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X-Men Reviews 2

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X-Men Reviews 2 - Page 4 Empty Re: X-Men Reviews 2

Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:57 pm

http://blog.mysanantonio.com/geekspeak/2011/06/x-men-first-class-has-youth-on-its-side-but-not-enough-narrative-conviction/

‘X-Men: First Class’ has youth on its side, but not enough narrative conviction
Posted on 06/06/2011 by René A. Guzman

Meet the 'First Class.' Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender, left foreground) and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy, right foreground) lead Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones, left), Raven Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence), Dr. Moira McTaggert (Rose Byrne), Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), and Alex Summers (Lucas Till). (20th Century Fox)
Throw Bryan Singer’s original X-Men from 2000 into a somewhat hip but somewhat staid 1960s time capsule and you get X-Men: First Class, a decent prequel of sorts that benefits tremendously by having youth on its side but never fully realizes its narrative potential.

You get the sense First Class is the X-Men movie Singer wanted to make all along — a fresher, younger spin on the rise of mutants among us, this time set in the same early 1960′s as the original The X-Men comic by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby that debuted in 1963. And First Class does have Singer’s fingerprints all over it, from his co-writing credit to its opening scene of a rain-soaked concentration camp in 1944 Poland that’s straight out of his first X-Men film.

And this really is so much like Singer’s first X film with younger faces. You still have the noble mutant telepath Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) who seeks peaceful coexistence with humanity, while the tortured master of magnetism Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) wants to lash out with vengeance because, as the previews make abundantly clear, he’s never sought peace as an option for his personal demons or those that we all know will plague mutants once they’re revealed to the world at large.

But First Class centers more on the budding bromance between Xavier and Erik before the philosophical schism that will make Erik the Malcolm X to Xavier’s Dr. Martin Luther King. Here the younger, not-bald Xavier is quite well-intentioned but naive and even arrogant, convinced everyone will pretty much accept mutants because they’re so wondrous, just as the shape-shifting Raven aka Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) accepted Charles when she and Chuck were kids. And it’s no wonder Charles believes in such peaceful coexistence considering the CIA has at least taken to a quiet team-up with Charles thanks in large part to the efforts of CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne).

But Erik’s horrific, heartbreaking experiences at that concentration camp tell him otherwise; humanity has a knack for enslaving and undermining what it fears or at least outnumbers. It’s partly what makes Fassbender so often compelling in the film and McEvoy McAvoy so often a temple-rubbing little pris.

First Class could have really explored this allegorical issue of race in 1962, just one year removed from the Freedom Rides. Instead, the action flick skips that to focus on the Cold War/Cuban Missile Crisis aspect of the era, specifically how the dapper impact-absorbing mutant Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) wants to maneuver the US and Russia into launching World War III so mutants can rise as the next stage of life on earth.

Dapper and dumber. Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bason) talks nuclear armageddon with Emma Frost (January Jones). (20th Century Fox)
Shaw is essentially Singer’s Magneto template of the flick, right down to his unique choice of telepath-averting headgear. And also like Singer’s first X film, this powerful despot comes with his own brotherhood of evil mutants — equally-dapper evildoers that look like they teleported out of Mad Men, right down to the ever-wooden January Jones as the diamond-skinned evil telepath Emma Frost.

Naturally, this forces Charles and Erik to form their own team to take on Shaw’s gang. And this is probably the most fun part of the flick when Charles and Erik recruit mutant blue chips like the sonic-screaming Sean Cassidy aka Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones) and the plasma-blasting Alex Summers aka Havoc (Lucas Till). These scenes play out like energetic comic panels with a ’60s vibe. Really fun stuff.

The problem is this happens after some much more grounded espionage/revenge sequences with Erik, which play out more like darker James Bond action.

That’s another problem I had with First Class. Just when it settles into that ’60s espionage vibe early on it shifts to a more hip rounding up of the kids and rolls with that youthful flow. And when it starts having fun fleshing out those young characters (which really are pretty cool, especially the brilliant but ape-like Dr. Hank McCoy aka Beast) we get too much ridiculously stilted Cold War maneuverings, mostly at the hands of the abysmal Jones as Emma Frost. (Seriously, she makes Halle Berry’s lackluster turn as Storm in the first X-Men flick look like Meryl Streep.)

I think Singer and the gang could’ve easily threaded the young characters into the beginning of the film and tied them together in the middle to really build their respective characters. (Really, this film is not as character-driven as the buzz would have you believe.) With earlier scenes with these characters, ala that with Raven, you’d strengthen the motivation for them joining forces, plus you’d have even more opportunities to at least acknowledge the prevalent racial tensions of the day and how they hem so closely to mutant discrimination. For instance, just a simple, quiet scene with Charles seeing Dr. King on television or Erik reading a Malcolm X headline would have done wonders to further entrench and enrich this story without getting too heavy-handed.

Perhaps the film’s as-is scattershot narrative voice comes from the very schism behind the camera. After all, First Class isn’t completely Singer’s film. It’s director Matthew Vaughn’s, no stranger to adapting comic-book material after last year’s bloody gonzo Kick-Ass. And missed thematic opportunities aside, First Class does entertain with its youthful exuberance.

Still, I think Singer and Vaughn’s respective approaches to championing this comic-book mutant franchise are more along the lines of Xavier and Magneto’s approach to championing mutantkind. Two sides of the same coin, ever flipping but never really settling on a side.

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X-Men Reviews 2 - Page 4 Empty Re: X-Men Reviews 2

Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:59 pm

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/archives/2011/06/06/x-men_first_class_the_good_the_bad_the_ugly/

‘X-Men: First Class’: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

By this point, it’s more than likely that you’ve checked out “X-Men: First Class” (although its underwhelming box office suggests that there were fewer of you than we thought). And, if the film’s strong exit scores are anything to go by, you, like most of The Playlist team, found it as entertaining a superhero movie as any in the last few years: fresh, exciting and well-directed, with a brace of star-making performances, it’s certainly given a much-needed kick up the ass to a franchise that’s had two awful entries in a row.

Which isn’t to say that it’s perfect: undoubtedly down to the film’s rushed production schedule, it has plenty of flaws. Some might be nitpicks, others are more troubling, but everyone on the team has a few bugbears with ‘First Class,’ and now that it’s in theaters across the globe, we wanted to go a little more in depth than our review from last week into what works, and what really doesn’t, just as we did with “Thor” earlier in the summer. This means, of course, that MASSIVE SPOILERS are ahead, so if you haven’t seen it already, you should avoid clicking until you’ve caught up. So, with no further ado, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of “X-Men: First Class.”

The Good:

Michael Fassbender & James McAvoy
The reason we were principally excited about the film in the first place was the casting of top-notch young stars James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr, and even the most negative reviews agree that they deliver in spades—the most controversial aspect is which of them gives the best performance. Fassbender was always going to be a perfect fit, and, aside from his variable accent (he gets more and more Irish as the film goes along), he smashes it: channeling a turtle-necked Bond at the beginning, showing hints of vulnerability as things progress, but always hinting at the darkness under the surface. He’s been poised to go huge for some time, and this will only cement him as a giant movie star. McAvoy’s is the less meaty role, but he’s just as good: the script sensibly breaks from Patrick Stewart’s saintly portrayal by making Xavier a boozing, girl-chasing guy, although still a noble one. It’s the flaws that make it special: for all his championing of mutant rights, McAvoy shows in the later stages of his relationship with adopted sister Raven that he’s just as shallow and prejudiced as any human. We argued for some time over which was the MVP, but the fact is, they work like gangbusters together: it’s evident from the press tour that the pair get on like a house on fire in real life, and it’s their chemistry that really sells the film.

Jennifer Lawrence & Nicholas Hoult
Not that the younger cast members don’t turn in good work too. Almost all cast members are solid, even in thankless roles, but the standouts of the college-aged mutants are certainly Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence, and to a lesser extent Nicholas Hoult, as ape-footed scientist Hank McCoy. Lawrence shows that she won’t phone in blockbuster roles (boding well for “The Hunger Games”) as Raven/Mystique, every bit the little sister emerging into adulthood, with all that entails. The character was essentially a cypher in the Singer/Ratner trilogy, but Lawrence makes the struggles of a girl who can look like anyone, but can’t escape her natural form, genuinely heartbreaking. Hoult, who replaced “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” star Benjamin Walker at the last minute, has a similar arc, albeit one that’s less well-realized (more below). But when he’s still in human form, Hoult is great as the awkward genius firmly uncomfortable in his own skin, finally justifying the hype that’s been behind him in recent years.

The Finale
Admittedly, this was a contentious one among the Playlist staff, but it basically boils to do this: the epic finale with the mutants pitted between the Russians, the Americans and a whole bunch of missiles was a winner. The denouement (basically everything that happens after the beach sequence)? Not so much. But, like a lot of things in “X-Men: First Class”—and what will become a theme through much of this piece—the weaker aspects of the last portion of the film are easy to overlook when compared to how much of it works. If the film gets off to an unstable start, Matthew Vaughn more than makes it up for it with a truly thrilling, appropriately epic and wonderfully lensed showdown in which both the fate of the world and Magneto’s redemption are drawn to surprisingly bittersweet conclusions. While Shaw is dead, Magneto’s soul remains darkened and cynical as the humans have once again favored fear and tried to eradicate the mutants. Meanwhile, Charles Xavier not only sees his optimism dashed, he’s paralyzed in the process in a scene that is much more moving than you might expect. While some folks have lazily thrown comparisons between ‘First Class’ and “The Dark Knight” around—Christopher Nolan’s film is far superior in most regards—at least in the finale, Vaughn’s film is every bit as dark at Batman’s martrydom. If only he’d resisted putting Fassbender in the purple cloak at the end.


The ‘60s Setting/Production Design
Maybe it hurt it at the box office, but relocating the film to the 1960s was an inspired move. With every other superhero movie basically sticking to New York (or in the case of “Thor,” the little town of Backlot, New Mexico), giving the mutants a retro finish makes ‘First Class’ stand apart not just from recent awful ‘X-Men’ entries, but also the rest of the superhero pack and their would-be gritty realism. Even if the film doesn’t engage with social issues as much as we hoped, aren’t superheroics just, well, cooler in this era? And special mention must go to production designer Chris Seagers, Tony Scott’s regular collaborator, who knocks it out of the park with a succession of Ken Adams-esque sets, while maintaining a continuity with the Singer series of films.

The Kink
Considering all the body-switching, bared skin and young hormones of the “X-Men” comics, it’s a little strange that the movies to date have been so chaste. Matthew Vaughn and company definitely correct that this time out (even aside from the alleged summer camp-like vibe on set). In addition to the homoerotic tension between Xavier and Erik, there’s the creepy slave/master relationship between Sebastian Shaw and White Queen, who can reproduce a facsimile of herself to make love while the real version trims her nails. Meanwhile, Mystique, who clearly has some sort of incestuous age-play thing going with Xavier, engages in needle-play with Beast, before embracing her scaly self in bed with Magneto, and then taking a post-coital nude kitchen stroll in front of Xavier. Rawr! Indeed, the absence of a standard love triangle, a la Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, was somewhat refreshing, particularly in a climate where the success of “Twilight” makes such a thing a near-necessity to executives. Not that the hormones aren’t flying, but it’s much more incestuous and messy, like… well, real life.

The Action
For the first hour of the film ‘First Class’ sets itself apart by not inserting a gigantic action setpiece every 15-20 minutes. The action is spare and the scenes of Erik hunting down Nazis are some of the most thrilling in the film. Fassbender proves with a few quick moves that a great character is more exciting than all the blowing-s$#!-up Michael Bay can muster. (That is, until the finale when it becomes a much more conventional superhero ‘save-the-world’ film). Vaughn gets what few directors do: that it’s the beats that make the action memorable, not the spectacle, and all the way through, he makes it clear (no shakey-cam in sight) and exciting, proving what we suspected after “Kick-Ass”—that he’s got killer action chops.


Magneto: Nazi Hunter Subplot
Since the movie starts off flashing back to the first moments of Bryan Singer’s initial “X-Men,” with a young Magneto brutally torn away from his family in a World War II internment camp, it makes sense that the jazzy reboot, taking place in the decades that follow, would investigate this further. But it’s still a little bit of a shock just how gleefully demented and entertaining these vignettes are – particularly a prolonged sequence set in Argentina. At least two Playlisters made an audible yelp when this sequence played out, which involves a flying dagger and multiple Nazi targets. But none of this would be worth a damn without Michael Fassbender, who in these scenes works out that combination of charm and menace that will make him the emotional anchor for the rest of the film. In fact these early sequences are enough to make you think, “If this was the rest of the movie, I’d be cool with that.” And when it turns out that the rest of the movie isn’t Magneto hunting down Nazis, you are kind of bummed.

Matthew Vaughn’s Direction
If there’s one thing that keeps all of the plates of “X-Men: First Class” spinning – its multiple plot threads, myriad character introductions and thematic concerns – it’s the crackling direction of Matthew Vaughn. Anybody who saw the ultimately uneven “Kick-Ass,” knew, at the very least, that if Vaughn got his hands on some big comic book property (something he’d previously flirted with, having been attached to, at various times, “X-Men 3” and “Thor”), he was going to knock it out of the f#%@#&! park. And you know what? He did. The current crop of Marvel superhero products are largely anonymous affairs (gone are the days when auteurs like Ang Lee would be able to make oddball efforts like “Hulk”), so seeing a superhero movie with even a slight amount of personality is a huge relief. The surprise, maybe is just how many Vaughnisms – jaunty stylistic embellishments and editorial choices – made the final cut. From turning the screen into a diamond prism when White Queen Emma Frost takes over, to the training sequence which turns into comic book panels, and some particularly clever editorial tics in the final act, this is a virtual smorgasbord of artistic flourishes. And something tells us it’ll make “Captain America” all the more drab and pedestrian.

