I mean, whatever with the “X-Men” movies. It’s hard to even rent an opinion on the discrete strengths and weaknesses of a franchise that has devolved to the point of Dark Phoenix, a lavishly brutal chore nearly as violent as the Wolverine movie “Logan,” and a movie featuring more death by impalement and whirling metal than all the “Saw” movies put together.
The script’s quippy streak could’ve used better jokes. But this is one franchise that doesn’t feel fished out or exhausted or exhausting.The monsters, Toho studio classics redesigned but faithfully so, are pretty swell and monumentally destructive.
As stand-alones, some of these work better than others. Director Jon Favreau’s “The Jungle Book” came off as a real movie unto itself, as did Kenneth Branagh’s sincere, well-acted “Cinderella” (I was in the minority on that one). Aladdin, though, feels pointless. It’s cinematic karaoke. It’s an ice show without the ice.
Too often Tolkien lumbers up to its big moments, such as the preposterous climax involving the title character scrambling around the western front, calling out his schoolmate’s name. Fact or fiction isn’t the issue. Either way it plays like hokum.
In the spirit of previous Disneynature film voiceover artists John C. Reilly and Tina Fey, Helms contributes a winning inner-monologue voice for Steve, while also delivering the alternately threatening and comforting narration.
It’s a surprise and a small wonder, then, when The Best of Enemies starts getting good and pretty much stays that way to the end. This may be an apples/oranges comparison, but: For a true-ish story of racial animus, bone-deep prejudice and the American South in the civil rights era, it’s a better, more nuanced and more interesting feel-good movie than a certain, recent, less interesting Best Picture Academy Award winner we could mention.
The best of the movie lies in its hangout factor, when Levi and Grazer are discovering what Billy can do with electricity, or when the young actors playing Billy’s step-siblings — Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand and Faithe Herman —get a chance to establish a rapport.