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X-Men Reviews 6

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Post by Admin on Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:16 pm

http://www.dcfreep.com/x-men-first-class-makes-the-grade/

X-Men: First Class Makes The Grade
June 29, 2011
By Jakob Bilinski

JAKE’S TAKES

I’m a bit late to the party on this one, but it was oh so worth the wait. Make no mistake about it: X-Men: First Class is pretty incredible.

I’ve been a fan of the X-Men franchise for awhile. Scratch that… I should specify: I was a fan of the first two films (X2 ranks as one of my favorite superhero films), and then came the third and fourth installments. X-Men: The Last Stand was a wretched, inexcusable turd of a film. Wolverine had brief moments of temporary spectacle, but was plagued by a horrid script, sequences so embarrassingly bad I wondered if the cinematic powers-that-be were drunk on the day they had to consent to thinking “yeah, this is okay for release!”, and… well, the point is it’s just awful. So as is the continuing trend when a franchise grows stale or just has reached a certain narrative point where things can’t go any further, Fox/Marvel opted to reboot the series. All I can say to this is: smart. Very, very smart. Making a clean break from the past works to First Class’s advantage, and what we’re treated to is a rejuvenated, revitalized X-Men world. It’s exciting all over again.

First Class follows Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) before they became Professor X and Magneto, respectively. The film starts off with the same scene at the concentration camp that the first X-Men commenced with, and then goes in a different direction. It gives us the origins of these characters, how they came to know one another, and how they all had to band together to stop a common threat. And ultimately, how Xavier and Magneto became archenemies.

The film is set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and presents itself as a rather fantastic looking period piece. With all the espionage and double-agent shenanigans going on in this film, along with the whole 60s vibe, First Class feels like a Bond film. A really good Bond film (it’s far better than most entries in the franchise).

First Class deviates from the storyline previously set up by the other films a bit, and people have been complaining about the lack of continuity. It’s a dumb argument. Comic books have always taken characters and rebooted them on alternate timelines – storylines that match to a certain point and then deviate for the purposes of telling something new (same idea as Watchmen in that it’s presented as actual history, just with altered events). The story works, and it works very well. I’ve heard arguments that the Wolverine cameo (which is excellent) throws everything off, but it doesn’t at all (and yes, Hugh Jackman works as playing Wolverine in a prequel because his character doesn’t age at the normal rate).

The script, penned half by the writing team from Thor (Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz) and half by director Matthew Vaughn and his usual collaborator Jane Goldman is smart, quickly paced, with spot-on character development. The story equally devotes time to setting up each mutant, their ability, and their relationships. There are quite a few characters on display here, but they (for the most part) all feel fully fleshed, something the previous two films in the series couldn’t accomplish to save their lives.

Vaughn directs this thing with a great level of precision. He’s clearly come at this with a great amount of respect for the X-Men universe, and brings a contagious, energetic fervor to the screen’s goings-on that is, more often than not, really breathtaking. I loved his debut, Layer Cake, and had a ton of fun with Kick-Ass, but here he manages to retain a sophisticated level of control and maturity amidst something that’s both a big studio production, and (at its core) cartoonish boyhood escapism.

I could go on and on about the costume design (which is great), and the cinematography (which is lush), and the score (which is rousing), and the effects (which are excellent) and the action pieces (which are adrenaline-laden bursts of awesome), etc, etc, etc. But all those valid points aside, what really makes this thing work is the cast. The people bringing these iconic characters to life are fantastic, and it’s mostly a perfect cast – the one notable exception being January Jones, who’s very easy on the eyes, but not much else (a few times I wondered if the flat performance was her fault, or the way her character was written… either way, she stands out as a weak link).

McAvoy is excellent, as usual, infusing Xavier with a genuine sense of empathy and humanity. Jennifer Lawrence does wonders as Raven, and I’m so glad to see her getting bigger film roles (I absolutely adored Winter’s Bone and was keeping my fingers crossed for her Oscar nod way before it was announced – she’s excellent). Kevin Bacon, who I’m always a fan of, goes above and beyond as Sebastian Shaw, the evil, twisted Nazi who tormented young Erik in the concentration camp.

But above all, I can sum up why you should see this film in three words: Michael freaking Fassbender. I’ve often been a fan of his work – between Hunger, Inglourious Basterds and now this, I’ll watch anything he does. I try not to throw this word around too much (even though I’ll be the first to admit I can be liberal with its usage), but Fassbender is genuinely brilliant here. It’s impossible not to feel what he’s going through, because he somehow manages to pull you into whatever he’s experiencing and force it on your emotions. Every line delivery, every facial twitch, and every mannerism – this is a deep, complex, bravura performance. Spoiler alert: you’re gonna root for the bad guy.

Yes there are problems with the film, it’s not perfect. Certain lines of dialogue feel a bit contrived, some ring as hokey. There are a few scenes that feel too abrupt and out of place, as if they were just something quickly tossed in to have a transition between sequences. Some of the action is repetitive and doesn’t quite go the extra mile, and certain characters needed a bit more time devoted to them (a partially moot point since this film is wholly about Erik and Xavier). But it’s all nitpicking the details. X-Men: First Class is rousing, stand up and clap entertainment, and is a film that manages to genuinely engage the audience. It more than makes up for the cinematic crapstains that were the last two films in the series, and makes me once again excited for future installments in a franchise I’d all but lost interest in. Really, I can’t recommend it enough.

My Rating: A –

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language)
Runtime 132 minutes
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Written by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence

Now In Theaters
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Post by Admin on Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:22 pm

http://hummingbird604.com/2011/06/28/x-men-first-class-movie-review/

X-Men: First Class (movie review)

X-Men: First Class has been out for a few weeks, but I hadn’t had really the chance to go see it (even though I knew what it would be about – the beginning of the rivalry between Professor X, Charles Xavier and Magneto, Erik Lensherr). Xavier, the powerful telepath is shown in his youth as a cocky, somewhat reckless young academic (perfectly portrayed by James McAvoy, who totally wins me over with his Charles Xavier) who is impetuous, youthful and has a keen interest in demonstrating to the world that his and his peers’ mutation can help transform the world. Lensherr, sublimely chanelled by Michael Fassbender, is the emotionally-and-physically scarred magnetic-superpowered German young man who is seeking revenge against Sebastian Shaw (a creepy Kevin Bacon who owns this role like no one else) for killing his mother. Xavier and Lensherr strike an unlikely alliance after a botched attempt to beat Shaw by both Xavier (and his human troops) and Lensherr (vulnerable against the powerful telepath Emma Frost).

I really appreciated how well crafted is X-Men: First Class. Casting was spectacularly well done, in particular I’m thrilled with the way in which January Jones portrays Emma Frost (not at all wimpy, but an extremely powerful telepath with the ability to turn into diamond). Frost gives Charles Xavier a run for his telepathic money in their first encounter, although afterwards Xavier and Lensherr are able to subdue her by combining their powers.

X-Men: First Class continues the trend of building a storyline that speaks to themes of bigotry, hatred and social acceptance. It was extremely powerful to see the on-screen chemistry of McAvoy and Fassbender as once-friends-turned-enemies-by-cruel-fate-and-personality-differences. All the storylines that you would want explored (the super-smart-turned-blue-Beast, Dr. Hank McCoy portrayed by sweet and lovely Nicholas Hoult, blue-skinned shape-shifter Mystique aka Raven, Jennifer Lawrence in an amazing demonstration of versatility in acting, Banshee, Angel, and Havok) are seen from the viewpoint of high-powered-and-immature youngsters who have to grow up to become an army that is being called upon to save the world.

Rose Byrne annoys the hell out of me as Dr. Moira McTaggart, Xavier’s love interest (and ultimately, the one who leaves him crippled). It’s really her and her stupidity (who in the world has the bright idea of firing bullets against a magnetic-powered mutant, seriously – are you stupid or what, woman?) and not Magneto who cripples Xavier, and the way in which the screenwriter transformed the storyline of the demise of Lensherr and Xavier’s friendship really annoyed me. Sorry Charles, I totally agree with Erik – it was Moira McTaggart who left you crippled in a futile attempt to subdue Magneto. I’m sorry for any Byrne fans, but I really, really, really hated her and her storyline in X-Men: First Class.

Numerous cameos complete a fantastically well done movie, including Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and an older-looking Mystique (Rebecca Romjin). X-Men: First Class provides the layperson with an extremely profound examination of the mythology of the X-Men and sets the foundation for a series of prequel movies. I was really sad at the parting of ways of Mystique and Professor X, but it’s kind of neat to see how much care and love they had for each other in the beginning, as best friends.

McAvoy was an actor I almost never really felt compelled to watch, and he’s won me over with his exquisite portrayal of Dr. Charles Xavier. He shares some really neat scenes with Fassbender, and their portrayal of a great friendship that turns sour is extremely well done. There’s a scene where both Fassbender and McAvoy shed tears and I did the same too. Beautiful performances.

I would very strongly recommend that you check out X-Men: First Class. I can’t wait for the next installment. Check out the international trailer above and a few of the featurettes below, including the lovely Havok.

X-Men: First Class is now in theatres in Vancouver and most of the Lower Mainland. For showtimes in Vancouver check this link.
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:11 am

http://iheartfilmsgirl.blogspot.com/2011/06/x-marks-spot.html

Monday, 27 June 2011
X Marks the Spot
Did everyone used to watch the cartoons of X-Men on tele when they were young. I used to. Every morning before school I would eat breakfast and watch Wolverine and Co do their thing. I also used to have a little bit of a crush on Gambit too.

When Bryan Singer released his X Men , the first to big screen, I remember feeling very excited. Not only do I love Superhero films anyway but this kicked started their life in cinema scope. This version wasn't bad. At the time I thought it was really good, however that's before seeing X-Men: First Class. Now this is how you make an X Men film.

From the fantastic team of Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman they bring us a story about the early days of the bunch of mutants,how it all began so to speak and thankfully it began good. Taking us right back to when Charles and Eric were boys,both with very different upbringings. One lived a life of education and love while the other was an experiment in the concentration camps.

As young men they too take different paths, Charles (played by James McAvoy) graduates and becomes a professors while Eric (played by Michael Fassbender) dedicates his adult life to tracking down the man who killed his mother and her used him as a lab rat. Charles, a specialist in mutations is then recruited by the CIA to help them locate some mutant activity that poses a dark threat and with his childhood friend Raven in toe (Mystique played by Jennifer Lawrence) they then come to the rescue of Eric during a botched revenge attempt.

Soon the pair are building a slightly odd friendship and go off in search of other mutants that can work with them against the evil Sebastian (Kevin Bacon). Its here we get to met some we already know and some new faces. There is also a great little cameo to look out for which I haven't heard anything about and I surprised it stayed hush!

There is so much right about X Men that you can't find anything worthy that's bad. Apart from if you are such a comic book fan then you may find some incorrect details but nothing majorly important. The cast is the first thing to mention. What great casting in the two powerhouses of X Men. McAvoy is brilliant as Charles and makes the character very much his own. He has charm and a twinkle in his eye that you very much imagine the young Xavier to have. His boyish good looks help as well.

Michael Fassbender plays an impressive Magento too. His lust for violence powered by his motivation for revenge presents him as rather dark character, even darker than the more recent portrayal of Ian McKellen in the other X Men films.