Bacon and Ham
While the biggest question of the film might be how Kevin Bacon doesn’t seem to age over the course of twenty five years (we vaguely recall a throwaway line justifying it, but it’s still a little weird), there’s no doubting that his wardrobe, attitude and general swagger contributed to creating a genuinely happening, hip and memorable villain. Already Bacon’s second superhero nemesis of the year (“Super” was the first), Bacon infused the stuffy comic book creation with an irreverent attitude, both fabulously extravagant and disdainful of his earnings. The cherry on top was the movie continuity’s retconning of Shaw as a Nazi, allowing Bacon to try his impeccable German while also allowing for some goofy scenery-chewing and mustache-twirling.

The Bad:
Rushed Script Reeking Of First-Draft
It’s a testament to Matthew Vaughn’s direction (see above), that all the strands in “X-Men: First Class” don’t collide and run aground. But that doesn’t keep the movie, at least from a script standpoint, from feeling like a hastily written and tentatively stitched together affair that could burst a seam at any moment. There are four credited writers on the film, with several more (including “Gossip Girl” writer/producer Josh Schwartz) who didn’t get credit, but it’s not that there were too many cooks in the mutant kitchen, rather, none of the ideas, be they thematic or narrative, was finessed to the point of true maturation. This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone with a knowledge of the film’s ridiculously condensed, ten-month-from-start-to-completion timeframe, but it is still a shame: when you have actors as good as James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender together in a movie, you’d want to be able to savour their scenes. Instead, there’s a “let’s get on with it” attitude that seems, in part, to mask the questionable plot motors – before you can ask “Why is this happening?,” there’s something new on the screen to dazzle and delight. It’s only later that you wish, in a movie that’s this overstuffed, it’d had more time to breathe—most of the film’s best moments are the ones in which Vaughn and Goldman let exactly that happen—e.g. Erik moving the radar dish. The dialogue seriously needed work as well: witness “mutant and proud” being repeated over and over in a hokey manner, or Kevin Bacon’s “Come with me and you will live like kings… (cue meaningful look to the women present) and queens.”

Thinly Drawn Mutant Teens
Even with an emphasis on the Charles/Erik conflict, Fox knew they were going to have to account for not having the top-tier characters like Cyclops and Storm in this installment. So as replacements, we’ve got third stringers like Havok and Banshee. Havok shares lineage with Cyclops in the comics, though this is never mentioned in the film, as the character is instead a petulant catchphrase-heavy juvenile with a fairly undefined laser power. Banshee, meanwhile, has the deeply-uncinematic ability to scream his enemies away and, quite arbitrarily, take flight. Along with the non-presence that is Darwin and the questionable grrl-power of otherwise-nondescript Angel (see below), there aren’t a whole lot of character beats to enjoy here, and the few grace notes given to Beast end are squandered once he transforms.

And That Goes Double For Angel
None of the B-listers’ arcs are as useless, uninteresting and ultimately pointless as Zoe Kravitz’s Angel. Rescued from a stripping career, Angel’s exciting powers include: flying with her hummingbird like wings and shooting fireballs of….snot? Mucus? Volcanic ash? The screenplay doesn’t bother explaining, and this writer isn’t up on his comic lore or intrigued enough to look it up. And anyway, it doesn’t matter. In one of many examples of the rushed nature of the script, Angel seems to immediately forget about what Charles and Erik have done for her and after a single speech by Sebastian Shaw, decides to join the bad guys. She’s promptly forgotten about until she gets into an aerial battle with Banshee during the film’s finale that has zero stakes on anything happening within the plot proper. If she were cut out of the film entirely, we wouldn’t have noticed.


Pointless Henchman
Following in the proud tradition of mutant redshirts, Sebastian Shaw’s mutant crew doesn’t really have much to do. Which is disappointing, as they certainly have presence—Matthew Vaughn gets a lot of mileage from Jason Flemyng’s intimidating, devilish Azazel, while he shoots January Jones’ White Queen as if she were played by Brigitte Bardot. But Flemyng barely has any lines (just enough to reveal he’s Russian) and the wooden Jones serves as a weak sidekick with no inner motivation. Riptide, meanwhile, doesn’t get a single line, as far as we can remember. Although on the plus side, we had no idea the guy from the Black Eyed Peas could throw tornadoes.

Too Many War Room Scenes
Back in 1964, Stanley Kubrick’s wonderfully visualized underground war room in “Dr. Strangelove,” made such an impression that when Ronald Reagan, that great thinker, took office, he asked someone where the war room was located. (That “someone” was given the unenviable task of telling him that it was just something that appeared in the movie.) It’s just that Hollywood, in the years since, hasn’t gotten the message either and that image of the war room – with a large halo of lights and a giant screen displaying the impending world calamity – has been repeated incessantly. It makes sense in things like Tim Burton’s demented send-up “Mars Attacks,” but less here when the film is going for at least a semblance of historical accuracy. While “X-Men: First Class” doesn’t use the imagery as egregiously as Zack Snyder in “Watchmen” (it probably helps that there isn’t some rubbery Richard Nixon), it’s still tired and phony and way too meta. At the very, least, though, the war room sequences in ‘X-Men,’ which we cut away to far too often for the decision-making by the human powers-that-be, give a small showcase to sturdy character actors like Ray Wise and James Remar. Still, we suggest a ban to be placed on further war room sequences in any movie. Ever.

Maybe One Too Many Groan-worthy References
We get that the fanboys love little nods to comic continuity, but it can be a little bit overwhelming sometimes, and, while ‘First Class’ doesn’t have it as bad as, say, “Iron Man 2,” it definitely gets a bit too smart-ass. Hugh Jackman’s cameo is probably one of the film’s highlights (and, in one foul-mouthed line, he gets closer to the spirit of the character than in all five entries to date), but Rebecca Romijin’s appearance is pure fan service, seemingly aimed at fans of her portrayal of Mystique (i.e. no one), and, as the film plays fast and loose with the established continuity as it is, you suspect that a fresh start might have been smarter. Worst of all are the little throw-away lines: Xavier keeps talking about his hair in a way that we can only assume is meant to set up “X-Men Second Class: Male Pattern Baldness” in the future


Not Enough Oliver Platt
We’re not sure there’s a soul alive that doesn’t like Oliver Platt, and his casting in ‘First Class’ as the mysterious Man In Black promised a lot. And, while a little Platt is better than no Platt at all, we can’t be alone in being a little baffled at why he even bothered: he shows up, gets a couple of good line readings, but not a lot else, in the grand scheme of things, and then is abruptly killed off. And while dropping one of the most recognizable faces in the film from a height is a nice signifier as to how brutal things will get, it’s also something of a pussy’s death, the veteran character actor denied even a close-up. Platt deserves better, damn it!

The Over-Egged Score
While Vaughn somehow resisted the temptation to just buy the rights to his temp score, as he did on “Kick-Ass,” the work here by Zimmer-factory graduate Henry Jackman (“Gulliver’s Travels”) isn’t a classic superhero score by any means. It works in places—the guitar in the Nazi-hunting sequences is pretty great—but feels like a blustery action-score-by-numbers towards the end, the triumphalism somewhat at odds with the more complex stuff going on on screen. In his defence, he probably had about three days to write the thing, but considering the 60s retro feel, we can only dream what someone like David Holmes or Michael Giacchino could have done.

“Now Let’s Pause the Narrative for a Montage”
Even though the film is more overstuffed than Garfield after a lasagna binge, for all its action bombast and socio-political theorising, the impasse it’s been ostensibly building to over the course of two hours (the impending Cuban Missile Crisis) gets put on hold whenever the filmmakers’ feel like rushing through character introductions via everyone’s favourite hackneyed device – the montage. The first one where Erik and Charles get recruiting starts off as cute (daw, they’re saving hookers in an opium lounge) but ends up as a wearying, “let’s round up the gang” “Ocean’s Eleven”-style exercise that comes off as a lazy dramatic convenience. Hank McCoy invented Cerebro just to uncover these four mutants? Is this a humanitarian service they’re providing for lost causes, or is it all to combat Shaw? It doesn’t cohere. Plus the fact that the entire crux of the film is supposed to hang on the tension between Erik’s “Peace was never an option” and Charles’ essential pacifism gets conveniently forgotten when the two scamper about the X-mansion giggling like schoolgirls in Rocky sweats whilst getting their students to ‘discover’ themselves. Some might say having a sequence where Banshee topples off a window ledge is the light-hearted calm before the storm. Others would say, who gives a damn if Havok can’t shoot those red things out of his chest straight?


The Ugly:
January Jones
Underwritten? Perhaps. Serving largely as eye-candy rather than character? Sure. But let’s not pretend that the “Mad Men” star looked anything but totally lost among the comic-speak of “X-Men: First Class.” If Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy were examples of how to take even the most banal and expository dialogue and make it shine, January Jones didn’t seem to be up for the task. With wooden deliveries matching an equally wooden, one expression face, all of her scenes seemed to be done in one take with the actress reading her lines off cue cards twenty yards away. Granted, the production was rushed, but if this was really the best she could do, we worry about her post “Mad Men” career. She is excellent on the show (and, let’s not forget, in her breakout turn in “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada”), but not everyone gets a Matthew Weiner script to work with year after year. Hopefully this is a hard lesson learned for the actress, and not a sign of things to come.

The Uneven Effects
One of the great things about going to see a summer blockbuster in today’s movie climate is that we can expect to see great special effects. Or so we thought. While the grand finale with the naval ships and submarine works—Magneto lifts the thing out of the water!—it seems like Vaughn spent his entire effects budget on this one scene, with the rest of the film delivering VFX work that, at its worst, looked hokey. Most notable are Magneto’s powers that lift huge ship’s chains out of the water and wrap barbed wire around armed guards; the wire looks like it’s alive rather than having Magneto manipulating it to his bidding. With a budget of over $150 million, we wonder where all that money went if not to effects (it definitely wasn’t spent on January Jones’ wardrobe, that’s for sure).

Total Missed Opportunity To Dive Into The Racial/Gender Issues Of The Day
One of the reasons the X-Men have remained popular across the decades is the opportunity for subtext: they’ve been used as metaphors for virtually every oppressed minority under the sun over the years, and the openly-gay Singer made good hay of that in some of the best scenes in his opening two entries. With Singer returning as producer, and a 1960s setting that seemed made for subtext, it seemed like ‘First Class’ would really capitalize on these meaty themes, but it looks like Vaughn simply isn’t interested: there are a few token nods, but they’re generally ham-fisted (let’s talk about slavery, then cut to the black guy!), and entirely miss the opportunity to really bring the story in touch with the times. In the first film, during an ideological discussion between Erik and Charles, Magneto utters, “By any means necessary,” a phrase that resonates deeply amidst the specter of the civil rights movement. But by actively capturing the plight of mutants in the early 1960s, that phrase gets placed directly underneath the microscope, as we are forced to address, head-on, a fractured, alternate universe where the term “minority” takes on a different meaning. So are we to assume this is some sort of alternate reality where having red skin or shooting tornadoes is more uncomfortable than being a black man? This issue is further complicated by the fact that one of the black X-men recruits is the first to die (“I can adapt to survive any situ-I’M DEAD”) and the other is quick to join the bad guys (who also happen to include a Hispanic guy, and a red-skinned European of indeterminate origin). So you’ve successfully supplanted the civil rights movement with a story about people who can lift cars, and your primary minority characters are both useless and of arbitrarily questionable morals?


The Misogyny
It certainly doesn’t help that the movie has a pungent whiff of misogyny, which runs toxically counter to feminist inroads being made at the time. This uneasiness starts early, as plucky CIA Agent Moira MacTaggart (Rose Byrne) decides to infiltrate the Hellfire Club not through her intelligence training or particular sneakiness, but by wearing strappy underwear. Oof. The hits keep on coming as January Jones, playing a villainous mutant who could have easily overtaken her “boss,” not only engages in a weird sexual liaison with a Russian official but also walks around the entire movie in thigh-highs and a micro-mini-skirt. (In a movie filled with anachronistic technology, Jones’ push-up bra gets the biggest spotlight.) Additionally, the entire character arc for Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), a powerful, shape-shifting mutant, involves her looking for men who take care of her, and eventually tell her she’s beautiful. (She rewards that kind of attention by f#%@#&! Magneto and then walking around in front of Professor X naked.) And where do our heroes find Angel (Zoe Kravitz)? Working at a sleazy strip club of course! By the end of the movie, every female character has either gone over to the dark side, or has had her memory wiped without her consent. We hope that Vaughn was simply playing to the adolescent male crowd instead of forcing some icky political agenda (especially when his co-writer is Jane Goldman), but Vaughn, Goldman, and everybody at Fox should have known that girls like “X-Men” too and this kind of imagery and thematic material at best underserves them, and at worst could have a very negative effect on them. Its problematic gender politics might be the least groovy thing about “X-Men: First Class.”

Young Charles Xavier and Young Mystique Scene
As deep as we are in prequel territory with ‘First Class,’ we have a slight inclination to delve deeper into the mythology. Specifically, who is Xavier’s father, with the massive mansion in Westchester, fitted out with training facilities seemingly specifically meant for developing mutants? Of course, maybe he isn’t such a big deal, as, upon their first meeting, young Xavier meets Mystique and assures her she will never have to hide again (really?) and that she can even move in. Clearly, six-year-old Charles calls the shots in this joint. And, while “Son of Rambow” star Bill Milner does a decent job as Young Erik, neither Young Charles or Young Raven seem to have much chops in that scene, either.

The Short Shrift Given To Beast Post-Transformation, And The Shoddy Make-Up Job
As we said, Nicholas Hoult turns in a good performance as Hank McCoy, and, while he doesn’t get as much screen time as the three principles, he’s shaping up to be one of the most interesting characters around. And then he pursues his plan to rid himself of his monkey feet, and, in an impressive POV transformation scene, things go horribly awry. Hubris, vanity… rich material to develop the character further, right? Wrong. Maybe it’s because the Chewbacca-meets-Na’vi make-up effect is so poor (seriously, Kelsey Grammer looked much better as the same character in ‘The Last Stand’), but Hoult is all-but absent from the final couple of reels, mostly reduced to standing around on a beach watching the interesting stuff. Considering the decent set-up, a ball was definitely dropped here.

