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X-Men reviews and spoilers

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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:27 am

http://www.reelmovienews.com/2011/06/x-men-first-class-see-where-it-all-began/

X-Men: First Class Movie Review: See Where it All Began
June 4th, 2011 2:18 PM by Alyssa Caverley

As a fan of the X-Men films, but not a reader of the comic books, I don't have much to say in comparing how faithful it was to the comics, or which character was or wasn't included that should have been, but I do know that X-Men: First Class fit right in with the other previously released films in the series.

This prequel looks at the X-Men before they were rivals -- when they are just finding out there are others in the world like them. Set in the Kennedy era 1960's at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, the film centers on two very powerful mutants - Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), a smart telepath who just earned his PhD and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), a holocaust victim who can move metal with his mind.

Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters

The two meets while trying to stop Shaw (Kevin Bacon) from plotting a nuclear war with Russia. They are friends in this prequel, which is a strange turn of events considering movie fans only know them as enemies. This obviously wasn't always the case as they work together to try and stop Shaw and his mutant followers, including the stunning January Jones as Emma Frost.

Things start to change when Charles and Erik begin to feel very differently about how mutants should relate to humans. There is a line in the film that sums up their opposing beliefs perfectly. Charles accuses Erik of believing all humans are like Shaw (even though Shaw isn't human) and Erik accuses Charles of thinking all humans are like CIA agent MacTaggert (Rose Byrne). These two opposing views are the basis for the neverending rivalry between the former friends and the film illustrates the opposing viewpoints splendidly.

'60s Setting in X-Men: First Class

The chemistry between McAvoy and Fassbender is evident from the start and they are an amazingly equal match for each other, both in looks and power. It is awesome to see these two handsome young men getting along on screen, while knowing they are going to become Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan).

First Class fills in many of the missing pieces from the other flms in the series. We really have no idea how Professor X and Magneto become enemies. There are many comment in the first X-Men that give us some indication the two of them were allies and friends at some point, but now we know the real story behind the tumultuous relationship. We also find out why Professor X is in a wheelchair, how Magneto got that silly looking helmet, and why Mystique (one of Charles' best friends) becomes a Magneto ally.

The X-Men Heroes

The entire film has a fresh feel with the young mutants finding their footing in the real world. The young cast provides a great energy that wasn't there in the other films. They are eager to learn, but still youthful at the same time. There is a great scene when they are all having fun showing off their powers and it goes a little too far -- they end up destroying the CIA grounds, much to the chagrin of Erik and Charles.

Director Matthew Vaughn integrates real-life historical events into the film. We learn that mutants were involved in the Cuban missile crisis and it was really a government cover-up that lead to what we believe today. It all makes perfect sense now!

The film is also full of little tidbits and comments alluding to what is to come -- at one point Charles makes a comment about losing all his hair! Those moments in the film keep it going and provide lasting energy from start to finish.
X-Men: First Class
Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:31 am

http://www.theyorker.co.uk/news/film/7225

X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class
Saturday, 4th June 2011
James Absolon

After the enormous success of Kick-Ass last year and having almost directed X-Men: The Last Stand (before Brett Ratner took over), Matthew Vaughn is clearly no stranger to the world of comic book theatrics and, based on his last project, making films that are quite simply a lot of fun. Which is very true here as First Class feels to a large extent like a cross between a superhero flick and a James Bond movie, complete with super villains intent on taking over the world by starting World War Three from their very own nuclear submarine of doom.

From the start onwards this film sets itself up as being very different to its predecessors, with its main protagonists Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) being decidedly different from their previous onscreen incarnations, back when they were simply twenty-somethings whose vast differences in ideology will come later. Instead, Charles Xavier is more interested in picking women and Erik in killing Nazis, and thus the film moves neatly into new territory. This is established pretty convincingly, with the introduction of a large array of new characters who work surprisingly well as an ensemble, with none of them letting the side down, though unfortunately none of them are particularly memorable.

As for the more established central characters, there’s a clear distinction between James McAvoy’s portrayal that, although perfectly watchable, fails to convince as a man who will become Patrick Stewart’s character in the previous films. Alongside him, Michael Fassbender really succeeds with this as his character could quite conceivably become Ian McKellen’s excellent portrayal in the future, whilst establishing his own spin on him at the same time. He steals the film’s most memorable scenes, with a particular high point involving him, Kevin Bacon (Sebastian Shaw) and a small coin.

Of course, what also matters in a film like this is the action, which flows very smoothly, managing to keep a good pace without feeling the necessity to shake the camera up and down every few seconds. The effects team have worked rather well for the most part, the diamond form of Emma Frost (January Jones) proving the only exception. The makeup is also rather impressive, with Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and poor old Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) looking particularly good. All of which works very well, as the film importantly balances its inevitably ridiculous nature with the drama of the story.

At the end of the day, something the film does lead to, like almost every other superhero film (unless Christopher Nolan directs it), is a slight camp, silly feel, and for the most part this is not a bad thing. The movie never loses its sense of fun from start to finish, making for a rather enjoyable piece of work. Although flawed at times, this is a return to the franchise at its best.

See X-Men: First Class at City Screen, York. Check out the cinema's website for times and further details
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:31 am

http://thecelebritycafe.com/reviews/x-men-first-class-06-03-2011

X-Men: First Class
6/4/2011
Jay Brissenden

Groovy. That’s the word a young Charles Xavier uses to describe the striking auburn hair-color mutation of the girl he’s trying to hook-up with.

It also works well in describing director Mathew Vaughn’s prequel/reboot of the X-Men franchise. Utilizing a strong backstory set in the oh-so-groovy ‘60s, X-Men: First Class is an intelligent blockbuster with heart, wit, and plenty of visually exciting mutant madness.

Opening in the mid 1940s, the film introduces us to a world in which mutants are just becoming prevalent. On one side of the world is Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), a young lad who uses his telepathy, mind-control and charm to earn his degree as a professor. One the other side is Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), a tortured soul who is forced to use his power to manipulate metals by the evil Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) – the man responsible for the death of Erik’s mother.

Jump forward 20 years and Erik is on the hunt to find and kill Shaw, while Charles has been recruited by the CIA to help track Shaw and his mutant entourage. During an intense yacht invasion, the two men meet and find a common bond in their position as societal outcasts. Once they learn of Shaw’s plan to force a war between the U.S. and Russia, the two unite and gather a team of other mutants to help stop what could ultimately become the Cuban Missile Crisis.

After the commonplace and underwhelming Thor, summer finds its first worthy superhero movie (the second out of four this summer) in First Class. With origin stories being thrown out left and right in Hollywood these days, it takes a unique approach to make one actually appealing. And although this film technically cheated in that audiences already knew a good amount of the story, the hiring of Vaughn (Kick-Ass) to fill in the missing pieces was all the uniqueness this series needed.

It’s not a reach to say that Kick-Ass was the most disturbingly violent good time in theaters last year. But what really made the movie work was its believable blend of comic-book fiction with the often harsh reality of real-life. Using that same approach, Vaughn brings out all the ridiculousness that is the story and powers of these mutants, but fully realizes the drama of this diverse set of characters seeking their own place in society.

This is best seen in the development of one of comics most – dare I say it again – unique and endearing relationships: Erik and Charles. Each with different viewpoints on how society will accept the mutant race, but each respectful of one another's viewpoints, the enigma that is their friendship is fascinating to watch evolve.

McAvoy brings a bit of spunk to the at-the-time non-handicapped Charles, but also the calm and cool demeanor that made Patrick Stewart’s characterization such a respectable authoritative figure. Then there’s Erik, whose motives are driven by revenge and acceptance. His idea that there can be no peace and mutants will soon be the dominant species is adapted from Shaw, the man he is trying to kill. While Bacon’s Shaw comes off more as an arrogant, power-driven douche bag (hard not to be when you can harness the power of a nuclear bomb), Fassbender’s Erik approach to violence seems less controlled and more driven by the primal instinct to survive.

As compelling as the film is, what ultimately keeps it from achieving the levels of greatness found in Bryan Singer’s films (X-Men and X2: X-Men United) is its ambition. There are just too many mutants and too much story, even for the 2 hour 11 minute run-time.

Within the first half hour, the plot brings audiences to seemingly a dozen different locations. The next half hour introduces viewers to at least eight new mutants, which are never given enough time to develop into characters the audience can care for. But hey, when you got a girl with fairy wings who spits acid balls, a guy who can fly by screeching and another mutant who can fling laser hula-hoops from his torso, who needs character development?

Though not as independently stylish as Michael Gondry’s Green Hornet, but overflowing with substance compared to Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, X-Men: First Class is a hero movie that puts its $160 million budget to good use. Mixing fantasy with history and social rights with big explosions has rarely been this satisfying.

Grade: B+
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:32 am

http://www.rgj.com/article/J7/20110602/ENT01/106020316/-X-Men-everything-blockbuster-should-be?odyssey=nav|head

'X-Men' everything a blockbuster should be
9:00 PM, Jun. 1, 2011 |

FILM FACTS

Opens: Tonight
MPAA rating: PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality and violence.
Length: 132 minutes
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Critical rating: 4 stars out of 4

For my money, the first two entries in the "X-Men" series were the gold standard of comic book movies. The 2000 and 2002 films featured an intriguing premise, a stable of super heroes (and villains) with cool powers and an A-list cast of actors to bring everything to life.

Unfortunately, 2006's "X-Men: The Last Stand" and 2009's "Wolverine" were disappointments, settling for bloated action scenes over compelling stories.

I'm happy to report "X-Men: First Class" gets the franchise back on spectacular track. In a way, "Class" is reminiscent of J.J. Abrams' terrific "Star Trek" re-boot from 2009. The film resets the "X-Men" storyline by going back to the beginning of the franchise's central theme -- the relationship between Professor X and Magneto -- and introducing audiences to the world of the mutant super heroes and villains.

Like the first two films in the series, the new movie does a compelling job of exploring issues surrounding prejudice and "normal" society's fear of anything different or strange. It's a powerful message about tolerance that's never out of place.

"X-Men: First Class" is set in alternate 20th Century history. All the historical events we're familiar with -- World War II, The Holocaust and the presidency of John F. Kennedy -- happen, but mutants with super powers, some used for good, others bad, are players in the historical action.

"First Class" tells how the young Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) team up to battle an ex-Nazi, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon, who always excels at playing despicable creeps), with mutant powers. This happens as the Cuban Missile Crisis threatens to engulf the world in a nuclear apocalypse.

With the reluctant help of the CIA, Professor X recruits a collection of like-minded mutants with superpowers to defeat Shaw's nefarious plan. Magneto has other, more concrete motives: He lost his parents in the Holocaust and wants revenge against Shaw.

Director Matthew Vaughn, who also directed 2010's "Kick-Ass" and the nifty gangster thriller "Layer Cake," keeps the plot moving at a blistering pace and mounts several memorable action scenes. One of my favorites: Magneto encountering a group of neo-Nazis in a bar. Let's just say is doesn't go well for the master race.