In truth there are so many great characters that you could talk about in this film but I don't want to spoil too much. Fans of the comics and the characters will love this film, I think it would be hard to find someone disappointed in it. I hope the dream team make more now.

Take Care

xx
Posted by I Heart Films at 18:42
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:14 am

http://innersanctumreviews.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/x-men-first-class/

X-Men: First Class
Leave a Comment Posted by Darren Camponi on June 26, 2011

xmen_first_class_ver7 Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Ashley Edward Miller/Zack Stentz/Jane Goldman/Matthew Vaughn/Sheldon Turner/Bryan Singer
Producers: Gregory Goodman/Simon Kinberg/Lauren Shuler Donner/Bryan Singer
Starring: James McAvoy/Michael Fassbender/Rose Byrne/January Jones/Jennifer Lawrence/Oliver Platt/Kevin Bacon
Year: 2011
Country: US/UK
BBFC Certification: 12
Duration: 132 minutes

Mutant and proud! The X-Men live-action movies have been a huge success as comic books, as animations and as a movie series. Now, we see how the X-Men began in the prequel to the movie series, X-Men: First Class. The story is written very well as we see the characters seek acceptance from a world they think would banish them out of fear as well as the mutants coming to terms with their powers and learning how to control them. The movie is more dialogue and story and about the characters more than it is about action. The characters are fantastic as we see multiple sides to their personality from the feeling of loneliness and self-hatred to the feeling of love and acceptance of themselves and of others, which you’ll see a lot of in Beast and Mystique. When you see the action sequences in X-Men: First Class, they are brilliant as the special effects are magnificent and the action choreography is done very well.

The acting is superb from each character but mostly noticeable in James McAvoy, who plays Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender, who plays Eric Lehnsherr, Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the lovely Mystique and Nicholas Hoult, who plays as Beast. X-Men: First Class is a fantastic superhero prequel that manages to fit in the timeline of the other X-Men movies and it manages to tell it’s story well and make it relatable to real life as well as make you care very much about the characters. Overall, this movie is actually first class and is the best I movie out of the entire series.

This might be one of the best superhero movies to have ever been made since The Dark Knight. X-Men: First Class caters for everybody and also has the kind of story that is emotionally relatable to real life. Everything, from the script to the characters, is written very well with love and care and it shows through this movie. James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult as well as the rest of the cast do a fantastic job in playing their characters and bringing them to life. X-Men fans will love this addition to the series and for those who want to get into X-Men and haven’t seen any of the movies can watch this first as this is a prequel to the movie series.

8/10
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:25 am

http://nicolejeanette.me/2011/06/24/x-men-first-class/

First Class
Posted by Nicole on 24th June 2011

X-Men: First ClassI saw it recently and I wanted to share my thoughts about the movie. I enjoyed it a lot, and I liked it more than the original trilogy. The cast was excellent, a lot of familiar faces will pop up.

Michael Fassbender was perfect for the role of Erik Lehnsherr (aka. Magneto), I liked his performance the most. It was also great to see familiar characters in an earlier phase. Although the story bares no resemblance to its comic origins, it was entertaining and a great adaptation. People usually criticize these types of movies because the story is different and such, an adaptation will never be the same as the original thing they’re adapting it from.

It’s a great summer movie, and I like that they weren’t over the top like X-Men: The Last Stand was. Great cast, decent story and acting. I recommend it.
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:26 am

http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/411438_-X-Men--First-Class--is-a-great-beginning-to-the-summer-movie-season.html

X-Men: First Class' is a great beginning to the summer movie season
Intelligencer Journal
Lancaster New Era
Updated Jun 24, 2011 19:11

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."

By ERIC DOWLING, 17, Freestyle
Staff Writer

MOVIE REVIEW

Superhero movies seem to have a very positive effect on the box-office, because every time these movies are released they shoot to the top of the charts.

There has definitely been an influx of comic book/superhero movies. I really started to notice the surge of these action packed movies after the release of "The Dark Knight" and "Iron Man."

This year, there are five (if you count "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" there are six) comic book movies being released: "Thor," "X-Men: First Class," "Green Lantern," "Captain America: The First Avenger" and "Cowboys & Aliens."

"X-Men: First Class," directed by the brilliant Matthew Vaughn ("Kick-Ass" and "Layer Cake") is a movie that has been in the works for about 10 years.

I am sure that when you saw the trailers for this movie, you thought, "Oh no, here we go again, another franchise reboot." "First Class" is not a reboot by any means; it is a prequel to the "X-Men" trilogy starring Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman.

This movie is about Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto) before they became enemies. "X-Men" shows the childhood of Magneto and Xavier, as well as Mystique.

The FBI needs help tracking and finding Sebastian Shaw, a man with whom Magneto has a history. Xavier and Magneto team up and create a ragtag team to bring down Shaw.

This movie has everything a great movie should have — a compelling plot, action and great acting.

Vaughn knows how to make great comic book movies. "X-Men: First Class" is just all around a fun and great movie.

From the first minute, you know that it is going places. It has a very epic scale, but it is easy to follow.

This movie walks the line between serious and comical. The comedy is not overdone, it is just enough to ease the tension.

The casting is pitch perfect. James McAvoy plays a Charles Xavier who was just as perfect as Stewart's Professor X. All of McAvoy's mannerisms and expressions made me feel like he was actually using the powers of Professor X.

The scene stealer in this movie is Kevin Bacon, who plays the dastardly and corrupt former Nazi general Sebastian Shaw. When I first heard that Bacon was going to be in this movie, I lowered my expectations. Nothing against Bacon, he has done some good movies, but I could not see him as an evil villain. However, he hit it out of the park with an amazing performance that could only be matched by Heath Ledger as a comic book bad guy.

Another one of my favorite actors was Michael Fassbender, who played a very angst-filled Magneto. Along with McAvoy, Fassbender's performance made me think that these mutant powers were real.

Just about every performance in this movie was fantastic.

If I were to pick a glaring negative about this movie it would have to be the effects. Since this is a comic book movie, it is reasonable to expect loads of special effects and explosions. The effects on all the mutants were superb, but when it came to some of the cinematic sequences it did not look very convincing. I think that the reason the effects seemed to be lacking was because the movie was rushed to make its release date. It does not take away from the overall enjoyment, though.

"X-Men: First Class" should definitely be on the top of just about everyone's list for summer movies to go and see. It does not just cater to comic book fans, it also caters to people who love a movie that is fun, exciting and action-packed.

If you are a fan of the original "X-men" trilogy, there are definitely references to the other movies and some familiar faces return.

In short, go see this movie if you get the chance, it won't disappoint.
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:26 am

http://www.blogthedayaway.com/2011/06/24/x-men-first-class/

X-Men First Class

Tags: x-men, x-men first class

I’m such a geek wannabe. I mean really bad. I want to have read all of these comic books. I want to know the origins of each character and which ones they’ve reinvented and which ones have stayed the same. I want to be so familiar with these characters that I’m on a first name basis with them. But I am not. I’m just a geek in training. I go see all these comic book movies with my husband and listen to him tell me all the back story and details and wonder if I had read the comic books would I even remember half the magical stuff he remembers?

I really liked X-Men First Class. I thought the casting was pretty awesome. James McAvoy as Charles Xavier was great. I loved that we get to see him before he’s old and super rigid. We get to see Charles as a college student doing crap that college students do. Then we see his relationship with Magneto and Mystique strengthen and then fall apart. (I’m not spoiling anything if you’ve seen any of the other X-Men movies. If you haven’t, so sorry.)

And let’s talk for a second about Michael Fassbender who plays Eric/Magneto. That guy is freaking hot. He looks like he could be Ewan McGregors younger brother. I hate his story. But of course I love the character. But seriously, you will see how Eric could turn out as Magneto. Stupid Nazi’s.

It is kind of silly that the mutants are involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis and that President Kennedy clips are shown in this movie but I’m willing to buy it. I really had fun going to see this movie. I love that my husband lets me tag along with him to all of these great (and some not so great) comic book movies.

I will tell you that I did not enjoy the character Emma Frost. I think she was perfect for the time period of the movie but I don’t like that Texas beauty pageant look. Never have, probably never will. It’s such a small complaint but her appearance drove me nuts. And she had the audacity to wear tight leather pants when she has NO butt. No butt. Just flat back there. Don’t they have fake butts they can attach to you? In that outfit she should have looked into that. Such a small thing but it drove me nuts. (No pun intended.)

Oh, I almost forgot. Kevin Bacon is the bad guy!!!! What the what?! And he’s a great as the bad guy. I loved how his character evolved. How he was like a super villain. Awesome.

I say, grab your best boy friend, or even better, geek girl friend, and go see this movie.

By Alisa on 06.24.11 @ 2:08 pm 2 Comments
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:40 am

http://blog.devinadivecha.com/review-x-men-first-class

Review - X Men: First Class

22 June 2011

With many prequels failing the expectations of viewers, I’ve tried to go into a prequel not expecting a single thing. X-Men: First Class however, magnified what little expectations I did have and blew them out into space. This movie was an entertaining, slick and enjoyable watch.

It traces the roots of the characters we’ve already seen in the X-Men movies till date. It starts where the first X-Men film did, in 1944, showing a young boy separated from his parents, and taken into a Nazi concentration camp. There young Erik Lensherr (to-be Magneto) meets Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) who, like the Emperor in Star Wars, creates the X-Men world’s Anakin Skywalker, a young man angered by the death of his mother.

The plotline shows how the paths of Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) and young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) cross, how they become friends, how they learn to control their powers together and undergo a bromance that isn’t at all sappy or apparent. The two join forces with the government to stop the imminent threat of Shaw’s megalomaniac plans, with Lensherr having his own personal agenda on the cards. There are other mutants thrown in for good measure – we see the origins of Mystique, or Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) as she used to be called, Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and more.

In the process of fighting against the mutant threat, a rift is created between the two close friends and Magneto and Professor X are born from the ashes.

Why does the movie work? It has a fantastic story, the actors fit the characters like a well-made glove and the special effects are in no way overdone or tacky. McAvoy is a slightly cocky yet innocent Xavier, one who has not yet seen what the world can do, or what mutants can do. Fassbender is a wonderful Magneto; you almost feel sorry for him and wish he’d stay on the good side, even if it’s just to see the lovely friendship between his character and McAvoy’s continue. Lawrence as the vulnerable Raven/Mystique trying to fit into the world that won’t accept anything or anyone different is impressive. Bacon was slightly disappointing in the latter half of the movie, although his turn as the Nazi officer is chilling. Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert, the human CIA agent is the only one who believes in helping the mutants, and does well. The rest of the supporting cast played their roles well.

There are two blink-and-you-miss-them cameo appearances by cast members of the X-Men 1-3 movies, so watch out for those. A word of warning to those expecting a teaser scene at the end of the credits: there isn’t one this time.

All in all, a fascinating watch that makes viewers hope that there will be more prequels coming along especially if this is how they’re going to do it. Kudos to the director Michael Vaughn and the writers for giving us a great movie at the start of the summer.
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:43 am

http://www.leadership.ng/nga/articles/1188/2011/06/23/x-men_first_class_-minus_new_x-men.html

X-Men First Class: A-minus for the new X-Men
Lilian Agih's picture
Thu, 23/06/2011 - 1:24pm | OUR CORRESPONDENT

Michael Fassbender puts on an impressively athletic show

The X-Men series started well in 2000 with two films directed by Bryan Singer, but suffered an ugly mutation with Brett Ratner’s brainless X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and risked extinction with the boring prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).

