Movie Guy Gets Serious
Posted on: September 20, 2011 by gregoryeverett.
Alright, this week I’m abandoning all pretense and advancing the pro-Canadian agenda we’ve been developing all this time. First of all, a look at some amazing next-gen advertising from Warner Bros. for their film Contagion, in theatres now; what’s so Canadian about that? I anticipated your skepticism, ugly, and I say this: they did it in Toronto:
Mainly, though, I want to talk about what may be the heaviest title in the Canadian cinematic canon: Goin’ Down the Road. I am privileged to be enrolled in a seminar on Eastern Canadian Film and as such, had the opportunity to learn a bit about the production and the history of the film, as well as to examine the film itself in detail. I’m going to take a sentence now to give credit to Dr. Tony Tremblay of St. Thomas University in his lecture on Goin’ Down the Road. I’m bringing this to the table because one of the most persistent questions of my viewing life has finally been answered: why does Canadian cinema and television always look so low budget?
The most obvious answer is that, in comparison to the American industry, Canadian productions are low budget; the reasons, however, are multifold. In the case of Canadian cinema, one strong factor is trade politics: theatres in Canada are obliged to devote an overwhelming majority of their screen-time to American films as a result of a history of tariffs, NAFTA bargaining, and a bullying defense of Hollywood by former-actor Ronald Reagan. But I’m getting myself riled up when what I really wanted to talk about was the National Film Board and the history of Canadian documentary filmmaking.
Both of you still reading after that last sentence ought to be interested to know that Canada’s cinematic tradition began with propaganda from the Canadian Pacific Railroad, produced in order to influence immigration. The films were so successful that the CPR created a film production division called Bioscope. Bioscope’s productions, having birthed from the obviously rose-tinted CPR movies, were far from realistic, but they fascinated the public, including a man named John Greerson; Greerson went on to become the first head of the National Film Board, and in the spirit of Bioscope, but without the fibbing, sought to “interpret Canada to Canadians and the world.” Thus, the NFB began a strong focus on documentary filmmaking that pervaded the entire Canadian film industry.
Having left all readership behind by this point I’m sure, I continue for my own sake to explain that the NFB’s devotion to documentary technique spilled over into the whole cinematic landscape. And here’s where I come back to Goin’ Down the Road: while it was a feature fiction produced by the first non-NFB production company since the Film Board’s creation, its cinematographer and its director, Richard Leiterman and Don Shebib, were both NFB, and thusly, documentary, trained. That meant a devotion to realism which included the use of hand-held cameras, double lenses, and a grainy look; a grainy look that, through Goin’ Down the Road’s immense influence on subsequent Canadian film, came to be the trademark of all Canadian cinema, documentary and fiction alike!
Maybe that isn’t as much of a bombshell for you, oh imaginary, politely-dedicated reader, as it is for me; my use of italics, while excessive, still cannot convey how excited I was to learn about these things. Canadian films look like shit because they’re supposed to look like shit, not because they actually are shit; and they’re not shown in theatres because of politics, not because of their shittiness. I can stop feeling so ashamed of my national film industry and channel that energy into fighting the culture war. Canadians, unite under my slogan: CANADA: NOT SO SHITTY AS WE’VE ALL BEEN LEAD TO BELIEVE! That said, let’s take some time and look at the actual film. How is Goin’ Down the Road, really?
Admittedly, it’s a bit shitty. The words ‘significant’ and ‘influential’ definitely do not entail the words ‘enthralling’ or ‘spectacular.’ There’s the grainy look, but, as I stated triumphantly, that’s a trademark, not a mark-against. There’s a vague, almost omnipresent sense of cliché, but this is one of the rare cases that can claim to have originated most clichés with which it is associated, so again, it’s hard to criticize; in fact, there is one moment in the film that builds up to what seems a really obvious result and then completely surprised most of us in the class, which is more than can be said for anything made nowadays (he said curmudgeonly). The shittiness is in the dialogue, a lot of which is either contrived or unnecessary and drags on at times. The acting also leaves much to be desired, but I am forgiving on the basis that this was a ground-breaking film in an ultra-realistic style, and it’s much more difficult to act realistically than cinematically. Objectively, anything undesirable about the aesthetic, the script, or anything else is far outweighed by the factors of interest and significance that are brought to bear in Goin’ Down the Road.