Fassbender, who was so memorable as the dashing British spy in "Inglourious Basterds," is terrific as Magneto, played so memorably by Ian McKellen in the earlier films. He brings a fierce intelligence and a wicked sense of humor to the role. McAvoy, playing the Patrick Stewart role, is solid too. His young Professor X is more playful and dashing then the somber Stewart.

Among the supporting actors, the Oscar-nominated Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone") stands out as the shape-shifting Mystique, whose struggle to fit into society is made impossible because, well, she's blue and naked. Young British actor Nicholas Hoult also has a few nice moments as Beast, who was played by Kelsey Grammer in earlier incarnations.

So go see "X-Men: First Class." It's everything a summer blockbuster should be: Exciting, smart and entertaining.

-- James Ward is the entertainment and lifestyles editor at the Visalia (Calif.) Times-Delta and Tulare (Calif.) Advance-Register
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:33 am

http://www.flickdirect.com/movie-review/533/x-men-first-class/movie.ashx

X-Men: First Class Theatrical Review FlickDirect Staff Review

X-Men: First Class Theatrical Review
Chris Rebholz
6/4/2011 11:58 AM EST

The X-Men films were among the first of the comic book film adaptations that introduced the average person to the world of the comic book. The first, which was directed by Bran Singer, was a critical and box office success especially considering it was essentially one long introduction to the all of the main characters and events. Not long after the last move was released there was talk of what to do next with the characters, there was mention of spin-offs and such featuring some of the more notable characters. The character of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) did wind up getting his own film. The most recent addition to the X-men mythos is the new film X-men: First Class which takes us back to how all of these characters and events came together.

The film stars James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. The film opens with the scenes from the original X-men movie where we watch a young Erik being separated from his mother during WWII. This time though, we learn that almost ripping off the metal gates of a compound in front of government officials does not go unnoticed. It is in the following scene where we learn what happened to Erik during his youth. He was recruited by Nazi officials to make use of his abilities. At the same time young Charles is growing up in Westchester, NY. He is the first to encounter Raven Darkholme or Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) as we know her.

As the years pass Charles finds himself attending Oxford with Raven at his side, pretending to be his sister, while Erik on the other hand has made it his life's mission to find the man who recruited him, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and find revenge. Shaw is still alive and somehow still very youthful given that 20 years have gone by. Now in charge of a clandestine group calling themselves the Hellfire Club, they plan on starting a third World War in which the mutants come out as the sole survivors. Charles and Raven are recruited by the C.I.A. to help in locating the Hellfire Club and during an explosive first encounter with the two powers is where Erik and Charles first meet.

They quickly become friends, each finding a mutual respect for one another and their beliefs; Charles believing that peaceful co-existence is possible for mutants and humans, while Erik believes they are the new rulers of mankind. There are times where you can see each of the two men's points of view. A scene in which Charles tries to convince his friend that killing is not the way to find peace for yourself, it can only be found through forgiveness. Another scene that highlights Erik's point of view is when he convinces Mystique that hiding her true appearance is not any way to live, she should be proud of who she is.

With the final showdown between the newly formed X-men and the Hellfire Club approaching it is only a matter of time before the world is made aware of the existence of mutants and the real fight begins. There are some positive and negative things to say about this film. The good: obviously the special effects look fantastic, the characters are interesting, there is a fun cameo from a beloved character, and the way the film chose to establish the philosophy of both Charles and Erik. The trouble though is in the plot of the film itself, there are some holes, especially considering that there are three previous movies that have established certain lore surrounding these characters. To point out every little nuance would take too long but for any hard-nosed fan they are obvious. The pacing felt a bit sluggish as well, the film was essentially one long introduction quite like the original film, this time it introduced the back story instead of the characters.

It also seemed as though they rushed the final "falling out" between Charles and Erik, it would have been more interesting to see them be friends working together for a full trilogy only to finally become enemies in the end. But we can't have everything we want. For now X-men: First Class is a good offering of the history behind some of comics most famous heroes.

-- Chris Rebholz
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:34 am

http://www.examiner.com/movie-in-phoenix/movie-review-x-men-first-class-review

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class

June 3rd, 2011 5:17 pm MT

Joseph Airdo

Decidedly deeper than your run-of-the-mill summer blockbuster, “X-Men: First Class” sets the bar – and quite high, might I add – for the rest of this season's supposed cinematic spectacles.

"X-Men: First Class" takes us back in time to the 1960s, a decade during which escalating tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union threatened the entire planet with a potential nuclear Armageddon. It is also the decade during which the world discovered the existence of mutants.

James McAvoy plays Charles Xavier, a brilliant young man with telepathic powers and a desire to help those like himself blend into society. At his side is Raven Darkholme a.k.a. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), a young woman with the ability to shape-shift. However, Raven's natural appearance is blue skin and yellow eyes.

Meanwhile, Michael Fassbender plays Erik Lehnsherr, a young man with the power to manipulate metal and a thirst for vengeance against the man who killed his mother. That man is Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), who happens to be a mutant himself and is in league with others out to facilitate the Cold War.

When a government agent (Rose Byrne) enlists Charles's help to locate and stop Show and his band of bad guys, the man who will one day be known as Professor X crosses paths with the man who will one day be known as Magneto. However, before they become archenemies, they will work together as friends to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known.

Other mutants who make appearances in "X-Men: First Class" include Emma Frost a.k.a White Queen (January Jones), Hank McCoy a.k.a. Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Angel Salvadore (Zoe Kravitz), Sean Cassidy a.k.a. Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Alex Summers a.k.a. Havok (Lucas Till), Armando Munoz a.k.a. Darwin (Edi Gathegi), Azazel (Jason Flemyng) and Riptide (Alex Gonzales).
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“X-Men: First Class” continues the superhero franchise's tradition of giving moviegoers more bang for their buck. The flick boasts political postulation, emotional expanse and complex conversations about some surprisingly smart subjects, all without abandoning the intensity and excitement expected of a big-budget summer blockbuster.

Having said that, these are themes that have been explored in previous installments. And one cannot help but miss the likes of James Marsden's Cyclops, Halle Berry's Storm and Hugh Jackman's Wolverine. (Never fear, though, as there are a couple of cameos in “X-Men: First Class” that are sure to satisfy.)

However, seeing the moral dilemmas of mutants play out in a different decade and impact, albeit fictionally, one of history's most temperamental times is certainly cool. Moreover, it makes the movie feel strangely more significant than even the heaviest art-house dramas. You are bound to appreciate “X-Men: First Class” even if you do not usually like superhero movies.

And the film's fast-paced final 30 minutes will leave you gasping for air with some of the most energetic entertainment we will likely see on the big screen this summer. Needless to say, director Matthew Vaughn knows how to balance the best of both cinematic worlds.

“X-Men: First Class” (PG-13 – 132 minutes) is now playing at movie theaters throughout the Valley. Visit NCM.com for specific showtimes and locations.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:35 am

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/entertainment/insider/x-men-first-class-is-the-best-instalment-in-the-series-yet/story-fn8dg8gf-1226068560500

X-Men: First Class is the best instalment in the series yet

Nick Dent
From: The Sunday Telegraph
June 05, 2011 12:00AM

X-men: First Class starring with Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, James McKellen and Michael Fassbender. Source: Supplied

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS; 20th Century Fox; 132 minutes; (PG13); Verdict: Best X-Men adventure yet

X -Men: First Class mostly takes place in 1962, the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis and also the year that Sean Connery made his debut as James Bond in Dr No.

And it's the flavour of early 007 that gives this new instalment in the X-Men series most of its charm.

And it's the flavour of early 007 that gives this new instalment in the X-Men series most of its charm.There are cold war tensions, modernist sets and a Bond-style megalomaniacal villain, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon).

There are beautiful women who turn out to be CIA agents, like the one played by Rose Byrne.

And there's even a James Bond. Michael Fassbender, the Irish actor who played a hunger striker in Hunger and a British officer in Inglourious Basterds, here displays some of the charm and physicality of Connery himself.

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X Men First Class

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In every sense, Fassbender is magnetic to watch. He's the younger version of Erik Lehnsherr, played by Ian McKellen in the first three X-Men films, before he turned to evil and christened himself Magneto.

A holocaust survivor, Erik is using his mutant powers of attraction to hunt down former Nazis when he crosses paths with Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), who some time in the future will lose his hair and be played by Patrick Stewart.

The younger Charles is an Oxford graduate and an expert in genetic mutation who hides the fact he has extraordinary mutant powers.

He's employing his ability to mind-read - as any other young man would do - to impress women when the CIA comes knocking.

I'm not a huge fan of the fancy dress parties that are the X-Men series. They seem to me to be mostly about mutants fighting mutants, which is the same as robots fighting robots or Godzilla fighting Mothra.

But I didn't resent the time spent watching X-Men: First Class at all.

Matthew Vaughn's film is well paced and while most characters - apart from Charles and Erik - aren't very deeply drawn, what they can do and what they wear, is fun to behold.

January Jones, one of Shaw's henchwomen, could have wandered in from the set of Mad Men: she dresses like a young Betty Draper, except when she's in her true form as the Amazing Human Mirror Ball.

We also meet Mystique, the human chameleon (Jennifer Lawrence), before she turned to the dark side.

She has a weak subplot about being self-conscious about her blue skin, which doesn't make much sense when she has the power to change her appearance at will.

The X in X-Men stands for oppressed peoples everywhere: the Jew, the African American, the homosexual. (When a scientist played by Nicholas Hoult is outed as a mutant, he tells his shocked superior: "You didn't ask. I didn't tell.")

X-Men: First Class is about whether the victimised can change society from within or whether a revolution is needed.

It's the story of the 1960s, in fact, told through comic-book action.

Another oppressed minority is geeks, and for their benefit the film includes a couple of cameo appearances that are sure to raise a chuckle.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:37 am

http://www.moviehole.net/201141819-clints-plea-go-see-a-great-2d-movie-this-weekend-x-men-first-class

Clint’s plea : Go see a great 2D movie this weekend, X-Men : First Class!
3 30Email0
by "Caffeinated" Clint (Saturday, June 4th, 2011 at 10:55 am)

I’m just gonna be as blunt as a sideburned Logan here : “The Hangover 2″ is s$#!; go see see “X-Men : First Class” – it’s the only place you’ll get good value for money outside of a grimy, pants-off asian brothel. In all seriousness, it really is – in fact, Matthew Vaughn’s reboot of the superhero saga is, inked origins and type aside, one of this year’s best films (well, as of this moment, anyway). “The Hangover 2″? I’ve had more fun with the odds and ends I pick off the bottom of my sneakers at the end of a wet day.

I remember going to the media screening of “X-Men” in 2000. Jac (the publicist then and now) handed me the press notes, my friend and I sat down… prepared to watch well, ‘something called the X-Men that doesn’t even feature Brian Mannix’ (A joke only my fellow countrymen will appreciate). Two hours later I was smiling – I’d just watched one of the funnest, slickest and most engrossing superhero movies since, er, um, let me think, er, “Superman : The Movie”!? Yeah.. probably “Superman”; “X-Men” was that good – and mucho credito to Bryan Singer.

