REVIEW: X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Written by: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, & Matthew Vaughn
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Kevin Bacon

Following up his post-modern polarizer Kick-Ass, Matthew Vaughn has decided to make an actual superhero movie.  Not only that, but he also decides to make an origin story.  It’s hard not to doubt his sincerity, because he had such gleeful fun deconstructing the genre in his blood-splattered last feature.

X-Men: First Class is nowhere near as bleak and melancholy as the original two films directed by Bryan Singer.  It takes place in the 60s at the height of the Cold War, with its groovy suits and groovier language.  James McAvoy seems to be the only one equipped with that vocabulary, though.  Waltzing onto the university scene as a physics  professor who also takes shots in the bar with his students, this isn’t the dry, wheelchair-confined Professor Xavier that you’re used to.

Continue reading

Advertisements

REVIEW: Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: Zack Snyder & Steve Shibuya (screenplay)
Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, and Vanessa Hudgens

Remakes and graphic novel adaptations are Zack Snyder’s MO.  Lately though, with last year’s Legend of the Guardians and now Sucker Punch, he’s decided to take his over-stylized style off of the comic book page and map out novels or original material into his own wild odyssey.

Sucker Punch has Snyder’s name all over it from the get-go.  It begins with a violent slow-motion sequence of a young girl (Emily Browning) accidentally shooting her sister when she was aiming for her wicked stepfather and then being brought to a mental hospital where she will await her lobotomy.

Continue reading

REVIEW: The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau
Directed by: George Nolfi
Written by: George Nolfi (screenplay), Philip K. Dick (short story)
Starring: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, John Slattery, Anthony Mackie

Let’s get it out of the way early: this is the first good studio release of 2011.  Right out of the movie purgatory that is January and February is The Adjustment Bureau, a science fiction movie grounded in the real world, playing by its own bogus rules.  It’s got the blood of The Matrix rushing through it as well as the eerie atmosphere of a Roman Polanski film.

Another thing this movie has are two excellent star turns from its lead actors, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt as David and Elise.  As they flee God and his army of Mad Men-esque guardian angels (headed by none other than that show’s John Slattery), their blooming romance is totally palpable.  Their chemistry together is the movie’s biggest selling point and also one of it’s key strengths.

Continue reading

A Few Movie Facts: Matt

1.  I hated Pulp Fiction the first time I saw it, but for some reason watched it again a week later and loved it.  Now I watch movies I think are bad twice on occasion just to see if I’m missing out.  (Exception: Michael Bay movies or ones that are really bad.)

2. I saw The Dark Knight 7 times in the theater.  I’ve only watched it twice on DVD.

3. Like Luke, my favorite director is also Martin Scorsese.  The Coen Brothers and Francis Ford Coppola are close behind, though.

4. One movie that’s super acclaimed that I will never, ever watch is Bridge on the River Kwai. It just looks like something I could never sit through.

5.  Out of all the movies I’ve seen, I probably think about There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men more than any of them.  This is mostly because they are from the same year and thinking about one leads to the other, but also because they are two of the greatest movies made in the past 30 years.

6.  Brad Pitt is a good actor, but I really don’t like that many of his movies even though I’m a guy and I’m “supposed to.”

7. My two favorite actors are Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis.  If they ever did a movie together, the script wouldn’t even matter.

8. TV Shows like Mad Men and The Sopranos are better than 90% of the movies that come out these days.

9. I consider myself a huge movie buff, but I don’t want to sit around for hours and discuss the French New Wave or German Expressionism.  I’d rather watch the movies.

10.  My guilty pleasure movie is The Devil Wears Prada.  I know it doesn’t utilize anything revolutionary or tell a new kind of story, but come on.  Meryl Streep’s power to carry a movie has never been more prevalent.

BEST PICTURE NOMINEE: An Education

Image courtesy of New York Daily News

An Education
Directed by: Lone Scherfig
Written by: Nick Hornby (screenplay), Lynn Barber (memoir)
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, and Rosamund Pike

Warning: boring period piece this is not. Adults looking for a time capsule back to the early 60’s should stick to AMC’s Mad Men.  Though evoking that same atmosphere, An Education is a decidedly modern film, especially thematically, and that atmosphere will most likely be one that those growing up in the period don’t remember.

A wise-beyond-her-years 16 year old falls for an older man in pre-Beatles London. It sounds like a boring premise, but it couldn’t be more exciting, hilarious, and well-executed.  Director Lone Scherfig, working with an excellent adapted screenplay by Nick Hornby, makes sure of that.  Scherfig is yet another female director to emerge out of the 2009 renaissance.  Along with Kathryn Bigelow’s film, Scherfig’s movie is the best to come out of it so far.  Those at the top questioning whether or not female directors have the capability to do more than low-brow  romantic comedies should look here.

While Scherfig’s film is both romantic, and a comedy, it does not fall into either of these genres.  In a way it is anti-romantic, and the humor arises more naturally than the stupidly forced punchlines of The Proposal or The Ugly Truth.  Also unlike those two horrible films, it comes second to the character development, refusing to make caricatures out of its characters.

Newcomer Carey Mulligan gives  the greatest performance of 2009 as Jenny, pressured by her father (Alfred Molina) to go to Oxford and rebelling by having fun instead. Mulligan does the type of acting that many veteran actors still can’t do.  The raw, youthful nature of Jenny is perfectly captured.  She can say more with a look and the way she holds her cigarette than Sandra Bullock does during the whole movie in The Blind Side.

Continue reading