It took a full month to recover from our first movie marathon, the staggering journey that was all three extended Lord of the Rings movies. By the end of March though we were ready for round two (a slight delay in this report, obviously!). For part two we were going x-rated.
The LOTR extended editions are essentially six films, with all three parts split down the middle to create separate two hour movies. Our X-Men movie marathon would be a slightly easier prospect then, just five films encompassing all the X-Movies released to date, X-Men (2000), X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and X-Men: First Class (2011). One of the best aspects of the LOTR marathon was seeing Peter Jackson's vision moulded into one long story. We opted to recreate the magic by watching the X-Movies by the chronology of their story.
A full day of X-cellent entertainment
As X-Men Origins: Wolverine started the farthest back in history we kicked off at 11.00am with Logan's solo adventure. Despite the critical kicking Gavin Hood's movie received on release the film improves with repeat viewings. Dodgy handling of Marvel favourite Deadpool aside, there's much to enjoy, central to which is Hugh Jackman doning the adamantium claws again. Its a character so enjoyed by the Aussie he carries the film easily, even through the slow parts. The revelation is Liev Schreiber as Wolvie's half brother Sabretooth. Initially suspected by fans to be too small to out-size Jackman, Schreiber some how bulked up to look the part and then let his acting chops do the rest. His Sabretooth is the snidey killer Tyler Mane's hairy mute should have been.
Striking our best Wolverine poses to kick things off
Next up was X-Men: First Class. Continuing the series' reputation for casting fine actors over big names Matthew Vaughn made amends for sticking Vinnie Jones in Juggernaut's boots by assembling a wonderful array of talent for his young mutants. Heading the list is Michael Fassbender stealing yet another film with an effortless performance. He has stiff competition though from James McAvoy as a young, ladies man, pre-wheelchair Prof. Xavier, and the ever reliable Kevin Bacon as top villain Sebastian Shaw. Jennifer Lawrence also kick started her career with a brilliant turn as Xavier's adopted sister Mystique. First Class flies by in no time, and with two movies down there isn't even a hint of fatigue as we move onto the first of the X-Men's forays onto the big screen.
Wolverine's newest foe....Doritorine!
Following the slick confidence of our previous two viewings Bryan Singer's X-Men (2000) looks a little tentative. Weighed down by having to introduce the concept of mutants and X-Men to audiences, the script is peppered with clunky exposition that's only rescued by some of this generations finest actors. Patrick Stewart was a shoe-in for Xavier, but casting his old stage buddy McKellan as nemesis Magneto was inspired. Jackman gives a star making turn as Wolverine, but elsewhere others shine, perfectly realising their on page characters (Ray Park as Toad, Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, Anna Paquin with a fresh take on the Rogue character). We're three films down and the only bump in the road is the horrendous miscasting of Halle Berry as the supposedly Amazonian Storm. Hearing the worst line in movie history again, "...the same thing that happens to everything else", has me stepping out for an unscheduled beer pit-stop.
Halle Berry as Storm? No, me neither...
6.15pm and we're on course; three movies down and two to go. We feel good with arguably the best of the saga next up, X2 (2003). Freed from backstory constraints Singer could tell a proper X-Men story, throwing in assorted delights along the way from the superb Brian Cox on William Stryker villian duties, to Alan Cumming creating a pitch perfect Nightcrawler. As we reach the watery finale in the Weapon X facility there isn't a hint of fatigue. Watch out though; Vaughn's X-Men: The Last Stand is up next as the last leg of the marathon.
Finishing at 10.35pm with our "best" Magneto poses
As with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: The Last Stand was battered by just about everyone when it was released in 2006. But again time has been kind. There's much to enjoy, Vaughn's prediliction for offing most of the lead characters, Magento's Golden Gate Bridge redesign, Colossus' fastball special, Kelsey Grammar somehow turning in a great Beast performance. Its just that it should have been so much more. This was the Dark Pheonix story, one of the very best from the X-Men comics, a sprawling saga with huge emotional weight. A dust-up on Alcatraz and a sulking Rogue just didn't seem to do it justice. Still, we reach the end in good spirits, and as with LOTR the back-to-back viewing has brought all the films together nicely to make a brilliant whole out of this quintet of X-Parts. Schnikt indeed!