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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:16 am

Prequels tell pre-hit tales
Zeina Makky Photo Illustration
Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in the original "X-Men" film shadow James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender in the latest "X-Men" outing, "X-Men: First Class."

By Chris Foran of the Journal Sentinel

June 2, 2011 |(1) Comments

When a job doesn't work out, a wise man once said, go back to the beginning.

And sometimes, before the beginning.

At least, that's the logic behind the Hollywood prequel - a movie that tells the story before the story that was a big hit.

"X-Men: First Class," opening Friday, is designed to be a precursor to the trio of movies based on the Marvel Comics franchise about mutants with superpowers battling humans and each other.

The story, set during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, shows the fledgling mutants figuring out where they fit in while trying to save humanity from itself. At the heart of the story are Charles Xavier, played in the original films by Patrick Stewart and in the prequel by James McAvoy; and Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a. Magneto, played by Ian McKellen in the earlier movies and Michael Fassbender in the new, backdated model.

Oddly, this is the second stab at an "X-Men" prequel; "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" tried to fill in the backstory for the series' most popular character a few years ago (see below).

The idea behind a prequel, typically, is to jump-start a moneymaker that has lost a little traction - or at least to grab a few quick bucks while the original's still fresh in moviegoers' minds.

But filmmakers also have used the device to make some of their best, and their weirdest. Here are a few to revisit (or regret).
"The Godfather Part II" (1974)

Original: "The Godfather" (1972)

Story before the story: As Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) works to eliminate threats to the family business, the movie flashes back to the ways his father Vito (Robert De Niro) used some of the same techniques to get it started.

So that's where that came from: When asked how he's going to win over a rival, young Vito tells his confederate not to worry: "I make him an offer he don' refuse."
"Star Wars: Episode 1-3" ("The Phantom Menace," 1999; "Attack of the Clones," 2002; "Revenge of the Sith," 2005)

Originals: "Star Wars" (1977), "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980), "Return of the Jedi" (1983)

Story before the story: A young Jedi named Anakin Skywalker, under the tutelage of Obi-Wan Kenobi, fails to conquer his fears and succumbs to the dark side, becoming Darth Vader.

So that's where that came from: After another of young Anakin's reckless acts of derring-do, Obi-Wan says, in "Attack of the Clones": "Anakin, you'll be the death of me." Which, if you've seen the original "Star Wars," you know is true.

Also, Obi-Wan and Anakin both say, at least once, "I've got a bad feeling about this" - the mantra of Han Solo in the original "Star Wars" trilogy.
"Butch and Sundance: The Early Days" (1979)

Original: "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969)

Story before the story: An outlaw wannabe (William Katt) hooks up with a fast-talking hustler (Tom Berenger) to become, respectively, the Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy.

So that's where that came from: Butch tells the Kid he doesn't have an outlaw's face. "Grow a mustache," he urges.
"Hannibal Rising" (2007)

Originals: "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991), "Hannibal" (2001), "Red Dragon" (2002)

Story before the story: Hannibal Lecter's life of cannibalistic crime began in the madness of war, when he sets out to get revenge for the brutal murder of his family.

So that's where that came from: One of Lecter's victims has his face eaten off. It's not clear whether the killer washed it down with a nice bottle of Chianti.
"Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" (2003)

Original: "Dumb & Dumber" (1994)

Story before the story: 1980s high school misfits Harry (Derek Richardson) and Lloyd (Eric Christian Olsen) form a bond

So that's where that came from: Harry and Lloyd break into an elaborate (and annoying) game of one-on-one tag in a convenience store. In the original, the pair, played by Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, argue the finer points of the rules of the game as they ride off into the sunset with a bus full of models.
"Exorcist: The Beginning" (2004)

Originals: "The Exorcist" (1973), "The Exorcist II: The Heretic" (1977), "The Exorcist III" (1990)

Story before the story: Father Merrin (Stellan Skarsgård), who later on tries to drive the devil out of Linda Blair, has his faith put to the test when he does battle with the demon Pazuzu in East Africa.

So that's where that came from: A statue of Pazuzu can be seen in the exorcism scenes in the original "Exorcist" movie, with Max von Sydow playing Father Merrin.
"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (2009)

Original: "X-Men" (2000), "X2" (2003), "X-Men: The Last Stand' (2006)

Story before the story: After a tragedy, a mutant (Hugh Jackman) seemingly impervious to pain agrees to take part in a military medical experiment that doesn't go so well.

So that's where that came from: Turns out Logan's/Wolverine's superstrong metal talons were not add-ons but fused extensions of his own bones - and he agreed to undergo the horrific procedure.
"Missing in Action 2: The Beginning" (1985)

Original: "Missing in Action" (1984)

Story before the story: Turns out that, 10 years before he led his mission to rescue POWs in Vietnam, Col. Braddock was a POW himself. But not for long.

So that's where that came from: "Missing in Action" and "Missing in Action 2" were shot back to back, but the studio decided to release them in reverse chronological order.

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Post by Admin on Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:17 pm

Tuesday, June 7 - 5:27 pm ET

‘X-Men: First Class’ Is Actually a Love Story Between James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender
1 day ago by Natalie Zutter

Whereas I might have been the only person to see the love connection going on between The Rock and Vin Diesel in Fast Five, there is so much HoYay* going on between super-best-friends Erik Lensherr and Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class that it’s astonishing that them being lovers isn’t canon.

I’ll say it now: I think the reason that I never saw this bromance for what it was in the 2000-era X-Men movies is because Professor X and Magneto were being played by old men. In First Class, they’re eager young lads as wonderfully portrayed by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, so it’s certainly easier to slash them. But the evidence is there!

Let’s start with their first meeting. Charles and crew, trying to get the drop on Sebastian Shaw and his mutants, spot Erik in the water trying to hold on to Shaw’s submarine with his powers. (OK, that was a really charged sentence.) Charles leaps into the water and grabs Erik — a stranger — from behind, yelling, “You’ll die if you hold on! You have to let go!” He literally embraces him, shows him that there are people like him.

Because this is a “let’s get the gang together” kind of prequel, Erik is the quintessential resistor: He wants only revenge and doesn’t care about honing his powers or building alliances with humans. (Anakin Skywalker wishes he had such a nuanced origin story.) The only person he really socializes with is Charles, with their late-night chess games and moral debates. Of the group, these two have had the most training, though it’s come in different ways: A cultured, cushy education for Charles versus torture and abuse at the hands of the Nazi Shaw for Erik.

What it comes down to is that they’re both lonely and in need of a support system that neither Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) nor Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) can provide.

The scene that really got me was when Erik — who is willing to train, but only with Charles — struggles to rotate a satellite dish hundreds of yards away. When he becomes consistently frustrated with his inability to do so, Charles asks to be let into his mind. By unearthing a buried memory of Erik’s mother, he finds the key to harnessing Erik’s power: The moment between rage and serenity. You don’t get much more intimate than that.

That’s why Erik’s decision to become Magneto and work against the fledgling X-Men is so devastating. Charles thought he had an intellectual equal, someone who complemented him — we’ve got a total mind-versus-body dynamic going on here — and shared in his desire to mentor other mutants. When Magneto puts on Shaw’s helmet, he’s not just adopting a supervillain symbol: He’s forcing Charles out of his head and his heart.

“We’re brothers!” Erik shouts at Charles in the climactic battle scene, when they’ve taken opposing sides. But what he really means is that he hasn’t loved anyone like this and that Charles should join him in killing humans, because no one else can understand him like Erik can.

And if you need more convincing, check out the f&#! Yeah Charles and Erik Tumblr — be warned for movie spoilers and potentially creepy photo manips.

* HoYay = “Homoeroticism, Yay!” — a term that originated on the Television Without Pity boards, though I don’t remember for which fandom. Basically, it describes pretty men potentially eye-f#%@#&! each other.

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:13 am

Jun 10th 2011 By: David Brothers

The Best and Worst of 'X-Men: First Class' -- Moral Complexity and Depressing Racial Politics

X-Men: First Class has been out for around a week, and you've probably already seen it by now. It's a fun movie with a strong visual style set in the sixties, and while the script could use some tightening, it's definitely one the most entertaining Marvel flicks to date. For our review, we're going to focus on the best and worst aspects of the film, because while the highs of X-Men First Class are very high, the lows, particularly the racial politics of the film, are... well, you know.


The hands-down best part of X-Men First Class is Michael Fassbender as Magneto. While the Magneto in the comics is stuck in the superhero/supervillain dichotomy, complete with having kids who were raised by talking animals and regular flip-flops in morality. Fassbender's Erik Lensherr is much more nuanced, and understandable. He's human in a way that the Magneto in the comics is not.

There are two lines that are crucial to understanding Magneto in X-Men First Class. They're from the trailer, but no less significant. This:

Xavier: We have it in us to be the better man.
Magneto: We ALREADY are. We're the next stage of human evolution; you said it yourself!

and this:

Xavier: Listen to me very carefully, my friend. Killing Shaw will not bring you peace.
Magneto: Peace was never an option.

reveal a surprising amount of depth for the character, and I say this as someone who has enjoyed Magneto over the years, whether as a super-terrorist or as a symbol for young mutants.

Those lines unlocked two closely-related things about Magneto. The first is that he's lost, and he's very, very aware of that fact. His innocence, his peace, was stolen, and that's not something that you can ever get back. He's haunted by his past, and rather than attempting to move past it or ignore it, he's embraced his hardship. It's painful, but it fuels him.

The second thing is that Magneto is convinced of his race's superiority, and in the world of the X-Men, he's technically correct. In a world where humanoid beings can shoot lasers out of their eyes or eat stars, baseline human beings ("flatscans") exist at the whim of mutants. Magneto has tremendous power, despite his pain, and that means that he has ways and means to go along with his hopes and dreams. He can enforce his superiority.

The combination of Magneto being born better but raised worse gives him an opportunity to do what must be done, no matter how ugly. Magneto is irrevocably broken, and he can't get more lost. He can do what needs to be done. He's a martyr in the making, and someone willing to turn his own pain into a protective blanket for his kin. His own life doesn't matter, so long as he spends it for the lives of his people. He isn't suicidal, not exactly, but he is down with dying for the cause.

At the beginning of the movie, this means involves hunting Nazis and murdering them in revenge for his family. By the end of the movie, it means protecting mutants from baseline humans, even if it means sacrificing hundreds of human lives. Either way, Magneto's position is that some people deserve to die, whether they are Nazis seeking a freedom that they do not deserve or humans who are just following orders. Self-defense through overwhelming offensive action.

Call it morality via immorality. Who puts the bullet in the head of someone that deserves it? Is it terrorism if it's necessary?

Michael Fassbender managed to create a Magneto who is chilling, believable, and sexy. He fits in the '60s, and he makes you wish that there was a series of movies of Magneto and his Brotherhood terrorizing the world while wearing stylish turtlenecks. While his accent slips off and on, he gets across all of the pain, arrogance, and sadness that Magneto requires. Fassbender gives the best performance in the film, barring one really unfortunate series of facial expressions about two-thirds of the way through, and leaves you hungry for more.


It sucked to be black in the '60s, and that goes double if you're a black mutant, apparently. Edi Gathegi, who played Darwin, was the first and only team member to die, and he died in one of the dumbest scenes in any movie anywhere. Zoe Kravitz, Angel Salvadore from Grant Morrison's New X-Men, betrayed her team and joined up with the bad guys because, er... I'm sure she had a good reason, she just didn't bother to tell us. We'll get to her, though. First? Darwin.

Darwin basically served two purposes in the movie. He was there so that when someone said "slavery" when talking about mutant rights, the camera could focus on his face in one of the cheapest bits of direction I've ever seen. Yes, of course that would make the black guy mad. Congrats! You've got a rudimentary understanding of history, and I'm really happy for you. Way to hammer home the civil rights metaphor at the heart of the X-Men in the clumsiest way possible.

Darwin's other purpose was to die to give Shaw some cheap heat. This comes after Shaw had a henchman murder every single human being in a large building by dropping them out of the sky (a terrific scene) and after we find out that Shaw's plan is outright nuclear armageddon and genocide. It's the equivalent of the US government releasing a newsreel in 1944 that features Hitler strangling adorable little kittens as a way to show how evil he is. News flash: we already know. Darwin's death is completely unnecessary, and what's worst, it doesn't even make sense. Here's a faithful paraphrase of Darwin's death. The dialogue is correct, though abridged.

Shaw: So, tell me about your mutation.
Darwin: Well, I adapt to survive.
Shaw: Adapt to this. *puts a fireball in Darwin's mouth*
*Darwin dies slowly over the next thirty seconds while making a sad face*
*white people are sad*
*every black person in the audience rolls their eyes so hard because the black guy on the team died not only first, but like a punk*

For those of you who haven't seen the movie yet, Shaw does the equivalent of this classic move from Dan Hibiki of Street Fighter fame:

And here is how I felt watching this scene:

Get outta town. Really? Here's a recap: "What can you do?" "I can survive anything." "Okay, well, I'm going to kill you now because... just because, shut up and die."

Do you see the really basic problem with this scene? It doesn't follow the rules set up by the movie. Darwin, in fact, had spent the last ten minutes or so showing off his power to his friends. Why did this work? Why didn't Darwin's power work? Who knows, because Darwin is mentioned maybe once after that, and then as motivation for the other X-Men to man up and learn how to fight.

If you were to carve his death out of the movie and have Shaw merely try to murder him, the effect would've been the same. Shaw still would've been evil and the X-Men still would've been traumatized. In fact, if you'd carved Darwin out of the movie... you would get the same result. He was an extra character. The movie is too full, and really only Beast, Magneto, Mystique, and Xavier get a chance to shine. Banshee gets something like ten whole lines. Darwin was absolutely wasted as a character, despite a solid performance from Gathegi. He was wasted, and that's symptomatic of the larger problems with X-Men First Class.

Since the cast is so full, everyone's motivations are thin, to say the least. Angel is okay with being ogled as a stripper, but hates how the humans look at her wings. That makes a certain kind of sense. She's in control when stripping, and is careful to lay down ground rules in that interaction. The other situation is one of mocking bigotry, which she has no control over and is a terrible thing. She hates the latter so much that she signs up with a genocidal mutant who has just murdered dozens of humans right in front of her. She does this after what was seemingly less than a month of knowing that other mutants even existed, and she deserted her other mutant friends without a second thought.

Even worse, right before she does that, an off-screen human is like "Take the mutants, they're hiding in here! Just don't kill me!" shortly before being killed. This is a couple minutes before the slavery shout-out, and was put in just in case you don't get that no one likes mutants, not even the people meant to protect them. Get it? Racism! Eyerolls!

