Probably some spoilers ahead, so, you know, watch out.
Somehow we managed to find the time to see two movies this week. In the theater and everything! Thanks to Erin's parents for babysitting, and to AAA for selling cheap movie passes. (Because $9.75 for a ticket, and I still have to sit through pre-trailer commercials? Yeah, no thanks!)
So last Monday, we saw The DaVinci Code, which was kind of interesting for me, since I'm one of the only 5 people alive who never read the book. (though I did read Dan Brown's first Robert Langdon novel, Angels & Demons) So on the one hand, I had no real expectations or pre-conceived notions to live up to, but on the other, I had no idea why so many people felt so passionately about it. And after seeing it, well, I still don't see why, but it wasn't a bad little movie. The plot moved at a nice pace, the action scenes weren't so over the top as to be completely unbelievable, and the story kept my attention. Tom Hanks was decent as Langdon (even though I pictured the character more as a Dennis Quaid/Kurt Russell type when reading A&D), Audrey Tautou was great as always and cute as a button to boot, and come on, who doesn't love Jean Reno? The guy was even decent in the American version of Godzilla, for cryin' out loud; he's The Game, and he's that damn good. All in all, it was a mildly diverting 2 hours. I wasn't blown away, but I wasn't sorely disappointed, either.
(Interestingly, Erin did read the book, and had many reservations going in, but ended up liking it pretty well anyway. She did say, though, that Ron Howard was probably trying to stay a little too close to the source material, and that some of the book's adventurous tone didn't always translate so well. For her money, she said, Nicholas Cage's movie National Treasure probably captured the book's tone better than its own adaptation did.)
Last night, we got to see X-Men 3, or X-Men: The Last Stand, or X-Men: Froggy Went A-Courtin' And He Did Ride Uh-Huh, or whatever the movie's actual title is. All issues of nomenclature aside, we both liked it a lot. Maybe it wasn't as good as the second movie, but I think I'd rate it on par with the first. It was certainly different - Brett Ratner aped the look and feel of the Bryan Singer movies pretty well, but you could still notice Singer's absence - but it worked, I thought. The action sequences were well-constructed, especially the fight at Jean Grey's house, and the performances were mostly fairly good. Sir Ian McKellan, of course, stole the show again with scenery-chewing glee, and showed a wide emotional range when it came to Magneto's conflicted feelings towards the Professor. Hugh Jackman has done a good job portraying the emotional growth of Wolvie through the series. Halle Berry, for once, was actually watchable as Storm (though she'll never live down that "What does lightning do to a toad?" speech in the first one). And Kelsey Grammer was a lot of fun as Beast, much as I suspected he would be.
A lot of people online were complaining about some characters and situations being significantly different from their comic book counterparts, but that didn't bug me at all. For one thing, the changes all worked within the context of the movie series. Juggernaut's a mutant? Okay, that's going to make a lot more sense than his comic book origins, so let's go with that. Angel isn't an X-Man? Fine - the retconning of Beast as an unseen original member worked, but throwing in anyone else might've felt forced.
And second, and perhaps most importantly, what works in a comic book doesn't always work on screen. You're never going to see a completely truthful adaptation of the Phoenix storyline. Can't happen. Wedging that story's space opera roots into the reality the of the movie X-Men just wouldn't work, and would in fact completely counter the tone of the films. Slavish devotion to the source material wouldn't serve X-Men any better than it did The DaVinci Code. Besides, this isn't Tolstoy, it's the freakin' X-Men! Be thankful these movies were good at all, I say, because wow, they could've been really unspeakably terrible (see also: Daredevil, Hulk, Batman & Robin, Captain America, and countless others).
I do have two minor complaints, though: 1.) They could've been a little more handy with actually mentioning the names of some of the newer characters, don't you think? Did you know Psylocke was in the movie? Me neither, until I saw her name in the credits. Where the hell was she in the movie? I knew who Callisto was thanks to the press materials I've seen (she was Moves Really Fast Girl, btw), but of all the kinda-sorta Morlocks recruited by Magneto, the only one who gets her name mentioned onscreen was Arclight (aka Has Plastered Down Bangs & Shoots Shockwaves From Her Hands Lass). So, you know, addressing a few more folks by their names would've been nice, and not as awkward to wedge into the script as might be believed. 2.) I actually think it could've been a little longer. It made good use of it's 104 minute running time (according to IMDB), but it could've gone on another 20 minutes or so and I'd have been perfectly content. And then we could've maybe had the scenes where characters do get addressed by their names, and we'd all go home happy. Or at least Erin and I would've, and honestly, that's all I care about.
So not a perfect movie, but a fun one. Plus, I got a Danger Room scene, Kitty Pryde actually had something to do this time, and, again, Storm didn't completely suck. So all things considered, I call that a success.