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Jun 3 11 2:00 PM
Jun 3 11 3:04 PM
Jun 3 11 3:51 PM
skull island escapee wrote:
I liked it the best out of the 3 [?] movies....I'm not an X-Men fan, [the expensive but ludicrous costumes/makeup of the mutants I find jarring and slightly laughable ] but I liked some of the historical motifs in the film: the opening shots set in a Nazi concentration camp were well-handled and grabbed my attention, as did the closing [extended] latter sequence set admidst the Cuban Missile Crisis of the very early 60s.A lot of good imagery, but I dunno how long the novelty factor will stand up if seen repeatedly: I will likely go back for a repeat viewing, though.It's had a critical slamming, apparantly, but I reckon it's worth a look at least.
Jun 3 11 4:21 PM
Jun 3 11 4:26 PM
Jun 3 11 5:17 PM
Jun 3 11 6:39 PM
Jun 3 11 6:49 PM
The series' spluttering 2009 foray into how-it-all-began territory with "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" may have tempered audience anticipation for "First Class," and Vaughn handily exceeds expectations with a picture that may rile Stan Lee purists but should prove entirely engaging for franchise newcomers as well as viewers familiar with the series' mythology. Both constituencies, however, may be surprised by the degree to which Vaughn manages to invest this unabashedly commercial product with a unique stylistic identity.
Providing a major assist in this regard is Bryan Singer, who hasn't been involved with the series since he so assuredly directed the first two installments, and who returns here as a producer and story writer (with Sheldon Turner). Singer's touch is apparent in the film's very first shot, which expands on the Auschwitz-set prologue of 2000's "X-Men," extending the fascination with Nazi iconography Singer evinced in "Valkyrie" and "Apt Pupil."
When he learns that young camp refugee Erik Lensherr (Bill Milner) has the power to bend metal with his mind, Mengele-like Dr. Schmidt (Kevin Bacon) attempts to harness the boy's abilities in horrifying fashion. The tragic outcome of this unpleasant, rather ill-advised episode instills in Erik a lifelong thirst for revenge and renders him incapable of summoning his gifts without channeling his rage.
In contrast to the bitter, brooding Erik (played as an adult by Michael Fassbender), dashing Oxford academic Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) envisions a utopian world order in which mutants are able to control their superhuman gifts and coexist with the rest of mankind. Possessing astonishing telepathic abilities and, for now, the full use of his legs, Charles is delightfully presented as a ladies man who turns scientific observations into pick-up lines, to the loving exasperation of his adoptive sister, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), a shape-shifter who struggles to keep her natural blue-skinned appearance under wraps.
Suspecting malevolent outside interference in the escalating U.S.-Soviet conflict, plucky, pretty CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) recruits Charles despite the agency's hostility toward these strange new beings called mutants. This uneasy alliance ushers in the story's most dramatic development, in an emotionally surging scene that brings the future Professor X and Magneto together for the first time. Though the ideological differences between Charles' optimistic empathy and Erik's cynical superiority couldn't be more pronounced, the men's mutual respect leads to friendship, and they band together to build a stronghold of young mutants.
At this point, "First Class" almost comes to resemble a 1960s heist picture by way of a James Bond caper as Charles and Erik assemble their motley crew, hitting up strip clubs, pubs, prisons and other unlikely joints in sequences that thrum with period atmosphere. In setting the classic "X-Men" parable of intolerance and suspicion within a context overshadowed by nuclear paranoia and the Cuban Missile Crisis (which undergoes a major historical rewrite), Vaughn takes full advantage of the milieu's expressive opportunities. Lenser John Mathieson reinforces the film's retro orientation with canted camera angles and tracking shots that show off the richness of Chris Seagers' production design, whether it's a louche Las Vegas nightclub or a submarine commandeered by Bacon's renascent villain, now calling himself Sebastian Shaw.
Having taken the superhero subgenre to smart-alecky extremes in "Kick-Ass," Vaughn shows how much more he's capable of when he plays this sort of material straight. Helmer tosses off the recruitment and training sequences with panache, especially an extended montage detailing the rearing of such future X-Men as the plasma-blasting Havok (Lucas Till); sonic screamer Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones); the endlessly adaptive Darwin (Edi Gathegi, too little seen); and bookish, big-footed Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult). It's a captivating sequence that honors one of the consistent thrills of the superhero origin story: the combination of ingenuity and instinct by which an individual unlocks his or her extraordinary potential.
The coming-out metaphor implicit in "X-Men's" mutants-among-us premise is made overt here, in dialogue that often hits its points too emphatically ("You didn't ask, so I didn't tell," Hank mumbles when queried about his background). The film's prosaic bluntness is matched by a sometimes forced quality to the characters' emotional and philosophical progressions; certain tough decisions facing Erik and Raven in particular feel more expedient than inevitable.
Still, it's remarkable how many things "First Class" gets right, whether it's the decision to have characters speak different languages as the film's frequent globe-trotting dictates, or the casting of Fassbender and McAvoy, who bear no resemblance to their respective older counterparts (Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart) but perfectly capture Charles and Erik's symbolic might-vs.-right dynamic.
While their brief physiological transformations limit their expressiveness, Hoult and Lawrence register poignantly as two young individuals trying to figure out their unique place in a hostile world, while "Mad Men's" January Jones makes her blank affect work to her advantage in the role of Shaw's cold-blooded deputy, Emma Frost. Two veteran "X-Men" thesps also make brief, amusing cameos.
Despite a somewhat hefty 130-minute running time, "First Class" feels swift, sleek and remarkably coherent; an even longer, more fully fleshed-out version would not have been unwelcome. Visual effects designed by John Dykstra are smoothly and imaginatively integrated, and Henry Jackman's score provides fantastic forward momentum.