Here was a smart comic book movie that put performances and plot before anything else (the sequel would too; the second sequel – not directed by Singer but Brett Ratner – would forget the fundamental reason critics and audiences loved these films and take a Canon films approach to the material). And to this day, that original “X-Men” remains one of the best films of it’s type – well, not even it’s type, but of the action/adventure movie genre.

“X-Men : First Class”, which comes some 11 years after the release of that original movie (which introduced most of you to little-known Aussie Hugh Jackman who would become the film series’ break-out star), embodies everything Singer’s original did and more – it’s fun, action-packed, marvelously performed (If the Academy weren’t so frigid they’d definitely be looking in the direction of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy’s direction; both are wonderful here.. a great double-act to boot) and best of all, equipped with a strangely relatable real-world story that’ll have 12 year olds and 80 year olds glued to their seats.

So why aren’t you out seeing it?

That’s the question Fox is asking this weekend with “First Class” making a tad less than it’s projected $60 million dollar opening. The film, which is receiving rave reviews across the board, is doing quite well… but it’s not making the kind of money that would have Tom Rothman over there at the studio enthusiastic for a sequel… and that’s a pity, because “First Class” reignites the fire in a film series whose fire had seemingly been extinguished just two years ago and sets up many an opportunity for some great storytelling.

“X-Men : First Class” made $21 million on it’s opening day and looks set to take home about $50m – give or two a few yen – by the end of the weekend; that’s good stuff, but not as much as the piss poor “Wolverine”, a weary spin-off of the original film starring Hugh Jackman, made – from memory, about $85-90 million – when it theatres a year or so back.

Some say it’s Fox’s piss-poor marketing campaign (obviously I’m saying that, too – those teaser posters; the tardy trailer campaign; the postponement of an official website; the lack of online access to the movie), others say it was the ’60s setting (“Um, Mummy – what the heck was a Cuban Missile Crisis!?”), while a few people I’ve spoken to said they weren’t as interested because the film didn’t feature ‘the original cast’ – Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen and so on… (Believe me when I say, the band of actors that have been rounded up here are just as fine if not finer proxies than the cast of the original; you may even find yourself a fan of ‘Ren from Footloose’ again).

“First Class” is the lowest opening for a Marvel movie in… well, quite some time; it really does not need to be saddled with the studio’s other underperformers “Elektra” and “The Punisher” because, quite simply, they stunk, this rocks.

I’m hoping “First Class” has legs and as the good word spreads and as more and more reviewers take to the social networks, blogs or websites – as such is the case here – to sing the film’s praises, it picks up steam, momentum and a few more greenbacks.

Want to see a great 2D blockbuster? (Yes, no glasses! Win!) – Hello!

Want to see masterful performers like James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne and Jennifer Lawrence doing what they do best? – Hello!

Want to get wrapped up in a story that’s doused in emotion, incidents one can [almost] relate to, and people you can ‘feel’ for? – Hello!

Want to see January Jones in sexy lingerie!? – Hello!

Want to see less remakes, fewer 3D movies and keep some of today’s craftiest filmmakers in work? – Hello!

I plead you guys, go see “X-Men : First Class” it’s one of the finest and funnest of times you’ll have at the cinema – and I don’t believe I’ve said that since “Frog Dreaming” with Henry Thomas (or not). So, Big words.

A few weeks back I went to “Scream 4″, the third sequel to one of my favourite horror films of the ’90s, and didn’t much enjoy it. I put it down to the fact that I was simply older now and no longer the target audience for such a film. But you know what, having enjoyed “X-Men : First Class” as much as “X-Men” – despite eleven years having passed since the latter – if not more, I’m now convinced it’s not so much to do with age as it is content. “Scream 4″ just didn’t ‘bring it’ – not in the way these mutant sons of bitches do.

Let’s see “First Class” drink those ‘Hangover’ lads under the table next weekend, ay!?
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:40 am

http://www.3news.co.nz/X-Men-First-Class-review/tabid/418/articleID/213882/Default.aspx

X-Men: First Class review

Sat, 04 Jun 2011 6:00p.m.

By Kate Rodger

The mutants are back. X-Men: First Class makes sure of that.

Here we meet the younger versions of powerful mutants Professor X and Magneto. We watch them become friends and make new ones, against the backdrop of the 60's cold war.

Kick-ass director Matthew Vaughn takes the helm of this latest outing in the X-Men franchise after a less than impressive end to the trilogy, and he's the perfect choice.

Fellow brit James McAvoy assumes the role of the telepathic professor Charles Xavier, with Irishman Michael Fassbender as the more troubled and magnetic Erik, who will become Magneto.

Together, with some other up and coming mutants, they form a strong alliance on a mission to keep the world of humans safe from the bad guys, and safe from each other.

All good comic book movies must have at least a couple of those bad guys, and in this case Kevin Bacon steps up as war-mongering Sebastian Shaw, and he's a real treat.

Another new member of the X-Men family is Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique. She has a coolness factor wrapped up in real talent, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with the upcoming Hunger Games.

Watch out for a few choice cameos too which some fans will expect, but in a way they might not expect them.

Prequels can be a dangerous game to play, just ask George Lucas. But director Matthew Vaughn has delivered a classy, well cast, well-crafted and welcome addition to the X-Men franchise. A few minutes shaved off would have been good, but this X-Men flick is otherwise a first class watch.

Four stars.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:42 am

http://filmonic.com/review-x-men-first-class

Review: X-Men: First Class

by Ben on June 4, 2011 · 10 comments

james mcavoy michael fassbender x men first class

X-Men: First Class is the superhero movie I didn’t even know I’d been waiting for. A hybrid of prequel and reboot, it’s most successful in borrowing the elements that worked best from each of the previous X-Men films and consolidating them into one fluid story. Inspired casting, solid acting, a terrific script, impressive effects, and really great action: what more could you want in a superhero film?

In the recent pantheon of superhero movies – since Bryan Singer’s X-Men hit theaters in 2000 – I’d place First Class under The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 2, Iron Man, and possibly X2: X-Men United. Considering there have been over 40 superhero movies released since 2000, the high placement of First Class should obviously be taken as a testament to its superior quality. Director Matthew Vaughn not only infuses the film with an inspiring style desperately lacking since Singer turned the director’s chair over to Brett Ratner in 2006, but Vaughn also contributed to the script with his Kick-Ass co-writer Jane Goldman. (Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz, the duo behind Marvel’s most recent effort, Thor, co-wrote First Class as well.) Also impressive is Vaughn’s ability to jump from deconstructing superhero tropes in Kick-Ass to effectively utilizing them here in First Class; more importantly, he handles both approaches with equal amounts of skill, able to slide around within the same genre from parody to a more traditional (yet still outstanding) entry.

The casting in First Class is stellar from top to bottom. James McAvoy is the perfect young Charles Xavier. Strong-willed and powerful, he’s easily imaginable as one day growing into Patrick Stewart’s iconic representation of the character. Michael Fassbender continues his slow rise to member of the Hollywood elite as Erik “Magneto” Lensherr, imbuing the character with an intensity and smoldering rage coupled with a willingness to keep an open mind…until his inevitable shift. That’s what’s awesome about this movie: they didn’t stretch out the character development over three films (ahem, Star Wars prequels). By the end of this movie, I was rearing to go for a sequel right then and there, and that’s a rare feeling for me in a big budget blockbuster franchise movie these days. Jennifer Lawrence is splendid as Mystique, pulling a complete 180 from the dirty noirish heroine of Winter’s Bone to the beautiful shape-shifter we see here. Even Kevin Bacon (what’s he doing here?!) was fun to watch, playing it relatively straight – after his Nazi intro – as the villainous Sebastian Shaw, hellbent on nuclear war and complete with a harebrained scheme involving mutant domination of the fallout.

The secondary cast members were also impressive, led by the wonderful Rose Byrne as CIA agent Moira MacTaggert. She’s an actress who’s basically been the real life Hollywood equivalent of Mystique lately, disappearing into vastly different roles in Get Him to the Greek, Bridesmaids, and now this. January Jones was the only weak link, although her stiff and lifeless acting was perhaps more apt here since she’s playing ice queen Emma Frost than in other roles she’s inhabited in her career. Don’t get me wrong, she looked spectacular – she’s just a terrible actress. The rest of the young mutant cast was fine, but not worth mentioning (aside from the technical point that Scott Summers’ brother Alex – aka Havok – is involved in this movie even though this makes no sense in the overall series timeline). One of the largest successes of this film is that Vaughn and his crew were able to assemble the best cast of military character actors ever committed to film. All these guys are in the same movie: Glenn Morshower, James Remar, Matt Craven, Ray Wise, Michael Ironside, Olek Krupa, and Rade Serbedzija.

The main triumph of First Class is the way the writers were able to fit the best elements of each film into one cohesive story. There are the uncertainty issues of growing into one’s powers featured in the first movie, Magneto is essentially a stand-in for Wolverine from X2 (the loner badass of the group), and there is a “cure for bizarre outward appearance” subplot featured heavily in X3 that arises between the smitten Beast and Mystique this time around. The seamless integration of these elements makes me wish Vaughn would have written and directed X-Men 3, but he left the project before Ratner ultimately got his hands on it. Some may argue that this movie makes too many references to what will eventually come in the series (Charles and Erik play chess! Cerebro is built! The Blackbird appears! Charles is paralyzed! Magneto’s helmet! Two famous cameos!), but I didn’t find these as distracting as they easily could have been. I think that’s the clearest sign that this is a really solid script – there are so many winking moments to the fans, but none of them get in the way of the film’s legitimately interesting plot, which invokes historical situations (here, the Cuban Missile Crisis) in a way that no other superhero movie outside of Watchmen has attempted.

X-Men: First Class is a fantastic example of how to breathe new life into a dying franchise, and I’m really hoping Vaughn and the rest of the cast can bring the same magic if they decide to make a direct sequel in the next few years. But even if they can’t recapture the same glory, we can be thankful they’ve already brought us one of the best superhero movies of the past decade. Until next time…
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:42 am

http://www.thespoof.com/news/spoof.cfm?headline=s4i96901

"X-Men: First Class" Marvels Its Way Into The Movie Theaters
Written by Abel Rodriguez

Saturday, 4 June 2011
image for "X-Men: First Class" Marvels Its Way Into The Movie Theaters
Some of the actors who portray students at Xavier Institute.

HOLLYWOOD - The motion picture based on the Marvel Comics X-Men did very well on opening day as was expected.

The film stars James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr aka Magneto.

The two characters graduates of the prestigious Xavier Institute become friends and then as happens in so many movies become archenemies.

Professor X is confined to a wheel chair and had recently placed second place in The International Invitational Wheel Chair Races in Lisbon, Portugal.

Magneto is Jewish and was born to Jewish parents Moshe and Mosha Lensherr. The Lensherrs owned a bagel diner in Bydgoszcz, Poland, which is pronounced [HAG-en DAZ, PO-LUN].

