Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Recast: X-Men

X-Men: Days of Future Past sounds, to me, as if it's going to be a real clinker.  Please note that I'm basing this off of a few trailers and the general nasty taste that the last X-Men movies (First Class and Wolverine) left in my mouth.  So, I sat down and started looking at movies and actors and thought, Hey! What if I recast an X-Men movie using actors from another movie? Like, say, the Lord of the Rings trilogy?

And away we go!

Let's start off with the high-flying Angel.  I don't know about y'all but I can totally picture Orlando Bloom in the roll. 
The Warren Worthington I'm picturing is a definite playboy, someone who's enjoying the hell out of his life because he suspects it's all going to come crashing down, sooner or later.
He's a bit of a fatalist, who's using his money to forget his fears and insecurities.

Next up, the Beast. Now, I'm going to piss off a lot of fans by going for the nonfurry version but, production wise, it's much easier.
I think Sean Astin would make a fine Henry McCoy/Beast.  He's sort of got the build for it and, with the glasses, the look.  Also, he plays nice guys really well and the Beast, despite his physical abilities and genius, is, at heart, a nice guy.
In my x-film, Beast is also the only member of the original five to remain in close contact with Professor Xavier.

Casting Cyclops was tough.  In the end, given the fact that these X-Men are older and have moved on, beyond the school and the team, plus the excellent shot of him in the sunglasses, I thought Marton Csokas could play Scott Summers.  Plus, he's like 6 feet something tall, a definite bonus in this cast!
This Scott Summers is a broody drifter.  He's still close to Xavier, but he's angry at him too, having realized the depth of the man's manipulation and not liking it.  Plus, there's the whole Jean Grey issue.

Iceman. Oy vey. Tell me Dominic Monaghan doesn't look like Bobby Drake. Granted, he probably skews a little older than most people would think, but this is the adult X-Men and not the teens so I think Monaghan fits the bill nicely.  Plus, he can play whiny without being irritating and just generally projects an air of 'youth' in everything I've seen him in.
Bobby Drake is probably the most contented graduate of Xavier's first class. He's gone off and built a normal life for himself with a real job, real friends and even a fiancee. Getting sucked back into the X-life isn't something Bobby wants, but the ties that bind the first class together run deep.

Liv Tyler as Jean Grey/Marvel Girl was fairly easy to do.  She's definitely got the look and, since in this movie, Jean would appear only in flashbacks and imaginary scenes Tyler's youth playing against Csokas's Cyclops wouldn't be problematic.
In this X-movie, Jean Grey died. She was the heart of the team and when she died the heart went right out of the team.  Not long afterwards, the first class mostly scattered to the four winds.
Appearing mostly in Cyclops's memories, Jean is fairly idealized: a sweet, pretty girl that anyone would fall in love with.

Charles Xavier a.k.a. Professor X.  It's hard to find anyone else who could fill the roll after Patrick Stewart's performance, but John Bach has the look and, I think, could bring a kind of grizzled weariness to the roll that we haven't seen before.
His Xavier is a man who's been through the wars, who has knowingly recruited children to his cause, ostensibly for the greater good.  He's world-weary and tired, but still fighting the good fight because he believes it needs to be fought.
We don't see much of Xavier in the movie until the end, but we get a definite sense of who he was and is via his students and his antagonist...

And I know, I can hear the screams now. "Why aren't you using Sir Ian? He was in LoTR!"
Been there done that. Time to give someone else a shot at the Master of Magnetism and I think John Noble would be great. If you don't think he can portray the type of menace that Magneto drips then you need to watch Fringe. That's all I'm going to say.
As for Magneto? In this x-film, he's started a revolution but now it's gotten away from him.  He's still committed to the cause, still believes mutants need to fight, but most of the current generation lacks his fire.  His relationship with Xavier is complex, but he's also the first person to suggest that Xavier's incapacitation is part of something larger.

Olivia Tennet plays Mystique.  Like the Beast, Mystique's shapechanging doesn't rely on flashy metamorphosis. At no time in the film does Tenant walk around wearing contact lenses and blue body paint. Honestly, if you could change your appearance why would you choose to stand out so much?
Mystique is the wild card in the film.  Although working for the baddies, she has history with Magneto.  In her youth she was a great believer in his cause, but, over time, came to find a cause of her own.
She's the revolutionary who's become the pragmatic mercenary. Or is she? Mystique, after all, is all about deception and disguise.

Ah! Emma Frost. The first of our baddies is revealed and she is played by none other than the incredible Cate Blanchett.
This Emma Frost is not some Paris Hilton clone.  She's more like Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada.  She controls a multibillion dollar corporation which she's built through the careful and surgical use of her psychic powers as well as her associations within the Hellfire Club.
This Emma Frost lives in a world of ever shifting grays.  Morality is situational for her.  People who cling to black and white views of the world are fools in her opinion, deserving nothing more than to be used and tossed aside after their usefulness is done.

