I discussed X-men movies with my VFX Supervisor, Robin.

 

T:
Just got back from Days of Future Past. Probably the best since X2. It’s really about discrimination and fear again, instead of about superpowers.
R:
Yeah, after a couple of movies they just sort of throw those themes out the window. First Class tried to find them again.
T:
Last Stand has the themes more than First Class.
R:
Does not!
T:
Does too!
R:
Let us make an X-Men toplist.

 

T:
In 7th place I have X-Men: First Class.
R:
Really?
T:
Of all the franchises I grew up with X-Men the most. The comics, the TV show, now the movies. More than Star Wars, more than any other geek thing that I was far too into. And to me, Matthew Vaugn doesn’t get X-Men. He makes fun movies, but they’re not X-Men. Vaugn has far too much fun. But X-Men isn’t Avengers. X-Men isn’t fun. X-Men is about discrimination and racism, about fear, loneliness and group behaviour. It’s like Vaugn just wanted to make a Bond movie.
R:
This is nothing like Bond.
T:
It’s in the sixties, they’re all secret agents with cool gadgets and fly suits. They’re too cool in a way. My problem with Matthew Vaugn’s X-Men is a bit like your problem with the JJ Abrams Star Trek movies. They’re fun, but they’re not Star Trek. I didn’t grow up with Star Trek, so it’s all fine by me.
R:
But those are discriminatingly bad! But I understand the comparison. I really liked Magneto in First Class though.
T:
Yeah, Magneto’s storyline was great. But I had a problem with most of the other mutants. Banshee and Angel, the girl who spits fireballs. Those aren’t cool powers. Especially not for a movie. That entire Xavier storyline, which is basically about a rich kid who get’s off on peoples powers. First Class should’ve been what it was originally going to be: X-Men Origins: Magneto. With just Magneto and Sebastian Shaw as the only mutants. But now they had like a thousand different mutants running around in that movie, far too many for the sixties, when nobody in the world was supposed to even know they existed. Days of Future Past tries to rectify some of that, bringing the mutants back undercover, instead of out in the open. Which works better with X1.
R:
I haven’t seen Days of Future Past yet, so I don’t have a 7th place.

R:
In 6th place I have X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
T:
Me too.
R:
It’s an hilariously melodramatic shit of a film. Dumb characters, horrible writing. Only some of the scenes with Wolverine being witty were sorta funny.
T:
It drifts off pretty far from the Wolverine and setting we saw in X1, to which this is essentially a prequel. And some of the VFX are really bad.
R:
How could they approve those?
T:
I have no idea. I used to superhate Origins as well, but not anymore. Maybe I’ve gotten used to it, maybe I’ve discovered the good bits in it.
R:
Oh you actually watched this more than once?
T:
I told you, X-Men is my bible.
R:
Oh yeah, right.

 

R:
In 5th place I have The Wolverine.
T:
Me too! It’s very ‘different’ isn’t it?
R:
This is kinda like Bond. Reminds me somewhat of You Only Live Twice.
T:
I don’t really watch Bond films. I liked the red-headed girl. Yukio. But I found it a little weird that the whole mutant issue wasn’t really going on in this movie, whilst this is supposed to happen after Last Stand.
R:
I guess all of that isn’t really going on in Japan.
T:
Setting it in Japan was a nice breath of fresh air though.
R:
I thought this was everything Origins should have been.
T:
Maybe, though I didn’t really get what exactly Wolverine’s arc was in this. That was left far too vague to focus on it so entirely. The swordfights were great, by the way.

 