Drew Taylor, Gabe Toro, Jessica Kiang, Cat Scott, Sam Price, Kevin Jagernauth, Oli Lyttelton

Oliver Lyttelton posted at 1:47 pm on June 6, 2011
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:59 pm

http://www.nypress.com/article-22503-inglourious-mutants.html

Monday, June 6,2011
Inglourious Mutants
Director Matthew Vaughn virtually turns X-Men into Inglourious Basterds
By Armond White

X-Men: First Class

Directed by Matthew Vaughn

Runtime: 132 min.

Not terrible is the best evaluation a sensible person could give to X-Men: First Class—but that isn’t good enough. This back-to-adolescence prequel is meant to revive the franchise after Bryan Singer drove X-Men 3 into uselessness. Seeing how Professor Xavier and Magneto first met, and began their rivalry as leaders of the specially gifted mutant crime fighters, merely rehearses the familiar story with younger faces. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender aren’t exactly fresh in these roles; the characters and their situations are so utterly familiar they can’t be rethought or refreshed. The entire film is a hackneyed exercise.

Hack director Matthew Vaughn’s specialty is British refurbishments. As in Layer Cake and Kick Ass, Vaughn repeats already established genres with a desperate lack of imagination. The introduction of each mutant feels like déj vu and is humorlessly drawn-out. Even with new actors playing Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Darwin (Edi Gathegi), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Riptide (Alex González), Havok (Lucas Till), Vaughn finds no personality spark. This makes him—shockingly—a lesser director than Bryan Singer. At least X-Men 2 showed Singer energized by the outsider theme as a gay-teen allegory: Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Romijn, Alan Cumming, Halle Berry and James Marsden were all flirt, promising unleashed potency. Singer had anticipated the “It Gets Better” campaign—but then got worse.

Vaughn stays timidly within the X-Men comics’ narrative limits. He’s finally found an exploitable fantasy mode but when he includes obvious James Bond and Dr. Strangelove references, it only reinforces how mundane the material has become. Ironically, that’s exactly why X-Men: First Class serves as a jackpot for Vaughn just as the debutante Star Trek was for J.J. Abrams. These prequels give an illusion of rejuvenation that might be especially appealing to susceptible young viewers but while rebooting the box office these films also constrain viewers’ imaginations.

Take the good vs. evil premise that starts in 1944 with the Nazi invasion of Poland and ends with the Bay of Pigs standoff in 1963. It teaches vengeance not history, practically turning the X-Men into Inglourious Basterds. Travestying history doesn’t give edge or profundity to action comics; it just makes them distasteful and dumb. Young Magneto’s choice between using his powers to manipulate a Nazi coin or save his mother’s life is merely coarse; it gets wrong the ethical choice that was so well played in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when Indy’s dilemma opposed diamonds and an antidote.

X-Men: First Class trivializes each mutant’s motivation as childish petulance. Vaughn lacks the knack for expressive action, reducing the athletic gallantry Fassbender displayed in Centurion to doing silly things like levitating a submarine. He wastes Fassbender’s beautiful emotional capacity. Magneto and Professor X’s disputes lower personal principles into mumble-jumble (“the point between rage and serenity”). And Vaughn doesn’t dare push the earnest young men’s sympathies (“There’s so much more to you than you know.”) toward romance. Instead, using Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones and Zoe Kravitz as insipid sex objects is a tired alternative.

Sure, this prequel could have been better, but using pre-sold comic book escapades to pacify moviegoers couldn’t be worse. X-Men: First Class tricks audiences into misunderstanding episodic narrative pleasure. They become accustomed to dull, rehashed gimmicks, awaiting the next ticket buy. Vaughn’s shrewd: His ending isn’t a cliffhanger, it’s a carrot.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:02 pm

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/x_men_first_class/news/1922667/marvel_movie_madness_part_13_x-men_first_class/

Marvel Movie Madness! Part 13: X-Men: First Class
Does this preboot do the trick?
by RT Staff | Monday, Jun. 06 2011

Enter Marvel Movie Madness, wherein Rotten Tomatoes over the coming weeks will watch all of the significant Marvel movies ever made. Full Marvel Movie Madness schedule here. Tune in! We give you our thoughts, and you give us yours.

Part 13: X-Men: First Class (2011, 87% @ 190 reviews)
Directed by Matthew Vaughn, starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne

Matt: After a disappointing descent into mediocrity (X-Men: The Last Stand, and Wolverine), Marvel's mutant heroes make a triumphant return to the big screen with a prequel that tells the story of how the band got together back in the day. Now, if you're like me and grew up reading The Uncanny X-Men, you won't like the liberties taken here with which mutants were actually in this "First Class." But I'm willing to let that pass because this movie is mostly pretty fun. The action is thrilling, the cast is (mostly) great, and the story works pretty well. I wouldn't have thought the X-Men were involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis, but that story works really well here, and lends credence to humanity's fear of the mutant population. In spite of a couple of problems I had here and there, I really enjoyed this movie (even if the comic geek in me was somewhat disappointed with some of the character choices).


Luke: Well, at least it sets things on some sort of promising path again after the debacle of Wolverine, but I can't say I thought this movie was successful. As Matt says, there are continuity issues, which I wouldn't normally have a problem with if First Class had set itself up as a pure reboot of the series -- but there are numerous nods to the trilogy, and Wolverine (it's a giant nod), and the fact that it does this and yet gets a couple of things majorly wrong (I can't go into it without spoilers) was an issue for me. I mean, there's plenty of good stuff here: Michael Fassbender is fantastic (as he always is), and I liked the retro-Bondian establishing first half, which also had a lot of humor to it (could Matthew Vaughn direct a reboot of the 1960s Batman? Absolutely; that may just be his calling.) The whole plot being hitched to the Cuban missile crisis, though, deflated the tension a little too much; we know how that turned out, which isn't necessarily fatal to the movie, but the plot builds so heavily upon it that we're invited to sit in suspense for an outcome that is forgone. Also, the way some of the characters are introduced, and their names checked off facetiously -- "Hey, you should be called Magneto! That's a cool name!", whatever -- brought back certain bad prequel memories, and there's one shot (without spoiling: huge pull back from the beach, melodramatic wailing) that had me falling out of my seat laughing, and not in any way the movie had intended. And if you're going to set a movie in the 1960s, what's with the cheap-sounding modern action movie score?


Ryan: I was particularly excited to see how this prequel would be done, how it would set up some of the characters we see later in the X-Men movies of the 2000s. Overall, like Matt, I found it pretty entertaining, but I think I also know somewhat where Luke's coming from.

Early on, for example, I was a little worried, because there are a couple of instances in the first twenty minutes or so when I had to stifle a few chuckles (Revenge of the Sith-sized chuckles), but the movie quickly rights itself and begins focusing on the characters of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. That's where the real meat of the story is, and James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender do a terrific job. For what it's worth, the snappy action, the obligatory montage of young mutants learning to harness their powers, and the little winks to the fans kept the movie fun and (mostly) prevented it from devolving into an unintentionally hilarious melodrama.

Why "mostly"? Because as well-crafted as the story is, it's inevitably going to be a little tricky to imbue a movie like this with substantial heft, and there were little moments here and there that, at least for me, quite honestly teetered on camp - it didn't help that my theater had a guy with a ridiculous guffaw who laughed during all of those moments. Where I differ from Luke, though, is that every time this happened, I thought the movie recovered and brought things back to center, so I didn't sweat it too much, and I was left with a pretty enjoyable moviegoing experience.


Jeff: After reading so many four- and five-star reviews for this movie, I had really high expectations going in, but I came away disappointed. X-Men: First Class has a lot going for it -- as everyone else has noted, Fassbender is outstanding, and Vaughn's way with an action sequence gives the film a palpable, albeit inconsistent, sense of kinetic joy -- but they aren't enough to sustain momentum.

Part of the problem is that First Class is an origin story that involves a lot of characters, so it has to build a lot of context, but it's hard to do that without slowing things down, so the script tries to have it both ways; you get a bunch of action interspersed with a lot of really clunky expository dialogue (not to mention some distractingly obvious lines referencing "don't ask, don't tell," "you're either with us or you're against us," and the tension between liberty and security). It shines a harsh light on the cast, some of whom go overboard (Kevin Bacon really needed a mustache to twirl) and some of whom just seem lost (January Jones: Oof).

It isn't all bad. Really, parts of First Class are a lot of fun. But it's built on such a promising idea, and it assembled so much talent, that I was expecting to be strapped in and taken for a thrill ride, and instead I kept being taken out of the movie. That's a fatal flaw for this type of film -- you never want to give the viewer time to ask questions like "Why are Xavier and Magneto alone on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial?" or "Why does that nuclear reactor look like a carnival attraction?"
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:03 pm

http://www.gackhollywood.com/blog/421/x-menfirst-class/

http://cinemaassassin.com/xmenfirst-class/

X-Men:First Class
Monday, June 6th, 2011 at 8:07 am

As always to experience the ultimate in luxury I recommend Ultraluxe Cinemas in the Anaheim Garden Walk. With new releases being shown on their 65 foot screen with unparalleled sound, It does not get any better.

X-Men: First Class
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones
Rated PG-13
Director: Mathew Vaughn

Amidst the backdrop of the cold war, Charles Xavier creates the first school for mutants including his future nemesis Magneto

Erik Lensherr/Magneto(Michael Fassbender) is in search of Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) the man who helped unleash his powers through anger during his time as a young man in a German concentration camp. Soon he befriends Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and together they recruit more mutants to train and to help take down Shaw before Nuclear War is started.

Director Mathew Vaughns take on the X-
Men franchise insures that First Class is a long way from Wolverine in terms of Acting, Tone and special effects. More closely resembling the original X-Men film, rather than Brett Ratners take onthe universe in X-Men 3 or that of the overly ridiculous and completely abysmal Wolverine.

First Class is an origin tale of how the X-Men came together while, Comic purists might not like the liberties taken in the story overall, to the laymen it does a solid job of laying the foundation. For all of the great acting (for a superhero film), there seems to be something missing from the film and that falls directly to Profesor Xavier and the lesser known mutants in the film. McAvoy is great but how many times can you watch him put his finger to his temple and try to read someone’s mind. Xavier success has been as the brains behind the operation with the more popular X-Men doing the dirty work. First Class brings together some lesser known mutants in the franchise including Banshee(Caleb Landry Jones), Darwin (Edi Gathegi), Havok (Lucas Till) and Angel Salvadore (Zoe Kravitz) Not exactly the most famous or popular group of X-Men. On Shaws team we have Emma Frost (January Jones perfectly cast as she is completely icy and devoid of personality) along with Riptide(Alex Gonzalez) and Azazel (Jason Flemying virtually unrecognizable sporting long hair and red skin). Jennifer Lawrence proves she is far from a one hit wonder as Mystique however her love triangle with Beast ( Nicholas Hoult) and Magneto and her inner turmoil seemed rushed and forced.
You might be asking who are these people and why should I care about them and that’s the problem you don’t. The only real players in the film are
Xavier and Magneto and that is what keeps the story moving particularly Fassbenders take on Magneto conveying and inner turmoil and emotion that is a level higher than your standard super hero fare. There is a lot going on but not a lot you will care about. On a side note as much as anybody likes Kevin Bacon he doesn’t come across as scary or threatening, just a guy who you know is going to lose in the end.

X-Men ultimately is a movie that substitutes Mutants for any minority which feels oppressed and how they decide to fit into mainstream society, in that aspect it handles weightier issues than just saving the world, Sadly First Class is a bit underwhelming. In a world filled with mutants I would like to be wowed or awed, but more often than not I found myself putting my hand to my temple like Professor X wondering where the magic was.

Grade- 80
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:06 pm

http://www.metro.co.uk/film/reviews/865123-x-men-first-class-is-comic-book-fun-with-an-impressive-cast

Larushka Ivan-Zadeh - 2nd June, 2011
1
X-Men: First Class is comic-book fun with an impressive cast
Film Review: X-Men: First Class is surprisingly ace with a bit of politics thrown in and a pleasing quantity of 'kaboom' explosions.

X-Men: First Class review January Jones and Jason Flemyng in X-Men: First Class

Prequels: generally better than sequels? Discuss. Certainly this new movie rule (Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace being the exception) applies to this surprisingly ace superhero flick that could be subtitled ‘How Professor X got his wheelchair’.

The main action takes place in a stylish ’n’ swinging 1962, where groovy young Oxford genetics boffin Charles Xavier ( James McAvoy, channelling just the right amount of Leslie Phillips) and his childhood pal (Jennifer Lawrence) are just two of a growing secret population of superhumanly gifted mutants.

With an evil, ex-Nazi genetic supremacist (Kevin Bacon) plotting to blow up the world, Xavier teams up with one of the baddie’s victims, concentration camp survivor Erik, aka Magneto ( Michael Fassbender – surely the next James Bond?), plus the US government to train a group of hot young mutants to use their powers to fight for the free world.

As you can tell, there’s a bit of politics in this script, co-written by Kick-Ass’s Jane Goldman (who knew it was secret mutant warfare that instigated the Cuban missile crisis?) but never enough to weigh down the pleasing quantity of ‘kaboom’ explosions and general comic-book fun.

British director Matthew Vaughn manages to keep an impressive handle on his prodigious ensemble cast (also including Mad Men’s January Jones, dressed as an Austin Powers-esque fembot) allowing their characters room to breathe and grow, in between shouting ‘look out!’ at another expensive CGI effect.

Ultimately, however, it’s the pukka McAvoy/Fassbender actorly dynamic that truly makes this baby first class.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:16 pm

http://www.neontommy.com/news/2011/06/review-x-men-first-class-looks-past-answers

REVIEW: X-Men: First Class Looks To The Past For Answers

Whitney Bratton | June 6, 2011
Staff Reporter

Continuing this summer’s trend of superhero flicks, sequels, reboots, and over-the-top special effects, “X-Men: First Class” had its work cut out for it as it opened in theaters Friday, June 3rd.

