of the Flame (1943)

Keeper Of the Flame poster

Keeper of the Flame is a strange one. I haven’t quite put my finger on how I feel about it yet. For one thing, it’s the only Tracy-Hepburn film that doesn’t feature a romance of some sort, and it’s a drama. It’s also incredibly slow. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s definitely more dialogue than action.

In Keeper of the Flame, Katharine Hepburn plays a recent widow of a man named Robert Forrest, who was a national hero to many people. In a lot of ways, the film is about Robert Forrest, or uncovering the man that was Robert Forrest, without actually showing Robert Forrest because well, he’s dead. It’s Spencer Tracy’s character’s job to write a bio on Forrest, and he meets with Forrest’s widow (or tries to) to gather information. Eventually he discovers that Robert Forrest was not a very good man at all but a member of some sort of fascist cult. He died by driving over a busted bridge – a bridge that his wife had seen and neglected to tell him about, because she hated the fact that he had betrayed his country but was too ashamed to ruin his public image.

Oh yeah, and she dies. It’s kind of gruesome, actually. I was not expecting that.

Keeper of the Flame is so radically different from, well, most of their other films (well, apart from The Sea of Grass but we’ll get to that one later), that, like I said, I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it. It certainly isn’t bad, but it is a little slow and I can definitely see a lot of people finding it quite boring. Spencer Tracy is the real star of the show here, playing what I must say is a really noble and genuine character. I felt that Robert Forrest’s secret was revealed much too late and all at once. I felt the movie would have benefitted from maybe fifteen or twenty more minutes of snooping around by Tracy’s character.


Without Love (1945)

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Without Love is my least favorite of their comedies. That being said, I still liked it very much. I suppose its crime is that it’s too predictable; we all know how it’s going to end the minute the formula is set in motion. Katharine plays a(nother) widow whose husband tragically died in a horseback riding accident. A strange scientist, played by Tracy, randomly moves into the basement of her house to work on a secret experiment for the military. They decide to team up and get married “without love” because of the benefits marriage offers – though in the process they end up falling in love anyway.

Without Love is definitely benefitted by the presence of Lucille Ball, who plays a terrific supporting character, and there’s some funny comedic moments between Kate and Spence as they get ready for bed (in separate rooms). There’s a hilarious scene where Tracy’s character sleepwalks and he gets into her bed by mistake. Katharine comes back and falls out of the bed in surprise when she realizes there’s someone there. Tracy’s dog – whom we now discover is a service dog supposed to prevent him from sleepwalking – rushes into the room, and Tracy delivers my favorite line of the entire film – “Where were you in my hour of need?”

Katharine sometimes gets accused of playing the same character over and over, but I don’t see how anyone can say that, at least not judging by these nine films. In Without Love her character has a subtle naivety that Tess Harding didn’t have and certainly wasn’t there in Keeper of the Flame. She’s smart, but she doesn’t really know a damn thing about, well, anybody. She’s constantly misjudging people and Kate pulls that off perfectly, as Kate often does. Not their best film, but still worth checking out.

Also it has probably the best implication of sex in the whole bunch:

Kate: Th- There… One thing though. I, um…

Spence: Madam, you would never have to give that a thought. 


The Sea of Grass (1947)

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It’s bizarre to think that The Sea of Grass did the most well commercially of any of their films because it is without doubt the worst of the bunch. It’s slow, cheesy, and melodramatic in the worst possible way. The director really wasn’t pleased with the final result, and as far as I can tell the film hasn’t really stood the test of time.

There’s one thing that saves the film, and that of course is Katharine Hepburn. Spencer Tracy is fantastic – I’m starting to think it was physically impossible for the man to give a bad performance – but it’s Katharine Hepburn who held my interest the most. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t enjoy it very much, because there’s a huge chunk of the film where she’s not there.

Katharine plays a woman in the late 1800’s who marries a cattle rancher, leaving the big city life she knows. She is constantly torn between wanting to be noticed, loved, and desired and her love for her husband, who spends more time thinking about his cattle ranch than he does about her. She eventually has a child with another man, causing Tracy to kick her out. Her son, the illegitimate child, grows up to be kind of a stinker and gets himself killed for it. Then she comes back and all is right with the world.

