Tag Archive | "X-Men: First Class"

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Fox Moves X-MEN: FIRST CLASS Sequel Shoot To January 2013

Posted on 06 April 2012 by Rich Drees

Setting a film shooting schedule is like putting together a large puzzle with the actors’ schedules being the pieces and complicating things is the fact that those puzzle pieces are also being demanded for other people’s puzzles. Often there has to be some give and take in order to get everyone available in the planned production time frame, the kind we’re seeing between Twentieth Century Fox and Lionsgate for the services of Jennifer Lawrence in two of the studios’ popular franchises.

Fox has just announced that their sequel to last summer’s X-Men: First Class will start shooting next January, allowing star Jennifer Lawrence to work on Lionsgate Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire this fall.

Fox had originally been eying a fall start for their own film and since Fox had Lawrence under contract for First Class for several months before she was cast in Hunger Games, they probably could have exerted some pressure on Lionsgate to go first. Lionsgate, for their part, wanted to “hold” all of their actors for the project for a length of seven months, which could have pushed the start for the First Class sequel back even further. But the Hollywood Reporter states that “complaints by interested parties, including Fox” caused them to shorten that demand to a more typical length.

Given the runaway box office success that Lionsgate is having with The Hunger Games, the studio is understandably anxious to get Lawrence back on the screen as heroine Katniss as soon possible. The studio still has to make a deal with director to return for the sequel though I would imagine that they’ll be announcing something on that front soon.

Lawrence will return as the young shape-shifting mutant Mystique for Fox’s X-Men: First Class follow up, and will be rejoined by the original film’s Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. Director Matthew Vaughn is returning and Simon Kinberg is busily working on the screenplay. And don’t be surprised that her character might have a more prominent role in the ensemble film given her now higher box office cache.

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Vaughn, Cast Return For X-MEN: FIRST CLASS 2

Posted on 30 January 2012 by William Gatevackes

The Hollywood Reporter is announcing that 20th Century Fox has “closed deals” with director Matthew Vaughn his cast from X-Men: First Class to return for its sequel.

The 2011 film would be considered a disappointment if you just look at domestic grosses ($146,408,305 against a $160 million budget), but it more than made its money back overseas (to the tune of $207,215,819 more).

The report takes pains to point out that the two actors most likely to bolt from the franchise–Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence–have definitely signed on to return. Both expressed interest in reprising their roles from the first film in the past past, but Fassbender, who is just coming out of a year where he was in serious contention for an Oscar nomination, and Lawrence, who has a potentially lucrative franchise in The Hunger Games on deck, could just as easily decided to move on to other projects. It’s good to seem them back, especially Fassbender. I couldn’t see a sequel working without him as Magneto.

As to what the plot would be about, Vaughn spoke about what he would like from a sequel before the first film was even in theaters:

 “I’ve got some ideas for the opening for the next film.  I thought it would be fun to open with the Kennedy Assassination, and we reveal that the magic bullet was controlled by Magneto.  That would explain the physics of it, and we see that he’s pissed off because Kennedy took all the credit for saving the world and mutants weren’t even mentioned.  And we could go from there, and I’ve got some fun ideas about what other mutants to bring in.  I don’t want to tempt fate, though.  If the film’s a hit, of course I’d be interested.  I really enjoyed making it.”

Of course, not everything is rosy with the sequel. Simon Kinberg, who wrote the less than well received X-Men: Last Stand, will be writing the sequel, and one assumes that January Jones, the weakest link in the original cast, will also be returning as Emma Frost. I don’t know if I can stomach another film of her “acting.”

Check back for more news on this sequel as it becomes availiable.

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Oscar Nominations: Who Will Make The Cut?

Posted on 23 January 2012 by William Gatevackes

It’s that time of year again. Tomorrow, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the nominees for the 84st Annual Academy Awards.

Every year there are snubs and surprises, thrills and controversies. There is no way of knowing who will be nominated, especially in a year when the Best Picture nominees could be 5 films, or ten films, or any number in between.  We here at FilmBuffOnLine, who believe the day nominations are announced should be a National holiday, are going to try and handicap the process for you.