Following in the steps of the Star Trek reboot, X-Men takes a look back at how the mutants at the heart of the franchise came to meet one another, choose their alliances, and deal with their first semi-official assignment: the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The film begins with the two backbone characters of the story, the psychic and sage Charles Xavier “Professor X” (James McAvoy) and his counterpart, the proud but vengeful metal-manipulator Erik Lehnsherr “Magneto” (Michael Fassbender).

The reboot examines defining moments in each of their early childhoods: Xavier in a posh mansion discovering his first mutant, the adorable blue-skinned shape-shifter “Mystique” (Jennifer Lawrence); and Magneto in a Nazi concentration camp being torn from his mother and subsequently experimented upon by the villainous Dr. Schmitt aka mutant megalomaniac, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon).

The story fast forwards to the 1960’s when the two are young men, Magneto hunting down former Nazis in Argentina, and Xavier receiving his professorship from Oxford. The remainder of the film follows these young men and their attempts to prevent Shaw and his mutant thugs from provoking the Americans and Soviets into World War Three.

While it is fanciful to imagine that the Cuban Missile Crisis was somehow engineered by a gang of comic book nasties and not our own global anxieties, the film takes on what may have been more that it was able to handle by setting it fifty years in the past.

Specifically, the film suffers artistically as it sacrifices authenticity for modern appeal in order to cater to the youth in the audience and never fully commits itself to the time period. The characters’ hairstyles, costumes, and even dance moves betray their new millennium origins, only reminding viewers of the setting by dropping the occasional period slang (“groovy”) or black and white newscast (John F. Kennedy addressing the nation).

Even the X-Jet looks suspiciously modern, as does much of the technology featured in the story.

And for some reason the young Magneto dresses suspiciously like a beatnik, which is in keeping with the period but… odd?

Additionally, the film must introduce an impressive number of mutants in order to have enough good mutants to fight bad mutants, allow the X-men split over philosophical differences, and kill off a couple of unfortunate mutants along the way.

The result is no one, outside of Xavier, Magneto, and Mystique, get much in the way of character development, and most of the mutants are simply defined by their powers, rather than their personalities.

However, for a special effects heavy action flick, it still manages to work in some outstanding performances, particularly between its two leads, as Xavier digs into Magneto’s mind (and the audiences’ hearts) in an attempt to calm the anger that both drives and controls the young Holocaust survivor.

Nothing can compare to the performances of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan as the adult Professor X and Magneto in the original X-Men trilogy, but McAvoy and Fassbender give it a game attempt. Though they are young versions of the characters, McAvoy’s calm voice of reason plays powerfully against Fassbender’s dark determination, getting down to the more intriguing issues underlying the franchise: do we as individuals choose to accept, or fear, those who are not like us.

It is these moments that carry the film and make it worth seeing. The film may take on a lot, but in an industry obsessed with trilogies, perhaps there will be more films down the road to allow these characters room to breathe and fill a space unique from the X-Men films of the previous decade.

And for those nostalgic for the older version of the series, keep your eyes peeled, Hugh Jackman is apparently never far from the saga that has served him so well since he first donned Wolverine’s iconic claws in the year 2000.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:18 pm

http://www.purdueexponent.org/features/article_edc8a4d0-9043-11e0-a8b1-0019bb30f31a.html

'First Class' provides great action

In this film publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, from left, Caleb Landry Jones, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Lucas Till are shown in a scene from "X-Men: First Class."

Posted: Monday, June 6, 2011 10:00 am | Updated: 10:05 am, Mon Jun 6, 2011.

BY TYLER HICKS | Summer Reporter

For those looking for a great action movie, look no further than “X-Men: First Class”. However, prepare to hear avid comic book readers cries of indignation that everything isn’t to canon, because the movie does take a lot of liberties for the sake of drama and moving the plot forward.

“X-Men: First Class” is set at the height of the Cold War right before the Cuban Missile Crisis. The director, Matthew Vaughn, captures the atmosphere of the ‘60s and turns a time of paranoia and subterfuge into a great backdrop for a time when mutants first reveal themselves, setting the tone for the rest of the X-Men movies. In this prequel to the X-Men trilogy, longtime X-Men icons Professor X and Magneto are drawn together for the first time to stop Russia and America from starting World War III, but to do it, they’re going to need to recruit other young mutants to help.

The cast for “X-Men: First Class” was chosen almost perfectly. Michael Fassbender plays a perfect young Magneto and Vaughn couldn’t have picked a better actor to play the villain than Kevin Bacon. James McAvoy may come across as a bit too ‘groovy’ to be a perfect Professor X, but the rest of the “First Class” of X-men capture the awkward teenager-turned-hero vibe amazingly.

The plot works and is mostly true to comic book canon. However, pieces of dialogue are interspersed throughout the movie are that cause groans to ripple throughout the audience. Some of the romantic chemistry set up in the film also causes some raised eyebrows. The action sequences more than make up for these. In particular, watching Fassbender’s character, Magneto, pick off Russian soldiers and old Nazis using only metal objects is fascinating. The ingenuity of Vaughn shows through in these sequences and startles you into silence.

However, “X-Men: First Class” does suffer from the one fatal flaw that the third X-men movie suffered from as well. Directors of superhero movies need to realize characters don’t need to die to move the plot along, especially when these characters play a crucial part in the Marvel comic books. It may sound a bit nitpicky, but fans of the comic books hate to see characters they’ve grown up with killed off in an insignificant scene. It makes the rest of the movie less enjoyable.

Although “X-Men: First Class” doesn’t follow the Marvel comics perfectly, the cast and action sequences make for an entertaining film. It is definitely worth a watch.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:24 pm

http://english.galatta.com/entertainment/english/livewire/id/X_Men_First_Class_making_waves_even_before_release_50540.html

X-Men: First Class making waves even before release!
By Mohan K [June 6, 2011]

Early screenings of the 5th instalment of the highly successful X-Men franchise has been garnering a lot of positive reviews from noted critics, with "very entertaining" and "possibly the best film of the franchise", being some.

The critics are appreciating the star cast of the film, apart from the movie and the story. A trade source commented, "A very entertaining film with a great young cast," while another exclaimed, "I thought it was really good, with a great cast."

The movie, directed by Matthew Vaughn and starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, January Jones and others, takes us to the period where it all started. The movie's storyline reveals the friendship between Charles Xavier(Professor X) and Erik Lenshnerr (Magneto) before it turned sour and evolved into an undying war between Magneto's Brotherhood and Professor X's X-Men.

The movie is hitting theatres on June 10th, and will be releasing simultaneously in English, Tamil, Hindi and Telugu. Don't miss it!
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:31 pm

http://www.flix66.com/2011/06/06/movie-review-x-men-first-class/

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class
Reviews

Reviewed by: Brad Sturdivant

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender Jennifer Lawrence

Movie: 8/10

Overall: 8/10

It was no secret that production on X-MEN: FIRST CLASS was rushed, to say the least and whenever films get rushed through the production process, it usually equates to a jumbled mess of a movie with poorly developed characters and a weak script that doesn’t always make sense. It’s what fans have come to expect from the X-Men franchise after X3 was embarrassingly bad and X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE was disappointing, even if it was entertaining at times. But First Class director Matthew Vaughn was determined to not let outside forces ruin his chance to make another great superhero movie (his first being the underrated KICK-ASS) and the result of his hard work is a unexpectedly great X-MEN: FIRST CLASS.

X-Men First Class

The surprising aspect of the film is that it’s more of a multi-character, character-driven drama than it is a superhero film. This isn’t Hugh Jackman running through the woods screaming “who am I” for 90 minutes, this is a look at several interesting, complex characters that the previous X-Men films never took the time to develop. We understand fully why Magneto is the way he is and we get an even greater appreciation for who Professor Xavier is and how he became the man we know, both emotionally and physically. Mystique was relegated to a sideshow gimmick in the first three films and now she’s a legitimate character with real emotions and backstory. We’re no longer waiting for the characters to get into the next fight or to try out their powers, we now want to know more about them and who they are. In the world of superheroes, that’s a tough thing to pull off and First Class did it so effortlessly, it makes you wonder why so many other films struggle with it.

Magneto X-Men

Of course, this is made possible by two amazing performances from James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. McAvoy had mentioned he was worried the film would come out cheesy, but his class and talent prevented that from being a possibility. But as good as he was, Michael Fassbender was even better as Magneto and his presence actually makes me long for a possible Magneto spin-off. One could call First Class an origins movie for Magneto, which may not sound interesting, but Fassbender gave such a powerful performance that the character of Magneto is far more than he ever has been on film. By the end of the movie, we understand his motivations and actually start to see things from his point of view. Screenwriters Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn did an overall amazing job. And again, having four screenwriters on your film is another sign your film is going to struggle, but somehow they made it work.

Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hout in X-Men: First Class

But as much as I liked the film, it was not without a few drawbacks. January Jones was completely worthless as Emma Frost and managed to somehow make a sexy outfit as mundane and dry as possible. She is irritating in ‘Mad Men’, but here her lack of talent was distracting. We also had a cheesy moment where each character tried to give the other nicknames, which of course became the names we know them as today. But the scene felt forced and uncomfortable and probably would have been better on the cutting room floor.

X-Men First Class

I enjoyed the first two X-Men films, but being a fan of the comics, I longed for a true X-men film that had characters we cared about (that didn’t have adamantium skeletons) and stories we wanted to follow. Matthew Vaughn delivered with X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and then some. My only hope with this new X-Men franchise is that it lasts longer than the previous incarnation.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:35 pm

http://www.cinemaspy.com/reviews/x-men-first-class-demonstrates-superior-genes-8078/

X-Men: First Class Demonstrates Superior Genes
By Robert Falconer, June 5, 2011 in Movie Reviews

Charlies Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) have a strong friendship and a long history. X-Men: First Class is - more than anything else - their story.

Richard Donner. Christopher Nolan. Sam Raimi. And now, Matthew Vaughn. All directors who know how to properly execute a comic book-to-motion picture superhero film.

Not as twistedly cerebral as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, as colorfully choreographed as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, or as sweepingly epic as Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie, director Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class is nonetheless in the same company as those films. The reason stems simply from its ability to turn fantasy creations of ink into living, breathing characters with whom we can identify, sympathize…and most importantly, empathize.

X-Men: First Class begins in a Nazi concentration camp in Poland, circa 1944, where we see a boy separated from his mother. Restrained by guards, he reaches out to her, to no avail, as she is taken away. In the boy’s anguish, the barbed, metal gates that separate them begin to shudder violently, even as eugenicist Dr. Schmidt — portrayed with sadistic relish by Kevin Bacon — looks on in rapt interest.

Soon after, Schmidt offers the boy, now formerly revealed to be Erik Lehnsherr, a single chance to save his mother, whereupon we learn that the youngster’s power can only be activated through strong emotions. The sequence is barbarous and disturbing, establishing the background, intent and motivations of these two characters in one tragic scene. Here we learn where Erik’s long-standing feelings of anger, mistrust and vengeance are forged.

Later, as the now-adult Erik (Michael Fassbender) searches the globe for Schmidt (who has now changed his identity to Sebastian Shaw and is revealed to have mutant powers of his own), he crosses paths with future X-Men founder Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), a genetics wunderkind at Oxford.

Though the film introduces us to several of the mutants with whom we’re familiar — Mystique, Beast, Riptide, etc. — and how the “first class” comes together, Charles and Erik (soon to be Magneto) form the emotional core of X-Men: First Class. It is their complex, sibling-like back-and-forth relationship, along with the wonderfully nuanced performances of these two actors, that give the film its heart and soul. Charles Xavier is a thinker, a man of measure who would prefer to avoid violence whenever possible, but who is capable of it if necessary. Erik Lehnsherr is the opposite. Forged in the Nazi’s crucible of cruelty, his personality favors action and vengeance, yet he can be capable of benevolent clemency. All of this occurs largely because each man gives the other the gift of their truer nature, and by the end, though each finds himself leaning back towards his original proclivities, each is also the stronger because of their relationship, and each continues to value the other’s friendship.

Ironically, despite his seeming turn towards that of an antagonist at the end, it is Erik who’s predictions about mankind’s betrayal of the mutants, is proven correct. This part of the narrative, while revealing an uncomfortable truth about humanity, is wonderfully executed.

It’s thus perhaps no surprise that X-Men: First Class takes place against the turbulent backdrop of 1960s America, and therefore works as a metaphor of sorts for the period, as the country dealt with a populace coming to grips with issues of prejudice, racial tension, social unrest and conformity.

Vaughn also has fun with the 1960s, and there are several sequences and set pieces that are entertaining to watch merely for the nostalgia they engender.

The film’s only major structural weakness comes from the inherent nature of its material—never is any sort of plausible pseudo-scientific explanation provided for why humans with mutated genes can perform such extraordinary feats external to their own biology. Such is the complexion of the franchise. Accept this, and the film is eminently enjoyable, partially because it never fails to obey the laws of its own universe, but largely because the main characters are so well drawn; so well acted.

There have been a few criticisms leveled at the the film’s visual effects. Ignore them. There’s nothing wrong here. Unless you prefer frenetic VFX with smash cuts and incomprehensible action, a la Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Once again, X-Men: First Class excels, reminding Hollywood of how visuals should support the story, not the other way around. The scenes concerning the Cuban Missile Crisis are highly effective, interspersed as they are with real footage from the period.

If there is one point of contention in the film, it’s the choice of shots for the opening title. Segueing out of 1944 Poland, we see a Nazi coin with a Swastika on one side suspended in the air, which slowly rotates to reveal the X-Men logo on the other side, suggesting that one leads to the other. While there’s no question that Erik Lehnsherr’s experiences as a boy in Nazi Germany forged the man, connecting the Swastika to the X-Men logo could be viewed as erroneous at best, and insensitive at worst.