That’s a real bare-bones summary, and of course I’m leaving out a lot of subtleties and plot points. What I liked best about Kate’s performance was how naturally she pulled off a woman struggling in an environment practically alien to her. It almost reminded me of Emma Bovary (though she wasn’t nearly that despicable). And she looks gorgeous, so hey.

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State of the Union (1948)

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loved Katharine Hepburn’s character, Mary, in this movie. Again, she was the best part of the film. I find it difficult to discuss this one because I just want to go watch all of her best scenes. But there are SO MANY.

Spencer Tracy’s character, Grant Matthews, is an unfaithful turd (sorry, but he is), who has cheated on his wife Mary with Angela Lansbury. This is a point that is never expressly stated but everyone knows it, including Mary. And to get back at him, she makes him sleep on the floor. That doesn’t sound like much, but if you think about how powerless women were back then, at least in terms of doing anything about their husbands’ infidelity (especially if they had children), it’s great fun to see Mary do one for herself and make Grant get on the floor.

My favorite scene is when Mary is drunk. It’s reminiscent of Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story, and produces some wonderful dialogue. Much to my chagrin I couldn’t find the clip on YouTube. But here’s the tweet I made watching that scene.

[tweet https://twitter.com/knifeink/status/596153749015375872 ]

All Hail Katharine indeed. OH and also – here is the world’s greatest gif, courtesy of yours truly, Katharine, and this movie:

Katharine


Adam’s Rib (1949)

Poster - Adam's Rib (1949)_02

Ah, here’s their famous one. Most consider Adam’s Rib to be Hepburn and Tracy’s best film. I can definitely see why. Here their banter is sharpest and the premise is by far the smartest. Plus, let’s face it – they’re just adorable in this movie. When they look under the table at each other I found myself squealing out loud.

I’m going to leave the feminist analysis of this film for another day, but needless to say I loved seeing Katharine Hepburn take a stand for the woman. She does it hilariously and sincerely all at the same time. And I love (love) how they go at it in the courtroom but when they get home try and act perfectly married, like nothing has happened.

Poor Spencer Tracy. He really gets kicked in the pants in this one (literally). From dropping glasses to being lifted by strong women, you sort of wonder when he’s going to lose it. He kind of does twice, once when he slaps her and once when he threatens to shoot her with a licorice gun. What a lovable asshole.

What can I say about Adam’s Rib? It’s a classic in every sense of the word, and it couldn’t have been done by anyone else. I read somewhere online that they better not touch Adam’s Rib if they know what’s best for them, and I agree. I have to say it’s not my personal favorite of their set but I can definitely see the argument for it being the best. “Best” and “favorite” are not the same.


Pat and Mike (1952)

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Move summary: Katharine Hepburn is a badass.

I mean, I already knew that, but I can’t tell you how many times I shouted “Yessss, girl!” while watching Pat and Mike. Here Kate gets to show off her athletic abilities, which she really and truly possessed. And she wears the cutest tennis outfit in the history of everything.

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What I liked best about Katharine’s performance in this one was her struggle between her own lack of confidence and her self-knowledge. Let me clarify. Pat, in this film, knows damn well that she’s an incredible athlete, but is constantly doubting herself, especially when her fiance (not Mike) watches her play. I know what it’s like to be nervous performing in front of people even though you know you have the ability. It’s incredibly frustrating, and Kate is incredibly frustrated in this one, even though she can swing a golf club like a pro.

This, thank heavens, was on YouTube, so enjoy and try not to watch it on loop for an hour.

“You know what you can do with your gluteal muscle? Give it away for Christmas!”

Oh, and let’s not forget the part where she saves poor Spencer Tracy from two guys, all on her own, without even swinging a punch or batting an eye.

That’s my girl.


Desk Set (1957)

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Of all these nine films, the biggest surprise was Desk Set. I absolutely LOVED this movie. It might be my favorite.

One of the things I loved most was seeing how much they could get away with in this film as opposed to the earlier ones. This film has the word “sexy” in it and no one bats an eye. Although I was extremely disappointed that we didn’t get to see Katharine in that green dress.

