Retro Review: X-Men Trilogy

With X-Men: First Class hitting theaters today, the R2R crew takes a look back at the X-Men series so far, giving their opinions and ratings for all the films from X-Men to X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

The X-Men series has featured some of Marvel’s most prestigious characters, from Charles Xavier and Magneto to Wolverine, Cyclops and Phoenix. Fans have embraced the series and now with a heavily anticipated new release in X-Men: First Class, perhaps the series is on the cusp of a reinvention.

After the break, get the crew’s take on the X-Men series!

X-Men (2000)

Monty’s Take

The first X-Men film pioneered the superhero genre that has now taken over the cinemas.  The best parts of the original film lie in the characters that fight the various battles seen on screen, physically, mentally and philosophically.  It is a thriller with brains.

Although the film is very centered on Wolverine, the rest of the cast is really the strength of the film, especially the relationship between Xavier and Magneto, portrayed perfectly by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.  X-Men‘s strength lies in the relationship that the characters have with one another. The action sequences are good, and without the first X-Men film, perhaps the great superhero film renaissance would never have happened.

Monty’s Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Andy’s Rating: 8 out of 10

X2: X-Men United (2002)

Monty’s Take

X2 is currently the best film in Marvel history. The film takes all that worked in the first X-Men film and rises it to a much higher level, creating an epic film that far surpasses the original.

Focusing on a right-wing militant who is hell bent on eradicating the mutants, the film crosses all the character’s story lines into one big pot.  The cast is even stronger in the second film than in the first, adding Brian Cox and Alan Fleming, who knocks it out of the park with his rendition of Nightcrawler, a fan favorite.

The last 45 minutes is where the film shines. The battle between Lady Deathstrike and Wolverine, the conflict in the dam and the dramatic and heart-wrenching conclusion all combine for one hell of a movie. X2 should not be missed by anyone.

Monty’s Rating: 9 out of 10
Andy’s Rating: 9.5 out of 10

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

Monty’s Take:

A valiant but flawed effort, X-Men The Last Stand serves as a good conclusion to the first story arc of X-Men movies, but could have been so much better.

Focusing on the creation of a mutant suppressant gene that “cures” mutants of their powers, Magneto sees the opportunity and the timing to stage the war he has hinged on for so long.

Brett Ratner takes the reins for The Last Stand and it shows.  Where the first two films were mainly focused on the character development and drama rather than the action, The Last Stand is all action, all the time.  The film’s short 90 minute run time will leave major fans disappointed, especially when the bodies start to fly and major characters are killed.

The film does have its upside. The action, although rushed, is good, as are a majority of the new characters. Vinnie Jones embodies Juggernaut to perfection, and this film sees the debut of Ellen Page as Kitty Pride. Kelsey Grammer plays Hank McCoy (aka Beast) and fills this role well, albeit he is misused throughout the film.

If X-Men: The Last Stand wasn’t preceded by the first two X-Men films, it would have been great. But lofty expectations proved to be too much for this film. A shift in pace, action and character development ultimately cause this film to be the weakest of the trilogy, although it is not a bad movie at all.

Bryan’s Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Andy’s Rating: 6 out of 10

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

Monty’s Take

Now is where Hollywood starts to push the envelope.  Director Gavin Hood takes a crack at the mean-man’s past in the origin to story to Wolverine.  What results is a summer blockbuster with little heart and an even smaller lingering factor.

The action in Wolverine is frequent and entertaining.  The main conflict featuring Wolverine and Sabertooth is exciting and pulse-pounding, as the two have three solid fights throughout the film.  The addition of Gambit was also entertaining, as fans were sure glad to finally see the Ragin’ Cajun on screen.  Ryan Reynolds got his first shot at the super hero genre as Wade Wilson (aka Deadpool), and properly embodied the “Merc with a Mouth” mentality.  Aside from those characters, the rest of the staff is heavily wasted, as Wraith, Cyclops, Blob and Agent Zero all seem to be wasted by the end of the film.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine serves its objective as a summer blockbuster film, but fans should know that going in. I won’t venture to say that the film is disappointing, but like the awfully rendered CG claws, viewers will get what they anticipate.

Monty’s Rating: 7 out of 10
Andy’s Rating: 7 out of 10

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