The diner did good and actually good enough to send Magneto to Xavier Institute and to pay for Mosha to have a much needed breast reduction.

After the war started (the second one known as World War II) the family sold the bagel diner and moved to Heerenveen, Holland where they all went to work in a chocolate factory as chocolate testers.

Working at the Heidi Ho House of Chocolate did wonders for Magneto's personality as he soon learned that he really did not have to lie about not being Jewish in order to get a nice, non-Jewish girlfriend.

January Jones stars as Emma Frost who is a charter member of the highly prestigious coalition comprised of the world's most influential people (kind of like the U.S. Senate).

The coalition's membership fees are $193 per month or $2,307 for the whole year if paid on a one-time basis.

January Jones is a very sexy looking woman and her character Emma Frost is even sexier looking than her. Miss Frost at first takes umbrage at the coalition's strict dress code for female members.

The guidelines clearly state that female members must wear the skimpiest lingerie available on the market.

At first Emma balks at the thought of running around nearly exposing most of her intimate body parts but after the first meeting ends and she sees that she ended up with $219 in tips she kind of tells herself that she could get used to the coalition's rather strict dress code regulation.

Many of the male movie goers between the ages of 18 to 28 have remarked that seeing January Jones in her skimpy lingerie items was alone worth the price of admission.

X-Men: First Class was filmed on location in England, Canada, Louisiana, and Guatemala.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:42 am

http://www.behindwoods.com/tamil-movie-news-1/jun-11-01/x-men-first-class-04-06-11.html

X Men: First Class is ready to rock it!
x-men-first-class-04-06-11
Jun 04, 2011

X Men: First Class is all set for its worldwide release it seems. Early screenings have critics raving about the film. It has been reported that the film is hugely entertaining and could well be the best film of the franchise. Given that the first three are considered by many as the finest among the superhero flicks, this is high praise indeed for the next installment of the X Men saga.

This film is a prequel and explores the origins of the Professor and Magneto back in the day when they were simply Charles and Eric. A stellar cast consisting of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, January Jones, and Rose Byrne are said to have turned in impressive performances. Now we simply cannot wait to see it!
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:43 am

http://www.leadertelegram.com/entertainment/story/article_64d5292b-777e-5d9e-9840-082f9039ca9d.html

Review: Stellar cast brings 'X-Men' to life

Posted: Saturday, June 4, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 9:05 pm, Fri Jun 3, 2011.

By Chris Vetter Leader-Telegram staff

"X-Men: First Class" is a nearly flawless comic book movie, joining "X-Men 2," the first "Spider-Man" and "The Dark Knight" as the best films in the genre over the past 20 years. With perfect casting, excellent special effects and a great storyline, "X-Men: First Class" is a wonderful treat.

Set in the early 1960s, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy from the Oscar-nominated "Atonement") works with Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender, from "Inglourious Basterds") to gather a team of mutants - people who were born genetically altered - as they prepare for a possible war between the United States and the USSR, and also with other super-powered mutants.

I can't state enough how perfectly Xavier (Professor X) and Lensherr (Magneto) play off each other. Xavier is hopeful of a world where humans and mutants can live together in harmony and peacefully; Lensherr is a Jew who survived the horrors of a concentration camp and believes that peace between similar races is impossible. The largely unknown Fassbender was wonderful as the angered Nazi-hunting crusader Lensherr; Magneto may be a villain, but he justifies his actions and beliefs based on his experiences.

Also perfectly cast was January Jones (AMC's "Mad Men") as the villainous mind-reader Emma Frost. Jones brought the cold, indifferent demeanor to one of my favorite super-villains.

Jennifer Lawrence, who was nominated for an Academy Award this year for the indy film "Winter's Bone," also was wonderful as the shape-shifting Mystique. While Mystique is embarrassed and ashamed of her natural blue skin, Magneto teaches her that she is perfect just the way she is. Lawrence brought humanity to a character who has never been seen as soft or vulnerable before. With Lawrence cast as the lead in the film adaptation of the popular books "Hunger Games," her fame is bound to skyrocket.

Most of the rest of the characters do come from the 1960s era of Marvel comics. Moira MacTaggert, a CIA operative, and the mutant with sonic powers, Banshee, are from that era; both characters are now deceased in comic storylines. Comic fans could quibble about small things, like the use of Havoc - Cyclops' younger brother - being a mutant in the 1960s. If this movie is truly a prequel to the first three "X-Men" movies, Havoc would have to be Cyclops' father or uncle, not younger brother.

Back to the storyline, the main villain isn't Magneto. It's Sebastian Shaw (a gleefully evil Kevin Bacon), who is determined to start a war. He convinces Russian officials to move nuclear weapons to Cuba, thus causing the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is up to Professor X, Magneto and their young, barely-trained team of X-Men to stop Shaw.

I'm admittedly a comic-book reader and I'm quite familiar with these characters, but I think non-comic readers will enjoy this movie as well.

The first two "X-Men" movies were directed by Bryan Singer. However, Singer was not involved in the next two "X-Men" films, which were definitely not as good. Singer is back as a producer, and his knowledge of the material is quite evident. Director Matthew Vaughn (who did last year's wonderful comic book movie "Kick-Ass") also is clearly a fan of the genre and he takes his task seriously.

There are two fun cameo appearances from characters from the first three X-Men movies that tie this film closer to them, and it was an unexpected treat; I won't say more because I don't want to spoil the surprise.

Critics at Rottentomatoes.com gave it an 87 percent approval rating. Viewers liked the film a lot more than the critics, with 82 percent giving it an "A" grade, while another 9 percent gave it a "B" grade, at Boxofficemojo.com.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:45 am

http://www.nsnews.com/entertainment/movie-guide/Effects+first+class+prequel/4892018/story.html

Effects 'first class' in X-Men prequel

By Julie Crawford, North Shore News June 3, 2011

THINGS are best when James McAvoy is onscreen in X-Men: First Class. As is de rigueur with summer blockbusters, special effects remain the biggest draw.

THINGS are best when James McAvoy is onscreen in X-Men: First Class. As is de rigueur with summer blockbusters, special effects remain the biggest draw.
Photograph by: photo submitted, for North Shore News

- X-Men: First Class. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne.

Rating: 7 (out of 10)

Marvel's beloved X-Men have been less than super of late. After high praise and a $300-million payday under the direction of Bryan Singer, fans feared that 2006's The Last Stand would be the last gasp for the franchise.

After singling out fan favourite Wolverine with a movie all his own, filmmakers had nowhere to go but a prequel, chronicling the childhood traumas of Charles Xavier and Magneto. But purists were skeptical: could an X-Men film exist without Hugh Jackman sniffing the screen?

Yes, and thank heaven for James McAvoy, the voice of reason in many a film, among them The Last King of Scotland, Atonement, Wanted and The Conspirator. For even when First Class suffers from busyness, uneven visual effects or too many mutants vying for screen time, McAvoy's superior acting (or is it those baby blues?) draws us back in.

McAvoy is the young Charles Xavier, raised in privilege, a "telepath" who spouts theories on genetic mutation in order to pick up college co-eds. He meets Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), another mutant, and takes the girl in.

Erik (Michael Fassbender) had no such luck. Torn from his parents at a Nazi concentration camp, he becomes a lab rat for the vile Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). "Genes are the key," in both the Nazi and the mutant creeds, thus the narrative parallel.

The action ping-pongs between locales, from Argentina to "covert CIA research base" as Erik goes on a global Nazi hunt, crushing foes with his power to manipulate all things metal, including dental fillings (in a scene reminiscent of Marathon Man). But Dr. Shaw eludes him, aided by the very-Bond January Jones, as Emma Frost.

Erik and Charles join forces and become friends of sorts, despite their disparate game plans: one man is on a revenge mission; the other wants to forge healthy human-mutant relations.

To do this, Charles cooperates with the CIA, uses his very impressive brain to hunt down other mutants, and tries to help the U.S. government avoid war with the Soviets. But will people still love them after the Cuban Missile Crisis? The answer results in a rift between the friends and the basis for the good-versus-evil mutant schism that looms large in X-Men I through III.

A subtle film it's not: someone mentions enslavement and filmmakers cut to the black guy; and the production design team's slavish adherence to the period means that we get all sorts of cheesy '60s graphics and split screens, though the result is a bit of a muddle. And what was with the last few edits: Fassbender suddenly reverts to his native Irish accent in the latter scenes, did none of ye's notice?

As is de rigueur with summer blockbusters, effects remain the biggest draw, and there is a barrage of visual effects, most of which impress. Those pining for Wolverine can take heart in a comedic cameo by Hugh Jackman, and there's a humourous jibe at the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Things are best with McAvoy onscreen and the friendly friction between Charles and Erik. But extraneous characters -- both human and mutant -- could've been axed from X's 130-minute running time in the name of making things less rushed and the remaining characters more resonant.
© Copyright (c) North Shore News
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:46 am

http://www.411mania.com/movies/film_reviews/188838

X-Men: First Class Review
Posted by Jeremy Wilson on 06.04.2011

Is X-Men: First Class actually a first class piece of summer entertainment, or has the once proud film franchise descended farther into mindless mediocrity?

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Written by: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn
Story by: Sheldon Turner and Bryan Singer

Charles Xavier: James McAvoy
Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto: Michael Fassbinder
Sebastian Shaw: Kevin Bacon
Moira MacTaggert: Rose Byrne
Raven/Mystique: Jennifer Lawrence
Hank McCoy/Beast: Nicholas Hoult
Emma Frost January Jones
Angel Salvadore: Zoe Kravitz
Janos Quested/Riptide: Alex Gonzalez
Azazel: Jason Flemyng
Man in Black Suit: Oliver Platt
Charles Xavier (12 years): Laurence Belcher
Young Erik: Bill Milner
Young Raven (10 years): Morgan Lily

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language.
Running Time: 132 minutes

*Needless to say, spoilers are contained within this review. If you don't want to know, read it later. If you don't care, read on.*

That's more like it. That was the first thing I thought as I walked out of the theater after seeing X-Men: First Class. It was meant as both a sigh of relief and an exclamation of joy. The latest entry in the X-Men franchise returns to its literal roots and ends up being more like Bryan Singer's first two films (widely beloved and well regarded by fans and critics). It also marks the first time in these early weeks of Hollywood's summer blockbuster season, that I finally found a film both really well done and entertaining as hell (I like Thor, but this is better). X-Men: First Class is a return to form for a once great franchise that had been nearly bled to death by lesser filmmakers and storytellers. Only time will tell if First Class is considered on par or better than either of the first two films in the (previous) series, but Matthew Vaughn and company (including Bryan Singer) have most definitely righted the ship and given audiences a superhero action movie that everybody can enjoy.