Katharine is older in this film but you don’t get the sense that she’s past her prime (when has anybody ever gotten that sense?) and she still looks stunning. I think what I love most about this movie is how much fun it is, and how much fun she is. Sure, she was fun in her other comedies, but comedy is tragedy, as you know, and most of her other movies have her go through a little bit of pain. There’s very little pain in Desk Set, it’s just one big fun romp. And Katharine – oh, Katharine my love. She…she has fun too. Here are some more gifs for you.

KatharineOOH

“OOH, they had a baby!”

KATHARINEWHYY

KatharinePerfection

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Somebody, thank the heavens, put the entire movie on YouTube, so if you just search “Desk Set 1957” you should find it (seriously, go watch before it gets taken down by the copyright gods).


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)

Guess_Who's_Coming_to_Dinner_poster

Their last film, and Spencer Tracy’s last film of his career. He died only a few weeks after it was finished filming.

This film is a lot more than Kate and Spence, but since this post is about them, I want to focus on one moment in the film. But first some background.

A lot has been speculated, and unfortunately never verified, about Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s romance. It was a 26-year long “affair,” but it was an unusual affair. Katharine was completely devoted to Spencer, and he didn’t always reciprocate. Spencer had serious drinking problems and was probably depressed. His failing health was due to his years of drinking and inner struggles.

Throughout the filming of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, the cast and crew knew that Spencer was dying. Kate knew it too. They had to be very careful not to put too much strain on him, only letting him film for about three hours each day.

And even though Katharine must have been scared and grieving the whole time during filming, she still manages to pull off what is, without a doubt, the single greatest verbal middle finger in the history of everything:

YESSS KATHARINE!

Katharine always said that Spencer was a locked door, and never really let on how he felt about anything. He was married and never got divorced from his wife Louise, though they were separated for many years, before Spencer even met Katharine. He had a deaf son, John, whom Louise was completely devoted to, and had always felt guilty about John and because of his Catholic faith that wouldn’t let him divorce his wife. Katharine never asked for marriage – she knew that living was painful for him. He was a brilliant actor, and could become anybody, but outside of the studio, he drank and needed constant care and attention, which only Kate would give him. And he wasn’t always nice to her. He had affairs on the side of his affair, and there have even been reports of him drunkenly striking her once (though I don’t think that’s ever been confirmed).

But Kate never left him. For the last six years of his life, she moved in with him to make him more comfortable. It was during this period that they filmed Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

Here’s what Kate said about Spence in her autobiography:

“I have no idea how Spence felt about me. I can only say I think that if he hadn’t liked me he wouldn’t have hung around. As simple as that. He wouldn’t talk about it and I didn’t talk about it. We just passed twenty-seven years together in what was to me absolute bliss.

It is called LOVE.”

Excerpt From: Katharine Hepburn. “Me.”

And, because I like to torture myself, I also watched this video, of Kate reading a letter she wrote to Spence years after he died.

Knowing all this, I went into Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner looking at every interaction they had as more than acting, because it is. Especially his last speech, when both their eyes get misty. Spencer wasn’t a crier, and guess what, I’m not either…

But I couldn’t fight back tears when I watched the scene in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner where Spencer says:

“And if it’s half of what we felt – that’s everything.”

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THE END


This post was made specially for Margaret Perry’s The Great Katharine Hepburn Blogathon, which I was thrilled to find out existed. Here’s a banner and a link to Margaret’s blog where you can read all the submissions. 

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Margaret Perry’s Blog

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Movie Review – Bound (1996)

Warning – spoilers ahead! And I’m really serious, because you DON’T want this movie spoiled. It’s that kind of film. 

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And so Wachowski Month(s) begins, and man, talk about starting off with a bang. Literally.

Let me just say for the record that Bound is about 10 million times better than the two Wachowski films I had seen before I watched it, The Matrix and Speed Racer. I haven’t seen V for Vendetta but it was made after The Matrix and Bound was the Wachowskis’ very first film. Why does that matter? Well, maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. But part of the reason I just haven’t been able to really get into the Wachowskis directing style is because they seem overly concerned with style and weird cinematography and flashy movements than actual storytelling. (*AHEM* The Matrix)

In Bound, the setting is contained, the cinematography, while still a bit whimsical, is calmed down, and what we have is a super fun neo-noir mobster story that had me on the edge of my seat. Not only is this film completely engaging, but it came close to feeling timeless. It’s set almost exclusively in one apartment building but still manages to keep the suspense high. It really reminded me of the Audrey Hepburn movie Charade. 