Nobody beyond the main characters have much of a reason to do anything until Darwin bites it. The interactions tend to be one person saying something and another person agreeing. "Hey, do this." followed by "Sure, okay." "Boy, being a mutant sure is cool," followed by laughter and a "Yep, sure is!" And then, at the absolute nadir of the movie, Shaw goes, "Man, humans sure do hate us." and Angel responds, "Yeah, they do!" We're never given a reason to care about the majority of the X-Men, beyond the fact that they are sexy young people (and they all are, really) and theoretically who we're supposed to identify with.

The worst, most clueless part of X-Men: First Class is that both black mutants die or turn evil in the exact same scene. Did no one on staff realize this? Did no one get how bad that looks? You make a movie out of a series that borrowed heavily from the civil rights struggle and then murder the black guy and turn the black woman into an implied love interest for the villain?

I'm not saying I want balance, with one good black guy and one evil guy. I think that's dumb, to be perfectly honest, and would be extremely suspicious of anyone who wants that kind of parity. But at least let me believe that black mutants have actual reasons to do things or have powers that work as intended. "I can survive anything. Oh wait, no I can't, I'm dying" is crap!

The metaphorical black people in X-Men: First Class are blue and white, not black. It's a Civil Rights tale with the actual oppressed class that inspired the struggle stripped out. It's like the moral of the movie is "Black, er, blue is beautiful!" I can totally buy mutants that are evil and black mutants, but I didn't buy it here because the writing team barely even tried to sell it. They just threw it out there and expected you to nod your head and play along.

That's boring. No -- it's insulting. "You can inspire us, but you cannot be part of our story. Thanks for the ten dollars, though, sucker." In a movie that's otherwise a treat for X-Men fans, it's horribly disappointing, a reminder that ugly racial politics are still the rule of the day in Hollywood and that only white people really matter.

The worst of X-Men: First Class is doubly crap because of the pro-mutant slogan that pops up a few times in the movie. Xavier and Mystique say it repeatedly, with a nice pregnant pause in the middle of the phrase: "Mutant... and proud." It's a clear play on "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud," one of the greatest black power anthems of all time. The song is about being refusing to bend to someone else's hatred and empowering yourself. It's explicitly meant to inspire pride in black Americans. These are all worthy goals, and part of the memetic make-up of the X-Men franchise. But when you cut out or minimize your black characters, this part of the song:

I've worked on jobs with my feet and my hands
But all the work I did was for the other man
And now we demands a chance
we're tired of beating our head against the wall
and workin' for someone else

still proves to be depressingly relevant.

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:00 am

Posted at 11:43 AM ET, 06/09/2011
Can there be peace in the Marvel Universe?
By Ezra Klein

James McAvoy portrays Charles Xavier, left, and Michael Fassbender portrays Erik Lehnsherr in a scene from "X-Men: First Class." (Murray Close - AP) I don’t think its quite right to say, as Matt Yglesias does, that Magneto ends “X-Men: First Class” “leading a rainbow coalition of red-skinned, blue-skinned, brown-skinned, Jewish, and female crusaders for mutant pride.” Rather, he’s leading a rainbow coalition in favor of mutant dominance. He might be right that “peace was never an option,” but that doesn’t mean he isn’t actively seeking war. You can’t compare that to Martin Luther King Jr., who was attempting to hasten peace, encourage pride and head off war. Magneto isn’t their descendent. Which doesn’t mean he’s wrong: The Marvel Universe’s center clearly cannot hold.

Consider the Civil War storyline, in which Captain America leads a group of superpowered individuals resisting a law that would require them to register with the state and get some training in the use of their powers. We make people register when they purchase a gun. We don’t allow them to purchase missiles. We’ve considered attacking North Korea and Iran to delay their acquisition of nuclear weapons. And you’re telling me that Michael Bloomberg has no legitimate interest knowing that there’s some 12-year-old with anger management problems and an abusive father who could accidentally wipe out half of Manhattan?

If there’s to be peace between humans and powers, a sense of personal responsibility and some key leaders talking up peace won’t get it done. But perhaps greed will. In the current Marvel Universe, genetically enhanced supergeniuses spend most of their time inventing weapons to fight one another. In the real world, Hank McCoy would get really, really rich. In the real world, Storm would run a weather consulting business in which governments and giant agricultural firms would pay her enormous amounts of money to end droughts.

The battle lines in the X-Men series are between mutants who believe they can coexist with humans and mutants who don’t. I suspect that the real conflict would be between mutants who can benefit, either personally or financially, from the status quo and mutants who don’t. Species war is bad for profits, after all. Xavier, to his eternal discredit, lets his dream of peace be defined by Magneto’s dream of war. A dream of shared prosperity would be better, and stronger.

Another option would be nationalism. The Watchmen comics handled this well. Dr. Manhattan was a terrifying weapon of mass destruction, but he was our terrifying weapon of mass destruction, and other countries were weaker for lacking his gifts. I suspect you’d see something of an international arms race to cultivate and attract powered individuals, and that’s a race America would be well positioned to win.

By Ezra Klein | 11:43 AM ET, 06/09/2011

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:00 am

Rebooting of X-Men origins is First Class
by Movie Man
(Posted Thu 11:09 am)

X-Men: First Class Boffo beginnings Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon Directed by: Matthew Vaughn Rated PG-13: for language, violence, cleavage, Cold War vibe The penchant for remaking movies that were successes not that long ago can be troubling.
But, as with the renewal of the Batman series begun in 1989 by Tim Burton – which was good – and rejuiced by Christopher Nolan in the Aughts – also good – the X-Men franchise’s new jolt is entertaining as well. (Spider-Man and Superman are in the reboot pipeline.)
About the film
The Movie Man is a comic book adaptation fan (and what a summer to be that!) so he has seen all the previous X-Men movies:
•X-Men – 2000, Movie Man No. 349, 8
•X-2 – 2003, MM #506, 7
•X-Men: The Last Stand – 2006, MM #668, 5
•X-Men Origins: Wolverine – 2009, MM #823, 7
The Movie Man shared the belief that the third movie was not so hot, but not the common opinion that the Wolverine picture was bad – certainly not as poor as many say.
The Movie Man entered the auditorium for First Class with average expectations: the cast wasn’t as star-studded as the prior movies and the director’s last effort (2010, Kick A**, MM #873, 5) was lackluster.
In fact, going in, the Movie Man had such little regard for any blockbuster success that he didn’t list First Class in his daring Summer Top 10 guesses back on April 28 (even though he did give it an Honorable Mention nod). That 10, to refresh your memories:
10. Super 8 – this could possible finish higher – it’s certainly the Movie Man’s most anticipated movie of the summer
9. Green Lantern – has any movie ever been pushed so hard? Still, looks good
8. Thor – not the colossal hit expected, but it’ll reach $180 million or so, maybe good enough for the Top 10
7. Cowboys and Aliens –also highly-anticipated by the Movie Man
6. Kung Fu Panda 2 – the Movie Man could be wrong here; it’s just now at $100 million, will probably peak around $150 million
5. The Hangover Part II – still cruising at $187 million; it’ll get to $225 million easy and it’s slotted about right
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – this will end up behind Hangover Part II but it’ll be close (now $190.3 million)
3. Cars 2 – the previews have shown little; hopefully that’s a good thing
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 – this will be gigantic
1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon – the Movie Man is still certain this one is unbeatable
The plot
As a child, Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) gets separated from his parents at the gate of a Nazi concentration camp. When an evil camp official, Shaw (Kevin Bacon), witnesses Fassbender’s ability to manipulate/destroy metal when angry, he takes charge of the boy.
Meanwhile young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) lives a life of ease; he knows he’s different – a “mutant” – as is his childhood friend Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), eventually Mystique.
In the early 1960’s, Bacon, now a potent mutant himself with others as sidekicks, is determined to break open the Cold War by starting a nuclear holocaust between the U.S.S.R. and America at the Bay of Pigs.
In cahoots with the CIA and agent MacTaggart (Rose Byrne), McAvoy begins discovering and recruiting other mutants all the while trying to get his friend Fassbender – whose goal in life is to kill Bacon – to chill out and control his anger.
Soon U.S. and Russian ships are squared off south of Florida with the barely-trained X-Youth trying to avert another world war.
What works
McAvoy grew on the Movie Man. At first, he’s so slight that he seems an ill-fit for the mental giant Professor X. Fassbender’s also good (even though he looks much older than McAvoy and they are supposed to be contemporaries). So is Bacon.
The effects are stellar as expected this day and age, but where First Class shines is the story line. Weaving the budding friendship between McAvoy and Fassbender, the CIA intrigue, the true-life Bay of Pigs incident, and the actions of mostly teenage mutants (they party!), the movie manages to be something rare – the story is actually good. It’s a character-driven comic book movie and that’s unique.
Old School horror fans will enjoy spying, in small roles, James Remar, Ray Wise, and Michael Ironside (from, respectively, What Lies Beneath [2000, MM #350, 4], Twin Peaks [the killer from the best TV series ever], and Scanners [classic early (1981) splatter]).
Best scene
There’s a surprise cameo as McAvoy and Fassbender are rounding up mutants; the duo come upon one drinking in a bar and a one sentence retort – vulgar and funny – immediately turns the twosome on their heels and back out the door.
What doesn’t work (spoilers)
With the exception of Lawrence’s Mystique, the other young mutants get little screen time. Fanboys will revel in seeing early X-Members like Havok and Banshee but their time is very limited.
As great as the character-driven aspects are for about 90 minutes, eventually the battle has to arrive. A couple of sequences – Banshee battling Angel Salvadore in the air and the first appearance of Beast when his “cure” goes awry – are not handled very well; they look cheap.
Fassbender and Lawrence embrace the dark side rather quickly – so much for friendships; it’s not convincing.
The rating
The f-bomb in the cameo is shocking. Other than that, it’s just mild scattered language and the usual death and destruction from comic book movies. It’s a 2011 PG-13.
Summing up
From the perfect period music to the effects to the acting, the Movie Man almost gave First Class an 8; the final 30 minutes knocked it down a peg. Still: pretty good.
Next up
Super 8, finally.

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:07 am

FX Secures TV Rights to X-Men: First Class by Troy Rogers

Although X-Men: First Class has only been in theaters for a week, FX has already acquired the television rights to the new X-Men prequel, starring James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, and January Jones.

According to Hollywood Reporter, FX will broadcast X-Men: First Class in 2013 or 2014 after the network acquired the TV rights to the most recent film in the X-Men franchise. Chuck Saftler, vice president at FX, revealed to THR that the network has been lucky in landing TV rights to some of the top films this year. "We’ve been on a roll with No. 1s this summer," said Saftler to THR, "and it’s going to be a film that will work really nice with the stable of superhero movies that we have at the network."

X-Men: First Class is expected to hit the airwaves on FX in either late 2013 or early 2014. Other TV rights for films that FX has acquired this past year include Tron: Legacy, The Green Hornet, Rango, and The Hangover Part II.

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:17 am

5 Things We Learned From ‘X-Men: First Class’
Jun 7, 2011 by Kofi Outlaw

After all the hype and the hate, ‘X-Men: First Class’ was a movie that didn’t fully validate the naysayers or the true believers. Check out 5 things we learned from watching this much-debated film come to fruition.

Over 40 X-Men First Class movie stills

When we posted our preview for the 2011 Superhero Movie Showdown, we said that X-Men: First Class was going to be the biggest wildcard of the summer 2011 Movie Season.

The movie had a lot of issues from the get go – a rushed production schedule, a loose interpretation of X-Men lore, no headlining stars, confusion over its continuity – but it also had the promise of a great director (Matthew Vaughn), some great leading actors (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) and the return of X-Men movie guru Bryan Singer to the franchise he started back in 2000.

Now that X-Men: First Class has debuted in theaters to critical acclaim but a lukewarm first-week box office, it seems that all the uproar and debate that erupted in comment threads all over the Internet for years now will end without any clear “winner” being decided. The angry fanboys who claimed the film would be a stillborn bastard weren’t correct in their assessment – and neither were the unabashedly optimistic believers who said the film would be the best X-Men and/or comic book movie ever. As always, the truth ended up somewhere in the middle…

So, it is that even-keeled middle ground we will stand on as we explore “The 5 Things We Learned from X-Men: First Class.”

Before we begin, be sure to read our official X-Men: First Class review to know where we stand in regard to the film.

5. You Can’t Rush a Movie to Greatness

As much as I enjoyed First Class, one thing that irked me while watching it (and will likely irk me forever) was seeing all the points where “the seams” of the film showed through. By “seams,” I mean all the places where there clearly wasn’t time or attention given to touch up a shot, or polish some hokey dialogue; time to sit back and look at the script and decide which themes and aspects of the story were working most effectively (Xavier / Magneto), and which ones needed to be toned down or outright cut from the story (the auxiliary mutants who served little purpose).

If you really watch First Class closely, the lack of revision and refinement slowly becomes more and more apparent. There was definitely a great film in there, somewhere – but unfortunately I don’t believe Matthew Vaughn had adequate time to reach it, despite the praises of some fans and critics.


'First Class' director Matthew Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman

Green Lantern and Captain America are two more comic book movies that are racing to meet strict deadlines, and both of them have had longer production schedules than First Class‘s ridiculously short 10-month production schedule. When you have a film that requires a large ensemble cast, shooting locations all over the world, a complicated multi-storyline script, and plenty of effects-heavy action sequences, there needs to be ample time to fit all the many pieces together into a cohesive, polished, final product.From what we’ve heard, Matthew Vaughn’s experience making First Class included everything from on-the-fly script rewrites and reshoots, to eleventh-hour races to get all the effects in place for opening day.

Having been in the writing game for a decade now, I can tell: you can indeed produce something good in a rushed fashion, if the deadline demands it and you have the focus; however, something great absolutely requires time for a creator to be able to step back, assess his/her work, and decide what improvements should be made. Revision is the key to brilliance. You take away that time from any creative artist, and the art is ultimately going to be diminished. First Class was no exception.

Like I said, watching this movie in the future is really going to irk me: there’s nothing worse than looking at what is, while constantly imagining what could’ve been. Just ask my ex-girlfriend about that one ;-) .