Matthew Vaughn’s attempt to revive the franchise is the fifth and best of the lot. It bears the same relationship to the four previous films that J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek did to its predecessors.

It shows how the X-Men came into being as a group rather than as individual mutants, how they were first wooed by the CIA and then incurred the hatred of the authorities.

It casts young actors in familiar roles. The only old-stager to survive from the previous films is Hugh Jackman, and his appearance as Wolverine is no more than a cameo.

One big asset is James McAvoy. He is excellent as the young Professor Charles Xavier (formerly played by Patrick Stewart), the most civilised, reasonable and urbane of the Mutants.

McAvoy plays him with charm and verve, and his lightness of touch rescues Charles from the priggishness that made Stewart’s performance less sympathetic than it was meant to be.

First Class takes Charles from his privileged U.S. childhood to university days in Oxford, and then on to his first confrontation — during the Cuban missile crisis — with his initial friend and then long-term enemy Magneto, formerly played by Ian McKellen and here interpreted with commendable forcefulness and athleticism by Michael Fassbender, who makes a good case for himself as the next James Bond.

The picture spans two decades, from the Forties through to the Sixties, so it’s a tribute to the six screenwriters that the tale spins a coherent, gripping narrative.

The globe-trotting first half — which visits Poland, Russia, Argentina, America, Switzerland and the UK — is dominated by Fassbender, and the central conflict is between him and the former Nazi Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) who shot his mother. Bacon makes Shaw a malign, if implausibly melodramatic, villain and he serves a useful narrative purpose by pushing vengeful concentration-camp survivor Erik into becoming Magneto, the least human-friendly of the mutants.

The reason I wouldn’t give X-Men: First Class a fourth star — though many comic-book fans will feel I’m being stingy — is that I don’t think it will convert many non-believers to the franchise. Even though it has humorous moments, it’s a shade pompous and pedestrian, and seriously outstays its welcome at 132 minutes.

It crams in enough detail and subsidiary characters to satisfy the fanboys, but that’s at the expense of the pace it needed to entertain those unfamiliar with the books.

There’s also a problem with hanging the plot on the Cuban missile crisis. There’s not much suspense, because we all know how that worked out, and even those hazy about the historical details will be aware that it didn’t really involve the timely intervention of mutant superheroes.

A tiresome amount of time is spent setting up the minor X-People’s internal angst, which will have action fans drumming their fingers.

I’m unconvinced that anyone except comic-book aficionados is going to care sufficiently whether mutants Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) are happy in their skins or would prefer to look normal.

Mystique, especially, worries a good deal about being bright blue, whereas Cheryl Cole never seems to have a moment’s self-doubt about looking orange.

Another disappointment is that the film sets up a budding romance between Beast and Mystique, but then never delivers on its promise.

The film’s weakest characters are its women — and that has been true of the series as a whole.

Too many of the females — among them Mad Men’s January Jones as the telepathic Emma Frost — spend an astonishing amount of time flaunting their physiques in form-fitting lingerie.

It’s a pity the chance was not taken to offset the male-oriented geekiness of most graphic novels — though it’s no great surprise that it prefers to pander to fanboys’ grosser instincts.

The original X-Men cartoon strip for Marvel comics was born in the Sixties out of the Civil Rights Movement. As a metaphor for black people struggling against prejudice, the strip showed powerful, dignified but oppressed mutants suffering at the hands of opportunistic, invariably Right-wing politicians.

In the big-screen spin-offs, the mutants have ceased to be symbols and have come to represent just about any minority group.

It is this vagueness that undermines the power of the movies. It’s hard to get angry about the treatment of the mutants, or feel their pain, when we aren’t certain what they represent. It’s also hard to empathise too specifically with a guy who has prehensile hands where his feet should be.

And it’s easy to feel detached about someone like Professor X, who has superpowers of telepathy, or Magneto, who can lift a submarine out of the sea by thinking about it. Their problems don’t have much similarity to our own.

The epic scale and portentous pace of X-Men: First Class may suggest its makers feel it has something important to say, but whatever that message is doesn’t come over clearly, unless it is a half-hearted plea for tolerance — all the more half-hearted as director Vaughn shows more sympathy for the animalistic aggression of Magneto than he does for the self-righteousness of Professor X.

Though geeks are going to love it, this superhero film moves more slowly than any comic-strip movie ought to, and takes itself so seriously that it becomes, paradoxically, a bit ridiculous.

It lacks the crossover appeal of the best in its genre, such as Superman, Spiderman 2 or Batman Begins.

All the same, this is the classiest of the series and one of the better summer blockbusters so far.

Verdict: Well worth a middling second
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:43 am

http://janinedujour.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/x-men-first-class-%E2%80%93-michael-fassbender-your-magnetism-is-going-to-make-you-a-star/

X-Men: First Class – Michael Fassbender, your magnetism is going to make you a star!
Posted on June 23, 2011
Erik Lehnsherr, Magneto, Michael Fassbender, X-Men First Class, Mutants

Michael Fassbender plays Erik Lehnsherr - the mutant who becomes Magneto - in director Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class. Photo: www.allmoviephoto.com

German actor Michael Fassbender has been hovering on the fringes of Hollywood for a while, doing really big things in really small roles. He was memorable as Stelios in 300, but all the attention was on Gerard Butler’s abs at the time; he impressed critics as IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands in Hunger, but the film was hardly a commercial success; he put his German to good use in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, but somehow Brad Pitt stole the show. He has completed filming for the upcoming Jane Eyre opposite Mia Wasikowska, and for David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method opposite Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley. I’m sure his interpretations of Rochester and Carl Jung will be superb, but for the moment, it’s X-Men: First Class that has my attention.

Fassbender plays the mutant Erik Lehnsherr, a Jew who was tortured in the German concentration camps by a sadist who was intrigued by his ability to manipulate and control all forms of metal. Lehnsherr’s experiences there shaped his attitude towards humans for the rest of his life, and ultimately put him on course to become Magneto, leader of the Brotherhood.

James McAvoy (Becoming Jane, Atonement) plays Charles Xavier, the yin to Lehnsherr’s yang. Xavier is a brilliant telepath who becomes Lehnsherr’s teacher and friend, and later, as Professor X, his nemesis. The relationship between these comic book icons is at the centre of the film – and Fassbender and McAvoy rely on their dramatic and comedic skills to bring the “bromance” to life as they learn about their mutant abilities – and their world views – side by side.

Director Matthew Vaughn, a no-nonsense Englishman, produced Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. He also helmed the crime thriller Layer Cake (which turned the pre-007 Daniel Craig into an action star), the fantasy epic Stardust and the superhero comedy Kick-Ass. These efforts caught the attention of studio bosses in Hollywood and, I believe, proved that he had the talent and tenacity to take on a prequel to the X-Men series.

The movie itself is an origin story. Before Charles Xavier was a bald professor in a wheelchair, he was a lonely young man from a privileged home. He received the best education and had every comfort in life, but was largely ignored by his parents and yearned to know someone like him – someone with special powers. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Erik Lensherr grew up in a concentration camp, where he witnessed immeasurable brutality and was subjected to countless ordeals at the hands of the Nazis. He says later in the film that he is “Frankenstein’s monster” – a product of the monstrous life he had to endure. The men meet for the first time to address the threat from a common enemy and are joined by a host of other mutants – some new and some familiar.

We are introduced to the blue-skinned Raven Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence) who eventually becomes Mystique; scientist Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) before and after his transformation into Beast; the winged Angel (Zoe Kravitz); the screaming Banshee (Sean Cassidy); the adaptable Darwin (Eddie Cathegi); and the powerful Havok (Lucas Till). They are the young mutants our intrepid leaders must mould into shape for the mission against the bad guy.

The bad guy in this case is Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon in fine form as a sardonic megalomaniac) and he has his own group of helpers… Sexy telepath Emma Frost (January Jones) has a diamond-hard skin that nothing can penetrate (except Shaw’s charm, apparently) and she lends beauty and brains to the operation. Water manipulator Riptide (Alex Gonzalez) and red-skinned teleporter Azazel (Jason Flemyng) provide the brawn (with glee, it must be said).

I’m not sure what hardcore comic fans will make of the screen adaptation, but I found it thoroughly entertaining. Vaughn has made a stylish film with the same character-driven action of X-Men: Wolverine, and none of the campy echoes of the original X-Men trilogy. X-Men: First Class is in a league of its own.

© Janine Du Jour, 2009 to now. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to http://janinedujour.wordpress.com and Janine Du Jour with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:49 am

http://www.all-things-reconsidered.com/prequel-not-great-but-good/

Prequel Not Great, but Good
Posted on July 4, 2011 by Rain Dog | No Comments

X-Men: First Class

* * *

2011

Directed by Matthew Vaughn

Written by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, & Matthew Vaughn

Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon

If the world really had mutants, what would their political stances be? Would they help with national crises? ‘X-Men: First Class’ more or less answers that question. And the answer is a surprisingly well-acted and well-made prequel to the other X-Men movies we have seen.

Similar to the first X-Men movie, this one starts with Magneto in a Nazi prison camp. As he reaches for his mother, metal gates bend. He realizes that he can control metal. The first part of the movie cuts back and forth between different parts of the world, introducing us to different mutants and characters. We meet Charles Xavier (James McAvoy). He is gathering mutants to form a group/school/safe haven for them. On the other side, the dastardly Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) is recruiting mutants to use their powers for evil.

Throughout the movie, different people join the respective sides. There is a plot involving the CIA and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Everyone wants to know where the mutants are so they can use them to their advantage.

There is a scene that I am sure you have seen in the previews, where Magneto attempts to prevent missiles from hitting a beach. There are lots of CGI images and lots of action. It is loud and colorful, you know, how a comic book movie should be.

The acting was a bonus as well. Everyone did a surprisingly good job. There weren’t too many corny one-liners. Is this prequel as good as the first two? I would say not. But it is better than many other movies that have come out this summer, including ‘Green Lantern.’ Die hard fans will love it, and those that are seeking some entertainment will like it as well. –E. Morris

Click Here to watch the trailer for ‘X-Men: First Class’

This entry was posted on Monday, July 4th, 2011 at 14:59
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:53 am

http://flicksthatmakemesick.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/x-men-first-class/

X Men: First Class

Casting a movie sequel made from a popular book or previous film is a fabulous way to waste time online. Fans of The Hunger Games trilogy are currently locked in fierce debate over the wisdom of Jennifer Lawrence playing Katniss Everdeen, and every other part in that film has been dissected and/or applauded in the comments section of each cast announcement. (To which I would like to add: Lenny Kravitz as Cinna?! WTF?) Sitting alone at my keyboard, it’s easy to second-guess and complain about this, but I have to admit that occasionally the casting directors come up with a choice that makes me remember why I am but a lowly blogger and not involved in movie-making. I speak, of course, of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender in the latest mutant prequel, X-Men: First Class.