As a Maritimer, however, it’s a little difficult to swallow the vision of Don Shebib. The film follows Pete and Joey, two men in their twenties who leave Cape Breton for the good life in Toronto. They comfort each other with dreamy talk of how grand life will be when they’ve made it as they work dead-end, menial labour jobs in order to fund their pursuit of women and alcoholism. Joey quickly loses all will to work, gets his girlfriend pregnant, and the couple relies on Pete to support them with whatever jobs he can find. Eventually the two seriously injure a man during a shoplifting-gone-wrong and are forced to flee Toronto for Vancouver, abandoning Joey’s wife and child in the process of pursuing more Edenic visions of the West. Granted, there are a few more subtleties to the plot, but I haven’t exaggerated the anti-Atlantic agenda all that much. For starters, while the friends make reference to the adverse economic situation that drove them out away from home, they contradict themselves with mention of opportunities left behind or better paying jobs back East; the result is a very unclear impetus for leaving, and an overall impression of lust for the good life rather than fleeing abject poverty. In addition, as I mentioned, the Maritimers show very little actual work ethic and seem to resent having to earn their wealth. They spend almost their entire story arc on the skids, which are (surprise, surprise) populated solely by other Maritimers, drinking in dives (or the park) and singing songs about Nova Scotia. In comparison, Torontonians depicted in the film are of an entirely different class; they work in offices, they dress nicely, they have educations; the first two depicted in the film speak with posh accents, for Christ’s sake. What could possibly have influenced this portrayal? The writer and director, hell, almost everyone involved in the making of the film, were from Toronto.
I’ll end with this: it’s worth watching Goin’ Down the Road, or even reading more about it, because of its place in world cinematic history, it’s importance to Canadian film, yadda yadda yadda. But it’s also really interesting to look at the film as a work of ideology; in the way that the history of Bioscope and the NFB lead to the de facto mission statement of Canadian cinema becoming “the realistic interpretation of Canada,” and also in the way that a single film established much of the stereotypes of Canadian cinema AND Canadians, especially Atlantic Canadians, in one go. Again, I would like to thank Dr. Tony Tremblay for his contribution to my notes for this article, and add a disclaimer that he is in no way responsible for the angry way I approached the subject matter. Culture wars just fucking steam me up.
"I know better than they do": Movie Reviews, Week #5 - Jonah Hex
Posted on: June 10, 2011 by gregoryeverett.
As a voice in the wilderness, I take solace in the small ripple the following statement will make: despite any claims as to my expertise in film-watching, or any other sort of self-professedness, I don’t get out to the movies that often. As such, I haven’t seen Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures’ Jonah Hex (2010), because after hearing the terrible reaction of, well, everyone who saw it in theatres, nobody but a crazy man would watch it at home. Ponder that while I suck the squid-ink out of my lamp-wound. I eat snakes; three hundred, four hundred, a thousand a day. Sometimes in the cloakroom I paint my eyelids black and I can smell the colour twenty-five. In any case, this week I watched Jonah Hex, in my home; here’s the quick and dirty:
Director: Jimmy Hayward
Writers: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor, William Farmer, with ‘characters featured in DC comics’ credit to Tony DeZuniga and John Albano
Starring: Josh Brolin, John Malkovitch, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender, and Will Arnett
[caption id="attachment_1608" align="alignnone" width="222" caption="I'm honestly sad for Malkovitch."][/caption]
In all seriousness, I watched Jonah Hex because I prefer naysaying to fact-finding, and rather than going out to watch the new comic spawned movies that are being released, I wanted to remind all you fanboys of how they might end up. Our resident Comicbook Guy Josh Green reviewed Jonah Hex in print a while back and advised against judging the comic on the movie. I’m going to go ahead and endorse the opposite as well, not only as a defense of the quality of the comicbook, but in keeping with my personal dogma concerning transference from one medium to another. So, as a movie, just how IS Jonah Hex?
