Thursday, 9 June 2011

Quadruple Bill Mini (and Cine) Musings: June 2011...

X-Men: First Class:
The first two movies were good-and-great respectively, but the third (Last Stand) was cobbled together style over substance, and then Wolverine was decent fodder but it curiously lacked the depth of X1 and X2 ... and, odder still, it lacked the x-factor (if you'll excuse the pun). Now with this sort-of-reboot for the franchise, we're transported back to the era of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the birth of the X-Men themselves.

The script bounds along quite nicely, although at times it does feel a tad overloaded with characters - which results in the weaker side characters (Salvadore, Banshee, Darwin, Havok) falling into "don't care" territory as our primary focus (and that of the filmmakers) is the main cast of characters, at the heart of which are the young Professor X (Charles) and the young Magneto (Erik). The latter is played thoughtfully by Michael Fassbender, who is fast carving out a career as a quality mix between character actor and leading man. Indeed, it is the central duo (the other half charmingly played by James McAvoy) that provides the main thrust for the script with a growing schism between the two men and how the mutant/human relationship should be carried out.

The movie is most impressive when it is busy delving into the motivating experiences of the leads, and once again the best work in the movie in this respect comes from Fassbender, who really sinks his teeth into the seething want for vengeance possessed by his concentration camp survivor who, as we all know, goes on to become the revenge-fuelled Magneto. It's this superhero-version of the civil rights movement (or indeed any discrimination felt by many in our society) that makes the X-Men franchise stand out, and such deep concerns are key to this prequel.

I initially groaned at the idea of First Class, but down the line here (with smart direction from Matthew "Kick Ass" Vaughn), it makes a lot of sense. While X1 and X2 were probably just a bit better, First Class entirely blows Last Stand out of the stratosphere with ease, and easily beats the not-as-good-as-it-should-have-been Wolverine. In fact, you could go so far as to say it's up there with X1 - although X2 remains the pinnacle of the lot.

Foo Fighters: Back and Forth:
This revealing delve through the backstory and history of one of the most successful bands out there right now is a must-see for any Foo fan. The establishment, and early trials, of the band are of particular interest, in this involving and nicely put-together documentary.

Death At A Funeral:
Surprisingly, and yet curiously unsurprisingly, this apparent black comedy farce from Neil LaBute isn't remotely funny. A drugged-out James Marsden steals the movie, but that evidently wasn't much of a challenge in the first place. I found it dull and didn't connect with it one iota.

The Creature From The Black Lagoon:
One of the classic monster movies from the 1950s - a period filled with so-called B-Movies that were obsessed with science and abominations of nature. This must have been quite a treat when it originally came out in cinemas, and the Creature itself pleasingly remains a creepy vision to behold - not least because of that dead-eyed look as it breathes deep, creeping ever closer to its next victim. I really quite enjoyed it.

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