The first few X-Men films were very good, with Patrick Stewart playing Charles Xavier and Ian McKellen as Magneto. Although Hugh Jackman and his fabulous sideburns (and abs) grabbed most of the attention, Stewart and McKellen were the two that held the films together. So when word started to come out about another X-men origin prequel (with X-Men: Wolverine mercifully forgotten), it was only natural that their story should be the next one told.

Set in 1962 during the Bay of Pigs crisis, the story explores the youthful friendship of Xavier and Magneto and the conflict that eventually drove them apart. MacAvoy never tries to do an imitation of Patrick Stewart, but gives a fully developed, charismatic performance that anchors the film. He does make a few bald jokes, but always with the winking arrogance of a young man who couldn’t possibly conceive of something like that happening to his head of magnificent hair. Michael Fassbender (who was smoldering hot as Mr. Rochester in the newest version of Jane Eyre) shows Magneto’s tragic childhood and is so sympathetic that you almost have to agree with him that the humans suck and can never be trusted. When these two are together, it’s pretty easy to ignore the other mutants such as the blue girl and the guy who turned into a beast.

The rest of the cast is not quite as skilled as the two male leads. I hope Jennifer Lawrence can do a better job as Katniss than she does here as Raven, because the pounds of indigo goo she’s wearing make her look like a member of Blue Man Group who was in a tragic fire. January Jones as Emma Frost proves once and for all that she really is Betty Draper from Mad Men, because every part she performs in looks like a frigid housewife from the 1960s. She is also dressed like an escaped fembot from Austin Powers, which doesn’t help. And Kevin Bacon as the villain Sebastien Shaw who murders Magneto’s family and pursues him for his power is just plain boring. Note to Kevin: wearing an ascot is not enough to define your character as an evil mastermind.

Barf Bag rating: ZERO BAGS As the summer blockbusters keep on rolling in, it becomes more and more evident that the big special-effects studio films rarely use the hand-held camera technique that can cause so many digestive problems. I’ve packed away my Dramamine with my earmuffs and hope for all of our sakes that this is not just a phase they are going through, but an actual change of attitude. I guess we’ll find out with Transformers III.
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:53 am

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

Monday, June 20, 2011
MOVIE REVIEW: X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
Labels: Movie Reviews 2011
Staring:
James McAvoy...Charles Xavier
Michael Fassbender...Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
Kevin Bacon...Sebastian Shaw
Rose Byrne...Moira MacTaggert
Jennifer Lawrence...Raven / Mystique
Álex González...Janos Quested / Riptide
Jason Flemyng...Azazel
January Jones...Emma Frost
Nicholas Hoult...Hank McCoy / Beast
Caleb Landry Jones...Sean Cassidy / Banshee
Edi Gathegi...Armando Muñoz / Darwin
Lucas Till...Alex Summers / Havok
Ray Wise...Secretary of State

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Release Date: 3 June 2011 (USA)
Tagline:The story begins
Film Location: USA, UK, Canada
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Action, Drama

Plot:
In 1962, Charles Xavier starts up a school and later a team, for humans with superhuman abilities. Among them is Erik Lensherr, his best friend... and future archenemy.

Verdict:
I heard this was good and it was! I'm a huge X-Men fan FYI. It was cool to see how some things came to play (if you haven't read the comics). Michael Fassbender did an excellent job! He was so good that I actually liked Magneto. It was sad to watch him become the a-hole we all know he becomes. The cast was great, love Kevin Bacon! Even if you aren't a comic book fan, this is a very enjoyable movie.

Liked: Quality
Disliked: Nothing really
Favorite Character: Eric (even though, well you know)
Least Favorite Character: Sebastian Shaw
Favorite Part: The kids partying at Headquaters
Script: 8/10 Roses
Acting: 8/10 Roses
Plot: 8/10 Roses
Ending: 7/10 Roses
Over All Rating:
Photobucket 8/10
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:54 am

http://notesfromaviewer.blogspot.com/2011/06/review-x-men-first-class.html

Sunday, June 19, 2011
Review: X-Men: First Class
***
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Produced by: Gregory Goodman, Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Bryan Singer
Written by: Ashley Miller, Zach Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Sheldon Turner, and Bryan Singer (based on the comic book)
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, January Jones, Rose Byrne, Oliver Platt, Nicholas Hoult, Jason Flemyng


Like Batman Begins (2005), First Class turns out to be the best in its respective series. Matthew Vaughn has produced a solid comic-book film with a satisfying dramatic arc. While the new cast works well, it is James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender who really shine, taking the relationship of Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto) and giving it a Shakespearean weight. By focusing on the drama, the film becomes more engaging. Since Spider-Man 2 (2004), some comic-book films have succeeded in doing this, and First Class does it again.

Oscar possibilities: Best Art Direction, Makeup, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects
Posted by Josh at 9:26 AM
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:55 am

http://wwhan12.wordpress.com/2011/06/20/2308/

X-Men: First Class’ Is A Classy Prequel

Some film series seem destined to go on forever, and that may the case with the “X-Men” saga, which began in 2000 with a film appropriately titled “X-Men.” Because of its popularity, that movie spawned two sequels, “X2” in 2003 and “X-Men: The Last Stand” in 2006. Now when you make a movie with the word “last” in it, you might think that the series would end there. But there’s a way to keep the franchise going, and it’s called a prequel, which deals with characters and what they were doing before they appeared in the first movie.

The initial prequel, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” hit the big screen in 2009, and now in “X-Men: First Class,” we have the second prequel, which tells the story of how Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), aka Magneto, became enemies in the school where young mutants are trained.

An incredibly talented cast makes this film extremely entertaining. It will grab you from the opening scene and not let go of you until the final frame. This one definitely is among the summer’s best films.

“X-Men First Class” begins during 1944 in Poland at a German prison camp, where the Nazi guards brutally separate Lensherr from his parents. Now it just so happens that Lensherr has the power to control magnetism so that he can move objects by using his mind (It’s also known as telekinesis), and he becomes so upset that he bends a metal gate before a guard finally knocks him out. Watching all of this from an upstairs window is a nasty fellow named Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), and he summons Lensherr to his office. Then he puts a coin on his desk, brings Lensherr’s mother into the room, pulls a gun, and tells Lensherr that if he doesn’t move the coin with his brainpower by the count of three his mother will die. Lensherr fails to perform, and Shaw kills his mother in cold blood. This enrages Lensherr to the point that his power kicks in, and he destroys several rooms.

Now while this is going on, we switch to a mansion in New York, where Xaiver meets a mutant named Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), a beautiful shape-shifter who becomes his lifelong friend. This scene and the ones that precede it serve to show us both Xaiver and Lensherr in their younger days before we move to the present of 1962.

The rather complex plot involves Lensherr’s plan to exact revenge on Shaw, who killed his mother, and Xavier’s school for mutants at his spacious mansion. To add an element of reality to the story, the filmmakers have included actual footage of President Kennedy’s addressing the nation as the Cuban Missile Crisis looms, and we find out that one of the characters in the movie may have orchestrated the whole thing. In the film’s production notes, Bacon addressed this idea.

“Shaw’s plan is to escalate the Cuban missile crisis, to get Russian ships and submarines into the Bay of Pigs, and have the Americans and Russians fire at each other – triggering a nuclear war that will eradicate humanity and allow mutants to take over the world. It’s a fantastic plot device. It was an incredibly tense moment in world history, and to suggest that it was Shaw’s idea is a very cool way to set up the X-Men world during this era.”

Perhaps the most fun in the entire movie is watching the mutants exhibit their special powers. In addition to the telekinetic Lensherr and the telepathic Xavier, we have Darwin/Armondo Munoz (Ed Gathegi), who has the ability to grow gills if he is thrown into water or exercise night vision when he is in the dark. Banshee/Sean Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones) can launch into flight with the help of sonic blasts, and Arazel (Jason Flemying) is a demon with the ability to teleport by opening portals in other dimensions. Then we have Riptide (Alejandro Gonzalez), who can stir up whirlwinds strong enough to destroy buildings, and Havoc/Alex Summers (Lucas Till) with the ability to send out energy waves so hot that can set anything on fire. There are a few more, but this gives you an idea of the variety of weapons these mutants possess.

In dealing with the science fiction genre, it is not unusual to find the emphasis on the special effects rather than the acting, but that’s not the case in this picture. Bacon is wonderfully evil as Shaw, and both McAvoy and Fassbender are excellent in their respective roles of Xavier and Lensherr. The lovely Lawrence is perfectly cast as the shape-shifting Raven, and January Jones seems to revel in her part as the voluptuous Emma Frost, the constant companion for Shaw and woman with her own special powers.

Avid fans of the series will notice a significant difference in the character of Xavier from the way he was in the trilogy, and in the film’s production notes McAvoy explained that this is by design.

“In those films Professor X is selfless and egoless. He is focused on humanity, on the rest of the world, and on helping others. When we meet him in this film, as a younger man, he’s self-centered, has an ego, and is a little bit lost. ‘X-Men: First Class’ is about Charles finding his purpose, and that was very much what attracted me to the role – to see who Charles was, and to explore the reasons why he became the person he did. Matthew (Director Matthew Vaughn) made it very clear at the beginning he wanted both me and Michael [Fassbender, as Erik] to play the characters, and not play Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen as younger men.

By far the most elegant mutant is Raven, portrayed beautifully by Academy Award nominee Lawrence, who offered the following analysis of her character in the production notes.

“Raven has learned to live with her secret, but much like most insecure teenagers who react to something they perceive makes them different, she hasn’t really faced up to her unique abilities. Raven is mostly ashamed of them. She slowly starts to realize it is a blessing and becomes proud of her mutant abilities, as do the other young mutants of their powers. At the beginning we are isolated and alone, and each mutant goes through a huge evolution. We join together to become this iconic X-Men team, and then separate. It is fascinating to see the journey each character takes and which side they ultimately join.”

Like “Super 8,” “X-Men: First Class” (Give it an eight.) is an outstanding summer film because it contains all the right elements to make it good escape entertainment. The acting is outstanding, the sets are interesting, and the special effects are superb. (One of the most spectacular segments in the in the movies is when ships launch a barrage of shells, and two of the mutants try to turn them back or let them find their targets.) The film also offers plenty of action punctuated with just the right amount of humor. And you can bet this won’t be the last film in the series.
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:56 am

http://angledvista.wordpress.com/2011/06/20/they-were-kids/

They Were Kids
By Ryo

I must admit I’m not a big fan of the X-Men saga. I only know of Wolverine and Storm and Professor X. And, of course, the fact that it might have spurred all them superhero stories here in the Philippines.

Missing most of the other X-Men films, I wasn’t as excited with X-Men: First Class as many avid fans are. But a few thumbs up and a lot of positive reviews kind of made me want to see the movie.

And when I did, I was left hanging and torn between liking it and dismissing it as just one of “those movies”.

X-Men: First Class

I can’t be as eloquent right now to detail and categorize all of my thoughts about the movie. Usually, I go for a second run of the film before writing anything. But since time is of the essence when it comes to saving my blog from taking its last breath, allow me to do a list of uncollected thoughts.

1. Story

Asking around, I’ve had the impression that one doesn’t need to see all the other previous X-Men films to understand this most current one. And I appreciate that. For viewers like me, who only know from tell-tales the basics of the saga, it is a must that this film sticks to its being an origin film. It would be a real bum if the flashback strategy is used.