We will try to tell you, in the most non-committal way possible, who we think are Almost Certain to get a nomination, who Definite May Be nominated, and whose nomination is a Outside Shot in the major categories (the four acting categories, Best Director, and Best Picture). We are trying to cover all bases, but don’t come to us if you lose money on your Oscar Nomination pool.

Best Actor:

Almost Certain:

George Clooney, The Descendants; Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Definite Maybe:

Michael Fassbender, Jane Eyre, X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method or Shame; Leonardo DiCaprio, J Edgar; Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Outside Shot:

Demián Bichir, A Better Life; Ryan Gosling, Crazy, Stupid Love, Drive, or The Ides of March; Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Clooney and Dujardin have won the most hardware this year, which not only make them a lock to be nominated, but also likely one of them will be taking home the award.

Fassbender has been great in a lot of films (listing X-Men: First Class was a bit of a joke, he’ll most likely get the nod for Shame, but I think he gave an Oscar worthy performance in that film) so he is practically a lock for a nomination. The next two are about 50/50 of getting in. The Academy seems to have something against DiCaprio, and his performance as J. Edgar Hoover while not horrible (he got a lot of nods for other awards for it), was not amazing enough to overcome that film’s lackluster performance critically or financially. Brad Pitt eked out a couple of wins along the way (most notably, the New York and Boston critics), and while Moneyball was well received, I don’t see it as 100% Oscar material.

If DiCaprio and Pitt don’t get nominated, there are worthy choices waiting to take a spot. Bichir was great in a small film with a limited release that opened over the summer. These all work against him, but he is deserving of a nod. Gosling, like Fassbender, was great in a lot of films this year, and has been nominated before, but none of the films he was in seem to pass Oscar muster. Oldman was flat out amazing in Tinker Tailor, but his subtle performance might be lost on Oscar voters.

Best Actress

Almost Certain:

Viola Davis, The Help;  Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady; Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin; Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Definite Maybe:

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs

Outside Shot:

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist; Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene; Charlize Theron, Young Adult

On paper, this seems to be the category that seems to have the least wiggle room. Davis, Streep, Close, Swinton and Williams are all in the type of roles that Oscar voters seem to trip over giving nominations to. But in every round of nominations, there are bound to be surprises, and this category is ripe for one.

Bejo and Olsen have the best chance of breaking in, in my opinion. But Bejo is getting pushed for Best Supporting Actress instead of Lead, even though she essentially had a lead role. Olsen got good notices in her role, but suffers from the same “too early/too small handicap” that Bichir has. Theron has received nods for Best Actress in the Golden Globes (where there are nominations for comedy and drama) and the Critic’ Choice Awards (where there are six nominees). She has an Oscar pedigree, but Young Adult could very well be seen as less than Oscar worthy.

Best Supporting Actor:

Almost Certain:

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn; Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Definite Maybe:

Albert Brooks, Drive; Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Outside Shot:

Nick Nolte, Warrior; Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method; Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes or The Adventures of Tintin; Armie Hammer, J Edgar; Tom Hardy, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Plummer has won the Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice award Supporting Actor, making him a lock for an  Oscar nomination, if not the actual award. Branagh has been consistently nominated for his apt portrayal of Laurence Olivier, so he could get the nod as well. Slightly less certain but highly possible are nomination of two actors best known for comedy, Brooks and Hill, for playing against type. After that, place your bets. Will Nolte’s “sports mentor” role make the grade? Will Mortensen’s change of pace role as Sigmund Freud catch the Academy’s attention? Will the Academy make a statement and move towards the future by giving Serkis the nod for his superior motion-capture work? Does the Academy like J Edgar more than the critics and the general public do, thereby swing the nod to Hammer? Will Hardy represent Tinker Tailor‘s stellar cast with a nomination? Will it be another cast member? Or will the film be ignored?

Best Supporting Actress

Almost Certain:

Octavia Spencer, The Help; Bérénice Bejo, The Artist

Definite Maybe:

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Outside Shot:

Jessica Chastain, The Help or Take Shelter; Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs; Carey Mulligan, Shame; Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

What I said for Christopher Plummer above also applies to Spencer. The only chance Bejo doesn’t get nominated here is if she gets nominated for Best Actress. But that race is crowded so I think she’ll land here. She is deserving.