The bad side of brand recognition…


early reviews of xmen first class
4. Brand Recognition Has Its Downside

It’s a popular trend in Hollywood (right now?) to try and make box office profits from established brands, even when those brands are something you would never, ever, expect to be the basis of a movie. This brand recognition thing has gone so far that our immediate future is peppered with movies based on board games (Battleship, Monopoly, Candyland), toys (Transformers, Stretch Armstrong) and countless “re-imaginings” of classic literary works (Snow White, The Wizard of Oz, The Three Musketeers).

However, X-Men: First Class has proven that brand recognition doesn’t automatically equal box office fortune – especially when your brand has been tainted. First Class made $56 million its opening weekend, which is the lowest opening for an X-Men movie, ever. (Some people point to Bryan Singer’s first X-Men and its opening weekend take of about $54 million, but if you account for inflation in years between 2000 and 2011, that number would be considerably higher by today’s standards.)

The problem? A film with no big stars on the marquee (some solid and rising stars, but no headliners like Halle Berry or Patrick Stewart), combined with a bad taste still swirling in the mouths of moviegoers who felt once-or-twice burned by the franchise’s lackluster previous offerings, X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

You still have nightmares about us, don’t you?

In the end, First Class wasn’t able to sell itself as something fresh enough for moviegoers to give it the required fresh chance. Confusion about whether the film was a prequel to Singer’s films or a reboot of the franchise – and the greater confusion when it was announced that it was both a prequel and reboot – didn’t help to provide moviegoers (geek and non-geek alike) with any serious incentive to approach the film as a clean slate.

Sure, many of the people who actually saw First Class ultimately realized that all those negative early impressions were unfounded… but they had to actually pay for a ticket and sit in the theater first. A lot of people simply weren’t willing to take the chance of being burned a third time.


Fanboy Stubbornness…


comic book movies The angry fanboy
3. Fanboy Stubbornness Knows No End

When the X-Men: First Class trailers started hitting the Web, there was quick turnaround in opinion. Before the trailers, only a small, dedicated few believed in director Matthew Vaughn so blindly that they thought this project had hope. Even amongst that minority, most were worried that the narrow production schedule, combined with the possibility of Vaughn (again) facing possible creative friction with FOX, would make First Class crash and burn.

Like everyone else, your average X-Men fanboy was pretty upset when First Class was announced. But where many movie fans were willing to give the film a chance once they saw some good stuff in the trailers and character trailers, the most hardcore holdouts in the X-Men fanboy inner circle remained unswayed – and still remain unswayed to this day.

The problem was continuity. Hardcore X-fans said that Matthew Vaughn and Co. had “re-imagined” the X-Men’s origins so drastically that First Class – while promising – bore so little resemblance to anything in the X-Men Universe that the very title “X-Men” was unfitting. I for one figured that – as is usually the case with such naysayers – the lures of opening day and positive viewer reactions would cause even the biggest holdouts to do a 180° turn and head to the theater. But this was not the case. At all.

reviews of xmen first class

"We ain't ya daddy's X-Men"

Despite what you want to say about the quality of First Class (or lack thereof), there is clearly a contingent of fans who are making their voices heard through their wallets: They want this franchise (and all its convoluted and/or broken continuity) out of FOX’s hands, while the rights to the property get reverted back home to Marvel Studios.

Would a return of the X-Men rights to Marvel guarantee a fresh and better start for the X-Men franchise? While certain fanboys may blindly believe that, it’s far from guarantee. Then again, many are saying that Matthew Vaughn has given the franchise a fresh start with First Class…so I guess it depends on which side of the debate you fall on.

What we have learned, though, is that a lot of fanboys are only open to so much change being made to their beloved source material. Push them too far, and apparently they will indeed bail on you. It’s also a very important lesson for any major studio currently mishandling a movie franchise: people have longer memories than you think, and they won’t keep paying out and showing up just because a film bears a familiar name. The franchise must be worthy.


Great ideas don’t just come from the comic books…


xavier magneto xmen first class
2. Altering The Source Material Can Be A Good Thing

I’m sure I’m going to lose that aforementioned contingent of hardcore fans that don’t like their comic book mythos messed with, but I’m going to say it regardless: Sometimes (admittedly rare times) there are ideas that comic book movie makers introduce into the mythos, which are simply more logical, organized, or downright better than what the comics have established. Such was the case with the Xavier/Magneto backstory in First Class

I’ve always thought that Sam Raimi’s introduction of organic web-shooters for his movie version of Spider-Man was smart and logical; I feel the same way about a lot of the details Chris Nolan put into Batman Begins, in order to explain the character’s origins in a more modern, realistic way. The fact is, great creative visionaries come in a variety of different forms – whether they be comic book writers or movie makers. More to the point: comic books have always been about creative collaboration and creative evolution, so I’ve never understood why (or how) some people believe that a comic book movie should be this heavily restricted form of storytelling. At the end of the day, for me, a good idea is a good idea.

X-Men: First Class is a perfect example. For all the movie’s flaws, one point of consensus is that the relationship between Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) is the most spectacular aspect of not just this film, but of any comic book movie to date. And (gasp!) most of the pivotal relationship depicted in First Class was original material created for the film…not a retelling of the comic books.

X-Men First Class Professor X and Magneto

From their first meeting to their fledging friendship and ultimate falling out, First Class presented the Xavier/Magneto relationship in a way that (in my opinion) vastly improved on all the comic mythos of the last half-century – while still preserving the core essence of the respective characters and their themes.

Magneto as a super-powered man of espionage, hunting down Nazi war criminals? Much better than the guy in the comics, who tried to live peaceful for a time on a mystical mountain of animal people, only to eventually slide into mutant terrorism. How about Xavier as a dangerously naive young rascal who had no tact to go along with his invasive mind powers? For my money, that was much better than a perennial saint/zen master who has only had his bald head tarnished in recent decades.

First Class took two characters who have been done to do death (and back, and dead, and back again) and still managed to make them something fresh, dynamic, relatable and exciting. If I could have it my way, the comics would incorporate the mythology of First Class Xavier and Magneto into the canon, and would be all the better for it.

Just like in the comics...oh, wait.

Others are going to point to other liberties First Class took – Havok and the White Queen’s ages, the almost unrecognizable roster of X-Men, Kevin Bacon’s “lean, mean” Sebastian Shaw – and admittedly some of those changes did fall flatter than others. However, for all the failed experimentation, I still feel that the movie succeed with its new ideas more than it didn’t. More importantly, I don’t think I ever want to see the day where filmmakers stop taking risks. Sure nothing would be lost – but nothing potentially great would be gained, either.


What matters most, now matters less…
The cast of X-Men First Class
1. The Quality of a Film Isn’t All That Matters (Though it Should Be)

It is (sadly) the case with comic book movies in particular that the actual quality of the film – as a standalone work of artistic expression – is a diminishing topic in the public discourse surrounding the film. Thanks to the nature of the comic book medium and its fanbase, questions of continuity, interpretation, casting choices, creative liberties and/or changes and even studio ownership are now debated long and hard before someone even asks the question, “Does this film tell a complete story in an engaging, interesting and/or fun way?”

Some fans have already claimed that X-Men: First Class is a fantastic superhero summer action blockbuster…it’s just not a good “X-Men” movie. That’s a debate for the comment section, for sure, but I do know this: In my understanding, it has always been the job of a filmmaker and his/her crew to convey a story that is complete and well-told. A movie is meant to stand on its own two legs and hold itself up effectively. I had serious problems with Iron Man 2 over this exact issue.

IM2 might’ve “honored” the source material and kept the continuity of the first film intact – but as a standalone feature film I still view it as failure. Instead of a self-contained, cohesive narrative, IM2 was a “bridge-piece” meant to foster the larger Marvel Movie universe, thereby compromising basic narrative flow and logic in the process.

iron man 2 story script problems

"People say that I am a proper comic book movie."

If you can’t tell from my phrasing, I can see how the opposing case could be made for X-Men: First Class: a film that breaks from source material and continuity, but is able to stand firm on its own as a self-contained story about hope, prejudice, friendship, betrayal, politics and personal values. It’s too bad that all that other stuff got in the way, because a good film should be able to be appreciated for what it is, on its own – independent of where and how it fits into the larger scheme of things.

Franchise movie making is great, as is the idea of large cinematic universes; however, as The Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises have proven with their respective sequels, few people walk away from a two-plus-hour film pleased with only half a story having been told – no matter how many great setups and Easter eggs get planted. For my money, I’d much rather get a complete and fulfilling X-Men experience, rather than a film that has to bend, twist and compromise itself for the sake of comic book fidelity or movie continuity – especially when the films it’s trying to fit itself with are X-Men: The Last Stand and Wolverine. But that’s just me.


x-men movie franchise future logo

X-Men: First Class has another week for positive word a mouth to bring it some extra box office cash (the only big opening this week is J.J. Abrams’ mysterious (too mysterious?) Super Cool – after that, Green Lantern will smash into theaters and capture the attention of the superhero movie crowd (and probably a much wider audience than that). When that happens, First Class will be all but dead in the water (at least in the U.S.).

The future of the X-Men movie franchise is unclear right now. Will Matthew Vaughn be back for an X-Men: First Class sequel? One that perhaps steers the franchise back into more familiar waters? Or will FOX move ahead with plans for X-Men 4 &X-Men 5, bringing the franchise back to the modern era and continuity established in the original trilogy?

I’m sure we’ll know more details very soon – in the meantime, debate all the hype, hoopla, and quality of X-Men: First Class in the comment section below.

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:19 am

FX Acquires 'X-Men: First Class'
3:06 PM 6/7/2011 by Philiana Ng

X-Men: First Class
Murray Close/20th Century Fox
"X-Men: First Class"
The cable network has closed a deal for premiere rights to the Matthew Vaughn-directed film.

Male-skewing FX said Tuesday that it has acquired the premiere rights to X-Men: First Class, the reboot of the popular comic-book based franchise starring Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and January Jones.

The Matthew Vaughn-directed film, which topped the box office last weekend with a $56 million domestic cume, has largely been well-received by critics and serves as a prequel to the X-Men franchise.

"We’ve been on a roll with No. 1s this summer and it’s going to be a film that will work really nice with the stable of superhero movies that we have at the network,” FX executive vp Chuck Saftler told The Hollywood Reporter.

The News Corp.-owned network plans to air First Class in late 2013 or early 2014.

FX this year has aquired several marquee titles including Disney's Tron: Legacy, Sony's The Green Hornet and Paramount's animated Rango. The network last week picked up The Hangover Part II.

Lesley Goldberg contributed to this report.

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:38 pm

Is 'X-Men: First Class' the Love Story of Professor X and Magneto?
"X-Men: First Class" is a prequel to the three X-Men movies of the past decade. But does it reveal something new about familiar characters?
June 6, 2011

Spoiler alert

I'm not the only one who thinks X-Men: First Class is a love story.

No less an expert than actor James McAvoy, who plays Charles Xavier -- better known to millions as Professor X -- told reporters that the film is “kind of a love story” between Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr.

He noted, "This is the first time in their lives they've met someone who is an equal of sorts, someone who understands them."

Lehnsherr, played by Michael Fassbender, of course becomes Magneto, and the chief villain of much of the X-Men mythos. Magneto and Professor X are archrivals who once were the best of friends, and their frustrated regard for one another has long been at the core of what makes the X-Men one of the most compelling superhero stories.

Where so many superhero worlds are black and white, good and bad, the X-Men have villains who have hearts, minds, feelings, and loves; villains who once were heroes. And the heroes, well, they're plenty screwed up themselves. They're heroes the world hates and fears.

The mutant identities at the core of the X-stories have served as metaphors for both race and sexuality/gender at different times. This film is squarely in the sexuality and gender camp—in fact, its racial politics are pretty awful. But mutant identities are framed as attractive or unattractive, passing or non-passing, and something that can be “cured.” Or exploited.

“Bromance” is nothing new at the movies these days, but X-Men: First Class is far more than that, and far more than just a prequel to a series that had about outlived its freshness. It's shot through with queer subtexts, a film that isn't about learning to say “I love you, man,” but rather about people who cannot process or deal with their love for one another.

It's set in the '60s, after all; not the peace and love '60s, but the Kennedy/Khrushchev '60s, still the height of the Cold War and with World War II still recent memory. Very recent memory for Erik, who not only survived the concentration camps and saw his parents die, but was experimented upon and tortured when his mutant powers (he can control metal) became apparent. Erik's powers are at their height when he is angry, and so he has learned emotionally to feed on that anger as well, hunting down and dispatching Nazi war criminals around the world.

Meanwhile, Charles Xavier grew up posh in England, with the fun kind of mutant powers—telepathy and some mind control. Xavier sees being a mutant as sexy—mostly. He flirts with a girl in a bar because she's got two different-colored eyes, but ignores the affections of Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) because her mutation is less pretty—a shapeshifter (the same one played by Rebecca Romijn in the previous three X-films), her natural look is blue skin and yellow eyes.

Charles and Erik meet on the trail of the same bad guy. Now calling himself Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), Erik's concentration camp tormentor and twisted mentor didn't get the world destruction he was hoping for out of the Nazis and so is now out to create nuclear war however he can. Charles is working for the CIA, and Erik is a one-man kill team, a rebel vigilante perfectly willing to die in his attempts at revenge.

But Charles saves him and temporarily distracts him from the death drive. As McAvoy noted, here is his equal. It's part casual 1960s sexism that has led him to always ignore Mystique, part class narcissism (in a pointed remark in a bar, she says she's majoring in “waitressing” while Charles gets his PhD from Oxford), but mostly, who could help falling for Erik? Beautiful, broken, talented, and in need of saving; desperately in need of and afraid of love.

Of course, Erik too, can “pass,” though he's got his concentration camp tattoo to remind him how quickly and easily that passing privilege can disappear. Charles has never known anything but privilege, and ultimately that's his downfall, that's what causes him to fail everyone he loves.

For a while, Charles and Erik are the perfect team. With the help of Hank McCoy, a genius mutant with feet that make hobbit feet look cute, Charles can magnify his powers and track down other mutants, and they go on a recruiting trip around the world, a gorgeous montage loaded with meaningful looks between the two of them and mutants that make longtime comics readers squeal.

“We're the start of something incredible, Erik,” Charles says. But Erik is still damaged, still wary of humans. And the mutants who don't pass are wrapped up in their own struggles. Mystique's crush on Charles has been transferred to Hank McCoy, whose own self-hatred has led him to try to develop a “cure” for his physical difference—and to completely miss poor Mystique's attempts to flirt.

