Thu, 06 Jul 2006

I thought the new X-Men movie was excellent. Critics were kinda huffy cos they brought in Brett Ratner, the hack who directed Red Dragon and the Rush Hour movies, to complete the trilogy that Bryan Singer had begun. But a hack is exactly what the series needed. Singer did a great job assembling a cast and establishing a moody grey-and-silver palette, but his movies were too damn slow. He wanted to provide frequent opportunities for us to pause and think about the meaning of it all. But the meaning of it all never required much thought. The metaphors were never very deeply hidden. The characters were complex by comic book standards, but not so complex that they required lengthy dramatic scenes to flesh them out. A few lingering glances and raised eyebrows in between the explosions, that’s all we ever needed to get the point.

Once all the series’ pretensions are stripped away, you’re left with pretty good melodrama. And it’s hard to fuck that up. Melodrama can be good even when performed by lousy actors. With good actors, even better. Thus is it possible for Halle Berry and Ian McKellen to occupy the same film, and for both of them to be effective.

Moral: A comic book movie should be treated as pulp, not as art. Good pulp is more respectable, not to mention more enjoyable, than middlebrow art.

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