Publisher and Editor, Nolan B. Canova
No. 17.  This edition is for the week of July 17--23, 2000.
Hot X-File news!
"Those ignorant of the past are doomed to syndicated reruns."
Robert Patrick to fill gap left by Duchovny
"X-Men" opening weekend: $57.5 million! Fans pleased with movie
  I just learned from an msn webpage that Robert Patrick ("Terminator 2") is joining the X-Files cast as an FBI agent and will be in every episode this fall. It is presumed this move is to offset Fox Mulder's absence due to alien abduction and David Duchovny's absence due to contractual problems with Fox (the network). Duchovny will appear in only 11 episodes.
  Robert Patrick will play John Doggett, former-cop-turned-FBI agent who will help Scully (Gillian Anderson)and the FBI in their search for Mulder.
  Series creator, Chris Carter, seriously considered 10 actors for the role, among them: Lou Diamond Phillips, Bruce Campbell, and Kyle MacLachlan.
  The hottest note struck was a statement (I haven't verified yet) that the Fox Mulder character is being phased out!! Yikes!
  Carter says this is not the Mulder character that Patrick is playing , but a whole different animal. Not paranoid and alien-obsessed, but more earthy and by-the-book.
  Carter and Anderson have only one year left on their contracts and are not expected to renew. "It will be a way for the show to go on", Carter said.
  And count me among them!  Yes, I've been converted. Permit me to elaborate...
  Like other comics fans, I've experienced the "agony of defeat" many more times than I have the "thrill of victory" when it comes to comic book adaptations hitting the screen. Oh sure, there have been some: the first Superman movie (1978), the first Batman movie (the barely qualifiable 1988 one, not the 1966 version, altho some would debate even that),and The Crow, (based on the more underground-level comic). I'm talking super-hero types here, not the more oblique entries like The Mask--itself a cool flick--or the unwatchable Howard the Duck.
   The less said about The Punisher or Spawn the better. (Spawn had potential,he hastily adds,that was never realized.)
  Which brings us to The X-Men. Let me preface myself by saying that I was only, at best, a casual fan of the X-Men comic. My forté is classic comics, mostly. Yes, X-Men goes back to the Silver Age, but its popularity grew in the late '70s/early '80s, which is why I'm familiar with them at all. So, please forgive lapses in my X-Men-the-comic knowledge.
  Chances are you're familiar with the many Stan Lee/Jack Kirby chronicles of its creation or you wouldn't be swimming around on these pages, so I'll spare you the exposition, except to remind you that the main characters have been around since 1963. Lots of time to develop a "personal" relationship with the main players. Taking things like movie adaptations "personally." My very core feeling about directors that take on these challenging movies is that they never seem to "get it."
  The good news is that director Bryan Singer "gets it." The very beginning of the movie opens with the FULL 20th Century Fox fanfare (something only Lucas ever seemed to care about)and we're underway.
  Poland, 1944. Bustling activity in the midst of what is presumably a German concentration camp, separating who will live or die. I say "presumably", because it's pouring rain, the uniforms aren't entirely clear, but the set-up of a young child being separated from his parents(?) during the war is powerful stuff. I had to watch this part thru twice. (There have been stories of Germans experimenting on youths during the war---was that what was going on here?) The young man in question, in great distress, reaches his hand out to the prison gates and, screaming in agony, bends the metal gates practically off its hinges. This is the youth who will become Magneto. This is why he holds nothing but contempt for the human race and despairs over them ever accepting among them those who are "different." (I guess I'm also to assume Magneto is Jewish. So many revelations in so little time! The filmmakers take great care in not exposing too much of the horror of the Great War here. My ongoing problem with WWII still being a catalyst for crime is the players are of such advanced age. Where was Magneto before now?) Ian McKellen plays Magneto with great fiendish relish.¹
  The next 10-15 minutes or so are breakneck-paced so as to introduce the rest of the cast in a hurry. I didn't realize until I started writing this how many plot holes were ignored to achieve this. Try to follow:
  Rogue is portrayed quite well by teenage Anna Paquin. After her first kiss puts her boyfriend in a coma for three weeks (she absorbs "life essence" by touch) she runs away to Canada only to bump into grizzled Logan (Wolverine, played with surprising vigor by Aussie, Hugh Jackman) at a seedy bar evidently wrestling for a living. She witnesses his claws popping out when he defends himself from an attack after the fight. They get in Logan's truck and skee-daddle. The two strike up a quick friendship when Logan's truck hits a downed tree limb and he is thrown thru the window, but miraclously heals. She is trapped in the burning truck. Out-of-nowhere Sabertooth (Tyler Mane) jumps Wolverine. Out-of-nowhere Cyclops and Storm rescue the kid and Wolverine. Truck blows up. Around here Rogue witnesses Wolverine's freak healing ability. Finally we all remove to New York and the Charles Xavier School for the gifted--a front for mutant development activities--and our stalwart crew recovers from the incidents in Canada. (Whew)
 (Comic-fan side note: in my opinion, the filmmakers have combined the characters of Rogue and Kitty Pride into the film's "Rogue". Kitty Pride is in the movie but only very briefly. To me, Wolverine's relationship with Rogue in the film is what I remember it being with Kitty in the comics.)
  The story now revolves around one Senator Kelley (Bruce Davison), who wants to control the mutant population thru legislation, starting with registering. Magneto has a very bad reaction to this (contempt for man's prejudice has reared its head again), and sets about a plot to "mutant-ize" the world. It's up to Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart in another of those roles he was born to play) to mobilize his "X-Men"--now including teenage Rogue and age-resistant Wolverine--to defeat Magneto. Rounding out his mutant battle-team are Jean Grey (stunningly beautiful Famke Janssen), who has telekenetic powers, Cyclops (James Marsden), who emits lethal eye-blasts of energy, and Storm (Halle Berry in a great get-up) who controls weather.
  Magneto has his own mutant horde. The ugly Toad (Ray Park, fresh from Darth Maul duty), Sabertooth (Tyler Mane, ex-wrestler who gets to roar a lot), and the weirdly beautiful Mystique (Rebecca Ramijn-Stamos in head-to-toe blue body make-up that must be seen to be believed) who can shape-shift.
  As expected from a movie of this caliber, the special effects are excellent, the music pulse-pounding, and the pace and the action are relentless. You won't get bored.

   ¹I've already been taken to task by a good friend, who was a huge fan of the comic, for not being aware of Magneto's origins.  Like I said, I was only ever a casual fan of the X-Men.  Fans, no doubt, will appreciate the filmmaker's decision to stay true to the original concept!
Stan Lee clarification
  In Nolan's Newsstand issue #7, I reported that legendary comics mogul Stan Lee was set to script 12 issues of the DC Comics flagship character, "Superman", later on this year.
  An old friend, former band-mate, and fellow classic comics fan, John Lewis, aka "the creature from Clearwater", on a rare vist recently told me that the article had a muddled error.
   Turns out that Stan Lee is going to script 12 DC comics including "Superman", not exclusively "Superman". Ah! I see.
  Being as I've been notoriously out of the comics loop for some time, I'm going to defer to John's source on this one. (John's trying to get me back into comics--and I'm softening--but, I had always planned on getting these Stan Lee things.)
  In my own defense, I'll say the original Newsstand article was sourced from a comics-related website and assumed verified.
All contents this page are © 2000 by Nolan B. Canova

 

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