Monday, November 21, 2011

Class Act

Well, we are now members at the Video 21 video store in Tallahassee. It's on E. Lafayette, across Appalachee from Governer's Square, if you're in the neighborhood. It's connected to Craig's Killer Coffee and they share a common theme of love for [coffee]/[movies] in defiance to commercial consideration. I think we'll like getting our video from them.

Even though they have a bunch of rare cult Asian and other DVDs (and tapes!), we went right to the Recent Arrivals and rented X-Men: First Class. If you are not familiar with this, it is the X-Men prequel/reboot. Of course, if you aren't familiar with this, you probably aren't paying attention to the X-Men movies at all.

This movie takes us back to the 50s and early 60s, when Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) was a telepathic PhD and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) was a concentration camp survivor, searching for the man who killed his mother to  force him to develop his mutant powers (Kevin Bacon). They meet, bond, and start training a band of mutants to help the CIA battle the rogue mutants who want to use the Cuban missile crisis to start WWIII.

McAvoy plays Prof X with a full head of hair and pair of functioning legs. He is good, but I don't know if he really owns the role the way that Patrick Stewart did. Likewise Fassbender - he plays the proud, tortured, Magneto in civvies beautifully, but until he puts on the helmet, I don't get a real feel for him as Magneto.

On the other hand, Jennifer Lawrence looked great as Raven in civvies and all blue and prickly as Mystique. In this continuity, she is Xavier's more-or-less adopted sister, who only goes over to Magneto when she realizes that only he appreciates her in her true form. Which is the theme of the movie really - Mutant Pride vs. mutant assimilation. And it appears that Xavier is on the wrong side of the argument. He really is kind of a dick, making Magneto the good guy.

I saw a lot of comments about the great 60s feel of this movie, with its Mad Men and James Bond inspirations. Unfortunately, I don't think this came through very well. Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), for example, wears a bushy, bushy blonde hairdo that won't be popular in America for a decade, and evil mutant Alex Gonzalez looks like disco era Euro-trash.

Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy hits the right note with a Buddy Holly look. January Jones as Emma Frost also hits the Nancy Sinatra look dead on (anachronistic by a few years only). Unfortunately, she plays the role very stiffly, like she was a model and not a real actress. Maybe that hairstyle was slowing her down.

All in all, a very good entry in the X-Men series, if not quite what I could have hoped for. It suffered a little from the usual problem of having too many mutants who are just sketched-in extras, but that might be unavoidable. I'm not sure director Matthew Vaughn succeeded in putting an indelible stamp on the franchise, but he did entertain.

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