So, what’s the story? Violet and Corky are two women who meet in an elevator and become attracted to one another. Corky is kind of a tomboyish type while Violet is, well, a mobster’s wife. Or girlfriend. I’m not really sure which. In any case, the two appear to be exact opposites but soon fall in love with one another, share some pretty erotic moments (let’s just say this might be an awkward choice for family film night). But the movie soon launches into the mob drama, with Corky and Violet stealing 2 million dollars from Violet’s mobster husband/boyfriend Cesar by framing the big mob guy’s son, Johnny. This eventually erupts into a triple murder, with Cesar shooting Johnny, Johnny’s big mob guy dad, Gino, and…um, the third guy in the room. Cesar starts losing his mind in a desperate attempt to get the money back and high-tail it out of there before the rest of the mob catches him. Unfortunately, Cesar catches Violet on the phone, and he figures out she and Corky planned the whole thing. The rest of the film is Violet and Corky attempting to outwit Cesar and get the money before the mob finds out.

Not only is this movie fun to watch, it really and truly is clever. Yes. The Wachowskis made something clever. It’s got a very old-style feel to the story and characters. I read online that the directors wanted Joe Pantoliano, who plays Cesar, to model Cesar after Humphrey Bogart’s character in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and you can totally see it. Cesar goes from being this cool guy to absolutely insane, but even at the beginning you get this feeling that he could completely blow up at any minute.

The two leads are pretty awesome too. Corky is a tough, badass, smooth-talking plumber who has a lot of handy tricks up her sleeve – well, handy if you’re planning on stealing something. Violet appears to be innocent and sweet but is…not. Both of them are incredibly fun to watch, and they were a lot of fun when they were together.

The film wasn’t without problems, though. As much as I liked Violet and Corky, there’s a huge chunk of the film where Corky isn’t in it much at all, and I would have liked to see more of her, especially more of the two of them together. There’s a lot of blood in this movie – a lot of blood, so much that I just couldn’t buy the part where two policemen walk into Cesar’s apartment, which literally has blood all over the floor, and not notice it because Cesar has rearranged the furniture a little. It’s also perhaps a little unnecessarily violent – I’m not trying to wave a pacifist flag or anything, but instead of multiple fighting and shooting scenes I would have liked to see more Cesar going nuts or Violet and Corky interacting.

Still, this is a really fun film, and I’m glad I saw it. Now that I know what happens it may not be quite as enjoyable a second time, but then again, it may surprise me. If you like mob movies, suspense, or badass lesbians, this is the film for you.

Good job, Wachowskis. You done impressed me.

Announcement of New Series: Wachowski Month(s)

Right before my life gets crazy again, I’m going to try something equally crazy and review every single film the Wachowskis have made. This does not include films that the Wachowskis rewrote, had their script rewritten by someone else, or did not write at all. It does, however, include:

Bound (1996)

The Matrix Trilogy (1991, 2003 – God help me)

The Animatrix (2003)

V for Vendetta (2006)

Speed Racer (2008)

Cloud Atlas (2012)

Why am I doing this? Well, I’ve never been a fan of the Wachowskis’ directing, writing, or anything, but in truth I’ve only seen two of their films, The Matrix and Speed Racer. So I’m going to check out their other movies to see if they hold up, as well as write some hopefully very opinionated reviews.

I was going to call this Wachowski Month, but watching eight movies and writing reviews of them in a month is rather unrealistic, so I’m calling this Wachowski Month(s).

Get ready to dive into a world of just plain weird stuff.

The Fault In Our Stars Movie & How To Train Your Dragon 2 (VIDEO REVIEW!)

Here is my video review of the two new movies The Fault In Our Stars and How To Train Your Dragon 2, as well as some updates concerning the site and whatnot. As always, there will be spoilers, so don’t watch the review if you haven’t seen the movie. 

If you have not seen The Fault In Our Stars but have seen How To Train Your Dragon 2, the How To Train Your Dragon 2 review starts around 8:17.

Enjoy!