The one person who tells her that she's beautiful the way she is is Erik, whose comments on her looks are delivered in such a disinterested way that it's both easier to believe them and impossible to believe the movie's concession to heteronormativity when the two of them kiss. Of course, Mystique still has to do the pursuing, but Erik's grudging kiss at least comes with affirmation of her true identity. That's more than Charles and Hank can give her, though we still feel for her because it too is not enough.

But Hank and Charles both suffer for their choices, in two chilling scenes that explain how they became the Beast and Professor X of the comics and the earlier movies to which this film is prequel. Hank's attempt to “cure” himself goes horribly wrong—and where he fears Mystique's natural form, she finds his new Beast-body beautiful. And so does Erik. Villains they may wind up becoming, but villains who insist on remaining themselves and who offer their partners acceptance rather than a struggle to fit into the straight world's rules. Flamboyant mutants, perhaps.

Angel (Zoe Kravitz), one of the film's few characters of color (the other is killed off nearly as soon as we get to know him) is one of the mutants who can pass and one of the least comfortable with being “outed.” “I'd rather they stare with my clothes off,” the former stripper says when leered at for her strangeness. Once she can't go back, Angel chooses Shaw's nihilism rather than remaining with the teasing, messy family Charles and Erik are slowly creating.

For a while, it is intimacy that truly gives Erik strength—Charles' ability to literally get inside his head is what increases his power, teaches him to focus it. But when faced with Shaw, who has now created the Cuban Missile Crisis, Charles cannot understand the levels of damage inflicted on young Erik. To carry the mutant powers as sexuality metaphor one step further, Shaw's abuse of young Erik's powers carries a trauma very like sexual abuse, and it's something Erik is too deeply wounded by and ashamed of to share even with Charles.

And so they can hold each other's hands through the first part of the attack, through finding Shaw, but when it comes time to stare all his childhood trauma in the face, Erik must shut his love out of his head. He must use the helmet Shaw created to block out Charles for himself. Shaw, meanwhile, is the very embodiment of straight masculinity, of warmongering patriarchy. Shaw absorbs and reflects energy, turns it on his enemies, and treats the woman in his life (Emma Frost, as many have noted totally wasted in this film) like crap. In fighting him, Erik winds up becoming like him. He winds up becoming Magneto.

It's actually one of the movie's least believable twists, that abuse from a fellow mutant turned Erik against humanity and made him believe that mutants are superior. Still, his fate was sealed the minute he put on Shaw's helmet and closed out the possibility of true intimacy. Or did he? Would Charles have eventually failed Erik the same way he failed Mystique, willing to be friends and companions but ultimately rejecting his love?

It's a bullet from human CIA agent Moira MacTaggart's gun that hits Charles, but it's Erik's deflection that sent it into his spine. Charles gets to be the martyr for the human race that he wanted to be, and as he lies in Erik's arms he wastes his last opportunity to keep Erik by his side, the way he claimed to want.

“You did it,” he says.

And Erik leaves, taking with him Mystique and the evil mutants that were Shaw's henchmen, taking with him the helmet that keeps Charles out of his head, forever. Leaving Charles to plant a memory-erasing kiss on Moira's lips, choosing after all the human woman. Choosing the straight world. Choosing his mansion, his title of Professor, his students. But maybe having learned a little distrust of humans from Erik, he refuses to be a part of the CIA.

Along the way, the film highlights the utter stupidity of the Cold War, the frightening ease with which the world was brought to the brink of nuclear disaster, and the seeming endlessness of human prejudice. But it's at its best as a very human story of damage and love and the falseness of hero/villain narratives, of self-hatred and misunderstanding and tiny, avoidable personal tragedies.

It's at its best when it is a story about love. Failed and frustrated love, yes, but love all the same.

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:00 pm

Jun 6 2011 01:20 PM ET

Summer Movie Body Count: 'X-Men: First Class' schools the competition on best deaths
by Sandra Gonzalez

Image Credit: Murray Close

Week 5 of EW’s 2011 Summer Movie Body Count continues with X-Men: First Class. For those of you who do not possess memory-related superpowers, here’s a reminder of the rules. SPOILER ALERT: Things are about to get messy!

Note to self: Next year, fight to do Summer Movie Body Count on the next installment of Kung Fu Panda. Because in the first five minutes of X-Men: First Class, we had two men dead after Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) crushed their metal helmets like beer cans at a frat party (while they were wearing them!), one dead mom (you can’t have a superhero movie without a parental tragedy), and a holocaust. The latter doesn’t count toward our overall total, however, because the deaths happened off-screen.

By far the deadliest part of the movie was the rival mutants’ siege on the CIA building where the feds were keeping the mini-X-Men. We had federal agents falling from the sky, people! I counted six for sure, but later, I saw the ground littered with more bodies — about 20 more. Then we had the giant explosion when gun-wielding feds went up in flames after the arrival of Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). (I love a guy that knows how to make an entrance.) I gave the death count an extra 35 for this awesome display. In total (including a few up-close deaths), the siege on the CIA added about 66 deaths to the total. Impressive. Darwin (Edi Gathegi) was the only non-federal death.

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:01 pm

The Ladies of 'X-Men: First Class'
By: Rebekah Allen
Mon, 2011-06-06 13:55

The X-Men are back! Or rather, they have officially arrived in X-Men: First Class, the prequel to the previous batch of X-films that have been gracing cinemas since 2000. Now, never fear if you haven’t seen any of the last three movies (four, if you count Wolverine’s origin story).

One of the best things about a prequel is there’s no pesky back-story to get in the way of your X-comprehension. Sure, it adds a layer when you understand the cameos and connections, but this newest addition to the already awesome franchise is a smart, fun, action-packed mutant extravaganza that works all on its own, and it may be even a little better than its predecessors.

Essentially, X-Men: First Class tells the story of how Charles Xavier a.k.a. Professor X (played by James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto (played by Michael Fassbender) meet and become the best of friends, only to be torn apart by their differing views on humanity, setting the scene for the past films’ of the saga. For the most part, this all takes place during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which, apparently, mutants played a huge part in. Kevin Bacon costars as the bad guy whose plan for world domination forces a newly formed band of young mutants to fight to the death to defeat him and his henchmen, including a literally dazzling January Jones as telepathic Emma Frost.

But it isn’t the grand, explosive battle scenes that makeFirst Class the stand-out summer blockbuster that it is; it’s the young actors who take on the classic hero roles, and the believability and chemistry they create as a team.

Strong acting is rarely a factor in summer action flicks (oh hey, Transformers...), but First Class’s A-list cast does not disappoint. Michael Fassbender’s dark, tortured, and touching portrayal of the rebel Magneto is the obvious standout performance, and his connection to James McAvoy’s kind-hearted, wise Xavier is almost poetic. Damages star Rose Byrne (below) is also exceptional as Moira MacTaggert- the only non-mutant lead, and a dedicated CIA agent trying to be taken seriously in a world of men. Now, can I just take a moment to say how much I appreciate Rose Byrne? She starred in three seriously different movies this year-Insidious, Bridesmaids, andFirst Class- and performed brilliantly across the different tones.

Of course, being an actress, one would be expected to be at least somewhat different in each new role- or at least one presumes, right?

Not so, in the case of January Jones (below). I don’t know if I’m missing something here, but every time I’ve seen this woman, she could literally be playing the same character. Yes, she’s cute and has certainly mastered the art of playing a stone-cold bitch, but I could use a level or something. Dear, January, if you’re going to continue to act, please act next time. But enough about Ms. Jones.

Of all the female leads in First Class, there is one that has undoubtedly received more press lately for her Oscar nomination and subsequent nabbing of the coveted role of Katniss Everdeen in the 2012 Hunger Gamesmovies, and that’s one Jennifer Lawrence (below).

In First Class, Jennifer takes on the role of Mystique, a shapeshifter whose non-Jennifer form is blue, naked, and scaly. Like any teenager, Mystique struggles with her appearance but instead of trying to change it decides to accept herself, scales and all- or “Mutant and Proud!” and she cries constantly throughout the film. It’s a complicated part, and one I was very much looking forward to seeing the incredibly talented Jennifer tackle. Unfortunately, Mystique is one of a few characters in this film whose journeys are so oddly developed that they turn out a bit muddled, and, while I still love Jennifer, I just couldn’t connect with her character. Zoe Kravtiz' (below) teen mutant Angel could also have used a bit more fleshing out, especially since her character had not been introduced to the film series prior to this.

The other teen mutants, played by Lucas Till, Nicholas Holt, and Caleb Landry Jones, were all fun additions but maintained a one-note appeal that left me wanting more.

X-Men: First Classis truly one of the better films to come out in theaters this summer. It’s a fantastic introduction to a classic superhero franchise, and an origin story that actually enhances its predecessor immensely. Even with its flaws, First Classprevails, and may even live to carry on a couple more prequels before the series catches up with itself. These mutants definitely have something to be proud of.

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:14 pm

Is "X-Men: First Class" a Hit Because of Its Messages?

By James P. Pinkerton

Published June 06, 2011

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

TM and 2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

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

Any successful work of science fiction must succeed on two levels. First, it has to be entertaining: Most obviously, it must have enough cool special effects to bring in the kids and the fanboys. But second, it also has to make some interesting or provocative point about some larger issue: That will bring in the adults. That is, a good piece of sci-fi should be thrilling or chilling, and yet, at the same time, it must also be thought-provoking.

And so it is with “X-Men: First Class.” The film is based on a 50-year-old comic, but the SFX are totally 2011. And at the same time, the film brings a sharp eye to present-day issues, most notably the issues of tolerance and quality in a diverse society. Bullying? Intolerance? Prejudice? It’s all there to be noodled on, woven into a tale of mutants stretching from the Holocaust of World War Two to the nuclear fears of the Cold War. And if it’s easy enough to guess where a Hollywood movie comes down on the issue of gay tolerance, the film’s perspective on human evolution might be unnerving to many on the left, as well as the right.

The original “X-Men” was created in 1963 by Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee, who also created or co-created Spider-Man, Iron Man, and The Hulk.

Back in the early 60s, Lee intended “X-Men” to be a parable about racial prejudice in America. The X-Men (and Women) were a minority of mutants, and, as such, they suffered discrimination and alienation. But of course, they had superpowers, and so while they were sometimes shunned for their differentness, they were also feared for their power.

Thus the questions: Should mutants seek to blend in (integration), or should they seek to live by themselves, separate and apart from the larger society (mutant power)? Moreover, should mutants seek to improve society--or should they go to war against it?

Thereby hangs a half-century’s worth of tales--in comic books, cartoons, and, in the last decade, five separate movies. And because there are more than 100 “X-Men” characters--all with different powers--audiences never seemed to grow tired of them.

The new movie, which serves as prequel, tells the tale of how the first “class” of X-ers split into a good-guy faction and a bad-guy faction. And the backdrop of the film is the Cuban Missile Crisis--the actual historical event of 1962--enlivened by a storyline of hitherto unrevealed mutant involvement.

Yet the theme of the film--in between, of course, the stunts and explosions--is tolerance for difference. And so the new “X-Men” becomes a kind of coded meditation on the related themes of bullying and gay rights. Most of the major characters have a moment when they discover, to their visible relief, that they are not alone in their mutant-ness--others are like them.

These are themes similarly explored, to be sure, in the “Harry Potter” series; there, too, special kids must struggle with the realization that they are different, and they must choose whether or not to fit into, or fight, the larger society.

In the new “X-Men,” one mutant has been working as a super-smart nerd in a civilian job--when he is discovered to have feet that are like hands, so that he can grip on to things, upside down, like an arboreal mammal. When his feet-secret is finally revealed, he is asked, how did he get away with it? His answer: “Well, they didn’t ask, and I didn’t tell.” That, of course, is a play on the “don’t ask don’t tell” controversy in the U.S. military.

Perhaps the new film, most of all, is an argument against bullying. Thus “X-Men” picks up a vibe from the hit TV series “Glee”--and also, of course, from Lady Gaga, whose whole career bears witness (among other things) to the understanding and tolerance of difference.

Like a singing version of Oprah, Gaga has sought to “empower” her fans with a sense of their own unique identity; her recent song “Born This Way,” for example, is an ode to the the lonely and disrespected:

Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
‘Cause baby, you were born this way

And then, of course, comes the anthemic pitch for equality of all kinds: “No matter gay, straight or bi/lesbian trans-gendered life/I’m on the right track, baby.” So perhaps while the kids are watching the X-ers zap each other on screen, the adults will be mulling over the film’s commentary on U.S. social policy.

Yet interestingly, over the course of the movie series, the X-ers seem less like underdogs and more and more like overdogs. As X-lore reminds us some 35,000 years ago, Neanderthal Man (homo neandertalensis) was muscled out of existence by Cro-Magnon man (homo sapiens).

“X-Men” imagines the next iteration of evolution: homo superior. And as one of the characters in the new film points out, when different species emerge, the newer species either eclipses--or outright destroys--the older species. In a real-world historical context, of course, such talk can be the stuff of genocide and race war; indeed, film starts off in a Nazi concentration camp.

Nazi murderers aside, human evolution is a touchy subject for many on all sides of the belief spectrum. Even the secular left gets nervous when the subject of human evolution, leading to human difference, comes into play.

Two decades ago, a book that argued that intelligence was partly of a function of genetics, "The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life," by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, caused a political firestorm. Indeed, those fires still smolder today, flaring up sometimes when issues of school-testing and achievement scores arise.

Today, we know that human beings are indeed changing: We know that they are growing bigger and taller, and that, worldwide, they are getting smarter. Are such changes a function of better nutrition and health? Or is some sort of evolution still occurring? Meanwhile, who doubts that somewhere--in Silicon Valley, Singapore, China--visionaries and/or mad scientists in labs are plotting and scheming the next twist in the evolutionary spiral?

In the near term, scientists are likely to focus on what most folks would judge to be admirable goals for all: improving health, intelligence, and physical performance. Yet even incremental adjustments are likely to disrupt society.

And so what will happen if and when billionaires start getting visibly younger--beyond the capacity of plastic surgery, botox, and maybe human growth hormone? What will happen if genuinely upgraded people--or clones, or whatever--start appearing in our midst? Will we welcome the mutant newcomers? Or, to turn the question around, will the newcomers tolerate us and our continued existence?

Moreover, what will become of treasured notions about equality if we get to the point where genuine differences can be imprinted, demonstrated, even bar-coded? Will equality survive in a brave new world of built-in inequality?

Thus the paradox of the new film, and the whole of the “X-Men” saga. The intended message is harmony amidst difference, but the storyline is always discord, even violence, among visibly different factions. What does that tell us about the future of a speciated humanity?