Also, the reference to the American and the world history at large is a good plus. It adds to the antiquity and the historic base of the plot.

2. Cinematography

The film is not as laden with breathtaking scenes, for me. Considering that this is a superhero film and one that supposedly precedes a franchise widely known for its photographic scenes. The settings were not as captivating, the scenes a bit fleeting, and the effects not as wild.

Save for that Magneto scene reverting the bombs to the Russians, I think many of the film’s portions can easily be branded as simple. Although I think it can be highly understood, because mostly, the film is not focused on the individuals and their abilities but on the making of an entire saga instead.

3. Characters/Casts

The Cast of X-Men

Costume-wise, some of the characters are well-made. Although there is an apparent case of the film being too laden with namely actors, I like that most of them are given highlights. I think the fact that each character must be focused on to highlight their mutant abilities has balanced the idea that there are way too many known actors in the film.

Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are good opposites of each other. They deliver well together, ironically. From looks to lines and even exuding personalities, the two are very complementary.

Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy

Lucas Till is a revelation for me here, the angst and the mysterious-kid type working for his set features.

Lucas Till as Havok

The same goes for Jennifer Lawrence, whose Katniss Everdeen is much awaited by the viewers as well. I guess X-Men works for her enough to show that she can indeed deliver a very demanding role.

Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique

Finally, Kevin Bacon. He’s one of the best superhero-movie villain I’ve seen–giving the mean lines and showing as much prowess as the protagonists. He doesn’t outshine and allow to be eclipsed, a parallel performance that is truly admirable.

Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw

4. Themes

And ultimately, the themes. I like the incorporation of many themes: friendship, beliefs, courage, and the value of being in touch with one’s inner self. These themes defy the film’s being a superhero movie. It is like any coming of age film, with character and plot developments that are hard to miss. In the end, it will leave you with a feeling that what you’ve seen isn’t just X-Men. It’s the entire inner story of how our superheroes came to be.

So there.

I’d try to come up with something more comprehensive in the future. Although, I’m not promising anything. (Ha!) And for that, I’d leave just a few words: sometimes a superhero movie is not just about a good guy battling a bad guy.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 20th, 2011 at 19:55
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:56 am

http://www.jeremysadler.net/2011/06/20/review-x-men-first-class/

Review: X-Men First Class
Posted: June 20th, 2011 ˑ

After the debacle that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, you’d be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the X-Men franchise was best left to lie for a while. Never let it be said however that Hollywood is unwilling to beat a dead horse; out come the whips to give us X-Men: First Class.

Except somewhere along the way, they actually made a classy, fun, interesting film.

By giving us a prequel/reboot/origin story, 20th Century Fox and Marvel breath fresh life back into the flailing franchise. Add to that a – mostly – top notch cast and a story set within, but just to the side of, real events and you get the movie X-Men fans have been dying to see: how did Professor X and Magneto meet, become friends and eventually end up enemies?

X-Men: First Class opens with an almost shot-for-shot recreation of the opening of the original X-Men film, and with that announces that the boys are back in town. It then diverges from that film as we discover that the young Erik is tasked by a German scientist studying human genetics to demonstrate his power, and we learn it only comes when he is upset. Pause for a moment and consider the shot structure of this vital scene; at first it appears to be a warm, almost welcoming office/study until the reverse shot shows us the cold laboratory and we understand this scientist is experimenting on people.

At the same time we are introduced to a young Charles, a product of upper class upbringing, safe in his country estate. The contrast between the two worlds, and how it molds the men these two would grow to become, is obvious but not overplayed – it just is. While Charles is shown growing up, attending university, partying and using his mind powers to pick up girls, we follow Erik’s quest for revenge as he hunts Nazis across the globe, ruthlessly using his power to avenge his parents and soothe his pain.
Michael Fassbender in X-Men First Class

Michael Fassbender in X-Men First Class

To carry such a heavy story you need two actors with strength and ability, and the producers found them in James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. Make no mistake, this is Fassbender’s movie. McAvoy plays a large part, and the chemistry these two share is what drives much of the feeling in this movie, but they could have called this film Magneto and no one would have mind. Without being a carbon copy of Ian McKellen’s superb performance of the same role, Fassbender owns the character, displaying true heart as well as foreshadowing the darkness. With the 60s setting, it is any wonder that Hollywood watchers predict him as a candidate for the next Bond – he has the intensity of Connery and Craig backed up by rugged charm. The Academy is calling.

The rest of the cast, with one exception, are no slouches either. Kevin Bacon, as the aforementioned German scientist and villain Sebastian Shaw, carries enough menace to be a strong antagonist without overshadowing the story or the other actors. Jennifer Lawrence, as Raven/Mystique, is the vessel through which First Class portrays how the mutants are outcasts. So desperate is she to appear “normal” that she continually spends concentration on hiding her mutant blue form, and eagerly hitches on to Hank McCoy’s (Nicholas Hoult) plans for a “cure” – all the while intrigued by Erik’s argument that she shouldn’t have to hide and if the world doesn’t like it, the world can go to hell.

It is January Jones as Emma Frost who lets the side down. She looks fantastic in costume, all bare midriff and cleavage, but her facial expressions and acting move barely beyond the wooden. One wonders if she was just dreaming of being back of the Mad Men set.

There is one geekgasmic cameo in this film, and another that will have you “Hey, that’s -”. Both are amusing.

There are a few mild problems. A couple of the effects sequences aren’t convincing and particular plot points fail to stay true (US and Soviet fleets would not sail into each other), but the final resolution is ultimately very satisfying, leading into what one hopes will be a resurgence of the X-Men franchise.

Overall, director Matthew Vaughn and the committee of writers (including original director Bryan Singer) have managed to weave what could have been a mess of Wolverine proportions into something coherent, intelligent, provoking and above all fun. And that’s what movies are supposed to be about.
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:59 am

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Jun 18, 2011
X-Men: First Class Review 0

by Sinoun • Reviews

The mood for the X-Men First Class trailer was sombre and serious – a step up from the previous X films and a giant ascension from the major Wolverine letdown. It also reminded me a bit of the Watchmen trailer; subdued and stylized, enticing viewers through subtlety rather than gratuitous explosions and cheap CGI. But where Watchmen was overly ambitious with its actual delivery, First Class struck a fine balance between ambition and expectation – it understood its audience and gave them exactly what they came for; a substantial, yet digestible summer blockbuster.

Central to any good comic film, are well-developed characters. In First Class, the two main protagonists are handled with compassion and instilled with credibility, with careful attention paid to the fragments of their lives and to the details that paint the picture of who they were prior to inheriting their super-mutant statuses. Before they were Professor X and Magneto, they were Charles and Erik, two friends allied in their mission to save humanity from the villainous Sebastian Shaw and an impending nuclear war. Overriding the initial friendship however, are opposing views on the coexistence of humans and mutants. “Killing will not bring you peace,” warns Charles. Erik, whose past was riddled with injustice and torment, asserts that “Peace was never an option”, thus laying the ideological differences that would go on to create the monumental rift between them.

James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, as Professor X and Magneto respectively, were made for these roles. Major props to the casting director for recognizing true talent and enabling some credible onscreen chemistry – bromance in all its realness. I’ve always loved McAvoy for his brilliance and his boyish good looks and as Charles he shines – charming and sympathetic, wise and trustworthy. Michael Fassbender’s Magneto feels like a revelation – he’s as hot as he is troubled, burdened with internal turmoil and a thirst for vengeance, struggling to make his mark in the mutant world and save his fellow mutants from mankind’s cruelty. His heart is full of rage, but Charles teaches him how to summon his true strength with a calm serenity he doesn’t even know he had in one of the film’s more touching moments.

Both Xavier and Magneto are created with integrity and grace, rendering them more real, giving us reasons to care about their legacies. There is no good or bad, just two men with different world views, charting their destinies as legendary characters upholding pivotal roles in the human evolution saga. The supporting cast of misfits and mutants makes for a fun ensemble, an army establishing their positions on different ends of the superhero spectrum. Aside from some filler material, some requisite juvenile montage and the occasional yawn-inducing long-stretches of inaction, X-Men takes its superhero storytelling pretty seriously. Not since Dark Knight has there been a comic-film as engrossing and inspiring, as intelligent and entertaining as the backstory of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. Batman set the bar for great superhero films and X-Men has made an admirable attempt to reach it, even though it hasn’t quite hit the mark.

What I like most about First Class is that it satiates the need to know the humanity behind the superpowers, providing situational explanations of who these characters are and what makes them so. Had this film been the very first, the true beginning, it might’ve set the tone for the rest of the X-Men movies, a franchise of stories with substance that make them more than just a money-making empire, but a legacy of artful, compelling characters in a turbulent world; a super hero saga embedded with important lessons for humanity.

Of course, as with any comic to movie adaptation, there’s bound to be a few, if not many, inconsistencies. One of the drawbacks of creating a story-line appreciable by even non die-hard X-Men fans is that it veers from the original comics and is made less authentic. But the ability to select an effective and entertaining narrative from the vast libraries of the Marvel galaxy isn’t necessarily an easy undertaking. The end result is enjoyable for what it is. We’re not talking Oscar material here, just an entry into the league of X-traordinary summer films.
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:00 am

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X-Men: First Class … A Review and Cross Interpretation with Totally Non-Rabbinic Commentary
15 Sivan 5771 - June 17, 2011 By punktorah

Let’s start out by warning all potential readers that this article like any legitimate review contains spoilers and those not wishing to ruin their movie going experience might want to check the film out first before seeing what my bloody delusional, possibly fanatical and freakishly Jewish take on X-Men First Class is, lets just say this reviewer is shall we say a bit culturally biased… but hey so is everybody else.

X-men: First Class is by its nature and creation an enjoyable movie that will delight and torment fans of the comic book genre and the sub genre of films based upon comics and graphic novels. In this writer’s humble opinion it will stand as the best film in the franchise even more sublime than X2: X-Men United with its amazing action sequences and teleporting effects but that is probably not what a reader to this site is expecting or wanting to read.

Nor does one paying attention to the Punk Torah/One Shul philosophy probably want to read what all the so-called geek sites have already mentioned ad nauseam:

Oh my G-d the Beast doesn’t take on his animalistic blue form until much later on in the story-line
Did swinging 60’s Charles Xavier use the words, “Groovy Mutation”
Havoc is supposed to be Cyclops’ younger brother
Lenny Kravitz’s daughter is kind of hot even with Mothra-wings, I can’t believe she and the Magneto guy are dating.

With all that said now let’s look at just how “Jewish” this film is.

At this time I will ask everyone to accept, as a fact is that comic books are or at least were in their infancy a very Jewish medium. There were these two Jewish kids from Cleveland who came up with this idea about a guy in a red cape who was you know faster than a speeding bullet; yadda, yadda, yadda. Another two Jewish kids from New York who thought it would be a great Idea for their Red, White and Blue Avenger to be knocking out Adolf Hitler on the cover of their character’s first issue before the U.S. even entered the war as their reaction to his actions in Germany against Jews. And one Stanley Martin Lieber who came of age in the upper Manhattan and spent some of his formative years in the Bronx who is often credited with both saving and revitalizing the genre, as we know it. Excelsior!!! The early creators of the medium were all barely out of Hebrew School when they created this art form and they were thoroughly informed as to ideals of truth, justice and equality by their Jewish experience.