In a word: terrible. My notes on the film devolved into a list of criticisms. The ancillary details that can redeem a bad flick, like the cinematography, the set design, and the pacing, are almost not worth mentioning. Almost. The cinematography is simply utilitarian; there’s nothing remarkable about it at any point, they just needed to film the things that were happening and they filmed them. Same goes for the set, the costume, and all the props: there’s no character to any of it, nothing that really forms a connection, it’s only there to give the story a time and place to happen. The story itself is rushed at the beginning and the end and drawn out in the middle, as though they were in a hurry to get the movie started, but realized it was shitty once it hit full swing and wanted to finish it off as quickly as possible. I could end this review right now by saying “This movie is a waste of time, don’t watch it,” but I’ve got five or six hundred words left, so I’m going to go on about why you shouldn’t watch it.
[caption id="attachment_1609" align="alignnone" width="504" caption="Find me a town that looks more like it was built to be ridden into."][/caption]
I’d like to give you a little taste of my raw notes:
its embarrassing seeing john malkovitch say these lines
the movie looks really amateurish
beginning dialogue is terrible
"we need to let people know jonah wasn't supporting slavery; why doesn't he have a black friend, AND the black friend can say jonah wasn't supporting slavery?!"
seeing the fort called resurrection was like hearing 'unobtanium' in avatar
jesus christ, a superweapon designed by eli whitney?
Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly drawn into the movie. And to be honest, the movie never once encouraged me to take it seriously. The origin of Jonah Hex is rushed so that we can get to a scene where he mows down a settlement using gatling guns strapped to his horse. The train robbery is written and shot like a modern heist movie, totally unbecoming of the aesthetic the film (feebly) attempts, and is interspersed with a scene in the president’s office so that the plot behind the train robbery may be revealed. Inelegantly. Through dialogue that sounds like the original plot pitch. The progression of scenes feels like the cinematography; as if they needed things in the movie to make it a western, so they put them in, simple as that. The scene where the hero is portrayed as heartless; the scene where he confides in a whore and shows he has a heart; the scene highlighting the bad guy’s ruthlessness; the sub-tier bad guy giving a speech on morality right before he’s killed; and so on and so forth.
I should probably stop here, but I won’t. The flashbacks are unnecessary and repetitive; they’re still reminding us of Jonah’s motivation fifty-five minutes in. The dynamite guns are pure pornography. The only time I came close to liking or even identifying with Jonah was when he beat down the dog-abusers and befriended the German Shepherd. The confrontations between Jonah and his nemesis, as well as his sub-nemeses (such as the Irish guy, whose name I never cared to look up) come out of nowhere with no buildup whatsoever and are boring and anticlimactic. Malkovitch seems like he cares less about the dialogue than I do. The explanation of Jonah’s status as ‘half-dead’ and his ability to talk to corpses is half-assed. The rich Virginian and all of the scenes with him are completely unnecessary. The real final showdown spliced with the imaginary one detracts from both. The climax of the movie is weak and might as well not have happened. The parting speech with the president is stupid. The parting speech with Megan Fox (again, another character whose name I didn’t care to look up) is stupid. Jonah’s final lines in the movie are stupid. The ending voiceover is stupid.
At this point, it seems prudent to call it quits. I hated Jonah Hex, that much is obvious if you’ve read this far (thank you if you have). The inelegance of the movie has spilled over; my review, instead of being an artful, entertaining gem like the rest, has the same feeling as Jonah Hex overall. I knew I had to write a review, I knew what needed to go into a review, and I put it in there. So, like my review of the Simpsons, my article this week has a moral (or a warning, or what have you): anticipate all of the upcoming comicbook movies cynically as hell.
"I know better than they do": Movie Reviews, Week #4 - The Simpsons
Posted on: June 2, 2011 by gregoryeverett.
It’s probably not the best of policies to go into a review with a biased opinion. So far I’ve only re-watched one movie to review it (Batman Returns), but this week I’m looking at something I have seen many, many times before: The Simpsons Movie (2007). Why, you ask? What business is it of yours, I say, and then, in the interest of professionalism, apologize and tell you that a) I’ve been watching a lot of The Simpsons lately, and b) The Simpsons Movie is a textbook example of a common mistake made when transferring well-established, beloved characters from one medium to another. Think of this week’s article not so much as a review as a critique, and then think of this critique as a condescending lecture (impotent wailings) from a self-styled expert (slobby prick) because, when it comes to the creators and producers of a popular animated series that’s been running for twenty-two years, well, I know better than they do.
