A Case of the Mondays

Sorry the column is late this week, but I wanted to make sure I gave my thoughts on The 4400 premiere, and, as promised, I will give you my thoughts on X-Men 3 in this week’s column. I realize that some of you may not have seen the movie yet, so in an attempt not to spoil the movie for anybody, anything related to the movie will be italicized.

Before I get to that, I wanted to respond to an e-mail I received from fellow IP columnist Michaelangelo McCullar, in regards to my thoughts on Survivor’s Terry in last week’s column. He brought up the fact that Terry came off as very smug when he attempted to make a deal with Shane and Cirie, noting that he was guaranteeing them final six, when they AT LEAST had that already. In that regard, that criticism is fair and absolutely right. However, I do believe that Terry learned from his mistake, as his later attempts did a better job of making potential swing voters realize where they stand on their current pecking order, and how a switch may be to their benefit.

He also brought up the fact that while giving Nick the immunity idol would not have given La Mina the majority, it may have helped in getting Danielle and Bruce to join their alliance. Another fair point, but under no circumstances will I ever say that it would have been smart of Terry to give up the idol. The fact of the matter is, the only reason ANYBODY suggests that is because, in hindsight, they know that the idol never ended up playing a role in the game. Had Terry kept the idol, and it saved his ass later on, people would be going on and on about how smart it was for him to keep it.

Along with that, I’m not entirely convinced Terry would have done any better than third place had he given Nick the immunity idol. If everything went according to plan for Terry, it would have been him, Nick, and Austin in the final three. Nick and Austin are easily just as much of a physical threat as Aras was, so right off the bat winning immunity is not a given. Secondly, Nick and Austin were close, I daresay closer to each other than they were to Terry. I could very easily see them making a pact to go to the final two together, and voting Terry off.

With that in mind, I think Terry played a very underestimated strategic game, and the only reason he didn’t win the game was because the person he had made a deal with turned against him.

Another reader of mine, Robert, sent another e-mail bringing up a very good point regarding Cirie’s much glorified move of voting off Courtney. He took the opposite side of this debate, and stated that it was actually a particularly unwise maneuver, as it basically showed all the other competitors how much in control of the game she is. Along with that, he brought up that nobody (outside of Aras, basically) would ever want to go to the final two against her, so it really actually hurt her game. For all the heat Terry gets for what he did and didn’t do, and how it hurt his chances, it’s interesting that people praise every little thing Cirie did, despite the fact that it may have hindered her overall game. Remember, who came in third and who came in fourth?

Alright, with all of that out of the way, let’s get to X3…

X-MEN 3, SPOILERS WITHIN:

Overall, I did enjoy the movie, but X2 was absolutely better, by far. First off, let me list the things I had a problem with:

In a lot of ways, this movie reminded me of the past season of 24: Basically, killing off or castrating important characters, possibly for the sake of shock value.

I was pretty pissed they killed off Cyclops, but what annoyed me even further was the lack of implication his death had. I mean, this is somebody that was the leader of the group. It was somebody that Professor X had looked at like a son. That students and colleagues looked up to. Yet Professor X brings up Cyclops’ potential death without batting an eyelash.

The same was true with Xavier’s death. Compare his death to his critical condition in the original X-Men movie. I mean, the guy’s in a coma and everybody is an emotional wreck. Suddenly he gets brutally murdered by one of their own and after a few weeps, everybody is up and back to action?

The possibility that the mutants may get their powers back redeems a lot of those criticisms, but I found Mystique and Magneto losing their powers a huge downer.

I also HATE it when actors get more attention than the characters. Cyclops is played by a relative nobody, so his character has been shat on in all three films (particularly the second two) and doesn’t even warrant a death scene. Yet Storm, who character wise is really no mare interesting, and IS less significant, is practically the center of the movie because she’s played by Halle Berry.

I was also disappointed with the lack of attention Rogue’s character got. I mean, the original movie practically focused entirely on her, yet this movie totally skips over her inner turmoil. Basically the movie hit us over the head with “Rogue is upset about not being able to touch her boyfriend” and then she doesn’t return until after she took the cure. Her turmoil is interesting, because you actually had a central hero character question her abilities and want to just be normal.

It almost seemed as if the writers weren’t prepared for the story they wanted to tell. Or, more accurately, they jumbled in so much story that they weren’t able to give certain aspects the proper attention. Case in point: Jean as Phoenix. Really, that should have been a movie in and of itself. If they really do plan on doing another movie, what they should have done is have Jean remain dead throughout this one. They could have Cyclops disappear out of depression (essentially writing him off without killing him off), and had the entire movie focus on the cure. Then have the film end with Cyclops at the lake, using his eye beam thingies, and having Jean resurrect. Have Cyclops say “Jean?” out of shock, have them kiss, and as they hug, show the fire in her eyes. Then have the next movie revolve around the Phoenix story arc.

So, with all those complaints, what did I like?