Beyond the special effects, maybe “X-Men” is a already a hit (number 1 box office movie this past weekend) because it probes our deepest Darwinian feelings--and fears. If science succeeds in updating the definition of “fittest,” the survival of our particular species, in its current form, could be at risk. That’s great for future mutants, but not so great for the rest of us, and our current civilization.

So maybe “X” marks the spot where humans should start worrying.

James P. Pinkerton is a writer, Fox News contributor and the editor/founder of SeriousMedicineStrategy.

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:29 pm

Should 'X-Men: First Class' be considered a hit?
June 6, 2011 | 5:30 am

The box-office numbers for every new release presents arguments for and against labeling the movie a hit. Some of these debates are lopsided -- "Mars Needs Moms" was inarguably a flop, and "Fast Five" an unmitigated success -- but other cases are more ambiguous. Among the trickier ones to come along this year is "X-Men: First Class," Fox's superhero action-adventure starring James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.

Upon opening this weekend, the film took in $56 million in the U.S. and an additional $64 million in 74 markets overseas, according to estimates from the studio. Those would seem to be, as my colleague Amy Kaufman described in her post on our sister blog Company Town, "a pretty good but not great start" for a film that was, among other things, collecting only 2-D ticket prices.

An in-depth analysis, however, proves trickier. As Kaufman writes, the film had the lowest opening-weekend total of the three "X-Men" films that immediately preceded it, besting only the $54.5 million of the first movie. (The previous three editions tallied $85 million, $103 million and $86 million dating back to 2003.) That would seem to indicate a fall-off. But should the new movie be compared to those films and thus be deemed lacking, as some box-office pundits have it?

Or should "First Class" be seen as an entirely new beast, a la the first "X-Men," and regarded as a success, as the studio would no doubt prefer? As Fox senior vice president of distribution Chris Aronson told Kaufman, "I don't think [the fall-off from the recent films] is significant. It exceeded the first 'X-Men,' and this movie has an ensemble of actors who are not known. They are all incredibly talented, and they will now be known after this movie."
The problem with drawing comparisons -- and, indeed, with gauging the overall success of "X-Men: First Class" -- lies with how much we should define the movie as something new in the first place. And that's not an easy question.
Matthew Vaughn's entry in the mutant franchise both fits with the mythology of the four previous installments and stands apart from it, which makes the film at once a sequel (or prequel, technically) and a reboot.

What's more, by introducing a new cast and dialing back the period by 50 years, it would seem to start a new franchise. But the movie also clearly trades on the "X-Men" name.

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

Specific movie comparisons elude, too. Among the better ones, as Fox executives have been eager to drive home, is "Batman Begins," Christopher Nolan's re-start of the caped-crusader franchise.

The new "X-Men" topped the opening-weekend box-office for that film. But while there are some unmistakable parallels between the two -- the new "X-Men" also sported a hot young director and a new creative direction for a known superhero brand, for example -- that's not an entirely apt comparison either. That franchise had a lot less heat coming in, with a much-ridiculed offering a full eight years before in "Batman & Robin." "X-Men," on the other hand, had a respectable spinoff just two years prior and the all-time franchise moneymaker, "X-Men: The Last Stand," only five years previously.

Nolan's 2005 movie also wiped the slate clean, assuming that none of Tim Burton or Joel Schumacher's "Batman" happened within its cinematic universe. Vaughn's "X-Men" doesn't, making references to elements in earlier films and existing within their world.

This may all seem like so much Hollywood cud-chewing. But whether a movie is considered a hit goes a long way toward determining several issues of consequence, like whether there will be sequels, and, if there are, the kind of talent that wants to be associated with them. It also helps sets the stage for other comparisons. After all, we're not done with these prequels/reboots yet: Sony is prepared to do something similar to "X-Men" with "The Amazing Spider-Man" next summer.

As movie studios continue to make these don't-call-them-a-sequel sequels, myriad creative issues arise. But almost as interesting as what's happening on screen with these films is the question of how, exactly, we should define and judge them.

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:23 pm

Posted: Fri., Jun. 3, 2011, 4:00am PT
Fox puts superheroes on parade
Studio banks on tentpole reboots
By Marc Graser, Rachel Abrams

Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy topline the mutant cast in Fox's 'X-Men: First Class.'

• ‘X-Men’ battles Memorial Day hangovers at B.O.
Outside of Disney, no studio can boast more superhero properties based on Marvel's comicbook characters than 20th Century Fox. But this week's release of "X-Men: First Class" signals just how the studio plans to breathe new life not just into the franchise's mutants, but its entire lineup of crimefighters.

It's not as if Fox's "X-Men" franchise had run out of steam. Although Brett Ratner's treatment of the series' beloved characters received some drubbing from fanboys, the third installment, "X-Men: The Last Stand," earned an impressive $459 million at the worldwide box office in 2006, the franchise's biggest haul to date.

A fourth and fifth installment are in development. But until then, Fox has a potential new franchise featuring a younger set of mutants to play with on the bigscreen.

While the film -- budgeted at $135 million after rebates -- could easily be considered a reboot for a property which hasn't had a new sequel in five years, it would be more accurately described as a prequel.

That's because "X-Men: First Class" goes back to the beginning, introducing how Charles Xavier becomes Professor X, recruits a young group of mutants and establishes a friendship with his future foe Erik Lehnsherr, better known as the metal-manipulating villain Magneto, while making clever references to future occurrences that appeared in the previous pics.

Under the helm of Matthew Vaughn, the pic anchors the film around the Cuban Missile Crisis in the groovy 1960s with James Bond-style flair, and easily sets the stage for sequels to take place during historical hotspots in other decades.

"First Class" marks a return to "X-Men" for Vaughn ("Kick-Ass"), who had been tapped to direct "Last Stand" but had to leave the project for family reasons.

The wait seems to have been worth it. His take has elicited raves from reviewers and fans and generated the kind of tracking that should pave the road for a sequel.

Fox is hoping that kind of reaction will rub off on its other superhero films.

It's already apparent that studio execs there are taking notes from the development of "First Class."

Most of the Marvel fare Fox has in development are being treated as reboots.

The projects include:

• "X-Men: First Class" sequels that could take place in the '70s and '80s, according to Vaughn and producer Bryan Singer (who launched the "X-Men" franchise in 2000), given that first pic is set in 1962. Vaughn has said he'd like Magneto to be behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy, for example, using his powers to manipulate the meandering bullet.

• A fourth and fifth "X-Men," based around the older characters introduced in the 2000 film, are in "active development," according to Lauren Shuler Donner, with Fox recently getting a treatment for the next installment that introduces a storyline that would lead into additional sequels.

• "Fantastic Four": Michael Green ("Green Lantern") was set to script a new take on the series Fox launched in 2005 that had Tim Story helming a lighter action comedy, but the studio is currently looking to bring on a new writer. Akiva Goldsman is producing the pic, which has a working title of "Fantastic Four Reborn."

• "The Wolverine": Christopher McQuarrie's script stays true to the Japanese saga from the comicbooks, and is said to boast more action than previous "X-Men" installments, according to Shuler Donner. Studio is considering a new helmer after Darren Aronofsky left the project. Film is said to serve as a standalone actioner and isn't necessarily tied to "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," which earned $375 million worldwide in 2009.

• "Deadpool": Ryan Reynolds, who also dons a super suit for DC Comics in "Green Lantern," is starring in the first film featuring the Merc with a Mouth and the thesp is working closely with writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick ("Zombieland") to develop the script as a dark comedy. Film won't be based on Reynolds' version of the character from "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," but relaunches the hero entirely. Tim Miller is attached as director.

• "Daredevil": David Slade ("Twilight: Eclipse") is helming a new take on the 2003 film that starred Ben Affleck and the 2005 spinoff, "Elektra," that David Scarpa ("The Day the Earth Stood Still") and Brad Kane are writing. Peter Chernin is producing with Dylan Clark through his Fox-based shingle Chernin Entertainment.

• "Magneto": David S. Goyer had been attached to direct an origins tale from a script by Sheldon Turner, but much of that project was folded into "First Class," essentially ending the chance for a standalone pic for the character anytime soon.

Like any studio with rights to a Marvel character, Fox needs to prove that its comicbook properties are in active development to prevent those films from reverting back to Marvel and its new parent, Disney.

Under its previous deal with Marvel, Fox retains the rights to all the X-Men characters, as well as those in the Fantastic Four universe, including the Silver Surfer, who the studio had planned to spin off into his own franchise at one time.

Sony similarly controls Spider-Man and related characters, as well as Ghost Rider, which is also getting a reboot.

The Mouse House, of course, would love to exploit those characters, after spending $4 billion to buy Marvel in 2009.

But after Warner Bros. successfully rebooted its Batman franchise, earning more money than previous caped crusades, and Marvel launched the "Iron Man" franchise and now "Thor," as well, rival studios are taking a similar fresh-take approach with their own projects, believing that move will guarantee sequels for years with a younger, and more affordable cast.

It's a similar strategy to Sony's with "Spider-Man" after the trilogy played itself out. It will start a new tale with Andrew Garfield as the nerdy web slinger next summer, with the cast and footage set to bow at Comic-Con.

Contact Marc Graser at

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:00 pm

25 Questions
Is X-Men: First Class the Best X-Men Movie? (and 24 Other Urgent Questions)
by Mike Ryan
June 3, 2011, 11:45 AM

The X-Men go back to their roots in the new prequel X-Men: First Class. Set primarily in 1962, First Class tells the story of how the uncanny team of mutants came to be—setting forth a course of events that will eventually lead us to the four previous X-Men films. How do the X-Men become an uncanny team of mutants? Does X-Men: First Class make up for the poorly received (yet financially successful) X-Men: Last Stand and the downright abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine? As a service, we answer every question that you could possibly have about X-Men: First Class.

Q: Do I have to be a comic-book nerd to enjoy X-Men: First Class?

A: Absolutely not.

Q: What is an X-Men?

A: The X-Men are a team of human beings who all have a genetic mutation that makes them social outcasts but gives each a unique ability or power.

Q: What is an example of a genetic mutation in X-Men: First Class?

A: Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is a telepathic who has the ability to both read minds and control the decisions of others. Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) can control the properties of metal.

Q: Do all of the mutations lead to such useful abilities? Let’s say my mutation was the ability to secrete spicy mustard from my ears, could I be a member of the X-Men?

A: Probably not, but you would become my new best friend.

Q: I think your handy parenthetical listing of each actor is wrong. I was under the impression that Patrick Stewart played Xavier and that Ian McKellen played Lehnsherr.

A: Stewart and McKellen do play those characters in the films that were released from 2000 to 2006. X-Men: First Class is a prequel and takes place primarily in 1962, so different, young actors play those same characters.

Q: How does X-Men: First Class begin?

A: The film begins at a Nazi concentration camp in 1944 Poland. Young Erik Lehnsherr is separated from his family and in a fit of rage he uses his powers to destroy the metal gates of the camp.

Q: Isn’t that how the original X-Men film begins?

A: The scene is similar, but it’s soon expanded upon. Erik is brought in to meet the scientist Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), who is very interested in Erik’s talents. Erik is asked to move a coin on command, but fails. Shaw then shoots Erik’s mother, which results in Erik’s power being unleashed through anger.

Q: Do we also meet Charles Xavier in 1944?

A: Yes, as a young boy, Charles wakes up to find a blue girl named Raven, also a shape shifter, stealing food from the kitchen in his Westchester home.

Q: Does Raven shoot Charles’s mother?

A: No, Charles befriends Raven and she moves in with him. He later begins to introduce Raven as his sister.

Q: Wait, I thought this movie takes place in 1962?

A: After the events of 1944, we jump to 1962 and join Erik traveling the world in an effort to find Shaw and avenge his mother’s death. At the same time, a C.I.A. agent named MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) has discovered a group of evil mutants—led by Shaw (also a mutant)—who are trying to start World War I.I.I.

Q: Why would mutants want to start World War I.I.I.?

A: Because (a) a nuclear war would eradicate humans and (b) the radiation would make mutants even stronger.

Q: What is the mutant plan to start World War I.I.I.?

A: The evil mutants plan to bribe a U.S. colonel into placing missiles in Turkey. This will cause the Soviet Union to respond by placing nuclear missiles in Cuba.

Q: So in the Hollywood version of the Kennedy administration, it was the mutants who were responsible for the Cuban Missile Crisis?

A: Not only that! After seeing 20 minutes of Transformers: Dark of the Moon footage on Thursday, I learned that Kennedy also approved the U.S. moon landing in an effort to find a crashed Autobot spaceship. Between the X-Men and Transformers, no wonder Kennedy was taking so much medication.

Q: How many Tony Award winners are in X-Men: First Class?

A: One.

Q: So when do the X-Men get involved?

A: At this point, there are no X-Men. MacTaggert locates a recently graduated genetics expert/party boy named Charles Xavier and convinces him—and his “sister” Raven (later known as Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence)—to help.

Q: Party boy?

A: Charles isn’t afraid to down a yard glass full of beer at his favorite pub.

Q: How do Charles and Erik meet?

A: They’re both looking for the same man, so it’s only a matter of time before their paths cross. The two soon start a mutual-admiration society.

Q: How does the rest of the team form?

A: Under the supervision of MacTaggert and another agent, played by Oliver Platt, a team of mutants is assembled. Among these include: Havoc, Banshee, and Darwin.

Q: Who are those guys? Why aren’t some better-known X-Men characters used?

A: Unfortunately, other than the young versions of characters that appeared in the other movies, First Class has to scrape the bottom of the barrel a bit for characters. Due in part to X-Men: Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine using approximately 10,000 of the X-Men characters. (Note: 10,000 is a rough estimate. The actual figure is likely much greater.)

Q: Isn’t Havoc supposed to be Cyclops’s (from the first film set in 2000) younger brother? How is that possible?

A: Andy Summers, who goes by Havoc, is the younger brother of Scott Summer (Cyclops) in the comic books. Their relationship is not explained in X-Men: First Class.

Q: Is X-Men: First Class the best of the five X-Men movies?

A: Yes, and it is, at this point, the best film of the summer movie season.

Q: Will X-Men: First Class make me forget about the atrocity that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine?

A: No, but it’s a good first step to healing that wound.

Q: What makes X-Men: First Class so good?

A: Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy—they just ooze charisma, charm, and chemistry. I’m not convinced that this movie would work at all without them. Some of the other acting in the film is questionable (rhymes with “Fanuary Bones”)—but when the film focuses on Fassbender and/or McAvoy, which is often, it’s mesmerizing. If this weren’t an X-Men movie, I might just assume that there’s more depth to this relationship than we’re being led to believe.