The film starts out with the streamlined childhood stories of young Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, two mutants who are raised under very different circumstances. We see Erik in WWII-era Poland as he is split from his parents by the Nazis. As the giant gate closes between them, Erik's anger explodes, and causes the gate to come crashing down as he is held back by the guards. Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), an evil doctor working with the Nazis, watches what happens and brings the boy to his office. Asking the boy to move a coin like he did the gate, Shaw brings in Erik's mother and threatens to shoot her if he doesn't do it by the count of three. When the boy struggles to repeat what he did outside, Shaw callously fulfills his promise and shoots the mother without a second thought. Young Erik's grief and anger once again explodes, not only moving the coin but killing the guards and destroying the office.

We also see Charles as a youngster living a posh existence in a huge Westchester mansion, but the young telepath soon discovers he is not alone in having superpowers. He comes to find Raven (later known as Mystique), a young girl in his kitchen stealing food, who has the ability to change her appearance (she originally takes the form of Charles' mother). The two of them instantly form a bond and become close friends all the way to university. As Charles graduates, they are recruited by CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) who has had her own recent run-in with mutants and needs Charles' expertise in helping uncover what is going on. As they struggle to ascertain what is happening, they stumble upon even more mutants, including Sebastian Shaw who has the power to absorb and manipulate energy. Eventually, they uncover Shaw's plot to ignite a nuclear war between the USA and USSR (in the context of the Cuban Missile Crisis) and lead mutants to the top of the World's food chain. Erik, intent on avenging his mother's death and killing Shaw, joins with Charles, Raven and a new CIA-led team of young mutants who must stop Shaw and prevent both superpowers from going to war.

Matthew Vaughn and his team tread a fine line, creating a relatively light, funny and fun movie by also using tragic historical events as a backdrop for a story that introduces and establishes mutants, their powers and their relationships. The X-Men franchise has always anchored its stories on the issue of human-mutant coexistence and how beings that are ostensibly “higher on the food chain” deal with those who are not their equals. It has given the franchise a moral backbone and prescience in creating parallels between their story and the real world, that few other films like it can claim. In the first three films, the issue was clear-cut, much more black and white: those who followed Professor X were the peaceful good guys, those who aligned with Magneto were the bad guys intent on changing the balance of power between the human majority and mutant minority. And while elements of that still exist in X-Men: First Class, Vaughn injects an ambiguity into the morality of both the story and characters that is compelling and adds gray to a black-and-white struggle. Finally, we see for ourselves the foundation of the X-Men and why the mutant community is so divided. And this time, right and wrong are not as absolute.

The most interesting and entertaining parts of the film involve the mutants themselves, especially as they begin to come to terms with their own identities in a world now filled with their own kind. No character represents this more than Raven/Mystique, played by the new Hollywood “It” Girl, Jennifer Lawrence. Raven is an insecure, lonely girl who is ashamed of revealing her true mutant form, especially in the first half of the movie. She seems interested at various points in both Xavier (who treats her like a sister) and Hank McCoy (aka Beast played by Nicholas Hoult), but neither find her natural blue form appealing. Enter Erik who expresses how attractive her natural form is and that she shouldn't hide or be ashamed. The pull of Raven between Charles/Hank and Erik is fascinating and while we know how it ends up, it doesn't make her ultimate decision any less powerful. In the end, Raven uses Charles' own flippant remarks into her personal motto and justification – “Mutant and Proud.”

While I found Raven/Mystique the most interesting and well-drawn character among the mutants, the true standout performance belongs to Michael Fassbender as Erik/Magneto. If you didn't know Fassbender before now, it's a shame. He's been a rising star and critical darling of the independent scene for a few years, but now mainstream America gets a chance to discover his enormous talents. Filling the shoes of Sir Ian McKellan is no easy task. And to be fair, they are different in both their interpretations of the character and style of acting. Whereas McKellan displayed a charismatic and charming villain whose quips were almost equal to his lust and focus for power, Fassbender portrays Erik as volcanically angry, his true power simmering under the weight of his singular mission of revenge against Shaw. He is less interested in Xavier's high-minded missions and proclivities towards peace and mediation. He likes and respects Charles, but their fundamental disagreement over humanity's reaction and judgment of its mutant population proves a wedge too big to resolve. Erik has seen the depths of man and he simply cannot afford to trust humanity, having grown up the way he did.

Vaughn clearly identifies Erik as a revenging Jewish warrior, his drive taking him from Switzerland to Argentina looking for Nazis and those who aided them. It ends up being sadly ironic that it is with Xavier's help that Erik finds the key to focus and control over his emotions and abilities, becoming an even more powerful figure. With Xavier's help, Magneto completes his mission and achieves some small measure of revenge for him and his people. As he says on the beach to Charles and the others, “Never Again.” Unfortunately, the only time Fassbender struggles is as the rallying general, trying to convince the rest of his mutants of the threat at hand towards the end of the film. The delivery and writing of a few of these lines seem to clash with the rest of the picture and seem better suited for the ill-received X-Men: The Last Stand. But those script and directorial hiccups are few and far between.

The relationship between Charles and Erik is an important foundation of First Class and inevitably of the new trilogy being proposed. I'm happy to say that it appears Fassbender and McAvoy are up to the challenge. James McAvoy is very talented and good as Xavier, but at times, it did feel like he was trying too hard to pattern himself after Patrick Stewart's performance. There is a lot of temple rubbing and he doesn't seem to jump off the screen like Fassbender or Lawrence. I also thought he didn't have the same character development and attention given to Erik, Raven or even Beast. Much like in the first couple X-Men films, Professor X is the shepherd to the young group of mutants, aiding them in reigning in their abilities and providing them with his own expertise and morality. Xavier is a difficult character to portray, as he is a man with the ability to get inside of people's heads, yet it can be difficult to see what is going on in his own mind. Something tells me we will see more development of Xavier's character in the successive sequels.

Most of the rest of the cast is talented and good, with Lawrence, Kevin Bacon and Rose Byrne standing out the most. Bacon is a Hollywood icon whose talents get short-shrift because of who he is and the nature of his more iconic roles. He hams it up (in a good way) and seems to be having a blast as Shaw. The same can't be said for his right-hand woman, Emma Frost (January Jones), who gives an extremely rigid performance, showing little personality (get it, she's “frosty”) and maximum PG-13 skin. In fact, almost all the female characters are wearing as little as possible for stretches of the film. Men and boys who see First Class won't be complaining, but the other half of the population may raise an eyebrow at the barely there outfits and seeming victimization at the hand of male counterparts. Frost is treated like crap by Shaw. Raven is treated poorly by Xavier and Hank. Angel (Zoe Kravitz) is treated like crap by the rest of the world before she joins up with the X-Men. Even MacTaggert goes undercover by stripping to get into a club, as well as being treated like crap by her CIA bosses. They are all good in their performances and the writing never actively promotes the stereotypes in the same way as a film like Sucker Punch did, but is something worth bringing up.

The story is fine and serves the purpose of throwing this collection of gifted mutants into enough action and special effect-driven sequences to satisfy both mainstream and hardcore fans. Minor gripes would include the film probably being 10-15 minutes too long and the one dimensional nature of the non-mutant humans in the picture. Both the American and Soviet military/political leaders are portrayed in a cartoonish fashion, which one would hope would be improved upon in the next sequel. They shouldn't be the focus; simply developed more fully. Vaughn does do a lot of neat, fun stuff behind the camera, much like he did in his previous outing Kick-Ass. A particular scene involving a dental extraction from inside the victim's mouth was a macabre, but funny touch. However, Vaughn never lets his tricks get in the way, and the balance he achieves between the micro and macro elements of story, character and theme is really quite an accomplishment, especially for a major Hollywood production such as this. First Class may not quite rank with The Dark Knight or Spider-Man 2 or even X2, but it certainly comes close at times.

The time period and style set up by Vaughn and Singer suggest the upheaval of the 1960's Civil Rights Movement would be the next logical historical event to tackle, and it makes a lot of sense. It will also be interesting to see if these next sequels focus more on Xavier and his team or if it is split more equally between the two sides. First Class (and my hunch) seems to point to the latter. Using the Holocaust and Cuban Missile Crisis to bookend a superhero action movie is risky, but Vaughn handles the tone and themes beautifully. X-Men: First Class can be genuinely funny and its middle portion is particularly breezy and witty. It doesn't hurt that there are surprises and easter eggs throughout the film, including a couple high-profile cameos.

The franchise has been given a surprising and fresh leash on life, one which hopefully focuses on characterization and thematic relevance while using action as a complimentary and entertaining method of moving the story (instead of being the story). X-Men: First Class is a blast, setting the bar for intelligent and entertaining storytelling. With Thor and this, as well as Captain America: The First Avenger coming out later this summer, we may truly be seeing this as the "Summer of Marvel."


The 411: X-Men: First Class is a return to form for the popular franchise. Intelligent and entertaining, First Class truly shines in its performances, themes and tone. Michael Fassbender is the stand-out, but Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and James McAvoy are very good as well. The dynamic between Professor X and Magneto is compelling and full of possibilities, certainly capable of providing the foundation for a very good trilogy of films. Matthew Vaughn does a good job of adding humor and tragedy to a story that could have been purely action-driven. There is humanity aplenty in this group of superpower-gifted mutants. Aside from a few minor gripes, it is an impressive example of pop art and is definitely the best of this summer's big releases so far. Recommended.
411 Elite Award
Final Score: 8.5 [ Very Good ] legend
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:47 am

http://lagunaniguel.patch.com/articles/a-bromance-that-lacks-special-powers

A Bromance That Lacks Special Powers

"X-Men:First Class" lacks any coherence and wastes the talents of its stars.

I should say this right up front: Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, who play Magneto and Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class, are two of my favorite actors on the planet right now. Fassbender hails from Ireland, and has been slowly but steadily building a stellar career. He can go from sexually feral in Fish Tank to poised and steely in Inglourious Basterds. McAvoy, on the other hand, grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, and has made a name for himself in films like Atonement and The Last King of Scotland. There's no one better at playing sweet but strong, morally incorruptible young men who can’t help but do the right thing.

I knew going in that X-Men: First Class is a prequel to all of the other X-Men movies. It tells the origin story of Erik Lehnsherr, who later becomes Magneto (Fassbender), and Charles Francis Xavier, who later becomes Professor X (McAvoy). Since the X-Men franchise has been one of the more intelligent ones, with interesting characters and complicated relationships, I expected to finally get to see why Professor X and Magneto's relationship is so complicated. I mean, wasn't that the whole point of making a prequel?

Apparently not.

Fassbender and McAvoy spend over two hours wading through this messy, rambling, pretentious movie for nothing. Aside from a few moments when each of them gets to do some real acting, they are forced to act out the most obvious tropes of their characters. Magneto is angry and tortured, Charles Xavier is naïve and kind. Magneto scowls and his face turns red when he moves things with his magnetic hands. Charles Xavier always places a forefinger to his temple and looks strained when he attempts to use his telepathic powers. There is no depth, insight or even a moment of fun to be had here. Watching Fassbender and McAvoy in this film is like watching two championship racehorses try to run with chains wrapped around their legs.