Okay here it goes…seat belts fastened?

Director Matthew Vaughn starts this film by re-shooting the Auschwitz, “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate scene from the original Bryan Singer directed X-Men film… this scene of young Erik Lehnsherr, later Magneto being torn from his parent’s arms at the gates of the infamous death camp still has the same effect of tearing at the heart strings as strongly as Erik himself pulls apart the metal gate with the force of his own will. The addition to this scene that will drive the rest of the film is that of a Nazi scientist played by Kevin Bacon (insert that’s not Kosher joke here) looking at the whole scene from a second story window, he is later to be revealed as the powerful energy-absorbing mutant Sebastian Shaw who is sort of a Mutant Mengele and of course he is very interested in “experimentation” on the boy.

That’s right: Magneto who in this film serves as one of the films two main protagonists is Jewish and a Survivor of the Holocaust to boot, that’s not really a spoiler per say as Erik’s identity has been debated for years in the pages of Marvel Comics not to mention revealed in the first three films of the franchise but it is the nut shall we say of all of the character’s motivations through out the film. For me while watching the first X-Men this was a hard pill to swallow I took it as Bryan Singer vilifying his Jewish heritage even though I knew the most of the character’s history at the time.

Spoiler: Erik is tortured by the memory of the brutal killing of his mother by Shaw which was an act intended to get the boy to use his powers.

When we catch up with the character in 1961, Erik is now a grown man, brilliantly portrayed by Michael Fassbender hunting down those responsible for the deaths of his parents and others of “his people”, a super-powered Simon Wiesenthal if you will. This journey takes him on a global search that will take him from Swiss Banks, to Argentinean Beer Halls and eventually to the waters off Miami, Florida where he will meet his greatest ally on his quest young telepath Charles Xavier (James McAvoy). McAvoy plays young Charles as cerebral but suave a bit of an omniscient lady’s man who is a bit ego centric but still fatherly as a young man he is calm and centered the perfect foil for Fassbender’s Erik who is driven by an incredibly believable rage and great sadness.

Together Erik and Charles have to save the world from Shaw’s villainous machinations during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a world of course that “fears and hates them.” At this point I will deviate from the main review and state most presumptuously that the idea of serving a world that fears and hates them is the duty of the Jew. Through Judaism we are taught that our actions and faith in the one true deity are supposed to be a “light unto the nations” (Isaiah 42:6), a responsibility which may modern Jews do not take seriously enough, and that are practice of the mitzvot will provide for a tikkun ha olam, a healing of the world despite the fact that for centuries the Jews were a nation with out a state who suffered from seemingly endless persecution.
Even in this modern era where Jews have reached a level of success in secular society there is still a certain level Anti-Semitism in global society but we are supposed to still marshal on and be well Jewish. It is the idea of living up to this reality that is the crux of the argument for our mutant counterparts in this film, the idea of being different or being the other is a truly scary thought and it is an argument that is at the heart of the movie.

While some mutants easily fit into society being you know good looking young Hollywood stars who can read minds or control metal objects through magnetism others do not fit the mold so well like young Raven Darkholme played by Jennifer Lawrence she of course is the shape shifting mutant Mystique and her natural form is blue, scaly and well a little frightening. The film illustrates her attempts at assimilation as much as it does that of young Hank McCoy who will also be blue by the end of the film they try to hide who they are from the world. In the end they must learn of acceptance and pride in their own nature, which is the brunt of the argument. They need to learn to be “Mutant and Proud” a lesson that Raven learns from Erik when he tells her that her true form is perfect just the way she is, perhaps a lesson that we can take from this film is that yes it is okay to be Jewish and proud and we don’t have to fit into a role that society deems for us.

Another key element and very Jewish element of this film is the idea of responsibility for ones action and ultimately the repercussions of those actions. The free will argument, one that Charles Xavier literally can remove from or block from people. In the end we are brought back to these truths of responsibility for actions and the definitive reaction to those ends on a beach after they have averted total nuclear proliferation, the humanity they have saved turns its guns on our intrepid group of heroes. Erik is prepared to use his control over metal to turn the missiles aimed at them back on their attackers and Charles tries to reason with him that he should not kill them because they are just soldiers following orders. It is then with complete resolve that Erik utters the haunting lament of any survivor of the Shoah,“I have been at the mercy of men just following orders, Never Again.”

Through a fight sequence and eventual paralyzing of Charles all learn this lesson Erik blames the very human CIA agent Moira MacTaggert for Charles’ injury because it is a bullet from her gun that paralyzes Charles however it was a bullet that he deflected from himself with his magnetism power. The two men are sent of on their separate paths one to lead the X-men and the other to lead the separatist brotherhood of mutants.

There is much more I could go into but won’t at this time I will leave it for the comment section to speculate on. I will go crazy at this point and offer a rating for this film based completely on that of the movie critics every where I give this film 3 and a half out of four Punked-out Magen Dovids.

Written by Steven J. Hager, PunkTorah New York Correspondent
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:01 am

http://writeriot.blogspot.com/2011/06/blog-post_17.html

Friday, June 17, 2011
X-Men: First Class
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Produced by: Gregory Goodman; Simon Kinberg; Lauren Shuler Donner; Bryan Singer
Screenplay by: Ashley Edward Miller; Zack Stentz; Jane Goldman; Matthew Vaughn
Story by: Sheldon Turner; Bryan Singer
Based on Characters by: Stan Lee; Jack Kirby; Chris Claremont
Starring: James McAvoy; Michael Fassbender; Rose Byrne; January Jones; Jennifer Lawrence; Oliver Platt; Kevin Bacon
Music by: Henry Jackman
Cinematography: John Mathieson
Release date(s): June 1, 2011
Running time: 132 minutes
Country: United States; United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: $140–160 million

The best scene in the new X-Men film comes at the beginning of the climatic face-off when a submarine slowly emerges out of the water and begins to float in the air as the America and the USSR army watch in disbelieve. Of course, it’s the handiwork of Erik Lensherr, the young and revengeful mutant who can manipulate metals, and who would later become Megneto, the archvillain of the X-Men universe. The shot, which runs for a few seconds, in a sense defines the film and its plot — it defies logic, and it’s absolutely mesmerising to behold.

I saw the film in theatre, which you must, if you are a fan of the X-Men, and I’m a fan, the films, more than the Uncanny X-Men comics, and especially Magneto, as played by Ian McKellen in the first three films of the series. And that why you applaud when Wolverine makes a split second appearance, smoking his trademark cigar. You know these characters, and First Class gives you a chance to see them what they were like when they were young.

Is the end result satisfactory? I don’t know. If you like something, you always want more. But Michael Fassbender as young Magneto is a perfect cast. You identify with his anger, and his need to seek revenge on Sebastian Shaw, played malevolently by Kevin Bacon; he looks especially nasty in a moustache in the early scenes.

But, when you think objectively, the film looks like a pilot of a television series; we are introduced to a host of characters, and before you get to know them and they each other, we are thick into the Cuban missile crisis and the inevitable face-off. The Cuban missile crisis situation is an ingenious plot point where the fictional world collides with the real world with credibility. But why must CIA be involved in anything and everything?

Much has been talked about the friendship between Magneto and Professor X, who eventually choose to walk different ways. However, this friendship never blooms to its full potential on screen; same is the case with the development of Mystique/ Raven characters (played with blue makeup by Jennifer Lawrence of Winter’s Bone, for which she received an Oscar nomination. Imagine!). So, when at the end she leaves with Erik, it doesn’t look credible.

The film ends with Michael Fassbender filling the screen with the trademark robe and headgear, and saying, “They call me Magneto.” And you know, there are more Magneto adventure in the anvil.
By i write at Friday, June 17, 2011
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:01 am

http://doodlesofajourno.blogspot.com/2011/06/movie-stuff.html

Friday, 17 June 2011
Movie stuff
Lots on the go. What I thought would be a quiet week turned out to be very busy. Haven't had time to post anything of substance, but here's a bit of fluff for you in the form of two movie reviews and some cinematic thoughts ;-)

X Men: First Class


I'm not generally a fan of movies based on comic books. They tend to have lame plots, stilted scripts and simplistic characters. But the X Men movies have always been different. Yes, they are silly. But they are generally wellmade. The only exception for me so far has been Wolverine, which I hated.

X Men First Class is slick, fast-paced, filled with spectacular special effects and actually contains some pretty decent acting. It's fun to watch and is perfect Hollywood entertainment that doesn't require too much thinking. Of course it's not perfect - there are some daft lines, some OTT moments and the story loses momentum in parts. But it's honestly not too bad, which surprised me, especially when I saw that the character of Professor X was being played by the sweet but in my mind sappy James McAvoy. He actually did lend a touch of humanity and humour to the character. Michael Fassbender was perfectly cast as Erik / Magneto.

All in all, a not too shabby 7 / 10 from me.
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:04 am

http://www.moviefilmreview.com/6495/x-men-first-class-3

X-Men: First Class
Reviewer's Rating: This entry has a rating of 5

Posted on 18 June 2011 by movieman365

Eleven years ago 20th Century Fox and director Bryan Singer introduced the world at large to the idea of mutants living among us with the box office smash “X-Men”. Following that success a couple of years later with “X2: X-Men United”, which was an even bigger blockbuster and an even better movie. However, when Bryan Singer left the franchise to direct “Superman Returns”, some would argue the franchise lost its way with the likes of the critically maligned “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”.

Personally, I enjoyed both of those films (as did many audiences based on their box office receipts), although I do recognize their flaws. To those critics and even some fans that were displeased with the aforementioned last two installment into the franchise, a new entry has come along to right those proverbial wrongs. That film is the critically acclaimed “X-Men: First Class” from director Matthew Vaughn (“Layer Cake”), with Bryan Singer serving as a producer this time around.

“X-Men: First Class” explores the friendship between Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). Set in the early 1960’s, the two one-time friends and veritable leaders of the mutant race, join forces with the CIA to discover and train new mutants in the use of their powers. However, when a dangerous mutant named Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) sets into motion events that could lead to nuclear war; Charles, Erik and their team of mutant recruits must band together to save mankind.

When this film was initially announced I was excited because at the time Bryan Singer was attached to direct. However, shortly thereafter Singer was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts, and eventually director Matthew Vaughn was hired to take over the reins.

It was upon this revelation that my excitement for the prequel began to wane because Matthew Vaughn had already balked at the chance to direct an X-Men feature with “X-Men: The Last Stand”. Thus, my confidence in him wasn’t exactly solid. That was before I watched his surprisingly entertaining, tongue planted firmly in cheek, comic book adaptation “Kick-@$$”.

After seeing the aforementioned film, my concern for the X-Men franchise was quickly dissipating. My thought was so long as Matthew Vaughn, and company, remained relatively faithful to the material, plus made every attempt possible to ensure this is the best in the series; then the future of the franchise would be in good hands.

So, let me say that I for one can attest that “X-Men: First Class” not only delivered the goods, but surpassed almost every one of my expectations. If you are one of the fans or critics or general moviegoers that were disappointed to some degree with any of the previous films, then this movie should easily renew your faith in the franchise.