R:
On 4th place I have The Last Stand.
T:
Again: Me too.
R:
It’s a fine continuation of the first two, but it suffers
from crowded plots and characters.
T:
Really? Than you won’t like Days of Future Past, which is the most crowded of all X-Men movies yet. But I thought Last Stand was kinda simple in it’s story. Little exposition and stuff, but more made as the third act to a story, the trilogy, which made this the action climax. I think it works if you think about it like that. But you’re right that they introduce a lot of mutants that don’t really have a function, like Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut, which was terrible. Though, to Brett Ratner’s defense, he was cast when Matthew Vaugn was still going to direct it I think. Matthew Vaugn really doesn’t get X-Men.
R:
It focusses on cool mutant powers too much, and it’s missing the themes of X1 and 2.
T:
No! It has those themes, with the cure, the oppression. That subplot of Rogue deciding to get rid of her powers.
R:
I thought that was Mystique’s story in First Class. Before first class she wasn’t that interesting a character.
T:
First Class is a 60’s revenge movie. Last Stand is Brett Ratner trying to make a Bryan Singer movie, in which he fails, but it is closer to what X-Men should be I think.
R:
I just enjoyed First Class a lot more.
T:
So on 3rd place I have X-Men: Days of Future Past. The middle act is a little slow, as it over-X-plains the plot for non-X-perts. But the first and final thirds of the movie are as good as Singer’s other episodes. It didn’t really feel as big as the budget suggested it was going to be, but then again, X-Men movies have never really felt huge in the way Avengers or Transformers feels huge. It focusses more on character. Which is also sort of my only problem with DOFP. The movie’s main story is about Wolverine having to convince Xavier to become the Xavier we know from Patrick Stewart. This is fine, but the depressed Xavier just isn’t one I personally like very much. Also: I would’ve liked to have seen more of the future bits, ’cause they were awesome. These are minor details. Overall it was very good. A return to form for the franchise with a nice teaser for the next part: X-Men: Apocalypse.
R:
My 3rd place has First Class, which we already sort of discussed. It has some of the same problems that Last Stand has, being overcrowded with plot and characters, but it was more enjoyable. But I really would’ve wanted it to be a Xavier/Magneto buddy cop movie à la Lethal Weapon.
T:
My 2nd place is X2: X-Men United, which is a terrible title by the way.
R:
But a great film.
T:
It’s a lot cooler than the first one, more slick and actiony. Especially in that opening scene.
R:
My 2nd place is the first one actually: X-Men. A great way to start a franchise and introduce the universe, the characters and the themes.

T:
My 1st place is the only one left: X-Men. The movie that sort of started the comic book movie craze and, I would say, is still the best one ever made. The dialogue and the metaphor are so spot on that they overshadow the comic book fun in a great way, making it very real, for a comic book movie. Maybe even the most real of all comic book movies. This is one of my all time favorite movies.
R:
My 1st place goes to X2 for the same reason why The Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie. Like Empire this too is very dependent on the first film, but it continues and improves on it’s characters and themes in a great way.
T:
Let’s recap.

T:                                          R:
7.   First Class                    –

6.   Origins                          Origins
        

5.   Wolverine                     Wolverine
        

4.   Last Stand                    Last Stand
        

3.   Future Past                   First Class
         

2.   X2                                   X-Men

         

1.   X-Men                            X2

             

I rewatched Godzilla (1998) with my VFX supervisor Robin.
 