Several other factors add to the surreal quality of the film. Kevin Bacon plays the villain, Sebastian Shaw, with lambchop sideburns and a perpetual leer. January Jones essentially plays her character Betty Draper from Mad Men, but spends the entire movie dressed in white leather. Rose Byrne is a CIA agent who runs around in her lingerie, and hot newcomer Jennifer Lawrence manages to turn Mystique into a whiny, sullen young woman who is opposite of powerful and sexy. The entire plot revolves around the X-Men saving the world from the Cuban Missile Crisis, and by the time John F. Kennedy comes on the screen to tell everyone that the world is saved, you want to stab yourself in the eye with a sharp stick.

So I say shame on Matthew Vaughn. He directed X-Men: First Class, and managed to squander the opportunity to work with two great actors and spit in the eye of a great franchise.

One Patch out of Five

Sorry, folks. No Overheard in the Ladies Room this week...
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:49 am

http://www.emorywheel.com/detail.php?n=29836

‘X Men’ Film Makes for ‘First’ Rate Fun
By Mark Rozeman Posted: 06/03/2011

Couresy of 20th century Fox.
Filming origin stories is never easy. While probing the genesis of beloved properties and characters retains an undeniable appeal for audiences, the execution can be akin to walking a tightrope. For one, the filmmakers have the task of providing backstory and character introductions while also assuring that the story and action does not become bogged down by exposition. When it works, you have 2009’s “Star Trek” or “Iron Man.” When it doesn’t, you have “Fantastic Four” or Ang Lee’s “Hulk.”

With the release of “X-Men First Class,” director Matthew Vaughn (“Kick-Ass”) takes audiences back in time to witness the founding of the X-Men, the legendary group of genetically-evolved “mutants” with extraordinary abilities—a group that has formed the basis of a massively successful film franchise and nearly fifty years-worth of comic books. The result is a sprawling, if sometimes uneven, piece of summer movie perfection.

The setting is 1963. Unbeknownst to most of the world, mutants live hidden lives among the general public. “First Class” centers on the trajectory of two such mutants: Charles Xavier (James McAvoy, “The Conspirator”), a wealthy, Oxford-educated young man with a powerful telepathic mind, and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender, “Jane Eyre”), a Holocaust survivor with the ability to control and manipulate metallic properties.

As the film opens, we see the two men have taken radically different paths. While Charles pursues his studies on genetics and uses his abilities to flirt with woman, Erik pursues a road of revenge, seeking out former Nazis who have gone into hiding. One of the main targets of Erik’s wrath is Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon, ), a mutant and former Nazi employee who murdered Erik’s mother. Twenty years later, Shaw’s mutant ability to absorb and harness energy has made him a highly powerful being as well as allowed him to restore himself to a more youthful image.

Finding they share similar interests, Charles and Erik join forces to fight against Shaw and discover his ploy. In the process, they also begin locating and recruiting mutants from across the United States. Soon, the gang must all work together when they discover that Shaw and his mutant brethren have engineered a plot to pit the United States and Russia against each other, a situation which would result in worldwide nuclear holocaust.

Vaughnn and his screenwriters certainly have their work cut out for them. Besides chronicling the origins of the X-Men and the corruption of Erik (who will later become the X-Men’s archenemy Magneto), the filmmakers must also touch upon the various backstories of the different mutants and incorporate elements of real-life history into the story, most notably the Cuban Missile Crisis—all the while condensing everything into an audience-friendly, high-octane action film fit for the summer movie screen. For the most part, they succeed in spades. While the film certainly throws out references for hardcore X-Men fans, it also provides an excellent entryway for anyone unfamiliar with either the comic books or even the previous four theatrical installments. With its amalgamation of lavish production design, high-tech gadgetry and 1960s period details, the film occasional appears more as a retro throwback to early James Bond films rather than a 2011 superhero blockbuster.

Having proved his action chops in “Kick-Ass,” Vaughn brings a deft touch to the film’s requisite fight sequences. After the CGI-overload nightmare that was “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” Vaughn wisely balances practical effects with computer effects to create a more grounded world. While the CGI becomes very apparent at times, it does not take away from the visceral feel of Vaughn’s action scenes, particularly the film’s climatic battle off the coast of Cuba.

Moreover, what truly sets this film apart from other mindless summer fare is the quality of the performances. McAvoy’s Charles Xavier is an intelligent, brash individual whose extensive knowledge and swaggering confidence occasionally veers on the edge of smugness. Yet, McAvoy expertly tempers this with the benevolence and wise characterizations demonstrated by Patrick Stewart in the previous X-Men films. Inversely, Kevin Bacon provides a gleefully ruthless turn as the diabolical Shaw. Between this and last year’s highly underrated black comedy “Super,” Bacon has secured himself as the go-to guy for enjoyable cinematic baddies. Even Jennifer Lawrence, fresh off from her recent awards buzz for “Winter’s Bone,” brings a level of gravitas and depth to Raven (aka Mystique), a blue-skinned, shape-shifting mutant struggling with the emotional burden of her appearance.

The true shining spot of the film, however, is Michael Fassbender’s glorious portrayal of Erik. Having made his mainstream mark as an undercover British soldier/film scholar in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds,” Fassbender’s varied performances over the past few years—his excruciating portrayal as hungry-strike leader Bobby Sands in the Irish film “Hunger” and his romantic role in the Charlotte Bronte adaptation “Jane Eyre”—has positioned him as one of the most versatile and engaging actors of recent years. With a face that seems carved from stone and deep, expressive eyes that convey steely intimidation one minute and a well of sorrow and remorse the next, Fassbender’s perfectly embodies Erik’s complex, contradictory nature.

“X-Men: First Class” is not a movie without flaws. The film’s constant shift in locations (it has scenes in the U.S., Russia, France and Argentina, among others) is cause for a bit of whiplash. Also, at two hours and fifteen minutes, the film often feels a bit overstuffed, especially with the abundance of characters and subplots. As portrayed by Nicholaus Hoult, Dr. Hank McCoy (aka Beast) is given an almost comically truncated character arc. Likewise, his transformation into the blue, furry monstrosity from the comics looks more like an awkwardly dyed cat than the “badass” that one character describes it as.

Also, while the heart of the film centers on the friendship between Charles and Erik, the development of their relationship is severely underplayed. At times, they seem more like cordial colleagues than actual friends. This lack of development slightly diminishes the impact of Erik’s inevitable descent into the dark side.

Despite its drawbacks, “X-Men: First Class” serves as a masterful and entertaining entry into the X-Men cannon. More impressively, it stands on its own as an achievement of blockbuster entertainment. If this is what the filmmakers can do with the origin story, one can look forward to the next class session.

— Contact Mark Rozeman.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:53 am

http://blogs.dailyherald.com/node/5812

"First Class" shows potential
Posted by Sean Stangland on Fri, 06/03/2011 - 17:55

"X-Men: First Class" earns high marks indeed, but leaves plenty of room for improvement.

The X-Men have long been my favorite comic book heroes, because their essential story is inherently fascinating. Their mutated bodies have given them superhuman abilities, but humankind chooses to shun them, not celebrate them. Their struggle isn't just against the human world, but against each other: Should they strive for the world's acceptance, or take what is rightfully theirs by any means necessary?

Created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, "X-Men" has unmistakable parallels to America's civil rights movement, with Professor X playing MLK to Magneto's Malcolm X. Coming along when it does, the film franchise has always played more as an allegory for gay rights, particularly in 2006's "X-Men: The Last Stand," in which the government tried to make all mutants "normal" with a miracle drug.

Dressing up the battle for human rights as a superhero saga is a concept so ripe with potential that I can't help but be disappointed that, five entries into the X-Men franchise, none of the films have truly capitalized on it. One of the subplots of "First Class" involves two characters coming to grips with their mutations and their appearances, but it's really just a sideshow for the hardware and the visual effects.

And while I don't think it was a conscious decision, it's hard not to notice that "First Class" ends with a team of heroes that is 100 percent white and, presumably, heterosexual. There are but two African-American characters in the film: one is the first of our heroes to die, and the other proves to be a turncoat. (I won't even try to dissect what it means that shapeshifter Mystique, whose natural skin is scaly and blue, decides that the most beautiful form she could assume is that of a blonde, white girl.)

Maybe I'm expecting too much from superhero movies, and you can blame Christopher Nolan for that. But perhaps "First Class" director Matthew Vaughn, who last gave us "Kick-Ass," can engender enough good will with this film that the studio will really let him go for the jugular with the next one -- assuming there is a next one.

All that being said, I didn't dislike "First Class" -- quite the opposite. I'd put it slightly ahead of Bryan Singer's "X2," and the first hour outshines everything the franchise had previously given us. Much of it plays like a Cold War spy thriller whose main characters just happen to have superpowers. Set in 1962, the film looks like the period and all of the actors are pitch perfect. Even January Jones, whom I loathe as Betty Draper in "Mad Men," won me over as diamond-encrusted femme fatale Emma Frost. (Perhaps that's because she wears nothing but underwear in most of her scenes. Hmm.)

But the movie belongs to James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, whose takes on Professor X and Magneto prove how uninterested I had become in Wolverine. Fassbender, who you may remember as the British film critic-turned-military man in "Inglourious Basterds," gets the meatiest scenes and gives the best performance. Here, as the concentration camp survivor who discovers he can manipulate metal, Fassbender is once again hunting Nazis. One early scene even pays homage to the basement bar sequence from "Basterds," and it's the most intense and satisfying passage of the film.

An unexpected standout is Kevin Bacon, who doesn't strike me as the supervillain type. We first meet his Sebastian Shaw in a scene of surprising cruelty that is performed entirely in German. When next see him, he looks younger, speaks English, and is hosting what looks to be a swingers party in a Las Vegas nightclub. No matter the circumstance, Bacon is cold and creepy, and is never winking at the audience.

("First Class" does have a couple of winks at the audience that, while fun in the moment, ultimately blur this film's place in the franchise. Is it a reboot or a prequel? The plot suggests the former, but the two scenes in question suggest the latter. You'll know them when you see them.)

The supporting cast is solid, too: "Winter's Bone" Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence is positively cherubic as Mystique; the now-grown-up star of "About a Boy," Nicholas Hoult, is endearingly nerdy as Hank McCoy; and the small parts are populated by a veritable who's-who of character actors. (Look, there's Aaron, the Secret Service agent from "24"! Hey, isn't that the costume-shop owner from "Eyes Wide Shut"?) One of the biggest laughs in the movie (for me, anyways) was the simple reveal of the actor captaining the American fleet in the big action climax.

Like all the films in the series, "First Class" tries to juggle more characters than it should, and suffers from radical shifts in tone. But Vaughn succeeds in giving us a unique film in a genre that could use some shaking up. Thankfully for the audience, the X-Men don't exist in the Avengers' universe, so Vaughn can focus solely on his film and his characters instead of setting up (ahem, advertising) other films. "Thor" and "Iron Man 2" wore out their welcome by devoting too much of their bloated running times to S.H.I.E.L.D. and Marvel fanboy in-jokes; when "First Class'" 130 minutes came to a close, I wanted more.