Q: What’s the best scene in X-Men: First Class?

A: It happens near the end of the film, so describing it would be a spoiler. But let’s just say that in an age of “bigger is better” when it comes to summer blockbusters, the minimalist way in which an important scene was handled was a welcome surprise.

Q: Is there a scene after the credits of X-Men: First Class that reveals the father of January Jones’s baby?

A: No.

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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:44 am

The power of mutants: Here's a scorecard to help you follow 'X-Men: First Class'
Friday, June 03, 2011
By Sharon Eberson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"X-Men: First Class" tells an origins story that goes back in time to 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the mutants of the comic book and movie franchises were first discovering and harnessing their powers.

Back then, Charles Xavier was just evolving into Professor X, was not yet wheelchair-bound and was a close friend of Erik Lehnsherr, the man who would become Magneto. James McAvoy as Charles and Michael Fassbender as Erik will take on the movie roles originated by two sirs, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, beginning with the Bryan Singer-directed "X-Men" in 2000.

Fans of those earlier movies that featured the character of Wolverine front and center will notice his absence, but the character did not appear in Marvel Comics until the mid-1970s. Rogue, who also played a key role in the first film, did not emerge in the books until the 1980s.

In Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class," opening today, mutants will work together to stop nuclear Armageddon. In the process, we'll discover how the chasm is created that will divide the band into Magneto's Brotherhood vs. Professor X's X-Men.

Here's a character primer to help you navigate the mutant-verse of the new film.
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Courtesy Marvel Entertainment
Professor X

• X-factor: Will use a wheelchair with giant X's on the wheels.

• Powers: Immensely powerful telepath can read minds, project his thoughts into the minds of others and manipulate their minds. He can detect the presence of mutants at a great distance by using the Cerebro device. Xavier uses his ancestral home in upstate New York to create the Institute for Gifted Children as a secret base to train mutants for the benefit of all.

• Acting cred: "Atonement," "Wanted," "The Last King of Scotland."

• Previously played by: Patrick Stewart.
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto
Courtesy Marvel Entertainment

• X-factor: Creates a helmet to block the telepathic powers of Professor X.

• Powers: He can control all magnetic fields that exist naturally or artificially. For instance, he can completely assemble a complicated machine within seconds and erect magnetic force fields around himself for protection.

• Acting cred: "Inglourious Basterds," the recent "Jane Eyre."

• Previously played by: Ian McKellen.
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique
Courtesy Marvel Entertainment

• X-factor: Blue skin, red hair and yellow eyes.

• Powers: She is a shape-shifter who can alter the atoms of her body to duplicate any humanoid, including details such as fingerprints and retina pattern. Her powers slow the aging process and increase healing.

• Acting cred: Oscar-nominated for "Winter's Bone" and cast as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games."

• Previously played by: Rebecca Romijn in Bryan Singer's "X-Men" films.
January Jones as Emma Frost
Courtesy Marvel Entertainment
Emma Frost

• X-factor: Wealthy beauty sparkles when she transforms.

• Powers: Emma Frost can transform her skin and hair into a diamond-hard form at will and has telepathic powers when in human form.

• Acting cred: A star of AMC's acclaimed TV drama "Mad Men."

• Previously played by: Tahyna Tozzi played a younger version of Emma Frost in 2009's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."
Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast

• X-factor: Big, blue, hairy and smart.

• Powers: The big guy possesses superhuman strength, agility, endurance and speed.

• Acting cred: The "About a Boy" star grew up to work beside Colin Firth in "A Single Man."

• Previously played by: Kelsey Grammer.
Rose Byrne as Dr. Moira MacTaggert

• X-factor: Brilliant; not a mutant.

• Powers: None. The one-time love of Charles Xavier and a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist becomes his silent partner in the institute and helps recruit its first team of mutant students, the X-Men.

• Acting cred: Co-starred in recent "Bridesmaids" and in TV series "Damages."

• Previously played by: Olivia Williams, briefly in 2006's "X-Men: The Last Stand."
Jason Flemyng as Azazel

• Powers: The ancient mutant looks like the iconic vision of the devil and can open a portal that allows him to move back and forth through dimensions. While in another dimension, Azazel can open viewing portals to Earth and generate devastating energy blasts.
Zoe Kravitz as Angel Salvadore

• Powers: With wings like a housefly's, she can fly and also vibrate at high speed to create a deafening ultrasonic sound.
Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw

• Powers: The ability to absorb kinetic energy and transform it into raw strength.
Lucas Till as Alex Summers/Havok

• Powers: Can absorb ambient cosmic energy into the cells of his body and release it as waves of energy and intense heat.
Edi Gathegi as ArMunoz/Darwin.

• Powers: Self-protection and continuous circumstantial evolution.
Caleb Landry Jones as Sean Cassidy/Banshee

• Powers: The mutant from Ireland uses his sonic scream to disable enemies.
Alex Gonzalez as Janos Quested/Riptide

• Powers: Can spin at an incredibly fast rate and hurl objects at such high velocity that they can punch through steel.

Power source:

First published on June 3, 2011 at 12:00 am

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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:46 am

'X-Men' prequel is first-class
Movie review
Friday, June 03, 2011
By Rick Bentley, The Fresno Bee
Murray Close
Caleb Landry Jones, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Alex Summers in 'X-Men: First Class.'

Three "X-Men" movies and a spinoff with "Wolverine" covered so much material the comic book franchise appeared to have run out its story.

Well, if you can't go forward, then go backward.

"X-Men: First Class" retreats into the comic book mythology to present the beginnings of the mutant heroes. Other films have touched on the origins, but none has offered as complete and entertaining a peek into the past.
'X-Men: First Class'

3 1/2 stars = Very good
Ratings explained

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, January Jones, Rose Byrne, Kevin Baconhell.
Rating: PG-13 for action, violence, language, partial nudity.

Comic book purists will have several points of contention as the screenplay by Ashley Miller, Jane Goldman, Zack Stentz and Matthew Vaughn takes some major liberties with the "X-Men" history. There are timeline questions and even a few changes to the comic book story lines. But, such liberties can be taken when the final result is so impressive.

The leap into the past for the setting takes the heroes into the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It wasn't just a showdown between the United States and Russia over weapons that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. The actions were the result of manipulations by German genetics enthusiast Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon).

All that stands between Shaw's plans of total world destruction and a shaky peace are a group of young mutants who are just being brought together by Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy).

Prequels come with inherent problems. Audiences become conditioned to seeing certain actors playing a character. Mr. Vaughn gets around this stumbling block by casting Mr. McAvoy as the group's leader. Mr. McAvoy's got as much charm and charisma as Patrick Stewart brought to the role in the other films.

Michael Fassbender is equally up to the challenge of taking on the role of Magneto, played with such fire and passion by Ian McKellen in the original movies. Mr. Fassbender has a star quality on screen that allows him to make this bigger-than-life role seem very human.

Equally impressive is Mr. Bacon, who knows just how much crazy to bring to a role when playing the villain.

The other big problems with prequels involve living up to the quality of the originals and a lack of peril for characters because we know their fates. Mr. Vaughn deals with these issues with strong casting, some clever cameos and the addition of a few new characters who allow for some sense of danger, because their futures weren't written in previous movies.

It's rare when a sequel is better than the original. And finding a prequel that's better is nearly impossible. Through perfect casting, a killer script and nonstop action, Mr. Vaughn has pulled off the impossible.

First published on June 3, 2011 at 12:00 am

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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:46 am

Published: Friday, Jun. 03, 2011 / Updated: Thursday, Jun. 02, 2011 03:36 PM
'X-Men' is a well-cast, well-scripted escape

"X-Men: First Class" is an homage to the James Bond movies from the '60s - you know, back when Bond was fun.

It's got The Cold War, an epic confrontation between super powers and a super-villain in a submarine. Matthew Vaughn ("Layer Cake") sees to it that it's a generally light take on engineering the struggle between the future Professor X and the future Magneto. Well-cast, well-acted and scripted so that its message of tolerance is front-and-center, this is pretty much all you'd want from two hours and 12 minutes of summer escape.

James McAvoy is young Charles Xavier, the fellow who reads minds and stumbles into the girl (Jennifer Lawrence) Raven, who makes him realize that he and she are not alone. They are "the next stage in human evolution." It's the 1940s, and in the age of the atom, humanity - some humans, anyway - are mutating.

One of them is half a world away. That's where Erik Lehnsher (Bill Milner, then Michael Fassbender) is a Jew who survives the Holocaust because one Nazi in particular (Kevin Bacon) sees his talents and finds a way to train them.

Cut to years later, when Xavier is finishing up his degree at Oxford and Eric is chasing Nazis to the far ends of the Earth.

"Let's just say I'm Frankenstein's monster," Erik growls to a couple of German expats in Argentina. "I'm looking for my creator."

Pity he isn't looking for Joseph Mengele. Fassbender is marvelously and malevolently focused. McAvoy gives Xavier a comical-clinical interest in his fellow mutants.

They only meet when they are given a common enemy by the CIA. It's the early '60s, and the former Nazi Sebastian Shaw (Bacon) is up to something, recruiting mutants. The most playful scenes in the movie follow Charles and Erik as they go mutant recruiting for the CIA - into strip clubs, for instance. Jason Flemyng, Nicholas Hoult, Alex Gonzalez, Zoe Kravitz (daughter of actress Lisa Bonet and rocker Lenny Kravitz) and Edi Gathegi (from "Twilight") are among the mutants.

As the team is assembled, not-so-subtle reminders about these mutants with special powers - who might displace humans - are tossed in. One guy hid his mutancy. "You didn't ask, I didn't tell."

Rose Byrne and Oliver Platt play CIA agents in charge of mutant relations. Vaughn peoples his supporting cast with veteran character actors - James Remar is a general, Michael Ironside a Navy captain, Ray Wise a presidential adviser - and pays tribute, visually, to "Dr. Strangelove" and "Basic Instinct."

That last visual reference comes from January Jones. She plays the villain's mutant sidekick in early Sharon Stone-ish '60s white tart ensembles, and even has a "Basic Instinct" interrogation scene. She makes a scar-sexy villain. (The women in the movie wear miniskirts a few years before they became popular, and the cast of mutants drops colloquialisms a few decades out of place, but why quibble?)

But one cameo - complete with the movie's only perfectly placed "f-bomb" - reminds us where this one stands in the firmament. The digital ships, digital sets and digitally enhanced brawls lack a single moment as authentically cool as that first snowy meeting we had with Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in the original film.

It's all silly summer cinema escape, and if you don't roll your eyes the first or tenth time McAvoy puts two fingers to his forehead to read somebody's thoughts you plainly got nothing out or "Everything Must Go" and "The Beaver."

But "X-Men: First Class" still sings the praises of Marvel Studios' marvelous quality control of comic-book movies.

It's good, clean summer movie fun where the money they spent is up on the screen - with actors and effects - so that we won't mind spending money on it.

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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:53 am

Jun 2, 2011

Posted by Jim Batts

The other day I was thinking the concept of a movie prequel was a fairly new notion. I suppose it was George Lucas who really promoted that idea with his first trilogy in 1999 with STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE. But as I thought about it, movie prequels have been around for a while. Back in the 30′s and 40′s they were made to delve into the backgrounds of historical figures as in YOUNG TOM EDISON and YOUNG MR. LINCOLN. In the early 70′s we had BUTCH AND SUNDANCE : THE EARLY YEARS. The 80′s saw YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES, and INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM ( which technically is a prequel to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK as it is set a couple of years earlier ). The post Star Wars first trilogy prequels have been used as a way to restart or reboot an aging franchise. In that way CASINO ROYAL was a Bond restart. Sometimes this re-inveigorates the series with fresh blood as J.J. Abrams did with STAR TREK in 2009. This has been done again with Matthew Vaughn’s X- MEN: FIRST CLASS. A film series that limped through two lackluster sequels and a spin-off ( X- MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE ) now seems fresh and exciting once again.

The first X- Men movie was set in 2000, so to see how the group was first formed we’ve got to go back to the swingin’ 60′s. That is after a brief stop in the 1940′s and World War II. The memory of young Erik Lehnsherr being separated from his parents at a Nazi concentration camp in occupied Poland is replayed. This time his gifts are observed by a Nazi scientist. Back in upstate New York young Charles Xavier comes upon his mother making a midnight snack. He sees through the ruse and meets a kindred spirit: the shape shifting Raven ( later Mystique ). Back at the camp the Nazi scientist ( Sebastian Shaw played by Kevin Bacon ) murders Erik’s mother to pressure the young boy into using his talents. The boy’s fury unleashes his mutant magnetism much to Shaw’s delight. Now we leap to the 60′s -1962 to be exact. Charles Xavier ( James McAvoy ) and his adopted sister Raven ( Jennifer Lawrence ) are two star students at Oxford while Erik ( Michael Fassbender ) explores Switzerland and Argentina in his quest for revenge on Shaw. In Las Vegas, CIA agent Moira MacTaggert observes a high ranking US general entering the Hellfire Club ( along with several barely clad female escorts ). Thinking on her feet, Moiria sheds her dress and enters the club as one of the escorts. Inside, the general is taken to a private booth by Emma Frost ( January Jones ). Through a secret entrance they are sent to a private room where Shaw and his two aides Riptide and Azazel greet them. Shaw is paying the general to use his influence to get a missile base in Turkey. Later Moira enlists Charles and Raven in an assault on Shaw’s yacht. There they meet Erik, who is thwarted in his attempt to kill Shaw. Reluctantly Erik agrees to join them in their quest to stop Shaw and his crew. Since Shaw, Frost, Riptide, and Azazel all have mutant abilities, Charles uses a device called Cerebro created by the CIA’sresident genius Hank McCoy ( Nicholas Hoult ) to seek other gifted individuals. Can this young team stop Shaw in his quest for a nuclear nightmare?