In the grand scheme, it’s a minor point. X-Men: First Class is the best of the ‘X-Men’ films and a shining example of what a superhero film ought to be. Green Lantern and Captain America have their work cut out for them this summer.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:35 pm

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/reviews/view/1133459/1/.html

X-Men, First Class is not quite first-class
By Hester Tan, channelnewsasia.com | Posted: 06 June 2011 1410 RATING:

SINGAPORE: Just when you thought it was the end to the X-men series, another one comes along.

Unfortunately, too much of a good thing can't be good for anyone. That includes movie-makers.

"X-Men: First Class" rewinds the clock to when it all began.

The prequel set in 1960s, tells the story of how both Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Eric Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) met, became best friends and then archenemies as Professor X and Magneto as seen in the later series, that came much earlier in the movie timeline if you haven't been following the series.

Confused? Don't be. "X-Men: First Class" gives a clear idea of how X-Men began, while filling in missing pieces in the series such as why Professor X is stuck in a wheelchair and just how old Wolverine could be - a natural reason to have Hugh Jackman make an appearance alongside Rebecca Romjin who reprises her role as Mystique.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn ("Kick Ass" and "Stardust"), this movie may not provide as much punch and excitement, as compared to the other four films – "X-Men"(2000), "X2" (2003), "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006) and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"(2009), but it does have top-notch special effects and great actors.

Though X-Men movie fans may find it weird to see Professor X and Magneto being played by actors other than Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, they are in for a treat as both James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender give splendid performances.

It was also impressive to watch Kevin Bacon and Michael Fassbender speak in Russian, German, Spanish and French, while making it seem as natural as speaking in English.

If not for the movie's special effects, the 132 minutes would have made this a rather exhausting film to watch.

Bryan Singer who produced and directed most of the X-men franchise may already be toying with yet another X-men movie, but based on this latest effort, it might be better to out the X on X-men and continue with the so-nasty, it's nice, Magneto.

-CNA/ht
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:42 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zaki-hasan/zakis-review-xmen-first-c_b_871436.html

Zaki's Review: X-Men: First Class
Posted: 06/ 5/11 03:57 PM ET

Two summers ago, I was ready to proclaim Fox's X-Men movies "done, done, done." I've never been more happy to be proven wrong.

Following the well-trod paths of recent reboots like Batman Begins, Casino Royale, and Star Trek, all tasked with helping their respective brands reclaim past prestige after prior stumbles, X-Men: First Class, the fifth go at the eleven (!!) year old series, takes us back to the beginnings of Marvel's multitudinous mutant mythology. In mining the rich narrative vein of the fast friendship and bitter breakdown between eternal rivals Professor X and Magneto, it single-handedly rescues the franchise from the creative doldrums that crippled its recent entries.

Smaller in scale and less explodey than the bombastic excesses of its two predecessors (2006's X-Men: The Last Stand and 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine), the prequel project marries the indy-honed storytelling sensibilities of director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Kick Ass) and the returned Bryan Singer -- producing this entry after directing the first two -- and hearkens back to the high point of Singer's 2003 sequel X2. Singer, you may recall, bolted from development on the third X-Men so he could head up Superman Returns for Warner Bros, little realizing how his decision would nearly scuttle both franchises. Superman received a chilly reception from audiences, while the Singer-free X-flicks did fine financially, but flailed creatively.

Thus, his return to X-country has the feeling of a longed-for homecoming, with his work here as co-scenarist giving a renewed dramatic weight to the proceedings that only makes more apparent what was sorely lacking in the last two go-rounds. Foregrounding character before spectacle (though it has its fair share of that -- this is still a summer blockbuster, after all), the film effectively utilizes its '60s setting in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis as the canvas upon which the larger-than-life struggle of opposing ideologies underlying the entire series -- pacifism vs. militancy, open hand vs. closed fist, however you want to frame them -- plays out.

Starting right where the original X-Men in 2000 did, down to a shot-for-shot redo of its first scene, film follows young Erik Lehnsherr, the boy who will be Magneto, as he is separated from his parents in Auschwitz in 1944 and first unleashes his mutant ability to manipulate metals. Growing into Michael Fassbender (who will in turn eventually grow into Ian McKellen), he spends his time tracking down and dispatching various Nazi war criminals across the globe.

Meanwhile, we also meet Charles Xavier (soon to possess Patrick Stewart's bald pate, but who can comfort himself with James McAvoy's mop of brown hair for now), whose telepathic abilities make him the most powerful mind on Earth, as well as its foremost expert on genetic mutation. When a request from the US government for his particular kind of expertise puts Xavier on the trail of a mutant mastermind (not be confused with the mutant Mastermind) named Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) -- intent on orchestrating a nuclear war for his own devious ends -- who is also being sought by Lehnsherr, we know we don't have long to wait for a meeting of mind and magnetism.

There's a sense of anticipation coupled with the tiniest hint of dread as we watch these early scenes unfold, knowing not only how perfectly Xavier and Lehnsherr are matched with one another, but also the collision course that destiny has already charted for them. Witnessing the bond the two forge becomes a fascinating case study of nature vs. nurture. Had Erik been raised in the lap of luxury, and Charles suffered the horrors of Auschwitz, would they have still staked out opposing ideological turf? It's a philosophical question whose underpinnings gird the entire film, especially necessary since we already have a pretty good idea how the whole "Missile Crisis" thing turned out (spoiler: we made it).

Our involvement in the story would collapse completely if we didn't hold a stake in the Charles-Erik dynamic that informs every frame. Fassbender, whose charisma was apparent just from the trailers, delivers a career-defining turn here that will elevate him to the A-List as surely as the first X-Men did for Hugh Jackman (it's no knock on Jackman to say I didn't feel his absence here nearly as much as I thought I would).

One of the mini-essays I penned for the upcoming book Geek Wisdom was a meditation on the appeal of evil by way of Hannibal Lecter and Anakin Skywalker, where I reached the conclusion that part of us enjoys peering into the abyss to see just how close we can get without falling in. Erik's arc exemplifies that conceit, representing an impossibly magnetic (yeah, yeah, I know...) personality who spends most of the movie perched precariously on that razor-thin dividing line between good bad guy and bad good guy.

In many ways, Wolverine and Magneto fill very much the same role in these stories: the conflicted anti-hero who has to decide which of the two paths laid out before him to follow. We already know the choice Magneto will make, but seeing it here lends an added dimension to Wolverine's path in the original, demonstrating in one fell swoop the kind of prequel-sequel synergy that George Lucas couldn't find his way to in three visits to the pre-Star Wars well (okay, my requisite dig at the Star Wars prequels is out of the way).

While Fassbender is rightly deserving of the praise he's been garnering for his work here, I don't want to in any way undervalue McAvoy's essential contributions either. The Scottish actor, who I've been a fan of since his leading role in the underrated Sci-Fi (whoops, SyFy) miniseries Children of Dune in '03, has an almost harder task placed in front of him than Fassbender. His Xavier has to both ground the proceedings and also serve as the necessary straight man to the showier Magneto. But McAvoy does a nice job of giving him a playful twinkle while still laying the pipe for the saintly, pious figure embodied by Stewart.

In fact, strong performances are turned in across the board. Vaughn and Singer deserve much credit for the solid ensemble of mostly-unknowns they've assembled for their team of proto-X-Men, as well as familiar faces like Ray Wise, Michael Ironside, and Oliver Platt to populate smaller parts. Although the movie's timeline renders marquee mutants such as Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm off-limits, the filmmakers make do with a serviceable roster of second-tier heroes like Caleb Landry Jones' Banshee and Lucas Till's Havoc (technically Cyclops' younger brother in the comics but, y'know, whatever).

Also on the "good guy" side of the aisle (for now, anyway), Jennifer Lawrence is fine in the role of true blue shapeshifter Mystique that Rebecca Romijin played previously. Working in Lawrence's favor: she gets to play more of an emotional storyline than the character's fairly limited role in any of the previous films would have allowed. Nicholas Hoult also has some nice moments as introverted scientist Hank McCoy (Kelsey Grammer in The Last Stand), whose revulsion at his Beastly, ape-like feet ends up leaving him a little blue himself.

As for the villains, Bacon has more than enough presence to hold his own with Fassbender and McAvoy, making Shaw a compelling antagonist in his own right, and his stated goal of mutant domination offers a hint of Magneto himself in later/prior installments. The one weak link in the otherwise-excellent cast is the somnambulant January Jones as scantily-clad mutant temptress Emma Frost. Jones sleepwalks through the proceedings, playing Frost like a very-bored Betty Draper. Luckily, for us and the movie, there's propulsive power to the storytelling that keeps Jones from lingering long enough to be anything other than a mild annoyance.

Layered with small hints (some subtle, some not-so-subtle) explicitly situating the film within the cinematic universe that Singer inaugurated while explicitly overwriting the chronologies established by movies three and four, X-Men: First Class satisfies the goal of creatively righting this franchise beyond the most optimistic estimations, marking a from-the-ashes rebirth not unlike a certain fiery fowl of mythic (and mutant) significance. Not only is First Class the best X-Men yet, it's also the strongest comics-to-screen translation to hit theaters since The Dark Knight. X-ceptional company indeed. A
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:45 pm

http://firefox.org/news/articles/3553/1/Movie-Review-X-Men---First-Class-2011/Page1.html

Movie Review: X-Men - First Class (2011)

By Aubrey Ward III
Published 06/5/2011

I'm just a regular guy that loves watching movies and talking about them. I feel it's my duty as a world citizen to detect cinematic "bombs" so you don't have to. I'm no cinemaristocrat but if I think a film is worth spending money on I'll tell ya. If it's not fit to be used as a doorstop I will certainly tell ya. And remember to always rent first before buying.

All New. All Different.
X-Men: First Class took me on a trip back through time to show the early years of Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender). Once their origins are established the “wayback machine” heads for 1962. During this period Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and his Hellfire Club plot to ignite a nuclear war between America and Russia. CIA Agent Moira McTaggert (Rose Byrne) discovers that the Hellfire Club’s inner circle consists of mutants so she seeks help from Charles Xavier, a leading expert on mutations, to find a way to stop Shaw. This will lead to Charles meeting Erik and the creation of the first X-Men team.

One of the things that surprised me about X-Men: First Class was the emphasis on dialogue and character development rather than making a lot of flashy mutant power exhibition scenes. I think viewers might be caught off guard when they discover this summer blockbuster has the sensibilities of a winter season, political intrigue flick. The first half of the film shows Erik traveling the globe hunting the Nazi that murdered his mother. He travels to France and Spain and this means English subtitles. The idea to set up the birth of the X-Men within the Cuban Missile Crisis seemed like a crazy move but it actually works out well though some of the historical references in the American and Russian war rooms might go over the heads of kids 12 and under. There were times where even I was a little confused by the Cold War-speak and was hoping to get back to the mutant issue that was much simpler to follow.

While there are some significant displays of mutant abilities they are used with a restraint not commonly utilized by the typical summer blockbuster film. Even the big fight in the last act has a muted quality about it. The finale is spectacular but not overdone nor overly complicated.

I believe the “high brow” feel of the X-Men: First Class is mostly attributed to the involvement of Bryan Singer (producer / screenwriter) who directed X-Men (2000) and X2: X-Men United (2003). The two earlier X-Men movies put more focus on what really makes the X-Men saga so endearing; the characters. The powers are cool but the people that use those powers are what make the X-Men stories tick and Singer understood that. This method has helped to make other comic book based films such as Iron Man (2008), Spider-Man (2002) and Batman Begins (2005) into quality features rather than just disposable light shows.

Some of the story highlights in X-Men: First Class are Erik’s inner struggle to toss aside his vengeance quest in exchange for Charles’ ideas about mutant / non-mutant co-existence. Charles will have his hands full trying to stop The Hellfire Club while training the first mutant superhero squad. Sebastian Shaw and his cronies will be busy putting their machinations into action while both the American and Russian governments go into offensive mode as they both suspect that a nuclear war is looming near.
Simply put, if you’re expecting to walk into X-Men: First Class expecting a light plot and heavy special effects you are in for a shock. Whether or not it is a pleasant surprise depends on your mindset. Personally, I was relieved that I was watching an X-Men film that was not trying to insult my intelligence with a dumb story draped in CGI glamour.

Y’know, like X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).

My advice to devoted X-Men fans is to leave your continuity at the door. While X-Men: First Class is advertised as the “prequel” to The X-Men Trilogy this film will rewrite all kinds of history both in the comic book lore and the films. The most obvious change is the original X-Men team. For the uninformed, Professor X’s first students were actually Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast and Angel. The filmmakers assembled an almost completely different first class with Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Darwin (Edi Gathegi), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones) and Havok (Lucas Till). Angel (Zoe Kravitz) is present but this incarnation is actually based on a character from a different X-Men team (see "New X-Men" 2001 thru 2004 comic book series created by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely). Fans might be a little relieved to see Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) kept almost intact with him appearing first in human form and then later transforming into the blue furred “Beast”.

There are many other differences and inconsistancies that fans will enjoy picking out but much like the previous X-Men movies though the origins are tweaked the characters themselves are somewhat true to their comic book counterparts. Frankly, with the numerous changes the X-Men have gone through over the years this revamped retelling of their start shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the die-hard fans. The Hellfire Club is still made up of ruthless world conquerors, Erik is still dealing with his anger issues and the X-Men still continually grapple with rescuing the very people that want them exterminated.

As reboots and prequels go, X-Men: First Class was done tastefully well. The film takes a more cerebral approach to the “merry mutants”. This isn’t just a typical superhero movie where the superpowered save the day in the nick of time. The tone and style of X-Men: First Class is closer to Casino Royale (2006) instead of Superman III (1983). I think viewers are going to get a jolt when they realize they’ll have to leave the theater to retrieve their “thinking caps” from their cars because this movie is not a popcorn movie. Just a warning to parents with small children that it isn’t the violence you’ll have to worry about. The slow pacing of the film coupled with the reimagined history lesson on the Cuban Missile Crisis might send your little ones running around the theater to stay awake. The grown-ups, I think, will be somewhat pleased to see a superhero movie that is more brains than brawn.