Written by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz (“Thor”) the story for “X-Men: First Class” is jam-packed with history for not only the franchise, but even some actual world history to boot (albeit with a comic book slant). Not to mention terrific character beats (especially for the primary cast members); plus, taking considerable care to not trample too much upon the continuity that had been established by the previous films in the series.

Admittedly there were some minor contradictions between this film and the rest of the series; however, they can be forgiven or explained away in later sequels. So I digress.

On top of all that the film boasts some very entertaining action and visual effects set pieces that are some of the best this series has ever had to offer. From the scenes of the various young mutants training to harness their abilities to the film’s climactic moments, the visual spectacle on display is well worth the price of admission.

As always the best scripts, action, visual effects, and directors and crew members are all for naught if the cast can’t step up to deliver the goods too. And this cast delivered with great ease and nearly flawless execution.

Leading the cast are two very talented actors: one is the more recognizable James McAvoy (“Wanted”) portraying Charles Xavier, and the other is the soon to be recognizable, due to this role, Michael Fassbender (“300”).

At the onset of this film you can forget some of your preconceived notions for the character of Charles Xavier that you may have gleamed from comics or the movies. Here we are introduced to a version of the character that’s willing to be somewhat ethically loose with his powers. For example, he is not above using his telepathic abilities to hit on women in bars and such.

Now, I understand that some could be turned off by this take on the character in his younger years, and therefore attempt to write off the film in the process. However, actor James McAvoy manages to portray this time in Xavier’s life with such charm and personality that you can’t help but be drawn in by him.

And when the character begins to embrace his destiny as a potential future leader of mutants, McAvoy naturally shifts gears with the character. Over the course of his story arc James begins tempering the more spirited side to Xavier with an over-bearing sense of responsibility and a strong ethical moral code that we all know from the original trilogy.

As for the future Magneto, actor Michael Fassbender portrays this younger Erik Lehnsherr with much more volatility than we’ve ever seen from the character. However, with that temperament, we also see an underlying sadness that is constantly at odds with his intense anger and aggression.

When we see those flashes of sadness come to the surface of Erik, Michael truly excels at playing them off with genuine surprise and bewilderment from the character. Seeing these moments of vulnerability seep into the role was a fresh approach to Erik that we had not seen previously.

Plus, witnessing the transition of Erik from a man consumed by vengeance and lacking any real sense of direction to a man with a mission and purpose in life was extremely satisfying and intriguing to watch.

Separately both James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender were great, but their shared scenes are simply excellent. The natural rapport the two share onscreen perfectly conveys the brotherly relationship the characters once shared in the comics.

Honestly, if the Academy was willing to take a chance on another comic book property for a potential award nomination (beyond the visual and sound effects categories), then this film and its two lead actors could easily snag a nod. Of course, this most likely will not happen, but the fact that they could be considered worthy is a testament to the quality of this movie.

Alongside the two leads are a plethora of actors and actresses delivering very solid turns, even if their characters aren’t given as much to do as the aforementioned. The two biggest standouts from the supporting cast of young mutants are Mystique and Beast, played by Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”) and Nicholas Hoult (“Clash of the Titans”).

These two young talents deliver strong performances, and provide a different perspective on the events of the film than that of the leads. For me, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the movie spent as much time as it did showcasing the viewpoint of the “students”; especially, since the driving force of the film was the early years of Charles and Erik.

On the villainous side of things, we have Kevin Bacon (“Hollow Man”) and January Jones (TV’s “Mad Men”), portraying Sebastian Shaw and his femme fatale, Emma Frost respectively.

Between the two, Kevin gave the stronger performance, not to mention having more to do within the story. His portrayal of Sebastian Shaw was an interesting blend of a charismatic, suave, and sophisticated business man, mixed with a cold and calculating killer, devoid of any vestige of humanity.

To his credit, Kevin could have played the role over-the-top, which seems to be the temptation for so many actors when playing characters with a clear messiah complex, but he didn’t. Instead, he opted to play things more subdued and both the character and the film benefited.

Now, a moment ago, when I said that Kevin’s performance was the stronger of the two, that wasn’t to say that January Jones didn’t deliver on her end. On the contrary, January did a good job portraying Emma, a character whose beauty belies the cold-hearted mutant she truly is.

Some have complained that January seemed too emotionless and detached, but that’s the way her character should be, so her portrayal would be accurate. It’s just so many times critics aren’t aware of the source material (I know I’m guilty of this too), and judge based solely on what they see whether that’s the way the character is supposed to be or not.

So, in the end, with all the terrific performances, excellent storytelling, and great visual effects and action sequences, “X-Men: First Class” is an outstanding movie! Serving as a perfect introduction to those who may be unfamiliar with the film franchise or its comic book source material, but also providing longtime fans another excellent entry into the franchise that easily erases any ill-will garnered from the last two installments.

“X-Men: First Class” is rated PG-13 for violence and language.
Written by Justin Joines
http://www.moviefilmreview.com/author/movieman365
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:09 am

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X-Men: First Class: Reviewing Magneto and the Super Jews
Posted: 06/15/11 05:44 PM ET

Ever since I converted to atheism, I have wondered what it means to be a Jew. Was I even Jewish anymore -- the 'ish' appending my classification suddenly appearing more appropriate? Such were my musings at thirteen, the only immediate change in my life a cessation of special prayers before Yeshiva league basketball games. But the identity questions remained and are still pondered with stereotypical neuroticism: Am I a Jew? Can I choose not to be a Jew? Can others decide that I am a Jew? Can I disunite culture from religion? Would others care or still conflate the two? What is a Jew? And...do I want to be one?

I do not believe in god, nor practice Judaism, nor blindly support Israel's policies. Yet I cannot deny that a Jewish upbringing and school, with summers spent in Israel, shaped me. My only ties to Judaism are family, memories of a Jewish childhood, the Hebrew language, and a Thanksgiving-like attendance of Passover dinners. Yet the world considers me Jewish. While I can ponder, study, manipulate, disprove, and, finally, dismiss social constructs to my brain's content, when I reopen my eyes they have a funny little habit of appearing quite unharmed. All that is clear to me is that, by force of habit or society, I instinctively identify with other Jews.

Interestingly, the past half-decade of film has presented non-stereotypical Jews to test and expand this identification. Strong, athletic, violent, handsome -- something separate from the bookish, weak, nerdish, neurotic construct that shaped me -- they are...the Super Jews. Their latest incarnation is Magneto, played by Michael Fassbender in X-Men: First Class.

While Super Jews exist in reality, as a social construct -- as part of public consciousness -- they have been absent since perhaps Flavius's account of Masada. They are projections in a liminal space, Golem-like in power yet manifestly human, seemingly fanciful yet based on historical figures or archetypes. That other than Liev Schreiber the actors in question are non-Jews, though detrimental to a Jewish viewer seeking identification, works to broaden Jewish identity. And that baggage that actors carry from previous roles is in this case mostly larger-than-life characters, adding to the perceived power and mystique.

Two generations ago, Charles Bronson and Rutger Hauer brought their tough-goy personas to Raid on Entebbe and Escape from Sobibor, respectively. Their cinematic Super Jew progeny include:

Munich (2005)
-Eric Bana: coming off Trojan warrior Hector, the Hulk, and a super-hero-like soldier in Black Hawk Down
-Daniel Craig: tabbed to play Bond; best known for action role in Lara Craft: Tomb Raider

Defiance (2008)
-Craig: having added Munich and a pair of Bond movies to his resume
-Schreiber: tabbed to play superhuman mutant Sabretooth; recent roles of note included a brainwashed vice-presidential candidate in The Manchurian Candidate and a CIA operative in The Sum of All Fears

The Debt (2011)
-Marton Csokas: relative unknown; with action movie pedigree including Kingdom of Heaven and The Bourne Supremacy
-Sam Worthington: fresh off playing the son of Zeus, a half-Terminator superhuman, and a blue alien of superhuman proportions and physical prowess.

(Counterintuitively, Tarantino's eponymous Basterds are precluded from Super Jew glory. In the film, while others, including their non-Jewish conspirators, are granted a modicum of interiority, history, and dialogue, these Jews are purposefully left as dehumanized, blank mercenaries for Germans to fear. The movie's Hitler seems terrorized by these "apparitions," rumored to be Golems -- which essentially they are. Even the Golems' mark, the Hebrew word for truth on the creature's forehead, makes a cameo: in a twist, the Basterds brand truth onto Nazi foreheads in the form of swastikas)

Into this milieu enters Magneto. He is super in the truest sense of the word, able to manipulate magnetic forces and viewed as perhaps the most powerful mutant of all. Despite his presence in a fantasy universe, he, like the other Super Jews and unlike the Basterds, is both characterized and acted with serious intention. And yet, I did not have the same instinctive identification with this Super Jew, that strange, shared bond of "Jewishness" I usually feel, wanted or unwanted.

There is a difference between him and the others, a power hitherto unseen: the ability to transcend the Jewish social construct. This is by far the movie's greatest act of fancy, for who has ever accomplished a like feat? While his past haunts him, Magneto chooses not to consider himself Jewish and the world follows suit -- viewing him as mutant full stop, with none of his actions judged in a Jewish context. As a measure of this feat's difficulty, to transcend Jewish identity, to have this seductive power of self-determination, it was necessary to leave human identity behind.

And perhaps this void is for the better. The danger with any violent Super Jew portrayal is the risk of unintentionally critiquing Israel (assuming the director does not wish to). This risk is greater with a character meant to be more than individual, to embody a certain set of broad-scale ideas in a debate, as is Magneto in opposition to Professor X. And the Magneto/Israel parallels abound:

Jews shaped and driven by Holocaust imprisonment and suffering; formerly weak but now autonomous and powerful; chased Nazis with vengeance; believe in "never again" and fulminate at the phrase "just following orders;" have little faith in humanity's tolerance for difference; follow a violent path -- along with its attendant civilian casualties -- to achieve their goals; toe the line between self-defense and aggressive preemption (or outright aggression, depending on one's viewpoint); use behavior of antagonists as rationale for aggression, though sometimes their own actions are root cause of said behavior; extending to the comic-book world, both desire a homeland for their kind.

All this would prove banal without another Magneto parallel. There is a strange, not oft discussed discomfort with the Holocaust both allowing for and shaping Israel and its citizens' mentalities. For it is not a giant logical leap for some to make that if the Holocaust had such an influence in shaping Israel, so too did the Holocaust's architects. Usually this line is disposed of with a simple and effective willful disregard. The movie, however, seems to engage this idea head-on, to even progress from just a "shaped by Nazis" towards a "replication of them" implication:

We first see Magneto's powers emerge in a moment of rage as a child in a concentration camp. They reappear with increased intensity after witnessing Sebastian Shaw, then a Nazi, murder his mother. Strangely, though his anger is taken out on both human and inanimate object alike, he spares the Nazi killer, who laughs, deliriously calm, watching Magneto's metallic storm. The sequence ends with Shaw putting an arm around Magneto as they walk towards the settled destruction and into a bright illuminating light; the Nazi discussing the unlocking of Magneto's powers, their hands finally touching.