Hopefully we'll get it -- and hopefully it will finally live up to this franchise's full potential.

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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:54 am

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-xmen-20110604,0,5066708.story

With 'X-Men: First Class' Fox tries a new mutation
The fifth installment in the 'X-Men' franchise lacks a big-name star and is set in the early 1960s, a period unfamiliar to much of the film's target audience.

James McAvoy, left, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult star in the movie "X-Men: First Class." (Murray Close, 20th Century Fox / November 1, 2010)

By Steven Zeitchik, Los Angeles Times

June 4, 2011
In the new movie "X-Men: First Class," a group of normal-looking people with some highly unusual traits wonder if the world will embrace them.

The studio behind the film, 20th Century Fox, is facing a similar question.

Related
Movie review: 'X-Men: First Class' Movie review: 'X-Men: First Class'

Although the fifth installment in the franchise about superhero mutants resembles many of Hollywood's summer offerings — a big-budget action movie based on a popular comic book series — the latest "X-Men" is a vastly different creature that presents some unique marketing challenges.

The movie, which cost News Corp.-owned Fox and its two financial partners $160 million to produce before tax breaks, replaces its most bankable star, Hugh Jackman, with an ensemble of less proven younger actors led by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.

It's also the most ambitious production yet from director Matthew Vaughn, mainly known for smaller-scale independent films such as last year's "Kick-Ass" and the 2005 crime thriller "Layer Cake."

And "X-Men" is set against such historical events as the 1962 Cuban missile crisis that are unfamiliar to much of the film's target audience of teens and twentysomethings.

Fox executives say they believe that some of these peculiarities will work in their favor as the movie debuts this weekend.

"We feel we have a number of big advantages," said Oren Aviv, Fox's chief marketing officer. "This is a film that feels contemporary but it has iconic images from the 1960s."

Concerned that it could put off a superhero audience, marketing executives debated whether to include a famous speech by President Kennedy about the nuclear crisis in the film's trailer. In the end, they opted to leave it in.

The origin story, which portrays characters from the previous films in their younger years, centers on a disparate group of humans with quirky superpowers, led by an idealistic professor (McAvoy) and a vengeful Holocaust survivor (Fassbender). It thrusts them into a do-or-die battle with a villainous mutant, played by Kevin Bacon, and a high-stakes Cold War game between the Americans and the Soviets.

"X-Men's" combination of more serious themes — including a debate over the ethics of revenge — with high-octane visual effects sequences is rare for a summer popcorn movie. But rather than alienate some moviegoers, the studio believes that will attract both sophisticated and thrill-seeking audiences.

"We're selling this as a character-based action movie," Aviv said.

Adding to its hurdles, the new "X-Men" went from merely a concept to finished film in just about a year, giving the studio little lead time to roll out the kind of full-on marketing blitz that often accompanies a major studio release. The movie is also not in 3-D, which will deny the studio the advantage of higher ticket prices.

Still, the film has won plaudits from a number of critics, who praised its performances and tone.

Fox hopes to capitalize on the power of the Marvel Comics brand, which spawned a movie series that has grossed more than $1.5 billion around the world since the first installment hit screens in 2000.

But despite grossing $460 million worldwide, the third movie, Brett Ratner's "X-Men: The Last Stand" in 2006, left a bad taste in many fans' mouths. In 2009, global ticket sales for the spinoff "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" dropped nearly 19% from its predecessor, showing that the franchise had lost momentum. Now, just two years later, Fox is asking audiences to turn away from that film's hero and embrace something new.

The movie also doesn't fit neatly into any particular category.

"It's so funny that everybody wants to define movies these days — a prequel, a reboot, an origin story," said Emma Watts, Fox's president of production. "But every situation is unique. I wish I could give this a clear definition."

That hybrid quality has won praise from many critics, who have greeted the film enthusiastically.

Bryan Singer, who directed the first two "X-Men" films but stepped aside for the next two, has returned to the series as a producer who came up with the concept for "X-Men: First Class." Singer said he too was conscious of the movie's tricky balance between drawing on the previous pictures and standing on its own.

"There's a lot in 'First Class' that harks back to early 'X-Men' films, but also has an energy that's new," he said. "You don't want to alter the essence, but you can alter the history."

Aviv and other top Fox executives compare their attempt at rejuvenating "X-Men" to director Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins," which helped revive Warner Bros.' tired superhero franchise. It also spawned a sequel, "The Dark Knight," which amassed $1 billion in global ticket sales, and helped redefine comic book adaptations as something more than fanboy escapism.

Fox, which does not count as many franchises in its arsenal as some of its rivals, is striving to achieve a similar fate. If "X-Men: First Class" resonates with audiences — the studio will have a good indication about this by Sunday morning — it presents a chance to build a new series. Singer said he'd like to explore the mutants as they matured through different historical periods, from Vietnam until the present day.

To do so, the franchise probably would stay with the new film's up-and-coming cast, which in addition to McAvoy and Fassbender includes "Mad Men" star January Jones and 2011 Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence. The fresh faces, Fox marketing executives say, will lure younger audiences, particularly given the movie's theme of alienation.

"Traditionally in these [superhero] movies the characters are older. But many of them are younger here, and we feel the younger part of an audience will relate to what the movie has to say," said Tony Sella, Fox's president of domestic theatrical marketing. "Who feels more disenfranchised than a 16-year-old?"
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:54 am

http://metrotimes.com/screens/x-men-first-class-1.1157019

X-Men: First Class
Superheroes never have to grow up, ever!

Get the lead out: Mad Men hottie January Jones in X-Men: First Class.

By Jeff Meyers

Published: June 3, 2011

GRADE: B

In the argument of nature versus nurture, X-Men: First Class stands as an interesting test case. Director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Kick-Ass) and his team get so many things right you can't help but be impressed by the boldness of their concept, casting and characters. The movie's 1962 setting is novel, the tone is effectively serious, the pacing masterfully frenetic, and leads James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender bring just the right gravitas to their roles.

Unfortunately, Fox Studios is a notoriously bad parent, meddling with story lines (the script is credited to six writers) and rushing timelines to meet a predesignated summer release date — no matter what the impact.

With the start of the swinging '60s as its backdrop, X-Men introduces us to genetic wunderkind (and skirt-chaser) Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his brooding Nazi-hunter counterpart, Erik Lehnsherr (Eric Fassbender) — the men who'll eventually become Professor X and Magneto, respectively. Both are out to stop mutant supremacist Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and his Hellfire Club — but for very different reasons. Charles hopes to derail the villain's plans for nuclear Armageddon, while Erik is out for revenge, having suffered as Shaw's Nazi guinea pig during the war. Teaming up, the two put together a squad of super-powered students to fight Shaw and his mutant baddies.

More informed by The Man from U.N.C.L.E. than Marvel Comics, this retro prequel does a decent job of exploiting its period trappings in style, geo-politics (the Cuban Missile crisis) and feel. But it misses some rather obvious cultural touchstones (the dawning Civil Rights movement) and never quite rationalizes its retro approach. The first hour sets up some fascinating relationships and juxtapositions, while feeding the audience a steady stream of entertaining vignettes. Vaughn cleverly and carefully assembles the elements for an epic confrontation between privileged-but-idealistic Xavier and rage-filled Erik.

Unfortunately, Fox's impatience for early summer box office dollars undermines what might've been a terrifically realized superhero flick. Shortchanging its most intriguing ideas, First Class ends up feeling like a first pass.

The script is needlessly stuffed with too many super-powered subplots and minor characters, too often sacrificing relationships for plot points. This bogs down the film's second act with seen-it-before origin tales and "let's put a team together" story mechanics. The CG effects, while ambitious in scope, seem unfinished and sloppy, never achieving the spectacle they were clearly meant to create. And even Fassbender, in an otherwise terrific performance, lets slip his Irish accent in the film's final scenes. Couldn't Fox have delayed a day or two to get that corrected in an ADR session?

Ultimately, it's director Vaughn who emerges as the true hero here (the less said of Mad Men's January Jones' leaden performance, the better), using a breathless pace and off-kilter compositions to mask the story's many gaps in logic. He has a way of creating memorable action moments, cannily suggesting rather than explicating their disturbing violence. Devil-colored Azazel's ability to dispatch a dozen G-Men in a matter of seconds is especially effective.

As the second of the season's four big-budget comic-book movies, there's little doubt that X-Men: First Class is trying to do more than simply offer up mindless mayhem and gee-whiz effects. Like director Bryan Singer's fleet-footed but serious-minded entries in the series (particularly 2003's terrific second installment), Vaughn explores themes of xenophobia, alienation and self-created family. It's these instincts that set X-men apart from the typical genre fare and push it into the realm of Dark Knight's ambitions. But not quite. Fox, unlike Warner, doesn't seem to want to let its superheroes grow up.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:03 am

http://www.nouse.co.uk/2011/06/04/x-men-first-class/

X-Men: First Class

June 4, 2011 | ONLINE ONLY

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
Runtime: 132 mins
Rating: ****

It’s ridiculously campy, has a mind-boggling number of characters and is ridiculously long, but here’s something: X-Men: First Class is good. Not even “good for a comic book movie” – this film actually stands out in comparison to the other films currently gracing the box office.

This is presumably in part due to the sheer amount of talent involved: Matthew Vaughn, whose resumé includes Kick-Ass and Layer Cake, directs a fantastic cast. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender do a decent job of matching the gravitas Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen lent to the roles of Professor X and Magneto. Jennifer Lawrence actually surpasses Rebecca Romijn in her portrayal of Mystique, and it’s a delight to see Kevin Bacon playing the villain, Sebastian Shaw. This is the sort of film where it doesn’t matter where you turn: everyone ranges from competent to just brilliant.

X-Men: First Class also sets a certain tone for comic book movies that so far has been notably absent. Comedy works for Iron Man – Tony Stark, after all, is an exceptionally dry character – but can’t be easily transferred. And too often, the commercial viability of comic book movies overwhelms their potential to be good.

It’s why Matthew Vaughn was the perfect choice for this film – his past credits are full of films that received critical acclaim while still raking in the cash. Here, the tone is slick, camp without being overblown, and has a distinct James Bond vibe (something a lot of critics have pointed out, but it needs reinforcing – there are times when this film is one martini away from being accepted into Fleming’s canon).

The film isn’t without its faults: the screenplay’s occasionally clumsy, and it suffers from a few pacing issues in the opening half hour, but once it gets going X-Men: First Class is fantastic. It also has the best cameo from Hugh Jackman you’ll see in a long time. Abandon all your preconceptions about comic book films at the door – you won’t be needing them.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:04 am

http://www.slashfilm.com/xmen-class/

‘X-Men: First Class’ – What Did You Think?