The only thing keeping me from making McCarthy almost certain is the Academy’s apparent hatred of the comedy. They do not like to give nominations from comedies, no matter how good the role or film is. This time, though, I think they’ll make an exception.

After that, pick two. Chastain and Woodley might have a slight advantage, but McTeer has a good chance and Mulligan could sneak in.

Best Director:

Almost Certain:

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist; Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Definite Maybe:

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris;  Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Outside Shot:

David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life; Bennett Miller, Moneyball; Steven Spielberg, War Horse or The Adventures of Tintin; Tate Taylor, The Help

Hazanavicius is definitely most deserving and Scorsese won the Golden Globe, so they should both be nominated. After that, Payne is almost a lock, as is Allen, due to the number of nominations they received. After that, well, ot depends. Fincher got a Directors Guild nomination, Malick has been on a lot of west coast critics awards list, which might be a barometer of how the Academy will go. Miller might ride the surprising accolades Moneyball is getting this award season with a nomination. And months ago, it looked like it wouldn’t be a question if Spielberg would be nominated, but for which film. Now, here he is, a long shot for any nomination at all. Weird. And Taylor has to be consider taking into account the number of great performance that came from that film.

Best Picture:

Almost Certain:

The Artist; The Descendants

Definite Maybe:

Hugo; The Help ; Midnight in Paris

Outside Chance:

The Tree of Life; War Horse; Moneyball; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; The Adventures of Tintin; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or just about any other film out there that has a miniscule amount of buzz.

Not having a definite number of nominees beforehand really plays havoc with the prognosticating business. I tried to pick out the five most likely films to get nominated, but with the possibility of five more, well, it could be any film of a certain stature.

So, what do you think? Am I on to something, or totally wrong? I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

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Simon Kinberg Working On X-MEN: FIRST CLASS Sequel Script

Posted on 04 November 2011 by Rich Drees

X-Men: First Class producer Simon Kinberg is currently writing a script for a sequel to the X-Men franchise prequel.

Given that the film made $350 million at the box office since it opened this past June, it should come as no surprise that the studio is looking to move forward on a follow up to the 1960s era, superhero film.

Although he served as a producer on X-Men: First Class and didn’t work on that film’s screenplay, Kinberg does have writing credits on Mr. & Mrs Smith, Jumper, Sherlock Holmes and the upcoming This Means War and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

It is way too early to know for sure, but it seems reasonable to assume that most of the first film’s cast including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, January Jones and Jennifer Lawrence will be back for a second adventure.

After the dismalness of X3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, First Class was a breath of fresh air for the franchise and I welcome a return to the historical setting for the superhero franchise. My only regret is that the first film seemed to have rushed a few storylines, perhaps not confident that there wouldn’t be a sequel in which those plot threads could have grown a bit more organically. Still, I think there is plenty of interesting directions that Kinberg can take the story.

Via Superhero Hype.

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Dissecting What Went Wrong With GREEN LANTERN

Posted on 29 June 2011 by FilmBuffOnline Staff

Superheroes are taking a beating this summer, and not just at the hands of their arch nemesis’s. In terms of tickets sales, Thor, X-Men: First Class and Green Lantern have all not quite measured up to the bar set by the likes of the Iron Man, Batman and Spider-Man films. But the one that has proved to be the greatest and perhaps most unexpected disappointment at the box office has been Warner Brothers’ Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds. In the ten days of its release it has barely cleared $120.5 million domestically and internationally as of June 27 (as per Box Office Mojo), not a good number when compared to its estimated production budget of $200 million.

FilmBuffOnline publisher Rich Drees and comic book film editor William Gatevackes got into a discussion as to what went wrong with the film. The conversation started with Gatevackes admitting that he had gone back to the theater to see the film for a second time.

Rich Drees – What brought you back for a second viewing?

William Gatevackes – My wife. She hadn’t seen it. I wanted to get her opinion on it. She liked it a bit better that I did, but admitted it could have been better.

RD – So did you see it in 2D or 3D? I saw it in 2D and was glad I did. The opening scene where the alien astronauts accidentally free Parallax was so dark and murky I’m afraid it would have looked terrible in 3D.