The quick and dirty is nothing you haven’t seen before; those who accuse The Simpsons Movie of divorcing itself from classic Simpsons writing obviously didn’t notice the names of James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Mike Scully, and John Swartzwelder attached to the screenplay, all long-time veterans of the T.V. series. The director, David Silverman, is another name easily recognizable to those of use lame enough to pay attention to Simpsons credits. And, of course, there’s the cast: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer, and Hank Azaria (it’s really sort of shocking to see pictures of the people behind the voices; compare Homer to Dan Castellaneta, for instance).
[caption id="attachment_1562" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Well, alright, here they look surprisingly similar"][/caption]
I’m not going to give you a summary this week, because the plot of the movie is what I’m centering this piece around. Instead, I’m going to take a systematic look at the movie, and walk you through it as best I can. Something to keep in mind is that The Simpsons Movie, or any movie based on a series, is drawing on a cast of characters and settings that the audience will be expecting to see; this can be done artfully, or it can feel strained. Beginning the film with Itchy and Scratchy was a solid move on the part of the writers; it gets them in there and saves space later, when it might be difficult to squeeze them into the action. Practicality aside, it’s also a good episode of Itchy and Scratchy; Scratchy screaming while the nukes fly into his open mouth is classic I&S. My quibble (and buckle down, because there are going to be a lot of them) is that in a movie which steps the series’ PG rating up to a PG-13, there’s no blood in the Itchy and Scratchy sequence.
The good old bird’s-flight-through-Springfield introduction is there, and it does a great job of giving us an extended look at Springfield without milking it (indeed, it milks it less than the intro to the second decade seasons do). Green Day doing the theme song, however, is arbitrary and simply try-hard, and gives us our first taste of this movie’s major failing: relying far too much on non-Springfieldian elements. As an immediate counter, however, we get the church scene, and a great look at almost all of the town’s residents as they admonish Homer’s brashness. From here, and for the next half-hour, everything plays like a regular episode of The Simpsons, and hey, that’s exactly what we want. We have a great scene with Homer and Bart working around the house, culminating in Homer trying to ‘earthquake’ his son off of the T.V. antenna and ‘aftershock’ him while he’s clinging to the rain gutter. That is good Simpsons. We also have the sequence with Bart skateboarding naked, which I will say is unequivocally one of the finest examples of directing I have ever seen. There’s Spider Pig too, and you know what? That’s not as funny as everybody thinks it is. But it’s fitting for Homer, and I can begrudgingly accept that.
[caption id="attachment_1563" align="alignnone" width="538" caption="You will never write anything this funny."][/caption]
But what’s this appearing a half an hour in? Russ Cargill, President Schwarzenegger, and the EPA? Granted, Russ Cargill is voiced by A. Brooks, who you might recognize as motivational speaker Brad Goodman, would-be adulterer Jacques the bowler, and, my favourite, Hank Scorpio. Granted, President Schwarzenegger is just Rainier Wolfcastle. But here we see characters from outside the Springfield Universe, not contributing to or accompanying the story, but creating the conflict that drives the plot. In the next ten minutes, the EPA has put a dome over Springfield, and the townspeople have driven the Simpsons out. Homer’s managed to necessitate fleeing Springfield many times with no outside help, why couldn’t he do it this time? I’m not saying this isn’t funny. Well, okay, yes I am. What I’m not saying is that there aren’t good jokes in here, and ultimately, if you can feed me enough good gags I’ll stick with any Simpsons plot. Even Russ Cargill manages to make me laugh with his ’10,000 tough guys, and 10,000 soft guys to make the tough guys look tougher, here’s how I want them arranged” speech. But look around: they’re on the outskirts of Springfield, and it doesn’t look like Springfield. Even the colour palate is all wrong. And now they’re going to Alaska?!