T:
I just saw the new Godzilla movie.
R:
I have not seen it yet.
T:
While it was a lot more loyal to the original japanese movies, and the monster fight scenes were absolutely epic, I didn’t really connect to the characters. In fact, most of what they do has no influence on the story at all, and the female characters are reduced to the bare minimum. They could’ve easily cut about 45 minutes of scenes with humans without any effect on the story. Cranston’s character is the only one that was sort of interesting. I like the ‘98 Godzilla a lot more. There, I said it. When that came out 16 years ago (!), I was eleven and it blew my mind to shit.
R:
As a kid yes, but as an adult no. It has the Episode 1 syndrome.
T:
It does not!
R:
It does too!
T:
Let us watch Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla.
R:
For some reason also the name of our hero.
T:
Yeah, they changed the name of the main character to honor the designer. He’s the guy who also did the robots from I, Robot and the werewolves from Underworld I think.
R:
Honor the designer? The writer just needed a funny name, because people saying your name wrong is fucking  funny.
T:
We’ll never be able to find out if that was what it was, ‘cause they’ll never admit to it not being an homage.  Though I must say that tapadopapopoulos is a pretty funny name. Now, the opening credits of the new Godzilla actually have a very similar vibe, though they don’t fit that movie all that well. They should have just started the movie, like with the Dark Knight. No title, no nothing. Would’ve suited that movie better. But I like it here.
T:
Boom. Leon is in this bitch.
R:
Yea, as a lovely french stereotype.
T:
I don’t think that counts as a stereotype, but he is definitely very French. The whole thing where all the french characters are called jean-something is a weird joke. My main problem with the french thing is that they were the ones who caused this with all of their nuclear testing. In reality up until 1998 the french have caused exactly 210 nuclear explosions, whilst the americans detonated 1032 of those assholes (the first two of which were in Japan). Emmerich is german, so I don’t think he really minded who created ‘Zilla. This was probably the studio saying that some other country had to be the cause.
R:
Saying stuff like: “where is my croissant?” makes him a bit of a stereotype.
T:
There’s a lot of silly cliche’s yes, but the character itself is not a stereotype. The-French-secret-agent-who-hates-american-coffee-and-is-unaware-of-donuts-but-loves-Elvis is not a classic stereotype.
T:
Love how they go from huge-hint-at-what’s-going-on to huge-hint-at-what’s-going-on during this opening bit where they introduce the main characters. Finding these footprints is kind of like them finding the planes in Close Encounters.
R:
Sure, but having two whole sequences of boats being destroyed was really unnecessary.
T:
Yeah, he must really like fish. Godzilla, not Emmerich. Or maybe Emmerich too. Who knows.
R:
There are rumors…
R:
Was Jean Reno also holding a camera?
T:
Maybe they’re watching Godzilla ’98 on VHS. I like how both this and the new movie reference the original name Gojira on multiple occasions.
R:
And an American reporter saying it wrong as ‘Godzilla’ is also a nice reference.
T:
See! I told you this was like Close Encounters! They both have boats on land as part of their huge-hint-at-what’s-going-on-montage. Love how they did this shot by the way. I think the boat is a miniature that is composited in? Looks pretty epic. Say what you will about Emmerich, but he knows how to make stuff look huge.
R:
Yeah, this is a miniature. The 90’s was a great period of still using old practical effects and using the latest (but not always realistic) CGI and digital compositing. Emmerich know how to make things huge? No way! Godzilla looked no where near as big as it should have been. The first 10 minutes of introducing Godzilla was great. The camera was always on the same level as the people, making Godzilla really big. But after awhile they got lazy with the animation. Godzilla was suddenly moving way too fast for its size and instead of Godzilla being huge the buildings looked really small.
T:
True, I meant it more in the sense that the could’ve had a ship in the dock with some scratches on it. But with Emmerich, the entire ship is on a beach, with tanks and jeeps beside it, hundreds of extras, etc. Spielberg did this with encounters, but a lot of big budget movies are actually kinda small. The special effects are big, but the sets are small. Not with Emmerich. There’s always people running around in the background. In some ways the 90’s were the best era for VFX. Sure, the CG wasn’t that great yet, but combining CG with miniatures and puppets really diverts your attention from the VFX to the story (assuming there is a story).
R:
Spielberg (really all filmmakers before CGI) was doing things small because he had to. The technology was simply not advanced enough to do everything a filmmaker wanted. I think having these kind of restrictions makes for really creative solutions to tell a story.
T:
This shit also kicked me in the face when I first saw it. They might have used some miniatures, but in a shot like this I think they really just pulled that entire ship under at full speed with the stuntmen on it.
R:
I think they used miniatures for some shots. Sometimes the water looks really weird.
T:
Hank Azaria is in this as well. The cast is actually pretty great. Broderick, Reno, that guy from Spinal Tap. Azaria’s life action career never really took off. I thought he was funny in this and in Mystery Men where he was the fork throwing Blue Raja. But both those films sort of flopped I think. So now he’s back doing 80% of all Simpsons voices.
R:
I always had the impression that he was being paid handsomely for The Simpsons and having small roles in films was just something he did for fun.
R:
Godzilla makes wood explode
T:
That poor guy super-died.
R:
Nice practical creature FX
T:
That shit is practical? Awesome. Also: A lot of people super-die in this movie.
R:
Most of the close ups were made with a puppet Godzilla. I think they could have done more practical shots in the style of the Rancor in return of the Jedi or the aliens in Alien3.
T:
Alien3 has some of the worst compositing possible by the way.
R:
Yeah, that was a problem, but the movement of the aliens was great.
R:
Even Barney looks more like Godzilla
T:
True, he doesn’t really look like the classic Godzilla, though from an objective point of view I think this makes a lot more sense than the fatzilla. What is he, descended from hippo’s? The only reason Godzilla was fat in the  first place is because they had to fit a guy in that suit. I thought they did a great redesign. But fans don’t want redesigns. They want the exact same thing. A guy once told me the Transformers movies suck because the transformers don’t look exactly like they do in the cartoons. Of all the reasons he could pick, THAT was why he thought those movies sucked. There is no way Bay could’ve made a bunch of colorful boxes look real.
R:
The problem with this design is it looks like a dinosaur and not a monster. I don’t mind a redesign either but using the Godzilla name was completely unnecessary. Emmerich saw the Jurassic Park movies and wanted to make a dinosaur film for himself. Knowing that he couldn’t get away with making another dinosaur movie he used the godzilla name without looking at the original movies. Its is really disrespectful, and if you want to make a remake you need to have respect for the source.
T:
That’s true. If this was called Cloverfield it might not have flopped.
R:
Lets fly low between skyscrapers in Apache helicopters. Smart!
T:
But it looks awesome. I love how they have New York be this rainy colourless place. This is not Nora Ephron’s New York City.
R:
I bet they used rainy and foggy weather to get the CGI more realistic. Around this time it was really hard to get a realistic CGI character/monster in bright sunlight. Jurassic Park being the exception.
T:
That might actually be true, because the sunlight is exactly where Disney’s Dinosaur (2 years after this) completely failed. Whether it is just to get away with effects or not, it does add a nice atmosphere.
T:
Now these guys, the Mayor and his right hand, are called Siskel and Ebert. They even kind of look like them. I never really got why.
R:
HA! You’re right! Does Ebert eating a lot of candy also has something to do with this?
T:
I feel this is overlooked. The main female character in this is actually pretty fleshed out. She’s not a damsel in distress, she’s not some evil bitch. She has her own motives and her own arc. She makes bad decisions and good ones. Almost reminds us of a real person. Good on you, Hollywood!
R:
Strong female leads was a product of the 90’s I believe. Now we have strong psychical female leads who are also really sexy looking (Transformers, Sucker Punch, the Resident Evil films), which I think is weird. nothing against women being psychical and being sexy, but it feels like Hollywood is missing the point.
R:
Thank god! The Pepsi machine still works.
T:
Product placement is at the heart of hollywood. It’s why they get to make the big movies.
R:
Bad VFX. Soldiers coming out of nowhere.
T:
I have to admit: I didn’t notice it, but you’re absolutely right.
R:
This whole scene feels like a Scooby-Doo chase.
T:
It does, doesn’t it? I never got how something as huge as Godzilla could hide, nor why they would fly at eye-level with him/it, instead of above him/it. It does make for some awesome shots.
T:
The King Kong shot.
R:
It’s too bad that Emmerich was being inspired by american monster movies and not the japanese ones. At one point you could see one of the monsters of Ray Harryhausen on a television screen.
T:
“Well, he was eating, so he must be a female who is pregnant.”
R:
Those are some massive mood swings…
R:
Great way to keep things secret.
T:
They should’ve written ‘Son of Godzilla’ on the tape. I never want to see that again.
T:
I’ll admit that this whole egg/babyzilla thing ventures pretty far from the original films. Also: Those eggs are gross and seem a little big for what comes out of it. I thought they were supposed to be all curled up in there?
R:
That’s what radiation does to ya. I always wondered, Godzilla was the first of its kind right? But did he himself mutated into something big or was this mutation passed on over generations? If so, there must be more godzilla’s out there only smaller like Matryoshka dolls.
T:
Oh, yeah, it’s definitely the Matryoshka thing. There we’re gonna* do a sequel called Godzilla Reunion where all the different sizes of Godzilla were reunited and snapped together into MegaGodzilla. *not gonna
R:
I would actually go see that.
T:
A sequel to the new Godzilla has already been greenlit, so who knows what will happen.
R:
By having Godzilla and young Minizilla’s he got to have T-rex and raptor action scenes. Emmerich had know idea what to do with Godzilla. He really just wanted to make a Jurassic Park film.
T:
Can you blame him? I’ll answer that one: No one can be blamed for wanting to make a Jurassic Park film. Except for maybe like Lars von Trier. I would never want to see his Jurassic Park.  Who do you think would make a great Jurassic Park movie? No Spielberg’s allowed.
R:
Other director? Wes Anderson. Pretty much the same movie, but with characters having an existential crisis and cartoony stop motion dinosaurs. And really bright colors.
T:
I was gonna say Wes Anderson! Those raincoats already look like they belong in a Wes Anderson movie anyway. That is actually the only director where you’re certain that even a Jurassic Park remake thing would be awesome. We should disagree more.
R:
Whats this movie trying to tell me? Be sympathetic to Godzilla or see it (and its children) as a threat?
T:
It was a threat, but not by intent. It was just an animal trying to protect itself. This is actually some nice commentary on the way we treat nature. We should be careful because our reckless intrusion on nature is having a bigger and bigger influence. Like when they just discovered that something inside most pesticides is actually killing all bees. That shit will fuck up the entire ecosystem. Without bees plants won’t reproduce. If plants die out, no oxygen. Oversimplifying, yes, but not untrue. The movie isn’t super clever or anything, but then again, neither is any other Godzilla movie ever made. I prefer it over the new one, where Godzilla is like Mother Nature’s Neighborhood Watch or something, but also there to protect mankind? If you’re there to protect nature, the first fuckin’ thing you do is kill all humans. But no, Godzilla was all like: “Sorry I let my dogs loose around your kids, let me just punch them to shit and I’ll be on my way.” All that movie missed was Godzilla giving Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch the thumbs up before returning back to the ocean.
R:
The point the movie its trying to make is fine, but I have no idea what the film wants me to think at times. It’s all over the place. Especially the music. The music contradicts the scenes a lot of times. in one scene The movie wants me to be sympathetic to Godzilla and the next scene it wants me to be afraid of it. It feels like a guy punching a dog almost to death and then suddenly pet him and saying everything will be all right.
T:
Is not!
R:
Is too!