WG – I saw it in 2D as well. The shame of it is that the scene was pretty much designed for 3D. Filmmakers just haven’t got it that keeping scenes dark for CGI purposes and shooting scenes in 3D don’t go together.

RD – Well, Michael Bay has been making a big push to get Transformers: Dark Of The Moon shown properly in 3D, but that’s another topic. Putting aside the 3D, it seems that a lot of the reviews have bagged on the film for the amount of CGI used, but isn’t that the point of CG? To show things you couldn’t do any other way? And for the scope of a Green Lantern story, you are really going to need CG.

WG – For me, if anything there was too LITTLE CGI. The green light constructs were born for CGI. They don’t need that fine of definition, which CGI lacks, so they would look awesome in computer generated art. They should have included more. And when it comes to aliens in the Green Lantern mythos, it wouldn’t be cost-effective to create make-up effects for an alien that is only onscreen for ten minutes. Just the amount of time it would take wouldn’t make it worthwhile.

RD – So would say that the scope of the story was a problem? That it was just too big a story?

WG – My main problem, storywise, was with the lack of definition on several plot points. I would have liked the relationships between the characters developed more, especially between Hector Hammond and the other characters.

RD – I agree with you there. The film could have used about ten more minutes or so of character work. Also, I think I would have started the story on Earth and then gone to the scene where Parallax was freed. I think the way it is structured now it is too much of an infodump on non-comic fans. It’s a big, sprawling story and I think it needed to start small to allow the audience to connect.

WG – Another bad thing about the infodump at the beginning is the fact that much of the info is repeated later on in the movie. One of the best ways to lose an audience is to show them something after you told them something. And they have a perfect way to introduce that info – a new person from a new race joining the Corps. Hal could have been the audience’s representative, we would learn as he did.

RD – But at least all that info is out of the way if Warners definitely goes ahead with a sequel.

WG – Yeah, but in a way that killed the film critically and via word of mouth, which puts any sequel in jeopardy.

RD – Well, Warners is still considering it. If they do move forward, what advice would you give them?

WG – Wow. Where do I start? Show, don’t tell. Create an emotional bond between your characters and your audience. Hammond was a good villain, but would he have been better if we saw a reason why he’d give up on the human race? Why did Hal become a test pilot after watching his father die in an accident as a test pilot? That was something that would have strengthened the character. That’s the thing they need to fix for the sequel.

RD – Part of me wants them to pull back and do an Earth-bound story, but that would mean possibly ignoring the cliffhanger involving Sinestro.

WG – One of the things that bothered me about the comic was that most of the stories took place on Earth. That’s like being a beat cop who only patrols the street he lives on. If his beat is the Milky Way, logic dictated that most of his time should be spent off-planet. But that could be addressed in a number of ways. However, I still want to know why Sinestro put on the ring in the first place.

RD – I thought they covered that a bit when he argued with the Guardians for the need to forge a yellow ring? Still, I would have liked to see more of his “fall from grace” as it were.

WG – The argument was that they need to fight to fear with fear (which I didn’t think would work – Parallax “ate” fear to make himself stronger). Parallax ended up being cooked in the sun, so there was no need for Sinestro to put on the ring. Who was he going to fight with it?

RD – Good question. I’ll grant that it did seem like a fan service moment. Surprising, as there wasn’t too much of what I would call fan service in the film. I’m thinking of the scene in the early draft of the screenplay that had the ring bypass Clark Kent and Guy Gardner when Abin Sur sent it out to find a replacement.

WG – Yeah, and I was waiting for that too! But think of it, if Parallax was attacking an Earth that Superman was on, he’d be the one to take care of it. No cameos either, but that kind of made sense. John Broome and Gil Kane, the creators of this version of the character, are dead. Geoff Johns would be self-serving.

RD – I think that the only bit of fan service was Carol’s callsign of “Sapphire,” a nod to the character becoming the villain Star Sapphire later in the comics. Getting back to the script problems, I was surprised that we didn’t see Hal’s family again after that one scene.