Movie Review – How To Train Your Dragon (2010)

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DreamWorks has never been a studio I’ve been particularly interested in. The only DreamWorks movies I’ve seen I’ve watched passively, almost out of a sense of obligation. I am of course referring to their computer animated movies and not The Prince of Egypt, which is fantastic.

The first DreamWorks movie I ever saw that I thought was really clever was Megamind. That movie provided an interesting twist on the hero vs. villain formula, and made for a very entertaining and enjoyable film. However, I’ve only seen Megamind once. It was good, but since I’ve seen it I haven’t had the urge to watch it again.

But I would watch How To Train Your Dragon over and over again, let me tell you. In fact, I think I’ll watch it after I’m done with this review. That’s how good it is.

This has got to be one of the most charming, good-natured, well done kids’ films I’ve seen in years. And yes, I realize that it came out in 2010 and that’s pretty much old news. Apparently I have been living under a rock.

This movie takes a formula that has been done over and over and over again and uses that formula to create an almost perfect film. It seems as the formula was made for this movie, and not the other way around. It is one of the only instances I’ve ever seen what most consider to be a tired formula that didn’t bother me. I liked every character in this movie. I liked that they added several complex emotional issues. I liked that they created the perfect balance between entertainment and true storytelling. I liked THAT DAMN DRAGON.

I almost hate Toothless because I have a feeling that if I was legitimately trying to be angry or serious about something, all anyone would have to do to turn me into a complete and total flailing mess is show me a picture of this thing. I mean, just look at him.

Toothless_picture

If you do not think Toothless is cute, you are not my friend. You also probably have fewer emotions than I do and are therefore most likely not human. This dragon could make Scrooge burst into fangirly giggles. He could make Voldemort go “AWWW.” He could make the Grinch give back Christmas before he even steals it.

I promise, though, that the reason this movie is good does not have to do with Toothless (at least, not entirely). Like I said, we have a very familiar story here – a character that feels like an outcast in his community befriends a special creature that is also an outcast in its community and the two form a bond and the character reconciles his/her differences with the community by either saving the day, demonstrating why differences are important, eliminating a prejudice, or in this movie’s case, all three. It’s a story you’ve seen a million times, but for some reason it feels so fresh and new here.

I think much of that has to do with just how likeable all the characters are, as well as how dimensional they are. Hiccup’s dad isn’t just an all-controlling father that is ashamed of his son. He loves his son, and legitimately tries to connect with him. Every time Hiccup does something his father doesn’t want him to do, you can see how much it hurts the father. This isn’t easy for him. He doesn’t want to have this kind of relationship, but he wants more from Hiccup than Hiccup is able to give. And Hiccup, for his part, isn’t just a misunderstood short kid. He has problems, too. He also wants to connect with his dad and other people, but lacks the confidence with which to do so. Hiccup gives up easily, and never really tries very hard. Until he meets Toothless.

When Hiccup meets Toothless, it seems at long last that he has something unique to look forward to – something he can change and influence and use. Helping the dragon, learning how to fly, creating the special bond with Toothless that he hasn’t created with anyone else – all this gives Hiccup a certain confidence that he’s never had before, and at long last he is able to stand up for himself and reveal the truth to his father.

Naturally, his father doesn’t take it very well – after all, Vikings and dragons are sworn enemies – but after a battle with a big dragon and a surprisingly touching scene in which Hiccup’s father thinks Hiccup has perished (even though the audience knows full well he hasn’t), all is well, and Vikings and dragons live in harmony, just as Hiccup is now at peace with his daddy.

What makes this effective is that even though we know all will be right in the end, the characters don’t know that. When Hiccup’s dad thinks his son is dead, he actually thinks his son is dead and you can see the pain and remorse he feels.

I’ve always said the best part to any story are the characters, and if you make the characters interesting, you can turn any story – no matter how overused and cliche it might be – and make it something worthwhile. How To Train Your Dragon might be the best example of this I have ever come across. If I ever doubted DreamWorks’ ability to make an excellent movie before, I certainly won’t now. This film is absolutely a must-see.

Movie Review – X-Men Days of Future Past & Series Wrap Up (VIDEO REVIEW!)

Thought I might try something different! This is my video review of Days of Future Past as well as the series as a whole. The audio is kind of bad, and I apologize for that.

