Friday, June 10, 2011

Ten Statements About....X-MEN FIRST CLASS (2011)

Michael Fassbinder proves this is his movie by looking coo'
even when wearing that silly helmet.
"Listen to me very carefully, my friend: Killing Shaw will not bring you peace."
"Peace was never an option."

1) I would pay full price at the theaters to watch a movie set in the late 50's featuring Michael Fassbinder's Magneto hunting down Nazi war criminals. Hell, I'd buy the DVD and the Blu-Ray (and I don't own a Blu-Ray). Fassbinder makes the character work, and those early scenes are probably my favorite moments in the movie. That being said...

2) We once again have an X-Men movie that isn't what it says on the tin. It's a Magneto movie just as the previous trilogy were Wolverine movies. Of the other characters, some of them (Charles, Mystique) only seem to get development in relation to who they are to him, and others--including two of my favorite X-Men of all time--are ciphers.

3) Even though they make all these references to the previous trilogy, it's better to just assume that this is taking place in some alternative universe. For that matter...once Sebastian Shaw escapes in his private submarine, I realized that the best way to treat this film was as the world's most insane 60's set James Bond pastiche. Once you accept that, the film works flawlessly.

"I have fantasies about Emma Peel.  I've met Diana Rigg.  You,
January, are no Emma Peel..."
4) Could somebody please find the mannequin warehouse January Jones escaped from and return her to it? I just don't get why so many men drool over her--she's not all that attractive, and she has this sucking black hole of anti-charisma that follows her wherever she goes. Her Emma Frost is so dreadful, she drags the film down every time she shows up. The only way I could escape from that black hole was picturing Rosamund Pike, who was originally cast as Frost, in Jones' place.

mmmmmm....Rosamund Pike....

5) You know--I have to admit that, for a movie that has as one of its themes racism, killing off one of its minority cast members and having the others be evil henchmen is kinda hinky.

6) I understand that a conscious decision was made to have Shaw's minions bear echos of Magneto's Brotherhood from the first film (just as Shaw bears echos of Magneto himself), which means that two of them are ciphers..but Azazel and Whirlwind/Riptide Guy aren't ciphers--they're just place settings.

7) Just as I think that Agent Coulson should be Jasper Sitwell, they really should have just gone all in and named Oliver Platt's Man In Black character Fred Duncan. That's who he was, after all.

James McAvoy, the world's first temple-based actor...
8) I give the script credit for not shrinking away from the fact that, as good as Charles Xavier's intentions are, he's a bit of a dick. He violates his own principles a number of times to achieve his goals--and that ultimately results in his losing both his oldest and closest friends.

9) Maybe it's because we get a chance to actually walk around inside her version's head, but I actually preferred Jennifer Lawrence's version of Mystique to Rebecca Rojin. And even little, maybe unintended touches like the Lawrence Mystique choosing to be more curvy than the super-models around her is...charming.

10) Maybe it's me, but the whole assault on the secret compound seemed like overkill to me, especially given how we've been led to believe that Shaw is more a manipulator than a brazen mastermind. And it makes the character turn for Zoe Kravitz' Angel seem off and abrupt. But then--as per my Second Statement, Angel is treated as little more than a cipher (better than Banshee and Havoc and Darwin, but not by much more), which might explain how arbitrary her character arc seems.

Overall...there are flaws here, not of the least of which is the fact that so many of these characters are blank slates. But it's still better than the third film's ham-fisted clusterfuck, and has a certain flavor of its own that makes it enjoyable.

It was back to the Atlas today...and the first time I paid $9.50 for a matinee. At least the staff is back to being the courteous, friendly people they used to be. Amongst the trailers was the surreal back-to-back of watching Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern followed by a reminder of why I can't stand him in The Change-Up; one for Mr. Popper's Penguins, which may be the first film with Carla Gugino in it I will never watch; one for Rise of The Planet of The Apes that killed what little enthusiasm I had for the project once I beheld those thoroughly awful CGI chimps; and--on the postive side--the absolutely mind-melting assault of a trailer for the David Fincher Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Of course, the absolute lowest point was that moment during The FirstLook where we were, ummmm, treated to a sneak peek of the Kevin James abomination Zoo-Keeper, further proof that if there is a higher power, he is very, very mad.

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