Tag Archives: James Marsden

Into the Grizzly Maze (2014, David Hackl)

Should Into the Grizzly Maze be any good? It’s the story of two bickering brothers who have to hunt a giant killer bear. In Alaska. With the deaf wife of one brother–the cop–and the ex-girlfriend of the other brother. And the other brother is an ex-con. Their father’s former bear hunting protege also figures into the mix.

It sounds like a really lame soap opera, not a movie about a giant monster bear. And when you consider the actors–Thomas Jane as the cop, James Marsden as the ex-con, Piper Perabo as the deaf wife, Billy Bob Thornton as the protege (and, yes, TV supporting player Michaela McManus as the ex-girlfriend). These actors used to be movie stars. If they’re going to be in a movie about a killer grizzly bear, shouldn’t it be somehow awesome?

Yes, it should. But director Hackl’s atrocious. He can’t make Maze scary, can’t do the gore–and he wastes a few really good gore possibilities because the whole thing has awful CG in awful day for night digital shooting. Occasionally, it seems like James Liston’s photography is good, but then it’s obvious he just knows how to give that impression. It’s still better than anything Hackl does.

The whole reason Perabo is deaf is so she can be hunted and the audience can know what’s coming (and maybe to pay her less) and Hackl can’t even sell that moment.

Bad acting. Bad movie. Except Scott Glenn, of course.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by David Hackl; screenplay by Guy Moshe and J.R. Reher, based on a story by Reher; director of photography, James Liston; edited by Andrew Coutts, Michael N. Knue and Sara Mineo; music by Marcus Trumpp; production designer, Tink; produced by Paul Schiff, Tai Duncan and Hadeel Reda; released by Vertical Entertainment.

Starring James Marsden (Rowan), Thomas Jane (Beckett), Piper Perabo (Michelle), Billy Bob Thornton (Douglass), Scott Glenn (Sully), Michaela McManus (Kaley), Kelly Curran (Amber) and Adam Beach (Johnny Cadillac).

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X-Men: The Last Stand (2006, Brett Ratner)

Apparently all the X-Men movies needed was the vapidness of Brett Ratner. What’s strangest about his replacing of Singer is the mutation being a metaphor for homosexuality. Singer used it as a metaphor (poorly) for race in the first one. I don’t think there were any metaphors in the second one, but it works perfectly in this one–especially since the mutation can be hidden and so on. But Ratner doesn’t harp on it, it’s just a little detail.

Maybe it’s Ratner’s lack of harping–Dante Spinotti’s cinematography and some great special effects sequences (the whole Golden Gate bridge scene is handled maybe better than any superhero movie moment since Superman)–but X-Men: The Last Stand is a lot of fun. It features some great character actors in bit roles–Michael Murphy, Bill Duke, Josef Sommer, Anthony Heald–finally casts some good actors in the supporting roles–Ben Foster and Kelsey Grammer. Grammer, under pounds of makeup, is great.

The regular cast is better this time too. Berry’s not as annoying as usual, Hugh Jackman’s fine, Patrick Stewart and James Marsden aren’t in it enough to hurt much… Ian McKellan finally gets a director who understands encouraging his overacting is funny. And even though Aaron Stanford’s a terrible actor, it’s hard not to get a homoerotic vibe off he and McKellan’s scenes together.

Anna Paquin’s terrible, but no worse than usual. Ellen Page is pretty obnoxious. Famke Janssen’s blank, but it’s finally her role.

It’s a good time.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Brett Ratner; written by Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn; director of photography, Dante Spinotti; edited by Mark Helfrich, Mark Goldblatt and Julia Wong; music by John Powell; production designer, Edward Verreaux; produced by Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter and Avi Arad; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Halle Berry (Storm), Patrick Stewart (Professor Charles Xavier), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Famke Janssen (Jean Grey), Anna Paquin (Rogue), Kelsey Grammer (Dr. Henry McCoy), James Marsden (Cyclops), Rebecca Romijn (Mystique), Shawn Ashmore (Bobby Drake), Aaron Stanford (Pyro), Vinnie Jones (Juggernaut), Ben Foster (Warren Worthington III), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Michael Murphy (Warren Worthington II), Shohreh Aghdashloo (Dr. Kavita Rao), Bill Duke (Trask) and Josef Sommer as the President.


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X2 (2003, Bryan Singer)

X-Men 2–sorry, X2–is one of the worst movies I’ve ever sat through, if not the worst.

Singer does a lousy job on X2. It looks like it was filmed in Canada on a restricted budget; it looks goofy and cheap. The story is idiotic and the script is terrible. There’s no good split between the characters in terms of screen time. Patrick Stewart disappears for a while, so does James Marsden.

There’s one scene with promise–when Hugh Jackman is talking with Shawn Ashmore and it’s an awkward moment. It doesn’t really fulfill any of that promise, but it’s not as bad as most of the film.