This probably won’t be a regular thing, but I will try it from time to time just to shake things up a bit.

Oh, and one more thing I forgot to mention in the video: Yes, I’m fully aware that there are technically two more X-Men films that focus on Wolverine, and no, I’m not going to review them. Or watch them, for that matter. Sorry. I just don’t care enough.

Spoilers as always.

Movie Review – X-Men: First Class

This is a film. And I am going to spoil it. If you wish to see this film someday, I suggest you go no further.

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After the horror of X-Men 3, this film is very much a breath of fresh air. In fact, I think this might be the best X-Men film in terms of how it works as a film. Meaning, if I were to choose out of the X-Men films a representation of what good filmmaking can do, then I would pick this movie. But that’s only out of the X-Men films, which really doesn’t say much.

I feel that First Class would have been a better prequel if the characters in the original trilogy were more clearly defined. There’s not much of First Class’s Charles Xavier that I see in the original films’s Charles Xavier, and the same goes for Mystique and Beast. The only exception to that is Magneto, whose character traits I could recognize in both films, and he was by far the best character in First Class in terms of being a prequel character.

On their own, though, the characters are much better than the ones in the original movies, even if their superpowers aren’t quite as cool. Even though the movie was total shit I still enjoyed seeing Jean Grey wreak havoc on the world in The Last Stand, and Wolverine is always very much a badass, even if he is put in the spotlight too much. I’ll talk about the prequel cast vs. the original cast more in my next review, but the prequel cast is much more complex, even if the superpowers are kind of lame.

I especially like what they did with Mystique. I didn’t at first, but now I think it adds a very interesting dimension to her character, as well as makes The Last Stand all the more reprehensible. Seeing the relationship Mystique formed with both Charles and Magneto makes Magneto’s casual dismissal of her in The Last Stand even more terrible than it was on its own. But I digress.

The reason I didn’t like all this characterization for Mystique at first was because we don’t see enough of her personality in the original films to have any context with which to witness this character’s growth. But I realize now that may be the point. First Class does what the original X-Men films didn’t do – actual characterization. And, after seeing this movie, I love what they did with her character. Plus, Jennifer Lawrence = yes.

The casting is very good, too, especially in the case of Magneto. If I were to look at the old Magneto and wonder what he was like in his younger days, the Magneto in First Class would probably be very close. One thing I wish they had done more of, however, was establish a stronger friendship between Magneto and Charles. In the original films, it was hinted that the two had been great friends divided by opposing goals. I still felt a great divide between them in First Class, and I would have liked to see them closer. In addition, I would have liked to see Mystique establish a clearer, more defined relationship with Magneto.

First Class’s other problem is that besides Charles, Mystique, and Xavier, the other characters are rather boring. I wasn’t a fan of Emma Frost, and I can’t even remember anybody else’s name. Oh, Beast was fine. He was cool. But not as much as the first three I mentioned.

All in all, First Class is definitely the best movie in the franchise so far. But I do wish they hadn’t ruined the original cast’s chance at a good movie. Despite the lack of characterization, I do think the original cast has a lot of potential, in particular the whole Jean Grey/Phoenix thing, which they should have explored WAY more than they did (see Confused Matthew’s review for the reason why). But there’s no denying that this prequel film is by far the smoothest in the series.

Movie Review – X-Men 3: The Last Stand

This review WOULD have spoilers if the movie hadn’t spoiled the franchise.

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Oh, it hurts. It hurts so bad.

I was just starting to get into the franchise, and then they roll out a piece of shit like this.

God, where do I even start? There were so many problems – SO MANY FREAKING PROBLEMS. I can’t review this. I just can’t. I disliked this movie so much, I don’t even want to give this review any time. This movie is that worthless.

Fortunately, thanks to the internet, I don’t have to. Somebody else already did it for me.

If this is being lazy, then so be it, but I’m also doing this because I don’t want to be repetitive. There’s nothing I could possibly say about this movie that Confused Matthew, one of my favorite internet reviewers, already said in his review, which I watched shortly after seeing this piece of shit film. To review it now would honestly be repeating everything he said, because, honestly, he hit every problem with the film right on the money. So, I’m going to provide a link to his review and go suffer by myself in the corner. Oh, it hurts. It hurts so bad.