PS – Feel free to leave after the credits. There is no bonus scene attached to this movie.

Rhymes With: Inception (2010), The Dark Knight (2008), X-Men (2000), Casino Royale (2006), Star Trek (2009), Iron Man (2008), Spider-Man (2002)
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:54 pm

http://www.littlehamptongazette.co.uk/lifestyle/entertainment/film_review_x_men_first_class_12a_1_2737552

Saturday 11 June 2011

FILM REVIEW: X-MEN: First Class (12A)

Published on Friday 3 June 2011 09:00

Very good things come to those who wait.

After the sinking ship of Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and the pounding headache of The Hangover Part II, the omens were distinctly ill for this summer season.

Thankfully British director Matthew Vaughn, who lifted spirits last year with the deliciously foul-mouthed Kick-Ass, repeats the feat with this exhilarating, action-packed prequel based on the hugely popular Marvel Comics.

After the lukewarm reception to spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Vaughn delivers a sleek and satisfying opening chapter that establishes the mythology of the iconic characters and provides tantalising glimpses of where the series can go next.

The film opens in Poland 1944 with young Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) unlocking his devastating power of magnetism thanks to the provocation of sadistic concentration camp commandant (Kevin Bacon).

“We unlock your gift with anger!” he cackles.

At the same time in Westchester, New York, young telepath Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets shape-shifter Raven Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence) and they become close friends.

Fast forward to 1962 and Erik is hunting down the commandant to exact revenge for his parents.

“Let’s just say I’m Frankenstein’s monster and I’m looking for my creator,” he tells a henchman.

It transpires that the German officer has re-invented himself as power-hungry globe-trotter Sebastian Shaw, who intends to spark nuclear war between Russia and America aided by mutant sidekicks Emma Frost (January Jones), Azazel (Jason Flemyng) and Riptide (Alex Gonzalez).

Standing in his way are Charles, Raven and five gifted mutants - Angel (Zoe Kravitz), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Darwin (Edi Gathegi) and Havok (Lucas Till).

At first Charles and Erik work together to defeat Sebastian, their common enemy.

However, a grave rift opens between the mutant leaders, lighting the fuse on the brutal and bloody war between the X-Men and Magneto’s brotherhood.

X-Men: First Class is a terrific reinvention, adhering closely to the comics to appease fans while entertaining cinema audiences with a tight script, snappy editing and directorial brio.

McAvoy and Fassbender are assured actors, capable of heartbreaking emotion, and there are plenty of tears here as nuclear war looms.

The only quibble is Fassbender’s wavering accent, which jigs from Europe to County Kerry and resonates so strongly of the Emerald Isle by the closing frames that you have to question if the Polish prologue was fantasy.

Supporting performances, particularly Lawrence and Hoult, are compelling and Bacon is a suitably boo-some pantomime villain.

A hilarious cameo by an X-Men favourite results in the film’s only swear word, and there are some tongue in cheek references to the future, like when Charles quips, “The next thing you know I’ll be going bald!”

We await his shiny bonce with feverish anticipation in the inevitable sequel.

:: SWEARING :: NO SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 8/10

Released: June 1 (UK & Ireland), 131mins
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:56 pm

http://www.kitv.com/r/28117217/detail.html

Review: First-Class 'X-Men' Marvels
Prequel Brings Franchise Back With Bang
Michelle Solomon, Contributing writer

POSTED: 8:59 pm HST June 2, 2011
UPDATED: 9:15 pm HST June 2, 2011
"X-Men" (PG-13) Popcorn rating Popcorn rating Popcorn rating Half Popcorn Rating (out of four)

Don't worry if the names Professor X and Magneto don't stir a fire in your soul, "X-Men: First Class" will spark excitement even in those who care little for comic book superheroes.

Much like the inventive 2009 "Star Trek" reboot that chronicled the early days of Spock and Kirk, "X-Men: First Class" goes back to the beginnings of "X-Men" when Professor X and Magneto first meet. Gifted scientist Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), who, because of his own genetic make up, has a gift of telepathy, and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), who, possesses the power to control magnetism when provoked, join together to stop Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). The powerful energy-absorbing mutant has hatched a plan to have mankind succumb to its own demise so mutants can take over the world.

The imaginative story is set in the 1960s at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, and uses real historical events fused with fiction to heighten the tension. In "X-Men: First Class," Shaw has figured out a way to escalate the Cold War crisis to trigger an all-out war.

Setting the film in the 1960s also lends the atmosphere a bit of James Bond mystique. It's the dawn of the Space Age -- no cell phones, no 21st century high-tech gadgetry, just submarines and super powers. There are other themes from the era that are fascinatingly interwoven including human themes of Civil Rights. Here the question of man's equality creates audience sympathy for the mutants, outcasts who are feared and hated because they are different. It's also a bit of a tribute that the film is set in the 1960s -- the Marvel Comics series was first created in 1963 by Stan Lee with Jack Kirby.

Of course, what's most intriguing in this Part One is how the X-Men came to be the X-Men. How did Professor X end up in a wheelchair? And how did X and Magneto become archenemies? Those of you who aren't concerned about these burning questions can just enjoy the magnificent effects and the mastery of the story.

Fassbender as the headstrong Erik is the focal point of the film. "X-Men: First Class" introduces Erik with a scene that opened the original "X-Men." He's a youngster held at the Auschwitz concentration camp in the 1940s and has been separated from his parents. "First Class" takes the opening a step further with the evil Dr. Schmidt pushing Erik to the limit so that the boy's strong mental powers become a force to be reckoned with.

The film moves forward 20 years later, where Erik is out to seek revenge for what he had endured at the hands of Dr. Schmidt. One of the best scenes (reminiscent of "Marathon Man") is when Erik visits someone who may know the whereabouts of Schmidt, but in order to make the man spill his secrets he must use his magnetic powers to do a bit of dental work on the gentleman.

"X-Men: First Class" also introduces other heroes and villains (and villainesses), some from past "X-Men" films and others primarily from the pages of the comic books. Here, we meet some new recruits as teenagers: Blue-skinned Mystique, a changeling who can appear as her human self, Raven, or assume the appearance of anyone else, has been taken under the wing of Charles. In the original film trilogy, she is played by Rebecca Romijn, part of Magneto's Brotherhood. Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence from last year's "Winter's Bone" plays the young Mystique with an innocent charm.

There's also the big-footed Hank (Nicholas Hoult), whose secret to how he became Beast is revealed; Alex Summers (Lukas Till), aka Havok, who emits super-heated energy waves; Sean Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones looking an awful lot like Harry Potter's Ron Weasley), aka Banshee, whose unique sonic blasts carry him into flight; and Armondo Munoz (Edi Gathegi), aka Darwin, who is able to adapt to any situation or environment. Zoe Kravitz (musician Lenny Kravitz's daughter) plays Angel, who sports an insect-like tattoo on her back that actually sprouts real wings, which enable her to fly.

Shaw's Hellfire Club villains and villainesses include Shaw's right-hand woman, Emma Frost, played by a seductive January ("Mad Men") Jones; the demonic Azazel (Jason Flemyng) and the tornado creating Riptide (Alex Gonzalez). So where's Wolverine? Now that's a surprise.

"X"philes will rejoice that the franchise is back in full force after a slump while anyone out for a little fun will herald this super, superhero extravaganza that kicks off the summer movie season with a resounding bang.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:57 pm

http://www.insidebayarea.com/top-stories/ci_18185942

Review: A classy 'X-Men: First Class'

By Colin Covert

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Posted: 06/02/2011 12:00:00 PM PDT
Updated: 06/02/2011 03:56:11 PM PDT

20th Century Fox Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender, left) who will become... ( 20th Century Fox )
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There are so many things going right in "X-Men: First Class" that you can almost overlook its glaring faults.

A richly layered, intelligently worked-out prequel, the film melds a dozen back stories, globe-hopping thrills and historic political confrontations, yet it never packs too many sardines into the tin. And it has a mature confidence rarely seen in comic book fare, with powerful drama and throwaway wit in perfect balance.

"First Class" gives a fresh start to the X-Men story line, with its mutant heroes alienated from human society. Director and co-writer Matthew Vaughn introduces his parallel protagonists with swift, sure strokes. In a World War II prologue, young Erik Lehnsherr, who will become Magneto,
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discovers his telekinetic powers at the hands of a sadistic Nazi scientist. Half a world away, Charles Xavier, the future Professor X, is raised amid wealth and comfort, using his telepathic gifts to calm and help an outcast girl.

The seeds of the characters planted, the tale skips ahead two decades. Erik uses his powers to hunt down the Nazis who killed his parents, executing them without remorse. "I'm Frankenstein's monster, looking for my creator," he tells one fugitive war criminal before dispatching him. Charles, a young college lecturer, turns his empathetic skills to advantage in his extracurricular womanizing.

Neither is a clear-cut villain or hero, and when they meet, their differences are simply philosophical disagreements
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between close friends.

The duo are recruited by the CIA to locate others of their kind who can help combat Soviet aggression. As they gradually encounter younger peers, Charles envisions a world where mutants and humans peacefully coexist. Erik sees humans as persecutors and mutants as the next step in evolutionary progress, as superior to garden-variety humans as Homo sapiens were to Neanderthals.

Their true natures are tested by a power-mad mutant bent on inflaming U.S.-Russian tensions into a nuclear holocaust. The film races ahead like a thoroughbred thriller, with every action sequence logically motivated by the story.

The tale is ideally served by returning to the early 1960s. The film's production design has a sleek retro allure; the look of the U.S. war room is a direct nod to "Dr. Strangelove," and the costumes are slim-cut, hip and sexy, if slightly anachronistic (miniskirts and long hair on men were still years away). Setting the action at the dawn of the civil rights movement and feminism gives the story social and political significance that's relevant even now. When one closeted mutant on the CIA payroll clarifies why he has kept his powers secret, he explains, "They didn't ask, I didn't tell."

A film so dependent on character dynamics needs fine actors in its top-line roles.

James McAvoy is superb as Charles, playing the patient, good-humored idealist with delicacy. Michael Fassbender is coolly charismatic, rueful and lethal as Erik. The actors are both in their early 30s, but McAvoy still carries some baby fat in his cheeks, while Fassbender has a lean, wolfish look. Over the course of the film they round up five teen mutants, who are thinly characterized, and the shape-shifting Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), who appears to be a blonde, blue-eyed angel because she uses her camouflage abilities to hide her natural appearance.

The biggest problem with the film is the nemesis. Kevin Bacon plays Dr. Schmidt, the concentration camp physician who unlocks Erik's rage, and thus his magnetic abilities.

From the moment he appears on-screen, speaking ill-accented German, Bacon strikes a false note. He's equally unconvincing in the 1960s chapter of the film, reincarnated as a lounge lizard Bond baddie named Sebastian Shaw. Dressed in mod splendor and swilling cocktails, his performance drips oily excess. He's also saddled with an illogical and unexplained transformation. Somehow he has acquired mutant powers of his own, which punctures a crucial plot point that humans and mutants are on separate evolutionary tracks.

Still, the four-way faceoff between heroic and evil mutants and the U.S. and USSR during the missile blockade is as taut and thrilling a showdown as we've seen in months. In almost every important regard, the new "X-Men" is first-class indeed.

'X-Men: First Class'

*** 1/2

Rating: PG-13 (for violence, language and some sexual content)
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and January Jones
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Running time: 2 hours, 11 minutes
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:58 pm

http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20110603/ARTICLES/110609886?Title=Movie-review-Newest-X-Men-starts-strong-but-holds-few-surprises

Movie review - Newest 'X-Men' starts strong, but holds few surprises

James McAvoy (far right) and Michael Fassbender (far left) are among the stars of "X-Men: First Class." Courtesy photo
By Brian Tucker
StarNews Correspondent
Published: Friday, June 3, 2011 at 2:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 3, 2011 at 2:59 p.m.

It's highly probable that, in the future, the Nazis will still be the go-to villains in entertainment, especially the movies.

Here, in a prequel to the “X-Men” franchise and a smart choice for following up the lackluster third installment (and “Wolverine”), “First Class” opens by returning to the powerful World War II opening of 2000's “X-Men.” We see Eric/Magneto as a young man stripped from his parents by said Nazis and how his mutant telepathic powers are to be utilized by them because of an ability to control anything metal.

But what begins as Magneto's back story serves as only a revenge through-line in the film. It's coupled with the formation of an uneasy alliance between other young recruited mutants and the CIA circa 1962 dealing with a growing nuclear problem between the U.S. and Russia that becomes the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Magneto, filled with rage, is searching for the Nazi scientist (played by Kevin Bacon) who stole his youth and killed his mother and is befriended by Charles Xavier/Professor X. Xavier, a natural leader and telepath recruits him to help the CIA. Magneto is distrustful, rightly so given his past. This relationship between Eric/Magneto and Charles/Professor X is the real heart of the film, a subplot that unfortunately is not given enough attention. It's the part of the first “X-Men” that really lends itself to a film on its own, of wondering how two friends became so diametrically opposed to one another.

“First Class” starts out really strong but eventually straddles the line between snippets of back story and redundant action-adventure. Much of it is set-up, jumping from one character to the next. Interesting it is, and important, but not capitalizing on the Xavier/Magneto relationship the audience has little to care about other than X-Men beginnings. It's understandable, there's a lot to get to in a two hour film that has, let's face it, a specific audience.

Still, as a prequel “First Class” is more than worthy and director Matthew Vaughn (“Kick-Ass,” “Layer Cake”) gives it a balance between being cartoonish and stylized much like “X-Men 1 & 2” director Bryan Singer did. Actors James McAvoy (Xavier) and Michael Fassbender (“Inglorious Basterds,” “Eden Lake” and would have made a superb Joker) give great performances while January Jones couldn't be more one-dimensional, walking through scenes with little interest.