[caption id="attachment_1564" align="alignnone" width="538" caption="Lisa has obviously realized she's having an out-of-Springfield experience"][/caption]
Again, I can’t claim that the trip to Alaska is all pshaw and no guffaw. The Simpsons family unit is intact for a while, and the dynamic is faithful to our expectations. There are Simpsons staples, funny signs like the Red Rash Inn, and the classic gag where Bart scribbles on the wanted poster and a family matching the scribble gets arrested. But there’s no Springfield, there’s no Moe and Apu and Gill and everyone else. On that note, a lot of characters are non-entities when we are in Springfield, let alone on the way to Alaska. To make matters worse, Marge packs up and leaves Homer, as the writers seem hell-bound to pare down the Simpsons cast to a skeleton crew. Homer then goes on an odyssey to regain the family, which he’s done before, even a spiritual journey, which he’s done before. Then, in the final small part of the movie, the Simpsons family is reunited, they return to reclaim Springfield, and the movie is marginally enjoyable again.
[caption id="attachment_1565" align="alignnone" width="538" caption="Now THIS looks like The Simpsons"][/caption]
My point is, as much as the makers of the Simpsons might resent it, what we wanted from The Simpsons Movie was just an extended episode of the show. I was excited to see it when it came out because I wanted to see what sort of hilarity could be cooked up with an ensemble cast and an hour and a half to play with. Instead, what I got was a half hour episode of the Simpsons, and an hour long movie about the environment and Alaska that could have starred anyone. So let that be a lesson to you, filmmakers, in this climate of re-hashes and comic-craze: you’ve got a cast of characters, with a world of their own, that over the years has become stronger than anything you can create in the run-up to your summer release. Use them.
“I know better than they do”: Movie Reviews, Week #3 - The Warriors Director's Cut
Posted on: May 27, 2011 by gregoryeverett.
The danger in basing a movie on a novel is, invariably, comparison. The danger in reviewing a movie based on a novel is making that comparison the crux of your piece. In the case of Walter Hill’s The Warriors, we’re looking at a movie based on a novel based on an ancient Greek text, and so the danger grows exponentially. Now, I’m no armchair critic; I read up on this stuff (from my armchair) and I can tell you that the movie is based on Sol Yurick’s The Warriors (1965), which is in turn based on Xenophon’s Anabasis, an account of the journey back from Cyrus the Younger’s war against Persia. The first thing I noticed is that Yurick’s 181 page paperback of alternate reality street gangs differs quite substantially from Xenophon’s seven volume work on the Greek mercenary campaign of 401 B.C. (mostly through hairstyles). Laying Sol’s Warriors alongside Walter’s Warriors reveals inconsistencies as well, in characters and details and overall arc (and yes again through hairstyles). But why does this matter? Movies like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Harry Potter Just Please Fucking Stop are judged on their precise reproduction of as much textual detail as possible, and that’s why Harry Potter spans a decade. Now, I’m not equating these films any further than that they are all based on novels; all this preamble is bringing me around to a point: I don’t believe in the criterion of exactitude in judging a movie based on a book. In reviewing The Warriors, and in all my other reviews, I’ll be approaching the film in and of itself. Until I forget I said this. Bored of my dogmatic preaching? Let’s do the quick and dirty.
Director: Walter Hill
Writers: Sol Yurick (novel), Walter Hill and David Shaber (screenplay)
Starring: Michael Beck, James Remar, Brian Tyler, David Harris, Tom McKitterick, Marcelino Sanchez, Terry Michos, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, and Thomas G. Waites
The Warriors, of Coney Island, are summoned to a conclave by Cyrus, president of the largest gang in New York City. The conclave, Cyrus’s attempt at uniting the ‘tribes’, erupts in chaos when he is shot and killed, moments before the N.Y.P.D. descends on the meeting ground. The Warriors are blamed for the murder, and their leader Cleon dies helping his soldiers escape. Swan (Beck) is left in charge of the squad, with Ajax (Remar) challenging his authority as they make their way to Union Square and from there, home. Mercy (Valkenburgh) joins them as they cross rival territory; Fox (Waites) is lost along the way; Cochise (Harris), Vermin (Michos), and Rembrandt (Sanchez) catch a train the others miss; Swan, Ajax, Snow (Tyler) and Cowboy (McKitterick) have to fight for themselves. Even when The Warriors reunite and reach Coney Island, they face the final confrontation with the gangs that blame them for Cyrus’s death.