 

R:                                     T:
        

I had an argument about Star Wars with my VFX supervisor Robin.
R:
X-wing Pilot or Jedi?
T:
What? You mean what I’d rather be? Is that even a- Jedi, obviously.
R:
X-wing Pilot.
T:
No! Really?
R:
Imagine how awesome it would be flying one of those.
T:
Yeah but still. Name one X-wing Pilot that survives who is not also a Jedi.
R:
Wedge.
T:
Oh shit, you’re right! And he’s like Luke’s best buddy too. But he’s not in the new Abrams movies, so apparently he didn’t survive that long.
R:
They asked him, but he didn’t want to be in it because his part was too small. [Source]
T:
Would’ve been cool to have him back.
R:
Porkins.
T:
Porkins didn’t survive did he?
R:
No, but he’s awesome. Thanks to him you can have fat pilots. Ever seen a fat jedi?
T:
And he was in… what was he in?
R:
Raiders.
T:
Exactly, in the beginning. And he was the guy in Burton’s Batman. The corrupt cop.
R:
Yeah.
T:
Imagine naming your fat character Porkins. That wouldn’t fly today. That’d create so much bad press.
R:
Yeah well, its better than calling a Jedi Kit Fisto.T:
Is not!R:

Is too!

11. Looper
AAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!! JE ZEI 10!!!! WAT IS ER AAN DE HAND?! CAPS-LOCK!!!
10. Ghost in the Shell
Filosofisch, pretentieus, naakte meisjes met machinegeweren. Kortom: Een complete film.
9. District 9
Deze staat vooral op nummer 9 omdat de film ook nummer 9 is. Ik heb deel 1 tot en met 8 niet gezien, maar deze is prima op zichzelf te kijken. Vanaf deel 11 neemt Oceans de rol van District over trouwens, maar dan is het niet hetzelfde meer.
8. Minority Report
Zonder twijfel het beste en profil shot uit de geschiedenis van Tom Cruise.
7. Akira
Ik heb natuurlijk een zwak voor elke film waarin personages in reuzenbaby’s veranderen, maar dit is toch echt de beste van dat genre.
6. Children of Men
Extreem misogynistische titel. Kinderen zijn natuurlijk net zoveel van vrouwen. Alsof ik dit trouwens zeg om welke reden dan ook behalve om te laten weten dat ik weet wat misogynie is.
5. The Matrix
Altijd weer die Matrix. Het is een gouden regel dat mensen moe van dingen worden als ze te populair worden. Behalve bij Twilight, dat vindt iedereen leuk.
4. Serenity
Deze film vind ik ook leuk.
3. X-Men
Je weet dat het goed komt met de film als één personage een silhouet is en de andere out of focus.
2. Aliens
Beste naam voor een vervolgfilm ooit. Deel 3 had Alienst moeten heten. En Kick-Ass 2 Kick-Asss. Dat was veel beter geweest. Zo hadden ze de Star Wars prequels ook ‘Star War’ kunnen noemen. Star War. Star Wars. Niemand weet toch wat een Phantom Menace is. Ik was persoonlijk ook voor Fellowships of the Ring. Maar The Two Towers is niet slecht opzich. Want daar zit het getal 2 in, dus dan is het alsnog duidelijk. Moving on.
1. Terminator 2
De belangrijkste les die we uit deze film kunnen leren is toch wel dat we robots moeten gaan maken om onopvoedbare kinderen op te voeden en dat het beter voor iedereen is als die robots eruit zien als Arnold Schwarzenegger. Betekent Schwarzenegger trouwens Zwarte Neger? Want daar lijkt het wel een beetje op. Super racistisch. En een beetje dubbelop.
0. Jurassic Park
Was ik vergeten. Ok doei.