Director Vaughn is no stranger to this material ( after helming the comic book-based KICK-ASS ) and keeps the plot moving at a great clip. The film could use a few minutes trimmed from it’s 2 and a 1/4 hour running time, but it never seems to slow for too long-unlike some other Summer actioners ( I’m looking at you, Capt. Jack! ). The film makers do a fairly good job of re-creating the look of the 60′s in the sets, fashions, and autos. I have to nit-pick over some of the hairstyles. A Russian general would never have hair over his back collar. Speaking of 60′s fashion, January Jones is no stranger to them as part of TV’s Mad Men. Her Emma Frost is almost Betty Draper with super powers. Scary thought! McAvoy exudes intelligence and even has a bit of fun with the later stodgy Professor X. Love his groovy mutant pick-up line! Michael Fassbender brings a sinister, sexy energy to his future super villain,Magneto. Jennifer Lawrence shows that her WINTER’S BONE performance was the start of a great screen career with her conflicted Raven. My favorite of the original X-Men was the Beast and Hoult really nails his portrait of the clumsy braniac who desperately wants to fit in. I was a bit conflicted over Kevin Bacon. I wasn’t sure if he was right for this ruthless, evil mutant, but he uses his charm to great advantage when wheeling and dealing. I’ll give you a heads up-there’s no post end credits bonus scene on this superhero flick. Oh, and I’ve got to give special kudos to the producers for not giving in to greed and releasing this in 3D. Excelsior! Now I don’t want to spoil any surprises, so I’ll just tell you to hold off on a rest room or snack run when the Cerebro sequence begins. After THOR and this movie, it’s turning out to be a great superhero Summer. I’d say Marvel is two for two, but this film is not produced by Marvel Studios as was THOR, the Iron Man movies, and the upcoming CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. This a great popcorn picture with a bit of a social message snuck in between the fantastic stunts and effects.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:54 am

Review: “X-Men First Class” Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender

Roger Qbert | Jun 02, 2011

X-Men First Class Movie Poster Magneto Professor XaviorX-Men gets the reboot/prequel treatment in X-Men: First Class. What could have been a phone-in FX-fest is instead the best comic book film since The Dark Knight and the strongest Marvel film since Spider-Man 2. (And that’s far from a backhanded compliment in light of Marvel Comics track record over the last decade.) X-Men: First Class is everything a summer blockbuster should be: smart, witty, charming, sexy (but not too sexy) and action packed. It seems destined to become a classic of the genre. For the uninitiated, The X-Men is a team of super-powered heroes who protect the world from evildoers. Because their abilities were gained via mutation, their place in the world has always been tenuous at best. They are often said to be the next step in human evolution, which makes many of those who are about to get bumped down a notch on the food-chain a teensy bit apprehensive.

The over-arching theme of the X-Men franchise (both the film and the comics) has been their ongoing battle for acceptance and it’s no coincidence that the series was created at the height of the Civil Rights era. Should they be proud of their differences or attempt to assimilate? Just how much latitude can and should be granted in an effort to accommodate other’s fear? Compounding the complexities is the fact that some mutants actually are bad guys that do bad things which, rightly or wrongly, affects how the world views all mutants. The film, as the title suggests, not only brings the franchise back to its origins but is set in the same time period as the aforementioned Civil Rights movement. Taking place (largely) in 1963, this might very well be the first comic book movie to take place during the same era in which the characters were originally published.

The film follows Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lenhsherr (Michael Fassbender) on their path to becoming Professor X and Magneto, respectively. Painting with broad strokes, Professor X is Martin Luther King, Jr. to Magneto’s Malcolm X. Whereas Professor X was willing to work patiently (and non-violently) towards acceptance, Magneto was more apt to demand equality and less apt to turn the other cheek. Granted, Magneto is a super-villain; Malcolm X…not so much. Keep in mind that the character was created two years prior to Malcolm X’s life-altering pilgrimage to Mecca; public perception of him at the time, combined with the comic’s creators (i.e. white dudes), makes using the two civil rights’ leaders for topical, if somewhat simplistic, inspiration not all that unsurprising. But given the state of comics at the time (BAM, POW, ZOOM), it was actually a pretty heady concept.

While McAvoy and Fassbender are far from A-list actors, if this film is any indication, that’s all about to change. McAvoy imbues Xavier with a breezy air that’s initially counterintuitive (he is after all destined to become the stoic Patrick Stewart) yet makes perfect sense once you see it. He’s a fast-talking charmer with the smarts to back it up, and quite a bit handier with the ladies than one might have expected. And Fassbender brilliantly portrays a conflicted Magneto; torn between his quest for vengeance and a group that offers justice but not closure. The two are opposite sides of the same coin and form a fast friendship. It’s a bond that’s made all the more heartbreaking, given that we know how it will end.

The film is well-paced and set against the backdrop of the 1960’s, it takes on an early-James Bond feel at times. There is a sprawling cast, but director Matthew Vaughn makes sure we are never caught asking ourselves who is who. The film has a story to tell, which is rare for a comic book film (though admittedly getting less so) and the action punctuates the plot rather than pausing for it. X-Men: First Class exists in a dark world, though not as dark as say The Dark Knight. While it’s light on blood and gore, there is violence and it has very real consequences. People are damaged; others die. Characters perform despicable acts of cruelty. But this isn’t violence for its own sake. The film has an earned emotional weight that this genre is so often lacking. That being said, it’s not all doom and gloom either. The script is also fun and surprisingly witty. And while the aforementioned The Dark Knight was an amazing film….how much fun did you have?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being Spider-Man 2 and 1 being Super Capers, X-Men: First Class gets a 9.

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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:54 am

Out with the new, in with the old - 'X-Men: First Class' a first-class affair
by John Thomas Nelson

June 03, 2011 12:00 AM

From left, Caleb Landry Jones, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Lucas Till star in ‘X-Men: First Class.’
The Associated Press
"X-Men: First Class"

(Comic book action, PG-13, 130 minutes)

In nature, every time a being evolves into a superior form it instinctively wipes out its less-dominant predecessor. "X-Men: First Class" begs the question: When superhuman mutants come out of hiding, is peace with humans possible?

According to Magneto, "peace was never an option."

"X-Men: First Class" breathes new life into the X-Men franchise by telling the old story of Charles Xavier (or Professor X, played by James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (or Magneto, played by Michael Fassbender), two brilliant mutants with two completely different backgrounds: Charles grew up privileged while Erik grew up through the horrors of the Holocaust.

They are both somewhat lost in the film's first act. Charles flirts with women in pubs while pursuing his academics. Erik is self-described as Frankenstein's monster seeking out his creators - the Nazi doctors responsible for his torture. Most mutants at this time believe their superhuman abilities are an oddity and they're the only one of their kind. Upon meeting, Charles and Erik bond over having incredible mutant abilities and a strong desire to lead humankind - Charles by setting a positive example and Erik by might. Charles and Erik's ideals, while lining up for awhile, eventually lead to a line in the sand moment that will lead them to become archenemies in later X-Men installments.

It's the 1960s and tension is mounting over the threat of nuclear war between two superpowers: United States and Russia. And pulling the strings on both sides is a powerful mutant named Sebastian Shaw (played by Kevin Bacon), a mutant with the desire to kill off humans so the mutant race can rule. Shaw surrounds himself with an entourage of mutants: Riptide (played by Alex Gonzalez), Azazel (played by Jason Flemyng) and the sultry Emma Frost (played by January Jones). After Shaw intimidates both nations into making aggressive movements of arms, the stage is set for a confrontation in what will come to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On the other side of the fray, Charles, Erik, Charles' "sister" Raven (or Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence) and their CIA agent pals Moira MacTaggert (played by Rose Byrne) and MIB (played by Oliver Platt), begin searching for mutants to help. The team first randomly meets Hank McCoy (or Beast, played by Nicholas Hoult), a young CIA scientist hiding his mutation. Hank develops a mind-enhancing device named Cerebro that helps Charles stretch his psychic reach across the globe to locate other mutants.

Among Charles' first class of recruits is Darwin (played by Edi Gathegi), Banshee (played by Caleb Landry Jones), Angel Salvadore (played by Zoe Kravitz, the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet) and Havok (played by Lucas Till, a graduate of Marietta's Kell High School in 2008 who has starred in films such as "Battle: Los Angeles," "The Spy Next Door" and "Hannah Montana: The Movie").

An all-out battle ensues between Shaw's band of mutants and Charles' gifted youngsters, with a rift that sets Charles and Erik on their paths to become Professor X and Magneto.

Director Matthew Vaughn (director of "Kick-Ass" and "Layer Cake") and producer/co-writer Bryan Singer (director of "X-Men" and "X2: X-Men United") wanted to give the film an international feel. Casting British exports McAvoy and Fassbender as the leads and building sets reminiscent of James Bond films helped give the film a European edge. Not to mention the film was shot all over the world, including Argentina, London, Switzerland, Russia and Georgia's own Jekyll Island.

"X-Men: First Class" reboots the X-Men series but never parts ways with its core themes of acceptance, justice and the struggle with identity. Its themes are especially relevant considering the national and local dialogue regarding immigration. While subtly posing such questions, it also answers a few: How did Professor X end up in a wheelchair? How did Beast get blue fur? How did the X-Men come together?

While much better than "X-Men: The Last Stand," "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and even the first "X-Men," I would hesitate to say the X-Men franchise saved the best for first.

The film is dead-even with "X2: X-Men United" in its mix of action and levity and its overall scope. Before Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight," "X2" was hailed by many as the best comic book movie of all time, and while a great movie, "First Class" doesn't quite surpass "X2."

"X-Men: First Class" has summer blockbuster appeal with the sensibilities of a character-driven independent film. It's one of the best prequels ever made with an ambitious story line that manages to propel action and emotion while thoughtfully introducing the audience to a slew of characters, both ones that we know in later X-Men movies and ones we are meeting for the first time.

The film also includes a bevy of star cameos that are just too good to reveal. Summer has a first class film on its hands and only time will tell if the next X-Men movie will wipe out its predecessor.

Read more: Cherokee Tribune - Out with the new in with the old X Men First Class a first class affair

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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 8:06 pm

The Similarities Between X-Men: First Class and Inglourious Basterds

6/3/11 at 09:35 AM

X-Men: First Class, the reboot of the blockbuster mutant franchise, arrives in theaters today. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy take on the roles of Magneto and Professor Xavier when they were young, discovering other mutants, establishing their philosophical
differences, and wearing swank sixties threads. Fassbender, in particular, isn't just putting a new spin on a role others have played (others being Ian McKellen, in the earlier X-Men films), he's putting a new spin on a role he's played: Erik "Magneto" Lehnsherr has an awful lot in common with the extremely debonair film critic Lieutenant Archie Hicox, Fassbender's scene-stealing part in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, down to their globe-trotting, facility with languages, affinity for bar standoffs, and general Fassbender-y swagger. The similarities between these two roles aren't the only things that X-Men: First Class and Inglorious Basterds
have in common. They also share similar premises (ostracized minorities hunting down Nazis), similar characters (the scenery-chewing German, the woman hiding in plain sight, etc.), and even a similar energy for exploring the ways to inflict violence on a forehead with swastikas. So,herewith, fourteen things that can be found in both X-Men: First Class and Inglourious Basterds, and we're not even including a pretty fun time at the movie theater.
(We went as light on the spoilers as possible, but inevitably, spoiler alert.)

Inglourious BasterdsX-Men: First Class
Basic Premise Members of a discriminated-against minority form a fearsome team to take on Nazis. Members of a discriminated-against minority form a fearsome team to take on former Nazi.
Team Members' Nicknames The Bear Jew, the Jew Hunter Magneto, Professor X, Mystique, Havok, Banshee, etc.
Historical Liberties Film imagines a past in which Hitler and Goebbels are assassinated at a movie theater. Film imagines a past in which the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved by a band of mutants.
Prologue Jewish girl watches her family die at the hands of the Nazis. Jewish boy watches his mother die at the hands of the Nazis.
Traumatized Jewish Child Grows Up to Be ... Very attractive person (Mélanie Laurent) hell-bent on revenge and aided by a goy (Lieutenant Aldo Raine) Very attractive person (Michael Fassbender) hell-bent on revenge and aided by a goy (Charles Xavier)
Female Character Who Hides True Identity in Plain Sight Shoshana Dreyfus, hides Jewishness Raven Darkholme, a.k.a. Mystique, hides blueness
Character Who Has Trouble Controlling Violent Tendencies Sergeant Donny Donowitz Havok
Scenery-Chewing German Speaker Christoph Waltz's Colonel Hans Landa Kevin Bacon's Sebastian Shaw
Dangerous Blonde Seductress Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) Emma Frost (the totally affect-less January Jones)
Character Who Is a Threatening, Suave Polyglot Played by Michael Fassbender Lieutenant Archie Hicox, who speaks two languages (English, German) Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a. Magneto, who speaks four languages (English, German, French, Spanish)
Threatening, Suave Polyglot Played by Fassbender Finds Himself ... In a tense bar fight in a foreign county involving beer, Germans, and death. In a tense bar fight in a foreign county involving beer, Germans, and death.
Oft-Repeated Refrain "That's a bingo." "Mutant. And proud."
Actor With Surprisingly Small Role Mike Myers Oliver Platt
Are There Acts of Revenge That Involve Foreheads, Swastikas, and Blood? Yes. Yes.

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Post by Admin on Tue Jun 14, 2011 2:36 am

The Devin’s Advocate: X-MEN: FIRST CLASS’ Magneto As A Critique Of Israel
By Devin Faraci | June 10, 2011 | Nerd | 55 Comments

“Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

- Nietzsche

There’s a reason that quote has become a hoary cliche, and that’s because it’s true. To engage the darkness is to open yourself up to the darkness; it’s a popular theme in literature and movies. The film that most recently explores it with the greatest success is, in in my mind, X-Men: First Class, which is the first X movie to present Magneto as more than a misguided villain. Matthew Vaughn’s movie presents Magneto as a man with a philosophy you can understand, a man whose life experience led him inexorably to the decisions he makes at the end of the film. And in many ways the film presents Magneto as a mirror held up to the state of Israel.

While Israel’s modern history doesn’t begin with the Holocaust (the Zionist movement had been underway for decades by the time WWII rolled around; there had been great waves of Jewish immigration to Palestine in the 19th century, and the Balfour Declaration of 1917 made it clear that Britain saw Palestine as the homeland of the Jews. The Jewish Legion fought alongside British troops to conquer Palestine, and by the time WWII started 11% of Palestine’s population was Jewish), the state’s thirst for survival certainly began there. Huge waves of refugees and Holocaust survivors poured into Palestine throughout the middle 1940s. In 1944 the Jewish community started an armed uprising against the British, who eventually left, and Palestine was split into two states by the UN, which would have Jerusalem as an international city that belonged to neither. But when Britain left Israel declared itself an independent state and the surrounding Arab states declared war. Thus began in earnest sixty years of simmering violence.

