Thursday, June 12, 2014

X-Men DOFP - Found Footage

Bryan Singer proves me right once again.

Usually whenever I write something here, the first thing that happens is that I see something and I think to myself, "Hey that was pretty cool," or "Wow, that was pretty terrible." (Usually the latter.) After that, I start thinking about why I loved or most likely, why I hated something, and I might end up with a coherent thought. If it is less than 95% stupid, it passes the standards for me posting something on this site.

With DOFP, I saw it three times in the theater, which is the most times I've seen a move on the big screen since The Dark Knight, which I saw so many times I stopped counting. (Like 5, I think?) Because of this I had a better chance to think and then combine something that I read recently about film theory. The result was that I talked about the theory first, and now I'm going to talk about the found footage scene in DOFP that inspired the whole thing. (Which I unfortunately couldn't find a picture or video of. Sorry)

So, Raven gets knocked out a window and when she hits the ground outside, the film switches to a handheld camera perspective. (I just realized, I'm not sure if this was done with an effect done in post-production or an actual, factual 8mm camera. I'd be interested to find out.) At first, this scene struck me as jarring and hackneyed. Found footage movies have been coming out quite a bit in recent years, and it's getting old. I knew that this movie was originally planned as Matthew Vaughn's straight (non-future X-Men) sequel to First Class, and I know he had intended to tie-in a lot of incidents from history into his plotline, the Kennedy assassination being one of them. I wondered then, as I do now, if this found footage scene wasn't just "left over" from Vaughn's original idea.

As the scene continues, the jarring effect not only doesn't reside, but intensifies. Seeing the mutants on this found footage, looking like it came from an actual camera from an actual event that happened and not a summer blockbuster movie, really drove the point home about mutants being different. A neat result of all the analogies regarding the X-Men -- with racism, homophobia and so on -- is that instead of being inconsequential like those other, real-world things, mutants are actually a threat. One might be ok with treating people of a different race with reverence, but treating someone who can shoot lasers out of their eyes and through your face is an entirely different matter.

This scene, while being a technical aspect of the film, emphasized the mutant's differences with the rest of humanity while showing humanity's fear of this "other". All of this reminds the audience that we're dealing with people that are actually dangerous, but the final point of the movie is that even if they're dangerous, they're still people. Good stuff.

1) Well made? - Yes. Great acting, character-driven story
2) Contributed?  - If you're even a passing fan of the X-Men series, this movie is something of the glue that ties the universe together. If I understand correctly, the only movies from here on out that matter are going to be First Class and this one.
3) Good time? - This movie could have screwed itself badly with a convoluted time travel plot and/or too many characters, but it didn't. Whereas people watch Avengers and think that it works despite having a lot of characters, this movie has way more superheroes, but wisely focuses on only three. This keeps the movie tight and enjoyable all the way through.
4) Watch again? - Already saw it three times
5) Worth it?  - For sure. Again, if you've seen the other movies, this ties everything together nicely.
6) Who should watch this? - I think a general audience would enjoy this. I saw this movie with a few friends who had either never seen an X-Men movie, never remembered an X-Men or just didn't care, but not one of them didn't enjoy the film.

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