WG – They served their purpose. They told the audience that Hal was trying too hard to be his dad (and set up the Hot Wheels track for use as a construct). After that, they weren’t needed. However, that bit of info would have been better if they had a longer scene with Hal and his dad that showed us that.

RD – But I think that showing the family in the third act would have given Hal a greater personal stake in his final conflict with Parallax. Besides, I think it’s bad scripting to introduce something like his family in the first act and not have them be part of a payoff in the third.

WG – Definitely. On a quasi-related minor note, that shot of the school bus full of kids at the climax in the line of Parallax’s attack is a sign of an ugly trend in films like this. Maybe this is just my being a parent talking but it seems whenever they want to sell the villain as a threat, they put kids in the line of fire. It’s cheap, manipulative and bad story telling.

RD – I’ll agree, but that can be traced back to Superman saving the bus load of kids on the Golden Gate Bridge in Superman: The Movie. (Side note – DC Entertainment’s Geoff Johns, who oversaw this film started off as a personal assistant to Superman: The Movie’s director Richard Donner.)

WG – But it’s been done more often in more blatant ways. There was no need for the bus to be there other than to put the kids in peril. Because, unlike Superman, Green Lantern wasn’t able to save everybody.

RD – I actually thought that how they showed Parallax “eat fear”/kill his victims was a bit on the strong side for a PG rated movie.

WG – That’s more on the MPAA than anyone else. You know how arbitrary they can be. Maybe they thought that because most of the victims were aliens it wouldn’t be that bad.

RD – Are you saying that the ratings board is racist towards non-human intelligence life forms?

WG – Hah! Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Now a question for you – Do you think the filmmakers went into this trying to make a great film or just not to screw things up?

RD – I don’t think anyone spending close to $200 million on a movie starts out with any other intention than to make a great movie. However, I think that in everybody’s mind was the specter of the Catwoman movie and more recently the fan reaction to the briefly mooted Green Lantern film that would have starred Jack Black and have been written y Robert Smiegel. Combine that with the studio’s need to launch a franchise to replace the Harry Potter income streams and it very quickly can become a case of “Don’t screw this up.”

But I’m wondering two things – 1) Did they pick too ambitious a hero to start a DC Comics film franchise with and 2) Are they trying to follow the Marvel Studio model too closely and will that prove a detriment? OK, that was three things.

WG – Don’t forget that Jonah Hex, a film with studio involvement that ruined it, was even fresher. This goes to answer #2, since the heavy hand of the studio changing the film to what they think audiences wasn’t didn’t work, following Marvel’s lead was a smart way to go. And answering #1, I belive that Green Lantern was an ideal choice to make a movie – if they made it correctly. A big part of the concept that was missing was the awe and grandeur aspect. This might be where following Marvel’s lead was bad. Marvel’s films lend themselves to be more grounded. DC’s comics are more about being mythic and bigger than life in nature. When you lead character is so blasé about meeting different alien races and travelling to alien planets, it ruins the awe aspect.

RD – true, there was no real feeling of awe. Hal seemed pretty nonchalant with the whole going to a different planet thing. But I was thinking of Marvel’s Kevin Feige and his philosophy of only asking the audience to accept one fantastic concept per film, i.e., a man can build a flying suit of armor. As much as I like the character of Green Lantern and its mythos, I’m wondering if perhaps they should have started with someone not quite so complicated, perhaps the Flash or Green Arrow, both of whom are currently being developed for their own films.

WG – Well, if not being complicated was the idea, Thor would not have been made. Asgardian gods, frost giants, evil half-brothers, hammers that control the weather is not all the much less complicated than space cops, evil forces, corrupted humans and wish granting rings. So I don’t think that Green Lantern being too complicated played a role.

RD – But with Thor, audiences had three movies to acclimate themselves to Marvel’s cinematic world. Green Lantern is a bit of a plunge into the deep end.

WG – Not really. Outside of SHIELD, there was nothing to really set up anything in Thor. It’s a big leap to go from altered humans and technological geniuses to a thunder god. Thor was different enough from what came before that it was still a struggle to overcome.

RD – Well, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this point.

WG – Yes, you ignorant slut.

RD – Hah! So any final thoughts?

