Movie – X-Men: Days of Future Past: A

xmen dofpA
Massive casts like this are only possible in sequels, and Days of Future Past shows how to do it right. They picked the best characters from the original trilogy and from First Class, and swept the less interesting ones out under the rug, but not in a particularly jarring way. Then they introduced some great new characters, especially Blink, who makes all the “future” action sequences so utterly fantastic (well the awesome future sentinels certainly helped too). Fassbender continues to excel, Lawrence is still great, and Dinklage performs admirably. And of course I can never get enough Patrick Stewart. But Quicksilver easily gets the best sequence in the whole film. He steals the first half, and I was incredibly disappointed he got left behind for the finale.

Movie – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: B+

hobbit desolation of smaugB+
Perhaps my love of the first Hobbit was excessive. Possibly, I overlooked its faults due to my love of The Lord of the Rings. But this time, I just couldn’t get past some things. It wasn’t about the titular Hobbit, but rather out-of-theme wizard duels, forced love triangles, and epic end-of-the-world stakes. While Bilbo proclaimed his famous, “I’m going on an adventure!” in Unexpected Journey, he now is forced to wade through a grimdark epic instead. That said, there were moments when the light adventure story I longed for came out, most notably during the river-riding scene, one of the best cinematic moments of the year. And Smaug’s scenes with Bilbo were stupendous, though Smaug’s video game boss fight with the dwarves was decidedly not. Everything padding the film so as to trilogy-ify the story did nothing but bog it down, but even more so than part one.

Movie – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: A+

hobbit unexpected journeyA+
While the Lord of the Rings trilogy is epic and awesome, The Hobbit is fun and energetic. I was surprised to find myself more impressed with the visuals than I was with LOTR. The exposition flashbacks were especially amazing, each dwarf and orc looking fantastic. The only time I felt it dragging was when they departed from the primary source material to further establish its position as a prequel (and no doubt pad the length enough to account for 3 three-hour films.) As Peter Jackson had done before, everything lived up to, or exceeded, what I had envisioned.

Movie – X2: A-


A-
After a re-watching, the second X-Men film holds up as the best of the “originals.” Wolverine’s best when slicing through nameless black-ops goons and Nightcrawler’s opening scene is fantastic. Colossus shows up to be briefly awesome and then is woefully forgotten and Magneto is possibly at his most daunting (though his dialog is less polished.) The story is the smoothest of the series even after adding more characters to an already character-heavy cast. Halle Berry is awful as ever however, and the subplot centered on Rogue’s and the other young characters’ teen hormone problems is distracting at best.

Movie – X-Men: B


B
After First Class, I wanted to revisit the first X-Men to see if the character interactions were still intact. They weren’t of course. Xavier and Magneto’s relationship worked even better than before but Xavier and Mystique seem to have forgotten that they’d grown up together. The other members of the First Class are suspiciously absent as well, Beast being the most notable omission. Still, the Wolverine-centered plot led to good action sequences blemished with terrible one-liners. Halle Berry strengthened her hold in my mind as the worst actress in far too many movies I enjoy.