“First Class” has a few surprises, one that brought a round of applause, but lacking a story arc to get attached to the film comes up short. Instead of transcending the superhero genre like “Superman” did or Vaughn's “Kick-Ass,” “First Class” becomes merely an exercise in fun popcorn entertainment.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:59 pm

http://www.philebrity.com/2011/06/03/film-sweat-one-movie/

Film Sweat: One Movie?

RECOMMENDED: Our only recommended film this weekend is also the only film being widely released this weekend. While Submarine(which looks impressive even though the trailer features one of our least favorite cliches: troubled character? Have them jump into a pool fully clothed) and Beginners open in LA only, X-Men: First Class comes to theaters everywhere. First Class is sporting an impressive 86% on film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, even while taking liberties with continuity and history in the X-Men universe. Reviewers are raving about the performances of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender especially. It won’t be very difficult for First Class to crush X-Men: The Last Stand in terms of quality (thanks Brett Ratner) but financially is another story, as The Last Stand grossed nearly $250 million domestically.

This entry was posted on Friday, June 3rd, 2011 at 1:57 pm.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:01 pm

http://kotaku.com/5808337/x+men-first-class-not-your-same-old-mutant-angst

Jun 3, 2011 2:40 PM

X-Men: First Class: Not Your Same Old Mutant Angst

Charlie Jane Anders — Are superpowers a blessing or a curse? Are mutants more like ethnic minorities, or queer people? For too long, TV shows and movies have been asking these same old questions, without really finding any interesting answers.

So it's a pleasure to watch a movie like X-Men: First Class, which blows past these tired old questions, to give us some new ones. For the first time in eight years, the big screen versions of America's favorite mutants feel like they have cool places to go.

Spoilers ahead!

The "are superpowers a blessing or a curse" thing is really overplayed, and X-Men: First Class mostly sidesteps this cliché. Instead, superpowers are just part of who you are, and they're also skills, to be mastered and improved. It's like asking if red hair is a blessing or a curse, or the ability to yodel.

X-Men: First Class: Not Your Same Old Mutant AngstSo X-Men: First Class breathes new life into Marvel's most overexposed set of characters by going back to 1962 and recounting the origins of Professor X, Magneto and their respective mutant followers. It mostly works, because of a strong focus on the characters, especially Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr. Where the movie doesn't work, it's because it's trying to do too much in one film, or because the plot is a bit silly, or because some bits simply don't work. But more on that later.

The movie's focus on character development absolutely does work - because once you recognize that your superpowers are just a part of who you are, a strong focus on character is obviously the best way to talk about mutant powers. And especially when it comes to Charles and Erik, the film manages to explore the idea that they both have major blind spots, which are both character flaws and a hindrance in using their powers fully. Charles can read and control minds, but his own smugness keeps him from understanding people. Erik can control metal and magnetism, but his rage keeps him from using his powers properly.

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And it's definitely in the portrayal of these two iconic characters that the film shines the most. Any time James McAvoy (who plays Charles) or Michael Fassbender (who plays Erik) is on the screen, the movie just clicks. Michael Fassbender, in particular, has a few incredibly emotional scenes in which Erik's grief and rage feel absolutely present.

The movie follows both men from childhood. Charles starts out as an overprivileged British kid whose biggest problem is an absentee mother, then goes on to get a PhD in mutantology from Oxford. Erik, meanwhile, gets sent to a concentration camp as a small child, only to watch his mother die at the hands of a sadistic Nazi. Erik becomes a totally awesome Nazi-hunter, while Charles becomes fascinated with learning about this fellow mutants. The two meet when it turns out the Nazi who killed Erik's mother is also the #1 evil mutant.

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The relationship between Charles and Erik has never been as fascinating - or as slash-ficcy - as it is here. They both help each other grow as people, and Charles especially helps Erik learn to work with others, and to find the space "between rage and serenity" where he can fully use his magnetic powers. McAvoy and Fassbender have amazing chemistry together, and their scenes involve a lot of tenderness and mutual understanding. You can really glimpse the potential for these two to become another Kirk and Spock, or maybe Luke and Han. The rise and fall of the Charles/Erik bromance goes way, way beyond a political alliance that splinters into disagreement.

After their first encounter with Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), the former Nazi and current genocidal mutant, Charles and Erik start tracking down other mutants, forming the first proto-team of X-Men. (You'll hear the "Montage" song from Team America: World Police playing in your head a few times.)

X-Men: First Class: Not Your Same Old Mutant AngstAnd a lot of the middle section of the film has to do with preparing the newbie mutants to face their first real challenge. The interesting thing is, about half the mutants need to learn to master their powers. And the other half seem to have mastered their powers already, but need to learn to accept themselves as mutants. So the two tracks run simultaneously: learning to control your inner resources and strengthen your mutant muscles, and learning to accept who you really are, without hiding your true nature. So in a sense, mutant powers are both a skillset that need to be strengthened, and a form of identity that needs to be embraced. Like I said earlier, it's a nice way around the same old questions about mutant powers that you tend to see over and over.

At the center of the "accepting your mutant self" storyline is Raven, aka Mystique, who's been Charles Xavier's friend since childhood but is having a harder time finding her place now. She can make herself look like a normal girl, but her natural state is the blue spiky nakedness that Rebecca Romijn made famous in the first few movies. And even though Charles pays lip-service to mutant pride, he mostly wants Raven to keep her mutant awesomeness on the downlow. (And Charles, in keeping with his general smugness, doesn't appreciate how lucky he is to have an invisible mutation.)

Meanwhile, Raven falls for the sexy nerd Hank McCoy, another mutant who also "pass" for normal - except for his big prehensile feet. The only trouble is, Hank is a self-hating mutant who wants to find a way to erase all outward signs of his difference while keeping his superpowers.

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The absolute best thing about X-Men: First Class is that it doesn't make any of this stuff look easy. It's all a struggle, as some of the most powerful scenes in the film make clear. Like one great sequence where the young proto-X-Men watch helplessly as a ton of people are slaughtered in front of them. Or some of the scenes where Erik, Charles and Raven talk about whether it's better to try and adapt to society, or make society adapt to you. Learning to be powerful and proud takes a lot of work.

There are other ways in which this film avoids asking the same old questions. For example, various characters talk about the idea that mutants are destined to drive humanity to extinction, in exactly the same way humans once wiped out Neanderthals. This is a notion that Grant Morrison bandied about in his New X-Men comics, but I don't remember the movies dealing with it before.

So like I said, the movie mostly works. When it doesn't work, it's usually because the film is trying to cram too much X-Men continuity into one two-hour movie. Or because a few of the requisite speeches about the future of mutantkind feel a bit canned. Or because the actual plot, in which Kevin Bacon almost starts World War III by confusing a few generals, does not feel even remotely plausible. (Grounding this story in the real-life Cuban Missile Crisis actually works against this storyline, because you just can't believe that Kevin Bacon orchestrated these events.) And there are a few outrageously cheesy sequences that try to prop up this storyline, including two separate "nuclear war is scary" montages where we see mushroom clouds and terrifying cartoons, trying to impress on us the danger of nuclear Armageddon. Oh, and now that Bacon has proved he can make a fantastic villain in Super, he doesn't seem to feel any need to prove it a second time.

But those are mostly minor complaints - I'd say X-Men: First Class is 3/4 of a great movie, with a few wobbly segments sandwiched in here and there. And if you've ever been fascinated by the Professor X/Magneto dynamic and wanted to delve more fully into their complicated, intense relationship, then X-Men: First Class is a dream come true. Most of all, X-Men: First Class fuses action and character development, in a way that makes the tragically overused mutant angst feel full of excitement again. Here's hoping this movie sparks a trend.

Republished from http://io9.com
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:02 pm

http://heraldnews.suntimes.com/entertainment/5755310-421/x-men-prequel-is-first-class-affair.html

X-Men’ prequel is first-class affair

By DAVID GERMAIN AP Movie Writer June 3, 2011 1:26PM

In this film publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, Michael Fassbender portrays Erik Lehnsherr in a scene from "X-Men: First Class." (AP Photo/20th Century Fox, Murray Close)

X-Men First Class trailer

Updated: June 3, 2011 2:20PM


Mutants, it seems, are only as good as the creators assembling their chromosomes. And the mad scientists behind “X-Men: First Class” are real artists in the laboratory.

Director Bryan Singer’s first two installments of the “X-Men” trilogy were superior adventures, about as smart and provocative as comic-book adaptations are likely to get.

After Singer left, the trilogy wrapped up with a dud, followed by a limp spinoff chronicling the origins of fan-favorite mutant Wolverine.

Now Singer’s back as a producer and idea man for “First Class,” a prequel that presents a clever, cohesive, exhilarating big-screen take on how those Marvel Comics mutants came together on opposing sides in the evolutionary battle.

Matthew Vaughn, another filmmaker adept at blending smarts and action (“Stardust,” “Kick-Ass”), was wisely recruited as director and co-writer.

The result is one of the best Marvel adaptations, packed with action, humor, retro 1960s style that’s both campy and sexy and a revisionist history lesson that puts the X-Men at the center of the Cuban missile crisis.

The young cast led by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender is no match for Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and the rest of the grand ensemble Singer enlisted for the first “X-Men” flick in 2000.

Yet McAvoy has playful energy and unshakable nobility, while Fassbender captures slow-burning wrath and unflinching pragmatism, which nicely prefigure Stewart’s august Professor X and McKellen’s dogmatic Magneto.

Despite a jumble of screenwriters that includes Vaughn, writing partner Jane Goldman and “Thor” scribes Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz, “First Class” is a focused, coherent story.

That’s all the more admirable given the large cast, whose stories are woven together with enough immediacy and clarity that even Marvel newcomers can follow along without a playbill.

We’re introduced to McAvoy’s telepath Charles Xavier and Fassbender’s Erik Lehnsherr, who can manipulate magnetic fields, as boys in the 1940s. Their vastly different upbringings underscore the differences that eventually will turn them from best friends to bitter rivals.

Charles grows up in a rich, privileged home, believing he’s a freak of nature, the only one of his kind, until he meets shape-shifting mutant Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), the future Mystique character originated by Rebecca Romijn in the “X-Men” trilogy.

Raven and Charles forge a foster-sibling relationship, while Erik, a Polish Jew, suffers unspeakable tragedy during the Holocaust as the Nazis try to unleash the boy’s power to control metal.

Charles and Erik team up in the early 1960s as part of a CIA operation against Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), a mutant who can absorb explosive energy and aims to set off a nuclear war to wipe out humanity so his kind can inherit the Earth. Bacon’s a lot of fun, clearly having a blast playing the U.S. against the Soviets as puppetmaster of Armageddon.

Shaw is aided by bad girl telepath Emma Frost (January Jones, who’s stunning in her skin-tight Bond girl-style outfits and adopts a suitably icy demeanor).

Among those initially fighting for the good guys are intrepid CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), her nameless team leader (a sadly under-used Oliver Platt), and mutants Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Havok (Lucas Till) and Angel (Zoe Kravitz).

But allegiances change, and the point of the prequel is to spell out who switched sides and why. At the heart is the break between Charles and Erik, and the filmmakers, clearly plotting a prequel trilogy, leave plenty of loose ends to tie up and a lot of room to introduce more X-Men mutants down the line.

The story also leaves off around the time the civil-rights movement starts to pick up steam, so the franchise’s parallels between human racism and bigotry against mutants are bound to gain new resonance.

Many key questions about the mutants — Magneto’s helmet, Professor X’s wheelchair and his telepathic-amplifying machine — are explained. The film also features a couple of amusing cameos by stars from the “X-Men” trilogy.

The visual effects are solid, though nothing spectacular. Where the film really shines is in the design, taking the cheesy aesthetic of early James Bond films and doing the ‘60s up right with all the glam today’s big studio bucks can buy.

If the studio can keep Singer, Vaughn and the rest of the “First Class” team together, there’s a chance that this “X-Men” trilogy could evolve into a better one than the original.

“X-Men: First Class,” a 20th Century Fox release, is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language. Running time: 130 minutes. Three stars out of four.

© 2011 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:04 pm

http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/showandtell/2011/06/x-men-first-class-and-the-power-of-the-prequel

June 3, 2011 2:01 PM 3 comments
"X-Men: First Class" and the power of the prequel

by Joe Neumaier

This weekend's blockbuster "X-Men: First Class" got me thinking about the power of the movie prequel.

Once derided as derivative and a movie of last resort (1979's "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days," anyone?), they're not an accepted, even welcome part of a franchise. 2005's "Batman Begins," of course, was just one recent flick that gave the prequel idea a whole new cache.

The new "X-Men" takes it to some cool, circular levels, as we see Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) have their first adventure in 1963, involving mutant involvement in the Cuban Missle Crisis.

In the first film, we saw an early-adolescent Lehnsherr in a German prison camp in about 1943. So, 20 years later, he'd be about 33.

McAvoy -- age 32 -- and Fassbender -- age 34 -- also work out to believably, and chronologically, age into Patrick Stewart's Charles/Professor X (60 in the first "X-Men" film, in 2000) and Ian McKellen's Erik/Magneto (61 in that first movie).

Plus, 1963 was when Marvel first launched the original "X-Men" comic book that started these characters off.

magneto.gifPretty groovy and mind-trippy, even for mutants.

Now, let's hope the next X-Men prequel / sequel / prequel jumps ahead to the 1970s. Some of us have a theory about Nixon...
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:05 pm

http://entertainment.inquirer.net/2626/%E2%80%98x-men%E2%80%99-franchise-gets-a-stirring-thrilling-reboot

‘X-Men’ franchise gets a stirring, thrilling reboot
By: Rito P. Asilo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
7:58 pm | 7:58 pm

We were expecting “X-Men: First Class” to be fun and entertaining – but, we didn’t know Matthew Vaughn’s anticipated prequel to Bryan Singer’s mutant saga would exceed our expectations – it’s as smart as it is thrilling!

