Monday, June 6, 2011

Movie of the Week

This Week,


Starring- James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, January Jones

Thank the mutant gods for this solid reboot of the X-Men franchise. After the grave disappointments of X-Men 3 and Wolverine, the series gets back to its roots with an origin story that focuses on the early careers of Professor Xavier and Erik Lensherr (aka Magneto). The reason why this film is so much better than the last two installments, and much more like the first two, is because of the involvement of the great Bryan Singer, who supplied the story for First Class.

It is 1962, and amid the rising tension of the Cold War, the stories of many a young mutant are unfolding. A young telepathic professor named Charles Xavier (McAvoy) is being charged with helping the U.S. government hunt down a group of mutants led by the sinister Sebastian Shaw (Bacon). At the same time, a Holocaust survivor named Erik (Fassbender), who can manipulate metal, is hunting Shaw to avenge his mother. The two young men meet and join forces to form a mutant team that will help avert World War III. On this team are Xavier's "sister" Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence, a kid with a killer scream named Banshee, Cyclops' brother, Havoc, and the scientist turned Beast- Hank McCoy. Shaw is not without support, and boasts a team of dark mutants led by his own telepath, Emma Frost (Jones).

I don't wish to spoil this film, so I won't get too far into the plot, but let's just say that a lot of stuff that is alluded to in the earlier films gets explained and fleshed out here. The film is stylishly retro with a nice Mad Men/James Bondish feel to it. It also boasts strong acting with the Charles/Erik relationship, portrayed by McAvoy and Fassbender, as the centerpiece. It isn't hard to believe that those two turn into Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. Also, Kevin Bacon is a first class villain- no pun intended.

If you enjoy the X-Men, this film will shed new light on what is a very compelling comic book saga. It also draws on parallels from the Cold War and Civil Rights movement that enrich the plot. Mutants are the future, and it looks like a bright one for the franchise.

Things to watch for-

An old friend at the bar
The coin
The X plane
Xavier's "groovy" pick up lines

"A new species is being born. Help me guide it, shape it... lead it."

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