Posted on Friday, June 3rd, 2011 by David Chen

The X-Men series hasn’t seen a genuinely great film in over eight years. It was way back in 2003 when Bryan Singer’s X2: X-Men United was released, a skillful blend of superhero action, social commentary, and strong performances. While the last two films, X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine performed extremely well at the box office, both were almost universally reviled by critics and fans.

Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class, which hits theaters today, has a hugely challenging task before it. Not only does this prequel seek to revitalize a moribund franchise, it must also tell an interesting story while not betraying the most beloved elements of the original series of films. On top of all that, it seeks to be an origin story. Can the film thrill the audience with a story they already know the ending to?

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Assume that SPOILERS lie after the jump.

Matthew Vaughn has pulled off what I thought was nearly impossible: he has cranked out a very good (maybe even great) film under the auspices of 20th Century Fox, despite being given only about a year to get it into theaters. In my opinion, X-Men: First Class joins J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek as the standard by which future prequel/origin stories will be measured. With an inventive story, fantastic action set pieces, and star turns by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, this film will thrill new and oldcomers to the series, while (hopefully) also keeping the comic book fans happy too.

The film is a little rough around the edges; some of the editing, dialogue, and special effects seem like they could have used a few more levels of polish, and some of the callbacks were a bit too on-the-nose for my tastes. Perhaps the film’s biggest crime is it tries to do a bit too much. Both Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) go through entire character arcs against the backdrop of the CIA and actual historic events, all while Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) attempts to enact his own machinations. It’s a lot to take in, but there’s an irresistible momentum to this film that will keep you engaged until the inevitable, ominous ending.

What did you think of the film?
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:11 am

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/movies/2011/06/critical-mass-x-men-first-class.html

Critical Mass: 'X-Men: First Class' graduates with most critics' honors

June 3, 2011 | 4:22 pm

Though a few comic-book heroes are getting their first major filmic at-bats this summer (Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern), the X-Men have been around for a few years. Their latest, "X-Men: First Class," has a lot about it to cause concern. For one thing, it's a fourquel. Not only that, it's a prequel. It lacks the star power of Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan and Hugh Jackman. And the previous installment, "X-Men: The Last Stand," didn't really excite anyone except for director Brett Ratner's accountant. Yet, surprisingly, against the odds, director Matthew Vaughn seems to have made a superhero epic worth watching.

That's not to say that all the critics are on board with the film. The Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey sees the greatness that could have been present in this latest blockbuster but feels that it's undone by the flaws. She writes, "Those flashes of amazing are fleeting, ultimately undone by a frustrating mire of multiple plots, overreaching special effects, leaden ancillary players and world-ending military standoffs that have all the tension of a water balloon fight."

Though this X-Men team may lack the marquee names of its predecessors, it seems Vaughn has smartly stocked his film with capable actors, and according to Reason Online critic Kurt Loder, that makes a huge difference. "The movie is elevated by the quality of its actors, especially [James] McAvoy and [Michael] Fassbender, who have a warm rapport, and the too-often undervalued [Kevin] Bacon, who exults in full-bore perfidy."

In fact, many critics seem to think it's the rapport between Fassbender and McAvoy that's one of the best things about this fully stuffed movie. Manohla Dargis at the New York Times says, "The new movie is lighter in tone and look than its predecessors, and appreciably less self-serious than those directed by Bryan Singer. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it also feels less personal, though Mr. Vaughn gets satisfying performances and copious tears, along with sex appeal, from his leading men. Mr. Vaughn doesn’t bring conviction to the story’s identity politics (say it loud, I’m mutant and I’m proud), but he gives Mr. Fassbender and Mr. McAvoy room to bring the brotherly love."

The Boston Globe's Ty Burr also hearts Fassbender and McAvoy, but he's less enamored with the film's use of real-life events from the 1960s: " 'First Class' tries to honor the dueling canons of the original Marvel print universe and the recent movie franchise and doesn't sprain its neck too badly. The real world is another matter; the way this movie wraps itself around historical calamities like the Holocaust and the Cuban Missile Crisis (which takes up the entire climax) is disingenuous and occasionally unsettling."

Roger Ebert gives the film a passable two-and-a-half-star review, but strangely, he seems to still be angry with Vaughn for his last film, "Kick-Ass." He writes, "Director Matthew Vaughn gave us 'Kick-Ass' (2010), in which an 11-year-old girl was hammered almost to death for our entertainment. This movie lacks comparable violence, but is louder. At least all the X-Men are old enough to see an R-rated movie without adult supervision. Not that 'X-Men' is R-rated; god forbid that a comic-book movie should turn away a single eager ticket-buyer."

But the critics are critics and the fans are something entirely. So how does "X-Men: First Class" play to its base? Ain't It Cool News head geek Harry Knowles likes it but doesn't love it. In his typical stream-of-consciousness style, he writes that "It is one of the best Marvel films, but ... what keeps me from going over the moon for the film is my far stronger love for the original comic material. I can put it aside, appreciate the film, love it as a "What If" kind of story ... but the day FOX gets a great team to adapt the original Claremont run of X-MEN ... Hell, I'd flat out begin it with the story from GIANT SIZE X-MEN 1 -- and then play from there."

With all the comic-book excess on screens this summer, will "X-Men: First Class" find a place on your pull list?
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:11 am

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/jun/04/this-weeks-new-films

X-Men: First Class (12A)
(Matthew Vaughn, 2011, US) James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, January Jones. 132 mins

Considering the odds were stacked against this – preceding as it does four X-Men movies (including Hugh Jackman's Wolverine), entering a superhero-stuffed summer schedule, juggling scores of characters, and telling a story fans know already – this does a remarkably good job. The cold war setting offers a new take on closeted mutanthood, and a parallel version of the Cuban missile crisis, not to mention Bond-like stylings, and McAvoy and Fassbender add dramatic ballast to some overbearing special effects.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:15 am

http://blogs.plos.org/retort/2011/06/03/more-science-and-snark-on-x-men-first-class/

More Science and Snark on X-Men: First Class
By John Rennie
Posted: June 3, 2011

Discriminating readers who have intuited that the new film X-Men: First Class is not a documentary probably already suspect that its science might be a bit askew. For Scientific American, I’ve written a short commentary about some of what it gets wrong about evolution, for example. Still, it looks like those of you who have gathered today outside the moat of my home and stronghold, the Fortress of Sullenness, have some additional questions. Let me answer what I can. Yes, you in the back.

Thank you. Isn’t it customary to warn people at this point that there may be spoilers ahead?

Sure, why not. SPOILER ALERT, people. SPOILERS AHEAD. I don’t think I’ll be saying anything too sensitive. But read at your own risk.

You’ve faulted the way that evolution is presented in the X-Men movies. Does that mean people shouldn’t see this new one?

Of course not. It’s a movie about mutant people with superpowers; surrender of disbelief goes with the territory. The X-Men films aim to be entertaining, not educational. If people find them entertaining, that’s all the excuse they need to go. Moreover, after my Scientific American piece appeared, Zen Faulkes at Neurodojo observed on Twitter (@DoctorZen):

Even when comics get science wrong, it can evoke enough interest for someone to find the real stuff. bit.ly j359vG

Read his linked appreciation of how Marvel Comics helped him get interested in the science of radiation.

I agree with him. Even flawed science in popular culture offers opportunities for introducing people to new ideas and inspiring them to learn more. I didn’t criticize the X-Men version of evolution to condemn it but to highlight that its misunderstandings are probably widely shared.

Did you enjoy the movie?

I did, though with reservations. As a visually rich, big-budget summer blockbuster, it’s full of entertainment value, but I wished some of the heart it showed at the beginning hadn’t succumbed to goofier, far-fetched developments by the end.

This movie, like the original X-Men movie, begins in Auschwitz in 1944, where the desperate struggles of imprisoned teenager Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) against the Nazi guards tearing him away from his parents trigger his latent magnetic powers. The emotional resonance of that moment of wish fulfillment is great for cinema, but unfortunately, nothing else later in the movie can match it—not even the plot-driven threats of genocide and nuclear war.

Fassbender digs into the anti-hero role of Magneto with grim verve and conviction, even if the role does occasionally oblige him to make hand gestures more appropriate to a cruise-ship magician. His passion holds the film together.

He plays opposite James McAvoy as the young Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X: not yet a true professor and not yet the victim of the crippling accident that will eventually turn him into Patrick Stewart. McAvoy’s portrayal emphasizes the character’s original good-hearted callowness to distinguish it from the seriousness and gravity that Xavier earns over the course of the film. But hearing Xavier try to pick up women in bars by telling them they have “a very groovy mutation” makes it sound too much like he is using his telepathy to channel Mike Myers as Austin Powers. It’s surely a deliberate choice, and an unexpected, funny one, but it may cartoonishly undermine the movie too much later.

Can you comment on some of the other performances, too? Perhaps while making snide observations?

I’ll do my best.

Before the snark kicks in too much, let me say that Jennifer Lawrence deserves credit for her performance. As the lonely shapeshifter Mystique, she may be the beauty that launches a thousand blue latex fetishes, but she is also believably sad and vulnerable.

Nicholas Hault plays Hank McCoy, the kind of scientist most easily found in comic books: he invents experimental jet planes, builds telepathy amplifiers, designs costumes and performs genetic experiments on himself, which is always the hallmark of genius. He also has freaky prehensile monkey feet that allow him to run extremely fast, which makes sense because apes are the fleetest animals in nature.

Vying against Xavier’s mutant team is Kevin Bacon in the role of a villain so evil that he kills and experiments on prisoners for the Nazis just to warm up. He, too, is a mutant: he has the power to work with everyone in Hollywood and to compel small towns to dance against their will. —Nah, just kidding, he absorbs energy, whatever that’s supposed to mean. The point is, he’s extremely evil. Why? We don’t know. We don’t need to know. He has a yacht and a submarine and he wears an ascot. Do not question his evil.

Helping him is January Jones as the world’s most powerful mind-reading lingerie model. In the blink of an eye, she can also change into a diamond-hard crystalline figure, then back to her original wooden form. She hates mankind—I think that expression is supposed to be hate—though to be fair, if I were a lingerie model and could read minds, I’d probably hate mankind, too.

Do you have any other random observations in closing? Perhaps ones with more potential as SPOILERS?

It bothers me that at a crucial point in the story, while on the run from their powerful enemies and the federal authorities, Xavier and his mutants flee to the one place no one will think to look for them: his palatial estate in Westchester County. You know the one—it’s about a mile away from the giant radio astronomy dish. No? Maybe it’s harder to find than I think.

It also drives me crazy that at the film’s climax, when all the main characters face imminent death, one mutant who could save them all stands around idly waiting for the end. And yet when the moment of crisis has passed, he then matter-of-factly uses that power to do what he should have done in the first place. If he were on my team of mutant henchmen, he would get a formal reprimand. (We run a tight ship here at the Fortress of Sullenness.)

Call me crazy, but I think that at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, when the U.S. and Soviet fleets were itchy with anxiety over who might shoot first and start World War III, flying a mysterious unidentified jet aircraft into their airspace might be about the worst possible move.
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