The movie goes back to how it all started for best friends-turned-arch enemies, Professor X aka Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto aka Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), and how their friendship develops as they train a band of young mutants to fight the despotic Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon).

The film turns Charles’ and Magneto’s back stories in the ’60s into gripping tales of woe, revenge and redemption as they seek Mutantkind’s place under the sun – and, oh, what a ripping yarn Vaughn spins!

The CIA is supposedly on the mutants’ side, but bigotry and man’s inherent fear of the unknown don’t make it easier for Charles and his embattled team to accomplish their mission.

Adding excitement and thematic pertinence to the production’s eventful (and combustible) narrative is the escalating tension between the United States and the Soviet Union that could lead to – gasp! – World War Three!

Themes

It’s interesting to see how the production introduces its provocative themes (Nature vs. Nurture, identity, megalomania, etc.), then cohesively strings them up with the stories of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Havoc (Lucas Till), Darwin (Edi Gathegi), Emma Frost (January Jones), Angel (Zoe Kravitz), Azazel (Jason Flemyng) and Riptide (Alex Gonzalez).

The beauty and impact of “First Class’” exposition lies in the fact that the protagonists’ motivations are vividly and movingly depicted and delineated, which results in instant viewer empathy for the characters, whether they’re perceived as “good” or “bad.”

Quest for acceptance

After its razor-sharp first half, the movie speeds up the storytelling even more and amps up the action halfway through. From then on, the action-packed thrills never let up until the movie hurtles into its satisfying finale.

But, don’t be fooled by all the noise it makes. The film is, more than anything, a stirring and troubling meditation on man’s quest for acceptance.

McAvoy and the formidable Fassbender shine in contrasting but complementary styles that result in an odd bit of thespic energy. The former carries his character’s dilemma, while the latter bristles with gut-wrenching intensity!
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:06 pm

http://insidepulse.com/2011/06/03/x-men-first-class-review/

X-Men: First Class – Review
by Robert Saucedo - June 3, 2011

starstarstarhalf

Superhero franchise turns back the clock, rises to new heights

Five seems to be the magic number this summer.

Only a few months after Fast Five, the fifth entry in the Fast and the Furious franchise, took its series to new heights with a shift in the series’ identity, X-Men: First Class, the fifth film to be released under the X-Men banner, has rejuvenated and revamped a dying film series — becoming, easily, the best film adaptation of Marvel’s merry mutants. But, in a series known more for overhyped mediocrity, what exactly does the best amount to?

Based on characters from the long-running Marvel Comics series, X-Men: First Class has had an interesting road to the big screen. Envisioned originally as a spin-off featuring the younger mutant characters from the first three X-Men movies, the film mutated into a prequel — detailing the first few days of the X-Men as a team. Along the way, the film absorbed the long-in-development Magneto origin movie, brought back Bryan Singer, the director of the first two X-Men movies, as a producer and even wooed back Matthew Vaughn, a filmmaker who had come famously close to directing X3: The Last Stand before creative differences between Vaughn and the studio sent him running.

The end result is a fun, tightly plotted tribute to Silver Age comic books, James Bond espionage and Tom Clancy political thrillers. A bit overstuffed at times, the movie ultimately juggles its themes and set pieces, only letting a few of the minor balls drop now and again.

X-Men: First Class is a weird amalgam of prequel and reboot. Aspects of the film clearly point to First Class being set in the same universe audiences are familiar with from the previous four X-Men films. Other aspects, specifically the timeframe of events, strongly suggest that X-Men: First Class is a clean slate reboot for the characters, superheroes granted strange and wonderful powers due to a genetic quark that sets them apart from your average human.

One can only hope that First Class is a reboot because, as a movie, it’s much more entertaining and enticing than what the X-Men franchise had become in recent years.

When the first X-Men film came out, it was well regarded primarily because it was the first superhero in a long time that wasn’t complete and utter garbage. When seen through the eyes of somebody who has lived in the modern golden age of superhero films, though, major scripting issues, a clumsy plot and paper-thin characters make the film almost unwatchable. X2, while widely regarded to be a highlight of ‘00s’ surplus of superhero films, isn’t exactly high art either. Wildly entertaining action and great performances from the lead can only go so far towards making up for the film’s out-of-character cartoonish plot.

In First Class, though, director Matthew Vaughn has struck a nice balance between tongue-in-cheek geekiness and genuine action-tinged pathos. There’s a lot of goofiness in the film, which is set in the ‘60s and frequently takes on a tone reminiscent of Stan Lee’s original X-Men books, but there is also a lot of originality and fun. Oh, and darkness. There’s a lot of darkness.

First Class is, at times, extremely violent, profane and, one would argue, extremely inappropriate for children. Characters in the film are maimed, mutilated and murdered in ways that would make Christopher Nolan’s Batman squirm. Regardless, this balance between lighthearted goofiness and adult-oriented moral grays makes for an extremely entertaining film.

James McAvoy stars as Professor Charles Xavier, a wide-eyed, somewhat naïve young mutant who has an extremely giving heart but somewhat of a low self-esteem when it comes to his species. Believing mutants should aspire to blend in to society as best possible, Charles has it easy since his power of telepathy is easy to hide. As he enters the world, fresh from a lengthy stay in academia, Charles begins to discover he is not alone in the world. Charles is eventually introduced to a world of super powered folk when he is recruited into the CIA. Chief among his new acquaintances is Erik Lehnsherr, a man who the film wonderfully presents as Charles’ dark mirror compliment.

While Charles grew up in a posh mansion and only needed to use his powers when he wanted to pick up a girl at the bar, Erik is the product of pain and experimentation. Taken from his parents during a violent stay in a Jewish concentration camp, Erik grew up under the knife of Sebastian Shaw. A seemingly immortal mutant Nazi with aspirations of world domination, after World War II ends he becomes the leader of the Hellfire Club (an underground cabal that seeks mutant reign on Earth).

As a man, Erik uses his magnetic powers to hunt Nazis, seeking revenge on the villain who took his childhood innocence away. It’s in chasing Shaw, though, that Erik slowly begins to become a villain himself. Seeing only the darkness in others, Erik begins to build a shell around his soul so impenetrable that by the time he meets Charles it’s impossible to reconcile their views on peaceful co-existence between mutants and humans. As Erik (the future mutant terrorist named Magneto) actor Michael Fassbender is the epitome of badass. James Bond with an extra chromosome, Fassbender’s silent rage makes him every bit as charismatic a character as Sir Ian McKellen portrayed in the original X-Men trilogy.

McAvoy and Fassbender have great chemistry together and it is their story that drives the film’s nougat center. United by the shared excitement of discovering a new species, Charles and Erik manage to ignore the increasingly less subtle differences in their philosophy as they team up to train the first generation of mutant superheroes. It’s the quiet moments between the two, where they compare their views on the world, that really sell the characters.

As far as Charles and Erik’s students go, don’t expect the familiar faces from the original X-Men trilogy. The mutants of First Class are culled from some of the more obscure segments of X-Men mythos — from Angel, a stripper with fly-like powers played by Zoe Kravitz, to Darwin, a hero with adaptive powers played by Edi Gathegi.

While First Class is clearly Charles and Erik’s story, most of the supporting characters are given genuine character arcs and development. Jennifer Lawrence, as the shapeshifter Mystique, has a particularly heartbreaking journey as she discovers her place in the world and comes to terms with her off-putting blue and scaly appearance. Torn between a lifelong friendship with Charles — tinged with the bitter scales of unrequited love — and the charismatic Erik whose pro-mutant preaching plays to Mystique’s low self-esteem, Mystique finds herself toeing the line between the two men’s philosophies.

Nicholas Hoult plays Dr. Hank McCoy, a self-conscious mutant who struggles to hide his giant, ape-like feet. Even more self-conscious than Mystique, Hank is driven to experiment on himself in an attempt to cure what he perceives to be a deformity.

While a lot of the minor characters and their relationships are given an unfortunate glossing over, over all the film manages to give each of the X-Men a special moment unique to themselves.

The villains, on the other hand, are less fortunate. Besides the extremely charismatic Kevin Bacon delivering a wonderfully nasty performance, the evil mutants in First Class are mostly dialogue-free shadow puppets — existing to look badass as they rumble with the X-Men but otherwise completely devoid of character or motivation.

And don’t even get me started on January Jones, an actress who emotes less than a rock. As Emma Frost, Jones is the film’s largest dead weight —not even her extreme beauty can make up for her vapid performance.

The film’s small-scale but dedicated production design makes the world the movie exists in look tight and focused, despite an obvious budget cut from previous sequels. Cheaper looking effects don’t mar the film’s action thanks to the fact the film is briskly paced — moving along at an extreme clip that keeps audiences happy, entertained and never bored.

X-Men: First Class is a unique film in that it presents its antagonists’ story as fleshed out and complete as its heroes. Erik, the eventual Magneto, in many ways comes across as the hero of the story — claiming his own identity and motivation in a clearly defined, well-written story arc. By the end of the movie, it wouldn’t be surprising that audiences are split between sideing with Charles’ or Erik’s philosophy. This is the sign of a good movie.

This new direction the X-Men series is headed into is at both exciting and encouraging. Smaller in scale and more character oriented, the film doesn’t forget to bring the action either. It’s a great balance between summer blockbuster and spring thriller

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Notable Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Oliver Platt and Kevin Bacon
Writer(s): Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn
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Movie Review: X-Men: First Class
by Darren Goodhart
Published: June 3, 2011

Rating: Rated PG-13
Country: U.S.A.
Release Date: June 3, 2011
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director:
· Matthew Vaughn
Cast:
· James McAvoy
· Micahel Fassbender
· Kevin Bacon
· Rose Byrne
· Jennifer Lawrence
· January Jones
· Oliver Platt
· Nicholas Hoult
· Caleb Landry Jones
· Lucas Till

Grade: A


"X-Men: First Class" is a prequel film to Marvel's and Fox's highly successful "X-Men" series. The first two movies ("X-Men" and "X-Men 2"), both directed by Bryan Singer, are terrific films. While I like the third film in the series, directed by Brett Ratner, I'd also be the first to tell you that it falters behind the first two movies. I also include "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" directed by Gavin Hood, with this bunch as well, and like "X-Men 3," I thought it was entertaining, but nowhere in the same league as the first two movies.

Now director Matthew Vaughn has been given a chance at the reins of the series, working under a story with Bryan Singer as part of the credits. Matthew Vaughn has previously directed "Kick-Ass," "Stardust" and "Layer Cake." Prior to this, he was first connected to "Thor" which he dropped out of to be replaced by Kenneth Branagh. But still it looks like someone was bound and determined to get him connected with a Marvel Comics movie...

...and thank goodness they did. "X-Men: First Class" is a winner and I can't wait to see it again.

As our movie opens, it's the 40s and we're shown the parallel stories of Erik Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier as young boys, first learning about their mutant abilities. Lehnsherr is being forced by the Nazis to use his talents, while Xavier has more academic concerns, including meeting the mysterious Raven as a little girl (who later becomes Mystique).

We move to 1962, and now both have grown to young men. With the war long over, Erik Lensherr is in pursuit of the Nazis who killed his parents. Charles Xavier and Raven are following their academic roots, until they're contacted by CIA operative Moira MacTaggert for help with the CIA's work. Eventually Xavier and Lensherr finally meet, and both discover common ground in their pursuits with mutantkind.

Looming in the background though is Sebastian Shaw and the Hellfire Club and their plans are at extreme odds with those of the CIA.

Now, I know I'm being real vague here about the overall story, but honestly, I don't want to spoil a thing. "X-Men: First Class" is a movie, for an X-Men fan, to be savored. There's nice little story turns and easter eggs throughout this film and remarkably it all ties in well with the previous movies.

"X-Men: First Class" absolutely looks terrific. Matthew Vaughn isn't afraid to play with bright colors here at all and setting this primarily in the 60s also plays with the shooting style of the film, including some nice montage areas.

This is one packed film and nothing feels wasted. The pacing is terrific and right when you think something's been forgotten about, they come right back to it. Henry Jackman's musical score is perfectly suited to this film and nimbly helps with the pace.

It also helps that you have a terrific young cast. James McAvoy plays Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender plays Erik Lehnsherr. McAvoy is both smooth and smart, and right from the word "go" ably projects the same authority that Patrick Stewart did in the prior movies. I've become quite the fan of Michael Fassbender and he does not disappoint in the slightest here. He manages the same sort of regality that Ian Mckellan had in the prior films, but also brings a real physical joy to playing a character with super-powers. I can't wait to see what he does next.

Rose Byrne plays Moira MacTaggert and Jennifer Lawrence plays Raven. Both ladies are fantastic in their parts and I really like just how well Lawrence works with McAvoy in the early parts of the movie. Oliver Platt plays an unnamed (but important) CIA liason to this crew and delivers the right amount of authority. Rounding out the rest of Xavier's core team, you have Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy, who's also the mutant who becomes known as the Beast, Caleb Landry Jones as the sonic-powered Banshee and Lucas Till as Alex Summers, also known as Havok. All are great, but I really have to give some high marks to Hoult, who in many ways to me seems almost the heart of this film.

On the villains side, we've got Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, and he just looks like he's having a great time being part of this film. January Jones plays Emma Frost, extremely loyal to Shaw and really quite the knockout. Alex Gonzalez and Jason Flemyng round out the villain side, as the mutants Riptide and Azazel respectively, and though they don't get the lines that everyone else has, they both have real physical presence.

And there's even more, especially two very nice cameo appearances, but I don't want to say any more than that. Matthew Vaughn has assembled a terrific ensemble cast and you can't help but want to see this same assemblage come together again.

Like I said, "X-Men: First Class" is a winner, and I even enjoyed it more than "Thor." Out of the big four comic book movies announced for this summer, I thought "X-Men; First Class" was the sleeper of the bunch. The more I kept seeing of this in trailers and the news, the more I was looking forward to it. The sheer idea of taking this series back in time to the 60s is brilliant and to me anyway, really helps bring in huge sense of wonder. Don't miss this one...
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