Watch Confused Matthew’s review here. This is everything I thought of the film and more.

Movie Review – X2: X-Men United (2003)

You know those things you don’t want to find when you’re reading a review of a movie you haven’t seen? I think they call them spoilers. Anyway, you’ll find a lot of them below, so if you haven’t seen the movie, go do something else.

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Okay, so this is the second installment in the X-Men movie franchise. How was it?

Pretty good, I’d say. It was definitely better than the first movie. It was more fluent, the action was better, and I felt better acquainted with all the characters. More importantly, I actually enjoyed watching this one. It was kind of fun.

At first, though, I thought it was just going to be the first movie all over again, since the two start in similar ways. And yes, the central conflict seems to be the same, except that there’s another conflict inserted in and the two are really going on at the same time. It sort of works, though, because they do the exact same thing with the villains. Magneto is still there, but there’s another villain, William Striker, who takes center stage in this movie, with Magneto waiting in the background ready to strike again. The main heroes even enlist his help for a few scenes, which was really fun to watch, especially since they make frequent use of Mystique, who is, I fully admit it, very badass.

There are also several other subplots going on at the same time. Wolverine is trying to find out his past. He doesn’t find out much beyond the fact that William Striker was apparently the one who gave him his metal claw things, and that he was, according to Striker, an “animal.” I’m not going to go too much into Wolverine’s story as I’m sure it will be greatly explored in the TWO WHOLE MOVIES that are dedicated to him. Seriously? He got two movies? Couldn’t you have given Mystique one? Or Magneto?

One part of Wolverine’s story that I will discuss, however, is the stupid love triangle between him, Jean Grey, and Cyclops. Love triangles rarely make your movie better unless they’re the main focus, and this movie was no exception. The love triangle is so completely useless that I want to punch the screen whenever they bring it up. Here’s why it’s not effective. We hardly ever see Cyclops and Jean together, so we don’t know the nature of their relationship. The movie tells us that Jean needs to be with Cyclops and not with Wolverine, but I honestly would rather see Jean and Wolverine together because they actually interact. I don’t see how anyone could prefer the Cyclops/Jean pairing over the Wolverine/Jean pairing because there’s not enough with which to compare the two. Until they give me more screen time with Jean and Cyclops, Jean and Wolverine belong together. There, I said it.

Rogue isn’t in this movie much, which is a shame because I actually liked her character from the first movie. She has a new boyfriend, and that’s about it. We’ll talk about her new boyfriend, though, whom I’ve started to call Ice Boy because I can’t remember his real name. Sorry about that, but there are so many goddamn characters.

All in all, the story in X2 flows a lot better than the one in X-Men. There are themes that are brought up in the beginning of the film which are brought back, giving a nice fluency and coherence to the story. An example is the conversation Storm has with the teleporting guy at the beginning of the movie. The two discuss different ways of facing discrimination and prejudice. Storm is very bitter about the years of oppression put on mutants by normal people, and chooses to face her battles with an attitude of anger, but the teleporting guy, who is very religious, instead chooses faith. Towards the end of the movie, the conversation is referenced once again when Storm tells teleporting guy she has faith in him. It may be cheesy, but it’s nice and well-structured at the same time.

Patrick Stewart is great as always, but I think the real star of the show is Magneto, who does some really badass, horrible, and creative things in this movie. Probably my favorite scene, and certainly the most creative, was Magneto’s escape scene. Magneto is trapped in a plastic prison, and he escapes by – get this – extracting all the iron from a security guard’s blood, turning that iron into three metal balls, and using those metal balls to wreak havoc and bust out of there. I rarely wince when watching mild gore, but I did wince at that scene. It was gross, but really cool.

The whole movie was kind of like that, cool. It was fun to watch. That is, except for the stupid goddamn ending.

This is the part where Jean is trying to get the ship working while attempting to stop a giant wall of water from crashing down on everyone at the same time. I’m sure if you gave me time, I could think of a dozen more ways they could have gotten out of that situation. While I was watching the movie, I was thinking to myself, they have a freaking kid who can freeze things. Why the hell aren’t they using him? While Jean got the plane working, Ice Boy could have been freezing the giant wall of water and, the second before it cracked, teleporting guy could have gotten them out of there. Also, was there any reason Jean couldn’t have done what she did from inside the plane? Or couldn’t Storm have made a huge wind current that blasted the plane out of there?