Later, Magneto will paint this Nazi as father-figure and refer to him as his creator. He will express agreement with Shaw's views on mutant-human relations and take over his group -- symbolically anointing himself as the new Shaw when he dons Shaw's helmet for protection (and, as this protection is from the telepathic interference of other minds, he is in that same action rendered literally close minded). Even Magneto's plan in the original (temporally later) X-Men movie, to mutate humans by force, is similar to Shaw's plan to accelerate mutations in humans through nuclear war, with both eerily reminiscent of Nazi experiments on Jews.

Magneto views his kind as a superior race. He is capable of a methodical man-hunt, sadistic killing, and, eventually, a calm equilibrium in violence -- a state described as optimal for exercising his powers. And that baggage the actor brings from previous roles? In his previous major role to date, Fassbender played a character pretending to be a Nazi.

And so we are presented an Israel-like figure who is also a Nazi-like figure. What intervention can the movie possibly employ to avoid the implications? The elimination of his Judaism (an either Nazi-like or freedom-inspired solution, depending on one's point of view). For while Israel is wrapped up in its Jewish character, the mutant Magneto is not at all Jewish. If he were obviously so, the movie would receive attention of a kind that hurts box-office receipts.

The irony is, given Israel's Jewish character, not only that Israel is largely secular, but also that the closest approximation of Magneto's ability to cast off Jewish identity is immigration to Israel, where that difference falls away in a sea of likeness, replaced by more pedestrian distinctions: country of origin, political leanings, piety, military service, class...
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:09 am

http://www.shenzhen-standard.com/2011/06/16/x-men-first-class-film-review/

Jun 16 2011, 11:22 am | Posted by Damien
X-Men: First Class (Film Review)

3 & ½ out of 4 stars

Those dismissing the latest entry in the X-Men series as another redundant sequel will be pleasantly surprised: ‘First Class’ is the best in the saga to date. Under the direction of British filmmaker Matthew Vaughn, the film’s numerous strengths include its gripping performances, thrilling action scenes, and a heartfelt storyline which works both as a highly personal tale of self-acceptance and a clever commentary on historical events. Undoubtedly, the ‘X-Men’ series still has life in it yet.

From the very first scene, the emotional stakes are raised high: the audience is introduced to 1940’s childhood versions of the film’s two heroes, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). The former is the son of billionaire parents and was raised in a mansion in Westchester County, New York, while the latter is the son of a Jewish mother who was separated from his parents at birth by the Nazis and grew up in a concentration camp. From birth, they share a common bond: both are mutants with extraordinary powers; Charles can read and manipulate others’ minds, while Erik can twist and lift metal using his telepathic powers. Unfortunately, the way in which these powers are discovered differ as well: Charles is able to practice his skills in secret in the comfort of his own home, while Erik’s abilities are born from experiments on him by the twisted Nazi scientist Dr. Schmidt (Kevin Bacon), also a mutant with the power to resist aging.

The film’s main plot then jumps to the 1960’s, at the heart of the Cold War. Xavier has become one of the world’s most respected professors on genetic mutation at the University of New York, while Lehnsherr is a professional assassin dedicated to tracking down and killing his ex-Nazi tormenters one by one. By chance however, the two are both found and then brought together by CIA agent Moira McTaggart (Rose Byrne): the agency is looking to form a secret fighting force comprised of mutants to protect global security and combat covert Communist operations. As well as Xavier and Lehnsherr, the team also includes Hank McCoy (Tony), a scientist with wolf-shaped feet that allow him to run at superhuman speed, and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl with the ability to shape-shift into the form of any other human, amongst others.

However, an even bigger threat looms around the corner. The evil Dr. Schmidt is still alive and preparing a scheme that will threaten the very fate of the world itself. Now called Sebastian Shaw and commanding his own army of powerful and vengeful mutants, Shaw has been masquerading as U.S. and Soviet officials and convincing members of both sides to start a nuclear war. Faced with the possible annihilation of the human race, Xavier and Lehnsherr must lead their band of mutants to Shaw and stop him whilst also confronting their own personal demons.

Judged purely by action movie standards, ‘X-Men First Class’ is simply one of the best entries in the genre. Factors aiding in its success are the steady, sure-handed direction of Matthew Vaughn, its kinetic editing, and the countless classic action set pieces featured in the script, and the outstanding visual effects featured in the film. Standout scenes include Lehnsherr’s raid on a mansion, the opening scenes where he destroys an entire laboratory purely with the powers of his mind, and the final confrontation where six X-Men must take on an entire fleet of naval carriers and army helicopters. Indeed, ‘First Class’ almost evokes the ‘Indiana Jones’ series in its sense of wonder and excitement.

These scenes are only aided further by the gritty and realistic tone of ‘First Class’. Much like ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘The Dark Knight’, the film truly brings the series’ extraordinary mythology into a real-world setting, with the opening scenes in Nazi Germany being as painfully brutal as any regular period drama in theatres. Limbs are shot off, body parts are shown contorting in stomach-churning mutations, bruises and cuts are shown in graphic detail, and key characters die by the story’s end. In fact, ‘First Class’ will probably be the most adult-oriented superhero outing on offer this year, with scenes such as Erik’s violent final confrontation with Shaw or his assassination attempts on his Nazi tormentors deftly conveying the harshness of the mutants’ lives. Much as in the films above, this gives ‘First Class’ a heightened level of tension and suspense during its action scenes which few comic book films achieve.

Yet for all of its intense scenes, ‘First Class’ is also the most moving entry in the series to date. More than any of its predecessors, the film focuses on the isolation and emotional difficulties of its mutant protagonists, most of whom have been tragically shunned by society through their differences. In fact, one scene where Raven, a mutated shape-shifter whose natural form resembles a blue-skinned monster, debates with a team mate whether or not she will ever fit into society easily ranks as one of the most powerful movie scenes in recent memory. Ultimately, ‘First Class’ is more of a character drama with action and thriller elements than the mindless popcorn fare currently dominating multiplexes.

This emotional pull is only made more potent by the deep and multi-layered performances of the entire cast. As the main protagonist, Charles Xavier, James McAvoy has never in his career been more confident, playing the professor as driven, motivated, and utterly selfless even in the face of unspeakable prejudice and hatred. Appointed as the leader of the group, Xavier consistently advocates a policy of peaceful co-existence between mutants and humans, much to the chagrin of his team. As Erik Leshnerr, Michael Fassbender is arguably even more impressive, playing Xavier’s exact opposite: although charming and suave, his smooth exterior masks a cold ruthlessness and anger, which rises to the surface every time he uses his powers. Fassbender’s performance resembles Daniel Craig’s interpretation of James Bond, lending credence to the theory that he will be a leading contender for the role in the future.

The supporting cast also brings their best performances to the table, with Jennifer Lawrence in particular impressing as the conflicted Raven. However, the biggest stand out is Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, the evil mastermind responsible for the Cold War. Arguably the best villain in the franchise, Bacon plays the character with the perfect blend of debonair charm and deadly menace, stealing the audience’s attention with every scene. Other notable performers in the cast include actor Nicholas Hoult as the wolf-footed Hank McCoy, Rose Byrne as Moira McTaggart, and Zoe Kravitz as Angel, all of whom bring sympathy and depth to their parts despite having limited screen time.

If there’s one flaw with ‘First Class’, it’s that it fails to fully embrace its period sixties setting in the same manner as its opening WWII scenes. As a result, history buffs expecting to hear Beatles songs, hippie themes, and other cultural cornerstones from the decade will be disappointed, especially given the young age of most of the team’s members. In fact, the only feature clearly identifying the film as set in the sixties at all is the plot’s focus on the Cold War and its divisive effect on the global community. On the other hand, the admittedly rather sunny nature of the period features above would probably clash with the film’s serious tone if included in the finished film.

Surprisingly, ‘First Class’ is not just the best film of the year to date, but one of the greatest entries in the entire superhero genre. For the X-Men’s latest outing is far more than just a superhero movie with a smarter script than usual: it’s an intimate, highly moving story of conflicted outsiders trying both to fit in and destroy a world which fears them and fails to understand them. It’s a story that appeals to all generations and ages and can be transposed to any setting, be it the civil rights struggle of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X or even the everyday struggles of anyone with a disability. Without a doubt, ‘First Class’ truly lives up to the grand promise of its title.
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Post by Admin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:30 am

http://existentialmusingsofmatt.blogspot.com/2011/07/some-thoughts-on-movies.html

05 July 2011
Some thoughts on movies

Well, the 90th Anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party has come and gone, complete with an internet blackout, and I am officially back – or so it appears. I have recently watched two movies of note: Founding of a party and X-Men: first class, and am here giving my thoughts on each.

X-Men: first class is actually understated – for a superhero movie, mind – yet vastly more successful. It introduces the characters we all recognise and love from the first three movies: Charles Xavier, Magneto and Mystique. But this time, the film subverts all of the expectations we have from the first three movies. Xavier is not the wise old professor here, but a mid-Atlantic child of old money (read: ‘twit’) with no small attitude of entitlement and a penchant for hitting on girls in clubs with bad pick-up lines – who also happens to carry a whiff of hopeless idealism about him. It’s an idealism with which, by the end of the movie, we’ve lost patience (even though we wanted desperately for Professor X’s vision to be made manifest in the first three movies). Erik Lehnsherr – who becomes Magneto – is introduced in a highly sympathetic light as Frankenstein’s monster, a tortured soul scouring the world to take vengeance upon his creator. In the end, though, he’s not so much Frankenstein’s monster as Richard III: he may be a villain, but in a very real sense we cannot help but see the world through his eyes (particularly since, at the end of the movie, he is proven right). Rare is the movie that can pull off this twist in perspective so well.

The movie takes as its backdrop the Cuban Missile Crisis – but it is actually being orchestrated by a group of mutants whose aim it is to either destroy humankind or convert it to mutant-kind through a nuclear catastrophe (that’s never really made clear, nor is the point of how mutants themselves would survive a nuclear war), in a plot which is discovered by the CIA with help from its new mutant division… but the real drama of the movie lies in the friendship-turned-rivalry of Erik and Charles. Charles has been blessed throughout his life with shelter from the inhumanity of man against, in this case, mutant, whereas Erik grew up with it, and that comes across in many of their conversations (as when Erik sees Charles’ home for the first time, for example). In between there is the character of Raven, who becomes Mystique – a young girl who wants desperately to be accepted for who she is, she is put off by Charles’ insensitivity to her desire for acceptance and encouraged by Erik’s preference for ‘the real Raven’.

I enjoyed the way the film nearly turned the franchise on its head, but it almost helps me not to think of it as an X-Men movie – call it the Star wars prequel syndrome (except, this movie was of a similar quality to the original trilogy, rather than being – as the SW prequels were – complete and utter bollocks). There were several welcome wink-nods to the original X-Men movies, mostly in references to Charles Xavier having to shave his head or grow bald or whatnot, though there was one brief-but-memorable appearance by Hugh Jackman (which thus reduces his Bacon number to 1). But mostly, it was just an enjoyable film in its own right.

My sister believes Michael Fassbender would make a good James Bond. I think, after watching this movie, I have to agree.

Cheery-frightfully-ho to my long-suffering and patient readers; please forgive the longish absence; I promise to be more timely with my updates in the future!
Posted by Matthew Franklin Cooper at 00:34
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