Jun 3 11 7:01 PM
The spectre of Bond actually hovers over this British-flavored production in a number of ways, all of them beneficial: The 1962 setting shot through with Cold War tensions conjures up the political moment at which 007 was born cinematically, the hardware and style harken back to an earlier high-tech era that looks quaintly beguiling today and Michael Fassbender as Erik, the future Magneto, cuts a dashingly ruthless figure that can only have been patterned on Sean Connery in the early Bonds. First Class is comprised of an enormous stew of elements and influences but head chef Matthew Vaughn has stirred things so as to make them not only digestible but quite tasty.
Departing from the backstory of the comics, the new yarn, devised by Sheldon Turner and original X-Men director Bryan Singer and written by Thor co-scenarists Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz along with Jane Goldman and Vaughn, pivots on an alluringly fanciful proposition, that the real events of the Cuban missile crisis had a shadow history involving manipulations by figures whose super powers put those of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. to shame; it's as if JFK, Khrushchev, Castro, the CIA and the combined armed forces of the East and West were mere puppets doing the bidding of unsuspected Olympian gods, the most spiteful of whom desire nothing less than human extermination.
Not inaptly, then, it all begins (as did Singer's original 2000 X-Men) at Auschwitz, where young Erik, challenged to display his “magnetic” powers, sees his mother gunned down by the heinous camp doctor (Kevin Bacon), an event that dictates all his actions from then on. In the more benign setting of Westchester, New York, two kids, Charles and Raven, exhibit odd characteristics of their own that, nearly two decades later, will put them in the forefront of the mutant movement.
Like the most peripatetic of 1960s globe-hopping thrillers, the early stretch of First Class hardly stays put for more than a moment, jumping all over the world—Geneva, Oxford, Las Vegas, Argentina, Miami, Washington, D.C.--in the service of introducing an enormous number of characters and delineating their unique powers. Under the circumstances, director Vaughn impressively maintains a strong focus dedicated to clarity and dramatic power; while Erik scours the world for stray Nazis (his confrontation with two of them in a tavern on the pampas is an early highlight), Charles (James McAvoy) achieves academic prominence and, with Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), is recruited by the CIA with the eventual aim of assembling a “Division of Mutant Powers.”
Even though a lot of the early material is set-up, it nevertheless develops surprising momentum and tension. The malevolent doctor Erik remembers from the concentration camp now resurfaces as Sebastian Shaw, who has developed an extraordinary capacity to absorb, harness and deploy energy, while his fabulously sexy partner in crime, Emma Frost (January Jones), not only has extreme telepathic ability but possesses an optional indestructible diamond veneer. When Erik tracks them down on board their yacht and seems on the verge of fulfilling his vengeful 18-year quest, his quarry escape in a manner befitting the best of the Bonds. Once the loner Erik decides to join forces with Charles under the auspices of an offbeat CIA honcho (Oliver Platt) and an adventurous agent (Rose Byrne), the film takes on more the air of a standard-issue Marvel effort as mutant youngsters are trained in hiding to master their unusual powers; they are Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Alex/Havoc (Lucas Till), Sean/Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Armondo/Darwin (Edi Gathegi) and, for a while, Angel (Zoe Kravitz). The problem here is not only familiarity but that, unlike the other characters, these kids seem resolutely 21st century, not early 1960s; one of them even says “whatever.” Another drawback, a likely victim of an overcrowded roster of characters, is that two swarthy henchmen of Shaw's are not even given the benefit of an introduction, much less anything to play. Still, once Emma Frost penetrates the inner sanctum of the Soviet military and the enormity of Shaw's scheme becomes clear, the film takes off again with a fantastical rendition of an American/Soviet naval confrontation off Cuba trumped by the manipulative antics of battling telepathic mutants on board an ultra-futuristic plane and a stealth submarine. Vaughn orchestrates the mayhem with a laudable coherence, a task made easier by a charging, churning score by Henry Jackman that, much as that of his mentor Hans Zimmer did in Inception, helps smooth the connections among rapidly changing locations and events. A few of the effects in the climactic section don't quite measure up, but the visual effects by veteran wizard John Dykstra are mostly terrific. Top-drawer contributions are also delivered by production designer Chris Seagers, costume designer Sammy Sheldon and cinematographer John Mathieson. The cast is almost absurdly easy on the eyes and is most powerful at the top, thanks to the intense Fassbender, who will now need no audition if Daniel Craig decides to give up Bond after another picture or two. McAvoy is forced to spend a bit too much time with his hand to head summoning telepathic signals but nonetheless conveys the intelligence and sobriety required for the future Professor X. Bacon is formidable as the former Nazi who aspires to far greater power than Hitler could ever dream of, while Jones dazzlingly projects the arrogance of maximum beauty and invulnerability. As the naturally blue-skinned, red-haired and yellow-eyed Raven/Mystique, Lawrence is at her most appealing when conveying an ashamed insecurity about her natural looks, which she can conceal with a human facade. A vulgar cameo by a certain hirsute character provides a hearty laugh.(c) 2011 Hollywood Reporter
Jun 4 11 11:07 AM
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Jun 6 11 11:18 AM
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Jun 6 11 2:05 PM
I liked it a lot, though not as much as THOR. The theatre was almost sold out on a Sunday night.
I agree it had a James Bond feel, and like IRON MAN showed again that mixing super heroes with real life situations (Afghanistan and now Cuba), is a key to spandex success.
A question: Exceot for Stan Lee's executive producer credit, did anyone see Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum or John Byrne mentioned? I didn't.
Jun 6 11 6:06 PM
Jun 7 11 1:01 PM
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