Magneto’s history does start with the Holocaust, as seen in X-Men and expanded upon in X-Men: First Class. It was his experience in Auschwitz that made Erik Lensherr who he would become. And his general goals are not that different from the state of Israel. Some might argue that his tactics aren’t that different either.

It’s important to approach First Class‘ Magneto with as little baggage from the original films or the comics as possible. In many ways this is a new version of the character, with Vaughn and Michael Fassbender examining facets of the man that have received little attention cinematically. Magneto comes out of the Holocaust wanting two things: vengeance and independence. It’s important to note that while he doesn’t disagree with Sebastian Shaw’s stance on the inferiority of homo sapiens, Magneto in this film isn’t looking to wipe them out. He just wants to be free of them.

Magneto spends years hunting down Nazi war criminals, much like Israel’s Mossad, who illegally extradited Adolf Eichmann from Argentina and executed him in Israel. And like Israel, Magneto at first works with the existing governmental structure; he teams up with the CIA’s black ops mutant team as the Palestinian Jews worked alongside the British to secure the nation.

But like the Palestinian Jews, Magneto doesn’t want to be working under someone else’s heel, and he is ready to declare his own independence from the CIA as soon as the moment is right (and actually unlike the Zionist paramilitary group Irgun, who conducted terrorist attacks against British targets in Palestine in 1944, Magneto never specifically turns against the CIA). That comes in the form of simply announcing to the world the existence of mutants at the Cuban beach battle, a moment that parallels Israel’s declaration as an independent state in 1948; and just as in that case the declaration of existence is met with immediate hostility. The assembled homo sapien war ships fire on the mutants much as the assembled Arab states attacked Israel.

I would argue that it was the 1948 Arab Israeli War that helped solidify Israel’s stance on self-defense. And it was the missile attack on the Cuban beach that did the same for Magneto – in both cases the newly independent figure finds their fears of open hostility to be completely founded. Israel’s policy on national security becomes an offensive one, with them invading Egypt in 1956 and launching the pre-emptive strikes that began the Six-Day War in 1967. Magneto’s policy on humanity, we are to assume, becomes equally offensive, with him opting to strike at humans before they can strike at mutants.

On the surface that policy makes a lot of sense, but it’s the way that the policy is pursued that becomes controversial. For many Israel has been a belligerent actor in the region, and their treatment of the Palestinians is unforgivable, especially in the way that it echoes the marginalization and treatment of the Jews in the years leading up to WWII and the Holocaust. But for others Israel is a scrappy state that needs to show its force to keep safe from every other nation in the region, who would like nothing more than to see this country snuffed out.

In the final moments of the Cuban beach crisis, Magneto utters a line that completely solidifies his position as a metaphor for Jewish nationalism and Zionism - “Never again,” the motto of the Jewish Defense League, described as a right wing terror group by the FBI. Founded by Meir Kahane, a figure who could easily be a template for Magneto, the JDL targets ‘enemies of the Jewish people.’ A JDL member massacred dozens of praying Palestinians in 1994; 15 out of 18 domestic terrorist attacks carried out by Jews were carried out by JDL members. In some ways the JDL feels like a real world version of Magneto’s Brotherhood, a militant organization that carries self defense into the realm of pre-emptive violence.

What’s interesting is that while Magneto is painted inextricably as an analogue for militaristic Zionist Jews post-WWII, X-Men: First Class never quite demonizes him. We know where he ends up, so his association with these types is an implicit criticism, but at the end of the movie it’s hard not to kind of root for Magneto. Professor X seems like a star-eyed optimist, a completely naive goofus whose principles are nice but unworkable. His response to being fired upon by a combined US and Soviet fleet is to… keep working with the US. Doesn’t Magneto’s response feel a bit more reasonable?

By the end of X-Men: First Class Magneto has not quite become the monster he has been fighting, but he’s right on the edge. Does Matthew Vaughn think that Magneto’s future status as a monster means that Israel has gazed too long into the abyss?

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:50 pm

June 16, 2011, 6:00 PM ET

Summer Superhero Fashion

By Alexandra Cheney

Superheroes of all shapes and sizes are hitting the big screen this summer. From the Nordic god of thunder, Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, to the Green Lantern played by Ryan Reynolds, their costumes are a thought experiment in fashion and wardrobe. While Hemsworth suited up in his red cape and armor, the visually unconventional outfit and musculature of Reynolds was CGI’ed onto him in post-production.

Michael Fassbender played Magneto in “X-Men: First Class” and Chris Evans will be Captain America in its namesake film. Both men have more straightforward suits that hail back to their comic book character roots.

Insofar as supporting characters there’s Blake Lively, who for now is simply Carol Ferris in “Green Lantern,” but there’s talk about her staying on and in future films transforming into Star Sapphire. Lively mentioned that the illustration of the costume is on the skimpy side. Anthony Hopkins plays Odin in “Thor” and has a costume remarkably similar to that of Hemsworth while Tom Hiddleston stars as Loki, Thor’s brother. His costume also errs on the more conservative side unlike that of January Jones, who is Emma Frost in “X-Men: First Class.” Transforming into a chiseled diamond from head to toe, Jones also suffers from a case of CGI. Breathtaking, yes, pragmatic, no.

But lest fans forget, many superhero costumes began as simple leotards, which don’t translate well onto the big screen. What do you think of the superhero fashions?

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:24 pm

9 Storylines That Could Be Used For X-Men SECOND CLASS

June 15, 2011 3:02 pm
Simon Gallagher

Following a conversation with Matt Holmes after both of us had seen the latest addition to the X-Men saga (which will shortly become a duel article exploring the virtues and problems with X-Men: First Class), a question arose that has eaten away at me ever since. So, swiftly following on from my Fantasy Characters post from a few days ago, I’ve decided to tackle the second area of debate inspired by Matthew Vaughn’s brilliant Bond-inspired take on the property.

And the question? Given how the film is resolved, and the scripting decisions that led to that resolution, where would a X-Men: Second Class film go?

Slight warning of spoilers below, so be warned – if you haven’t seen it yet, best avoid this article until you have…

So here’s a recap… By the end of First Class, Erik (Michael Fassbender) is Magneto, and he’s gone bad, Charles (James McAvoy) is Professor X, and his legs don’t work anymore, Beast (Nicholas Hoult) is blue, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) has defected and humans have decided they no longer like the mutants. And most importantly, there are now two distinct factions within the mutants, The Brotherhood (though not yet named) and the X-Men. Basically, in terms of the political dynamic between Xavier’s followers and those in Magneto’s gang we are heading somewhat towards how things stand at the beginning of Bryan Singer’s first X-Men.

So where now?

Well, accusations have already been levelled at the film suggesting that Vaughn was too hasty in his narrative approach, and the decision to arrive at the conclusion that First Class ultimately does was something of a mistake this early, if he has further additions to his strand of the X-Universe in mind.

Yes, Vaughn could have stretched the Magneto/Professor X story arc across more than one film, but that horse has now bolted, and in terms of the characters’ relationship now, we have to accept that we are almost in the same position as at the beginning of that first film. So, if this is indeed a prequel (and there are hints that it is, as well as some suggesting otherwise), there is going to have to be some narrative deviation to introduce more dramatic flashpoints and further develop the fractious dynamic between the two.

But then, if it’s a reboot, and I’m not entirely sure which camp I’m in just yet [and I'm sure 20th Century Fox themselves don't know yet, especially after the film's $50 million and 55% less opening weekend compared to the familiar faces in X-Men 3: The Last Stand that grossed $102 million], it doesn’t matter where we are now, or how similar that position is to Singer’s start-point, because this new strand will simply supersede what has already been made, cameos or not.

And for me, there are only a limited number of story arcs from the comics that would work for Vaughn if he indeed wants to continue acknowledging the existence of the films that already exist.

For Only If You Think First Class Is A Prequel:

As simple as the sub-heading suggests, the following suggestions would fit with a narrative arc that includes both First Class and the other X-Men movies, so would represent those bridging steps between the prequel and its follow-ups. So what follows is for you, if you’re on Team Prequel…
The Civil Rights Movement Allegory

We already know that this one is a possibility, thanks to Bryan Singer’s musings on the role that history might play in the plot of the follow-up, and based on the sentiments at the end of First Class, you could easily see this one coming to light. One idea talked about is to have Magneto and Xavier surrogate mutant figures for Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X but the question here is how to handle the somewhat delicate subject-matter. I’ve already suggested that the introduction of Bishop would represent a clever counterpoint to the story, given his personal history, and overall I think the prospect of any focus on a Civil Rights story is a good idea. After all, mutant integration is one of the perennial backbones to the entire X-Universe, and Vaughn has already proved more than capable of infusing his superhero work with an authentic sense of historical importance (even if he was somewhat liberal with the real facts).

This one seems most likely for the sequel.
The Sentinels

Inherently linked to the Civil Rights allegory, since the Sentinels are essentially a policing force to find and neutralise “mutant threats” and could reasonably be rewritten slightly as humanity’s direct response to Magneto’s threat on the beach at the end of the first film. The Sentinels are almost as iconic a part of the X-Men universe as the main characters themselves, and represent a far greater threat to the mutants than anything humans could otherwise offer, plus they are a physical embodiment of the fractious relationship (borne out of fear) between humans and mutants.

The Sentinels’ early introduction here would also explain why they are largely ignored in the original trilogy, with their only appearance coming as part of a Danger Room training program in X-Men 3: The Last Stand. The suggestion there could be that they are an already dealt-with threat, relegated to a frankly not very challenging training programme, so having them appear in ‘Second Class’ would also plug that slightly odd plot-hole as well.
House of M

This exceptional event story-arc may be slightly hindered by the fact that at the end of ‘First Class’ Magneto isn’t old enough to have late teenage children, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing. Besides, some creative reimagining could sort that little stumbling block out: as I said in my Fantasy Characters article there is no reason why Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch couldn’t be introduced as new characters, unrelated to Magneto, with the magnetic villain merely taking up a paternal-like role in their lives.

However, wiping out 98% of the mutant population might not be the best step at this stage, and it certainly wouldn’t fit with the universe of Singer’s X-Men (since Cerebro clearly shows a lot of mutants still alive) without some re-writing. But the appeal here is of a Phoenix style unstable mutant threat, this time with the mentally unstable Scarlet Witch, who would test the relationship between humans and mutants even further. So perhaps this storyline would represent an even better prospect after the Civil Rights allegory is committed to film and that relationship appears to be heading towards a more positive position.
The Brotherhood Of Mutants

Following almost immediately on from the beach scene in which Magneto recruits his first mutants, the next installment of Vaughn’s film will probably focus on Magneto building a team, since at the minute he only has three great team-mates in the shape of Azazel, Emma Frost and Mystique (let’s be honest Angel is pretty weak, and Riptide was a filler, without a voice or a character). The fun part comes in suggesting who he will choose… perhaps Liev Schrieber’s Sabretooth?
The Rise of The Academy

A likely balancing aspect to the Brotherhood storyline, Xavier’s manifesto will no doubt include him growing his X-Men team, having already lost Magneto, Angel, Darwin and now Mystique from the team. This would also represent an opportunity to establish origin stories for Storm and perhaps Cyclops (presumably reimagined again as a younger sibling to Havok, and not his elder brother/father), while there now needs to be clarification on Jean Grey’s origin, given the murky narrative conflicts that have so far confused that story.

Again linked with a Civil Rights allegory, a storyline focused on Genosha, and ideally the liberation of the enslaved mutant nation from the dictator-like leader Genegineer would fit quite well. Both the X-Men and the Brotherhood could well be involved in trying to overthrow Genegineer, though with obviously different intentions. The resolution of the storyline would also offer Magneto a base, and at least partially, a realisation of his dream of mutant supremacy: thus also offering a pleasant cyclical counterpoint to Magneto’s own treatment at the hands of Sebastian Shaw and the Nazis.

And For If You Think It’s A Reboot:

Obviously all of the above work for a reboot as well, but the ones that follow here are only appropriate for Vaughn’s sequel if First Class was indeed a true reboot. So basically, what follows is material we have already seen (obviously handled differently than I’d suggest Vaughn and team would) – probably no where near as likely as the suggestions above, but you never can tell with new takes on any established property.
Astonishing X-Men: Gifted

The same storyline that formed the basis for The Last Stand, but was criminally badly executed: the award-winning “Gifted” run includes the discovery of a “cure” for mutant genes that appeals to Beast, due to the complete nature of his mutation, leading him to discover (along with the rest of the X-Men team) an illegal experimentation behind the cure, and a new threat in the shape of evil alien Ord.

Gifted deserves a film treatment like no other X-Men property, because of its rejuvenating effect on the comics in the hands of Joss Whedon, and because it was easily the stand-out story arc of a long time. The story would follow on from First Class quite easily, reinvestigating Beast’s unhappiness with his mutation, and his quest for a cure, while also introducing a key figure in the shape of Colossus, who was yet another victim of bad execution of Last Stand.
Building The New Team

Basically a collection of origin stories for the most recognisable figures from the X-Men teams, including those who we have already met in the “Original Trilogy” – again this is already trodden ground, but it would allow for the introduction of some of the better characters who have already appeared. This is particularly valuable for characters who were particularly badly handled in the original three movies – so I’m talking Angel (Warren Worthington III), Juggernaut (who has a much better origin story than the muscle bound silliness of Last Stand and Vinnie Jones) and to a certain extent Storm, who I always felt could have been done a lot better.

In essence this story would chart the development of the X-Men team from the current line-up at the end of First Class, to the new string already established at the start of X-Men, and intriguingly would also necessarily include some traumatic event that would split up, or even wipe-out the current members who aren’t around by the time Singer introduced Wolverine to the line-up.
The Dark Phoenix Saga

This is the point where I thumb my nose at the boss, editor Matt Holmes, who berated me on the choice a little after reading an early outline, due to the severe unlikeliness that Fox would retread this ground. But this being a Fantasy Options article, my argument is that any storylines that weren’t handled at all well are fair game. Plus the Dark Phoenix Saga is arguably the most famous of all X-Men extended story-arcs, and since the Phoenix has raised its head on multiple occasions there is no reason why a rebooted strand of the franchise couldn’t focus on a different part of the story, with a younger Jean Grey, in order to swerve too close proximity to the Last Stand version of events.

Plus, if Nolan’s Batman trilogy can find a new way of telling the Joker story and the upcoming Superman can reintroduce General Zod, there is clearly an established precedent that suggests Hollywood isn’t afraid to remould and retell stories.

So, there we have it: what do you think? Are there any other storylines that would work, or that you’d like to see brought to the screen? Let us know!

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