There aren’t any good performances, which is disappointing if not surprising. Ashmore gives one of the better performances. Bruce Davison’s all right. As opposed to the first one, Jackman’s not good in this one. Patrick Stewart’s bad. Halle Berry’s bad. Famke Janssen’s less bad than those two, but still bad. Ian McKellan’s not as bad as he was in the first one, but he’s still lousy. Anna Paquin’s no good. Brian Cox is awful. Alan Cumming is awful. Cotter Smith plays the President–he exudes a Canadian production.

There is the one amazing scene where Wolverine kills all the army guys–the U.S. Army is the bad guy in X2. They’re child killers. This movie’s from 2003, demonizing the U.S. Army, which is kind of ballsy. It’s a gratuitous scene and its presence in a huge Hollywood blockbuster is startling. It’s great.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Bryan Singer; screenplay by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris and David Hayter, based on a story by Zak Penn, Hayter and Singer; director of photography, Newton Thomas Sigel; edited by John Ottman and Elliot Graham; music by Ottman; production designer, Guy Dyas; produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Patrick Stewart (Professor Charles Xavier), Hugh Jackman (Logan / Wolverine), Ian McKellen (Eric Lensherr / Magneto), Halle Berry (Storm / Ororo Munroe), Famke Janssen (Jean Grey), James Marsden (Scott Summers / Cyclops), Anna Paquin (Rogue / Marie D’Ancanto), Rebecca Romijn (Mystique / Grace), Brian Cox (William Stryker), Alan Cumming (Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler), Bruce Davison (Senator Kelly), Aaron Stanford (John Allerdyce / Pyro), Shawn Ashmore (Bobby Drake / Iceman), Kelly Hu (Yuriko Oyama / Deathstrike), Katie Stuart (Kitty Pryde), Kea Wong (Jubilee) and Cotter Smith (President McKenna).


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X-Men (2000, Bryan Singer)

My wife wanted me to mention the only reason we watched X-Men was because she wanted to see Hugh Jackman with his shirt off… I watched it to insure she didn’t have a cardiac arrest.

Back in the old days, before IMDb edited their trivia section, the X-Men trivia featured defenses of some of the terrible performances. There was some excuse for Halle Berry’s terrible accent and another for Anna Paquin’s mysteriously appearing and disappearing one. It’s too bad IMDb got classy and took them down, because there were even more defenses and they were a lot of fun.

But if one is trapped and watching X-Men, in between parts where Hugh Jackman’s giving a fine performance, there are amusements. It’s fun to see Bryan Singer composing his shots for a pan-and-scan VHS version (faces occupy one half of the screen while empty space occupies the other or the action is in the center, with empty space on the sides). There’s also the obviously Canadian sets–which make the Statue of Liberty finale all the more amusing. I mean, X-Men is an action movie where one of the big sequences takes place in the Liberty Island gift shop. Not many movies can make that claim. Or the train station… wow, that one’s exciting.

There are more amusements, some not recognizable at the time. It’s not really an amusement, more an unfortunate reality–Michael Kamen’s embarrassing score, which would be terrible on a razor commercial, is one of his last. But on the more amusing things–like trying to take Tyler Mane seriously. The guy’s 6’8″ but the make-up and costume are so silly, he looks like he’s performing at a kid’s birthday party.

The most fun, however, is trying to figure who gives a worse performance, Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellan. The script, which has some of the worst dialogue in any major motion picture I think I’ve ever seen, does neither any favors, but I do think Stewart edges McKellan out. Though McKellan is worse, he’s in it a little bit less and doesn’t have the long expository monologues Stewart gets to deliver.

The plot is smartly bound to Jackman, which kind of makes the thing deceptively okay in parts. Thankfully, the moronic ending (it’s Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, get it?) erases any memory of his fine performance.

Speaking of performances, there really aren’t any good ones other than Jackman. James Marsden is hilariously bad, as is Berry, as is Rebecca Romijn. Famke Janssen’s bad, but nowhere near as terrible as the others. Bruce Davison, who really sets off those made in Canada flags, is awful.

I’ve seen X-Men three times now and I still don’t understand how it was a hit or how it is considered “good.” It kicked off the modern superhero movie genre, which has produced some worse entries, and maybe it just doesn’t seem as bad in comparison to those. But with the exception of Jackman, the whole thing feels like a syndicated, shot-in-Canada TV show. It’s like “RoboCop: The Series.” Only worse.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Bryan Singer; written by David Hayter, based on a story by Tom DeSanto and Singer; director of photography, Newton Thomas Sigel; edited by Steven Rosenblum, Kevin Stitt and John Wright; music by Michael Kamen; production designer, John Myhre; produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Patrick Stewart (Xavier), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Famke Janssen (Jean Grey), James Marsden (Cyclops), Halle Berry (Storm), Anna Paquin (Rogue), Tyler Mane (Sabertooth), Ray Park (Toad), Rebecca Romijn (Mystique), Shawn Ashmore (Bobby Drake) and Bruce Davison (Senator Kelly).


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