Well, I’ve always been a HUGE fan of the complex relationship between Xavier and Magneto, and I think this movie did a wonderful job of expressing that. Particularly Xavier’s death scene. Just the evolution of the scene was wonderful: First having the two approach Jean’s house (a great mirror to the movie’s opening) as adversaries. Then when Xavier’s life was in danger, Magneto tried to talk her out of it. When Pyro noted that he wished he could kill Xavier himself, I appreciated Magneto’s defense and recognition of what Xavier achieved.

Kelsey Grammer’s performance as Beast was spot-on, from his costume to his behavior to his abilities. Just an absolutely fantastic performance.

Hugh Jackman continues to do a magnificent job as Wolverine as well. His character is also pretty well developed. They show that he’s NOT like Xavier or Storm, but at the same time he does care about the people he works with and when push comes to shove, he will do what’s right. They do make him a bit too soft sometimes, though. If they do a Wolverine movie, I will definitely be seeing that.

Wow, that ended up being a lot more critical than I had anticipated, so let me re-iterate that I did enjoy it, and it is worth seeing if you’re a fan of the franchise.

THE 4400:

So, did the show manage to maintain the momentum of their absolutely phenomenal season finale? It’s tough to say, actually. There were some small details that irked me a bit, but overall I think they did a fantastic job of raising some important issues, as well as continuing the ones that were presented in the finale.

I was a little disappointed with how the Kyle/Tom stuff was handled. In the finale, the two of them had seemed closer than ever, with both of them respecting the position of the other one, even though they didn’t necessarily agree with it. In fact, I thought it was a really touching moment when Tom walked up the stairs of the police station with his arm over Kyle’s shoulder. Tom knew that Kyle wasn’t REALLY responsible for his actions, yet he seemed so proud of the fact that he’s still willing to take responsibility for it. To me, it was a really sweet moment.

This season, suddenly, Kyle seemingly wants nothing to do with Tom. He almost seemed bitter towards him. That just doesn’t seem to ring true to where they were at by the time the finale hit.

I was also disappointed with the acting abilities of the young lady who portrays Isabelle. I normally don’t comment on acting abilities, unless it’s particularly good, but her lack of emotion and charisma REALLY took me out of the show. To paraphrase Peter Griffin, I was really aware that I was watching a TV show. COnsidering the importance of her character, not to mention the complexity, it was really disappointing that she did such a poor job.

Of course, that all may change with time. A lot of people criticized Erica Durance’s performance as Lois Lane in Smallville, and I thought she ended up doing a fantastic job. Just, this past week, I found her abilities rather poor.

Another answer that was left unanswered, which bothered me a bit: Isabelle went to Shawn after she turned into an adult, evidently knowing him. Yet she had no memory of who Matthew was, when she pretty much had the same exposure to him as a child. And Isabelle had no knowledge of why she was suddenly a young women, so it’s not as if somebody filled her in.

The stuff with Lily was very interesting, and not really expected, to be honest. At first I was convinced that the serum that Matthew gave Isabelle was a trick (like, her taking the serum would actually kill Lily, or have some catastrophic result), so I was surprised that she ended up pouring it out.

Speaking of Matthew, and speaking of interesting, the stuff with Matthew was interesting. I noted in the finale recap that I liked how his character seemed to have a noble, loyal side. Well, it appears he’s back to his darker ways, because he obviously knows SOMETHING about what’s supposed to happen in the future. He expected Collier to come back, he knows what Isabelle is destined to do, and he had a serum to (evidently) kill her. Who is he? What does he know? Why does he want to prevent Jordan from getting to Isabelle? Or, perhaps most significantly, who was he talking to on the phone?

The story arc with Nova certainly seems intriguing, and I especially liked the references to past characters and episodes. I was initially disappointed that Shawn would have anything to do with them, and was really pleased when he informed NTAC. That said, I also think it’s important that they keep reminding us viewers that, when it comes right down to it, Shawn IS a young kid, and he will make mistakes in judgment. I am DEFINITELY looking very forward to his reunion with Jordan.

I liked the stuff with Gary. Actually, I thought it was spectacularly done. Throughout the entire episode, I just kept thinking to myself that he’s acting so much darker than he used to. And just when I was convinced that he was something sinister, he offers that genuinely kind advice to Diane about Maia.

Perhaps the most entertaining thing about the premiere was the question of whether the government was, in theory, doing the right thing regarding the inhibitor. Maia spiraled into a practical depression when she was no longer able to control her powers. Numerous 4400 have used their abilities as weapons, or threats. The question has certainly been raised: If not for our own good, was the inhibitor also for THEIR own good?

Just as a side note, I found Shawn’s comment of “some people would consider that a big betrayal” regarding him sleeping with his brother’s girlfriend pretty humorous. Um, yeah, I’d say so!

Overall a very good premiere, and I’m definitely looking forward to this upcoming season, especially the implications of Jordan’s return.

That’s it for this week. Until next week, Case Closed!