X-Men First Class is terrific - more sophisticated and nuanced than I had ever hoped to expect. Wonderful script by a whole slew of people, and tight, focused direction by Brit Matthew Vaughn. Casting was superb and Kevin Bacon does his best work. January Jones steals most scenes she's in and the ever reliable James McAvoy  is perfectly cast as young Xavier. The swinging 60s element Vaughn and writers brought to the proceedings was a much-needed humorous and textural layer - evoking The Avengers television series with a wink to modern reinterpretation of the 60s a la Austin Powers. Characters I had always loathed or which bored me in the comics way back when were given new meaning and life. Bacon's Sebastian Shaw and Jones' Emma Frost to name but two. The whole Cuban Missile Crisis and Kennedy subplot remained, thankfully, well in the background and did not impinge upon the story of our characters. Fun to see Michael Ironside in a bit part - he and Kevin Bacon must have the most credits among living actors in Hollywood. Hated what they did with Havoc. What idiot Gen-X suit on the 20th Century lot decided they had to mess with his history and power?  Havoc is the younger brother of Cyclops, so the films will have to reconcile that somehow if they put Havoc in the current timeline X-Men series which is poised for more films according to producer Lauren Shuler Donner. They turned Havoc's way cool all-white plasma spheres into some dumb set of red-colored slicing energy discs. Havoc was always my favorite X-Man and you got none of the troubled kid energy from him in the film and the white plasma balls could have been so effectively portrayed the use of SOUND. Are there no Ben Burtt's anymore? 

Pirates of the Caribbean  On Stranger Tides was also terrific, my favorite of the film series. This one was a stand-alone story and more adult than the others. Johnny Depp held the camp perhaps too much in check this time around. Wonderful casting - Penelope Cruz is such a thankful respite from the over-earnest Keira Knightly, she nearly steals the film. Then the ingenue playing the mermaid gets her scenes and she steals the movie, then Ian McShane as Blackbeard steals the movie, and Jeffrey Rush steals just about every scene he's in (all that stealing, they are pirates after all). Fun, what a summer blockbuster should be.  The music, unfortunately, was a bore in both films. I'm noticing more and more that scores for these big films are becoming so much the same and without distinction. What happened to using culturally-identifiable instruments to evoke far off lands or surreal music to evoke surreal locales? 


Potiphar Breen said...

Haven't had a chance to go out to see much lately but your recommends are always copacetic with my way of thinking.

radii said...

Saw Green Lantern too, and I liked that ... don't know why it's gotten such negative and derisive reviews ... he was a boring comic book character and they made him halfway interesting in the movie and it is perfect summer blockbuster fare (and the best 3-D I've ever seen) ... the movie spent a lot of time on the backstory and off-world which helped a lot ... If you've ever seen Just Friends it is near impossible to watch Ryan Reynolds and not expect some comic hilarity at some point - he's almost making the transition to dramatic actor