WG – I know that I probably came out sounding like I absolutely HATED Green Lantern. I thought there was a lot of good there too. But the film should have been a slam dunk. And it wasn’t because of some bad choices. That’s frustrating.

RD – Well, all I’m hoping is that if Warners goes ahead with a sequel (and since I have trouble seeing them hit $150 million, let alone $200 million I doubt that they eventually will), I hope that they concentrate more on the story and remember the human element in the grand scheme of things.

WG – Ditto!

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What Happened With X-MEN: FIRST CLASS’S Box Office?

Posted on 07 June 2011 by Rich Drees

Although the X-Men films has always been a particular popular franchise for 20th Century Fox, this past weekend’s box office numbers for the new X-Men: First Class left many industry watchers scratching their heads. Sure a weekend gross of $55.1 million is nothing to sneeze at. That’s what the first X-Men movie made 11 years ago. But factor in over a decade of ticket price increases and the fact that the last films in the series, X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, did $102 million and $86 million respectively on their domestic opening weekend have left many to decry the numbers as “disappointing.”

Now we normally don’t do box office analysis here, but there was such online chatter about this, I wanted to toss in my two cents as well.

I think we first have to look at how “disappointing” this weekend’s ticket sales actually are.

X-Men: First Class also pulled an impressive $64 million in worldwide ticket sales. Impressive, as worldwide box office generally barely equal, let alone surpass, domestic ticket sales in an opening weekend. And the movie hasn’t opened in all territories yet.

We also have to take into account that X-Men: First Class was not released in 3D, which with its inflated ticket prices has accounted for a significant bump in box office for films released in the format over the last two years. So by comparison, First Class’s numbers are going to look a bit flat.

If we can use the last two X-Men films as a model, I think there isn’t much to worry about. Ultimately, Last Stand and Wolverine more than doubled their opening weekend box office take over the remainder of their theatrical runs. Combined with their foreign gross, they each more than doubled their announced production budgets. While I don’t think First Class will quite hit that mark, it should come within a couple million dollars of doing so.

And that’s not even factoring in the fact that First Class has been getting much better reviews than Last Stand and Wolverine, with an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to the other films’ 57% and 37%. If good reviews translates into good word-of-mouth, than First Class might have longer legs at the box office, significantly increasing its take.

But certainly, the domestic gross could have been higher, which leaves one asking “Why didn’t audiences turn out in greater numbers?”

There seems to be two separate schools of thought as to the answer why. The first fixes the blame squarely on Fox’s marketing campaign, while the second states that the film had no marketable stars for the campaign to capitalize upon. While many of the film’s leads certainly aren’t names with a strong marquee value, I would assert that director Matthew Vaughn’s casting choices aren’t the contributing factor to a poor box office result. The fault can only rest squarely on the shoulders of Fox’s lackluster attempt to sell the film.

The studio’s attitude towards X-Men: First Class has been puzzling from the beginning. They totally passed on advertising the film during the Super Bowl this past January, an event that in recent years has pretty much served as the launch pad for summer blockbuster marketing campaigns. There was the poster debacle in which Fox released some of the worst teaser posters ever. And as opening weekend drew closer, Fox did step up with the usual expected television campaign, but they supplemented with some rather stupid stunts, including skywriting the X-Men X-in-a-circle logo over some major cities.

Skywriting!? Seriously, that has to be the stupidest idea since someone thought to have The Last Action Hero painted on the side of a NASA rocket.

I just can’t buy that marketing wasn’t the fault for the film’s box office when it looks like it failed every step of the way. When your film’s villain is portrayed by Kevin Bacon, whom I don’t think that anyone would say that he is not a recognizable star, and people don’t know that he’s in the movie, it ironically hammers home the fact that Fox’s marketing failed utterly.

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Review: X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

Posted on 03 June 2011 by William Gatevackes

X-Men: First Class is a film that works on many levels. In some aspects, it might be the best X-film since X2: X-Men United (which isn’t saying much, I know). There are a lot of things they get right in the film and the stuff they get wrong aren’t fatal.

The film details not only the first class of mutant students trained by Professor Xavier (James McAvoy), but also the first meeting, eventually friendship, and breaking apart of Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a. Magneto (Michael Fassbender).