Emma Frost isn't working alone.  Her partner-in-crime is none other than Sebastian Shaw, the leader of the Hellfire Club.
Portrayed by John Rhys-Davies, this Shaw was never a freakin' Nazi and is only interested in mutants as a means to an end; they're a valuable resource to be used to achieve more power and wealth. Shaw is already a billionaire several times over, but you can never have too much power and, in Shaw's mind, there's no one more deserving of power than himself.

As for the movie plot? Well, here's the general outline:

It’s been years since the original graduating class of the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters have all been together. Although remaining close to one another, their lives have pulled them in very different directions.

Alas, tragedy unites the first friends when their old mentor, Professor Xavier is the victim of a brutal assault. Hospitalized and facing a grim prognosis, Hank McCoy sends word to his old friends.

Soon after, McCoy is attacked by a group of masked men operating under the authority of a mysterious woman who identifies herself only as Mystique. McCoy fights off his attackers, but the incident raises serious questions. Questions his returning schoolmates don’t want to consider.

Warren Worthington III, the high-flying Angel, is more interested in living the good life while he can, before it all comes crashing down.

Bobby Drake, the Iceman, has built himself a new life, far from the crazy days of his youth and doesn’t want it threatened by his past.

As for Scott Summers? He is too distracted by mournful memories of his dead love, Jean Grey, to properly focus on matters at hand.

The unpleasant reunion almost erupts into violence with the appearance of Magneto, who has learned about Xavier’s condition, and suspects it is part of a larger scheme. Upon learning of Mystique’s involvement, Magneto becomes convinced that there is some sinister threat being orchestrated against mutants.

The X-Men remain unconvinced, believing Magneto to be paranoid. Their divisions and fears eventually lead the group to fragment. Angel and Iceman leave, to return to their own lives. Cyclops visits the grave of Jean Grey, leaving only Beast to wait by Xavier’s bedside.

Mystique, meanwhile, has spotted Magneto and informed her employers of his presence. Emma Frost thinks they should strike now, while they have the element of surprise, but Sebastian Shaw wants to wait. Mystique counsels that whatever they decide, they’ll only have one shot at eliminating Magneto.

In the meantime, Shaw dispatches more Hellfire agents to capture the X-Men. Angel and Iceman are ambushed and defeated. Cyclops manages to escape the agents pursuing him and make his way back to the mansion where Magneto and Beast have defeated their agents.

Much to Beast’s disgust, Cyclops agrees to let Magneto interrogate their prisoners. They learn about the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club, run by Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw, who view mutants as a valuable resource to be used. They also learn that Iceman and Angel have been beaten and taken to a Hellfire facility for ‘processing.’

Disguised as Hellfire agents, Cyclops, Beast and Magneto infiltrate the facility. They free Iceman and Angel and are about to make their escape when they are confronted by Mystique, Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw.

Magneto expresses his disappointment with Mystique, accusing her of betraying the cause by working for ‘mere humans.’ Mystique laughs, accuses Magneto of being a zealot and a dinosaur, then reveals that the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club is comprised almost entirely of mutants.

As Magneto reels from this revelation, Hellfire agents swarm into the chamber and a battle erupts. Emma Frost blasts Magneto with her psychic powers while Sebastian Shaw ignores Cyclops and Beast’s attacks, with McCoy noting that they only seem to be making him stronger.

Frost, meanwhile, is psychically attacking Magneto with memories from his time in a Nazi concentration camp. Magneto accuses her of overconfidence, reminds her that he isn’t as helpless as he appears and generates a massive EMP that disrupts Frost’s psychic powers. But as Magneto stands over Frost, Mystique stabs him in the back with a ceramic knife, fatally wounding him.

Meanwhile, Shaw is throwing the X-Men around like dolls. Iceman snaps and uses his powers to freeze Shaw solid, an attack his kinetic absorption powers could not absorb.

Their sense of victory is short-lived, however, as Magento’s death-throws are causing his powers to go highwire, threatening to tear the entire facility apart. He tells the X-Men to go, that there’s nothing they can do and to carry on the fight. The X-Men flee the facility as it starts to come down. There is no sign of Mystique, who has already fled the scene; the last anyone sees of Frost, she was crawling toward Shaw.

Having barely escaped the Hellfire facility with their lives, the X-Men return to the mansion. There, they are surprised to discover Professor Xavier awake and watching the news about a ‘terrorist attack’ in New Jersey. A terrorist group known only as ‘the Brotherhood’ is claiming responsibility, promising other attacks in the future.

"But we know better, don’t we?" says Xavier. He then asks if the X-Men will stay, as he can sense dark days coming for mutants in the near future.

Despite their losses and differences of opinion, the X-Men agree that they’ll remain, that they are stronger together than apart.

End credits.

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