[caption id="attachment_1520" align="alignnone" width="300" caption=""That's sixty thousand soldiers. Now there ain't but twenty thousand cops in the whole town. CAN YOU DIG IT?""][/caption]
Heartless and Batman Returns were easy to call; you hadn’t seen the former and you had to have seen the latter. The Warriors is a difficult guess; it’s a cult classic, and as such I didn’t expect much response when I mentioned it to my roommates, but their little faces lit right up. Here’s why: it’s a goddamn great movie, and if you’ve seen it, you know that. The lovable little luddites I live with aren’t concerned with the technical aspects of moviemaking, so I’m sure they weren’t thinking of the cinematography when they got all excited. However, let me tell you that every shot in this film is artfully executed. The subway scenes, especially the shots between trains during the title crawl, struck a chord for me; I have a great love of subways, and Hill treats them beautifully. I’ve got to hand it to him as a director: despite an ensemble cast that falls somewhat short of stellar, and a plot that could easily have devolved into an all-out fracas, Hill made a movie that is not only entertaining, but for the most part really tight, and aesthetically near-perfect.
So where does this movie fall short? And why did I go on for so long about movies based on novels? Well, The Warriors is weakest when it’s trying to incorporate elements of the novel that just don’t work for it. Exhibit a) the introduction, a narrated summary of the Battle of Cunaxa, which is a throwback to the novel’s roots in Anabasis, having only weak symbolic ties to the movie itself. Exhibit b) the comic-style framework that interrupts and segues between plot points, a reference to the character Junior in the novel who reads a comicbook detailing the ancient Greek campaign, but again has no real relevance to the movie. Granted, the intro and the comic-frames come close to being artistically pleasing, but I maintain that they, like the movie as a whole, could be stronger if they were developed in and of themselves rather than as manifestations of Yurick’s novel. I get the same feeling towards the end of the movie, when the relationship between Swan and Mercy expands; the momentum of the film is completely drained as the two try to voice something that may have been important in the book but really doesn’t matter to us, the audience.
[caption id="attachment_1521" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Large pic just to illustrate how much this is not doing it for me"][/caption]
Why don’t you stop right here and take four and half minutes to watch this video by the Stanton Warriors, made using footage from the film. It’s a great song, and it will make you excited to watch this movie. However, the music video isn’t being entirely honest. The Warriors is not about gang fights. There are really only two notable fights, against the Baseball Furies in the park (and if you ask me the stunt fighting is weak in this one; they seem to move very gingerly, even tenderly), and against the jockish lads in the mensroom (you think I’m joking but this is a kickass fight). The Warriors is about the tribulations that Swan and his men face as they journey home from Cyrus’s grand victory-that-never-was. They flee far more often than they fight, but each time they do, it’s beautifully captured. I’m vehemently against musical montages in most cases (they are what’s wrong with Futurama), but they are fantastic in this movie. The first one, set to “Nowhere to Run”, is a work of art. And so is this movie, for the most part. There are a couple of cracks in its kickass veneer, and it seems to lose focus about three quarters of the way through, but listen: Swan is ice cold, and not only does he toss a Molotov (which has honestly happened in each movie I’ve reviewed so far), beatdown a Fury and take his bat, and throw someone through a toilet stall, but in the end, he takes a knife to a gunfight. And wins.
The verdict? If you haven’t seen this movie, watch it. If you have seen it, watch it again. Rinse and repeat until the end of time.
Thoughts on the Human Torch's Death
Posted on: January 26, 2011 by admin.
Yesterday it was announced via EVERY major news network that Johnny Storm, better known as the Human Torch, had been killed in the latest issue of the Fantastic Four.
Am I sad about this? More like surprised. Surprised that something like this could make it into the papers, I mean death isn't exactly a huge problem in ANY comic universe. The funny thing is how news networks keep falling for this. Didn't Marvel just pulled a similar stunt two years ago with Captain America? He's awfully chipper these days for a deadman, eh? And it's not just recently that this has happened; I remember waaay back in '92 when DC announced that they were killing Superman off. Again, news at the time, but like two years later (or less?), Big Blue was back in his cape stomping on the bad guys.
My long-winded point to all this is that it's not news, it's a publicity stunt; don't be fooled for a second into thinking that the Torch won't be back in a few years (or maybe even months) time. He will. At least until that time I think we can look forward to some good stories coming out of FF as they try and deal with this...thankfully they're not as jaded about death as the X-men.