Set during the early 1960s when the Cold War was at its height and mutants were just discovering there were others out them like themselves, a mutant named Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) wants to jump start a nuclear war to rid the world of all those pesky humans so mutants like him can take over. He comes up with a great idea to do this–start the Cuban Missile Crisis. Xavier, who believes in peaceful coexistence with humans, wants to stop him. Lehnsherr, who doesn’t necessarily disagree with Shaw’s motives, wants him dead for an entirely different reason.

The main focus is the Xavier and Magneto storyline. It gets most of the attention and some fine acting from both McAvoy and Fassbender. Where the film excels is presenting the characters and the ideologies in a multidimensional light. You want  for Lehnsherr to get his vengeance but yet again are put off by his methods. Xavier’s longing for belonging is seen as admirable but also a bit demeaning to those mutants that do not really fit in. Neither point of view is presented as being wholly wrong or totally right. There are flaws and assets to both sides.

Mystique gets more screen time in this film than she has been in other installments, and, as played by Jennifer Lawrence, is more well rounded than the lackey she is presented as in the other films. Lawrence portrays Mystique as a woman whose blue skin has irreparably damaged her self esteem. So, she goes looking for this esteem in the men she meets, be it her adoptive brother (yes, you read that right) Xavier, the geeky Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) or, finally, Lehnsherr. Credit to Lawrence to bringing out the vulnerability in the character and making it believable.

Bacon hams it up just enough as Shaw to make his outlandish, Bond-worthy threat believable. January Jones as Emma Frost, however, performs her part as if she was a sorority sister with a headache. Emma Frost is one of the more complex and interesting characters in the comics, but you’d never know it from Jones’ somnambulistic performance. As for the rest of the cast, the mutants on the side of good are given enough challenges to overcome to have mini-character arcs but aren’t fleshed out much further, and the evil mutants follow in the long tradition of the franchise as being lackeys, nothing more, nothing less.

The film also features a lot of humor, a cameo or two, and a satisfying chunk of action to keep you entertained.

But all in all, the film is a good entry into the franchise. You will be left with questions afterwards about certain contradictions this film bring up in relation to the other films (most notably, how could there be a late 20s/early 30s Emma Frost here AND a teenage Emma Frost in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which is set decades later). But still, X-fans will have a satisfying franchise to follow until the present day  version of the mythos gets its act back together.

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New Releases: June 3

Posted on 03 June 2011 by William Gatevackes

1. X-Men: First Class (FOX, 3,641 Theaters, 132 Minutes, Rated PG-13): After the damage done to the franchise by Brett Ratner with X-Men: The Last Stand, you could see why Fox would want to hit the restart button. What they did was hit the rewind button.

Yes, the have taken the franchise back to the early 1960s, the days of Kennedy, the Cuban Missle Crisis, and pill box hats. Back to the early days of the Xavier School and the days when Charles Xavier and Magneto were friends.

Of course, there is a certain amount of interest in the concept–we all want to see how things begin and the destruction of a friendship is always captivating. The geek in me does have an issue with how this film messes with the timeline–if Beast was a teen in 1962, then he’d would have been in line for Social Security in Last Stand, not bounding around a battlefield–but it should be interesting to see how they portray the early part of the film X-mythos.

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The First Clip From X-MEN:FIRST CLASS

Posted on 12 May 2011 by Rich Drees

With its release just a few weeks away, Twentieth Century Fox has released the first full clip from X-Men: First Class. On the surface, a scene set in a boardroom may not sound like the best choice to get people excited about the film, but I think it does a good job of setting the mood of Cold War paranoia that we can expect from this Kennedy-era set film.

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Second X-MEN: FIRST CLASS International Trailer

Posted on 23 April 2011 by Rich Drees

Here’s the second international trailer for X-Men: First Class. It features a few new moments of mutant action, most specifically Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw. While it may look like he is getting blown up at the 1:01 minute mark of the trailer, any X-Men fan will tell you that Shaw has the ability to absorb kinetic energy, such as, say, a bomb blowing up in his face, and converting it to raw strength.

X-Men: First Class opens June 3.

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