I don’t know. It was just hard for me to invest in the emotional impact of the scene when I was thinking of so many alternatives. “There’s no other way” and “I have to do this” have been said in every superhero/action film/whatever genre you can think of ever, and the fact that they really needed a scene in which to say those all too familiar and annoying words irks me.

Other than that, though, the film was good, and it definitely makes me want to watch the third movie. Onward we go.

Movie Review – X-Men (2000)

Roar. Spoilers.

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Okay, so I just saw the first X-Men movie. And since I’m apparently the only person in the world who hadn’t seen that movie until literally just now, I suppose I’m going to run the risk of sounding like a big idiot since everyone else will have some idea of what I’m talking about and I have no freaking clue. But since I laid this upon myself, I must continue. As Nostalgia Critic says, the review must go on.

I wanted to watch these movies mostly because I wanted to know what the hell everybody was talking about, and also to see if I could actually get into a superhero franchise for once. I’ve never really been into superheroes or superhero movies, but they’re all the rage now, and I suppose part of me wants to force myself to be interested in them. But, sadly, I haven’t been able to do that, and unfortunately X-Men didn’t really help much.

I had a very similar experience watching X-Men that I had watching The Matrix for the first time. I went in expecting to see this really awesome film that everyone’s all hyped up about, and all I got was a dumb action movie. Granted, X-Men wasn’t quite as dumb as The Matrix, but it was still mainly focused on the action and not much else. I’m pretty sure the scenes with dialogue are fewer than the scenes without, and with so many characters in one film, this is detrimental to character development because you never really get to know anybody. The only characters I felt had any true growth or charisma were Rogue and Professor X. Everyone else was just really good at, you know, fighting and stuff.

From what I understand about the franchise, X-Men’s main moral issue is that of prejudice, how the Mutants become outcasts in their society because of their dangerous superpowers. This causes many Mutants to live their lives in fear of either hurting other people or never being accepted into any sort of community. There are some Mutants, like Magneto, who want to use Mutant power to reverse the situation and put the normal kind down. It’s like the main issue in the first season of Legend of Korra, except in reverse – this time it’s the people with the power who are the outcasts, and the normal ones in control.

This actually is quite an interesting conflict, but the only trouble is it really doesn’t go anywhere. Just as the so-called “philosophy” in The Matrix never did anything beyond establish itself within the movie, the so-called central-conflict in X-Men is pushed aside for the action and is not very well executed. Oh, there are some good scenes – Wolverine’s talk with Rogue on the train is probably the closest the film came to really exploring the issues at hand. But like I said before, it’s hard to get invested in the conflict because you can’t get invested in the characters, at least not much.

I couldn’t possibly come up with one personality trait that any of these characters possess beyond their abilities. Even in an action movie, and especially one with this many characters, a unique and identifiable personality for each is necessary in order to have a smoothly flowing and relatable story. Unfortunately, X-Men commits the Star Trek: Into Darkness crime of trading any potential for great character development for the action. And for me, that’s a no-go.

Still, a part of me wonders, should I be judging this film so harshly? Because when you think about it, most people don’t go to see an X-Men film for story and character development; they go to see a bunch of superheroes kick some ass. And you can’t really deny that X-Men does deliver on that front. There are a bunch of superheroes, and they do kick some ass.

One thing I found myself really enjoying about these particular superheroes was how, in the case with most, their power involved interaction with the physical world around them. Oh, sure, there were some like Cyclops and Magneto who shot colored light or whatever, but many of the superheroes’ powers included manipulating things like weather, metal, human minds, objects, or even someone’s life force. I really liked seeing that, and it produced some very clever action sequences. My favorite was probably the one where Magneto makes all the policemen’s guns turn and point at them. That’s much more interesting and original than if he just shot them with silver light or whatever.

So, what was my overall opinion? Eh. But I understand that this is first and foremost an action franchise, and I’m willing to give it another chance. I will watch the second movie. Maybe I’ll get into it eventually.