Friday, June 10, 2011

Reviewlet: X-men First Class

X-Men: First Class [Blu-ray]Watching the previews it's pretty amazing how many B-list super heroes movies are coming out this summer, Thor, Green Lantern, Captain America, etc. Always hanging out at the edge of my awareness growing up, but never enough for me to actually read a single issue. These are more surprising that the D-list heroes (Wanted, Kickass) that have popped up in past years that at least have indie cred.

But the A-list is still here, with the latest x-men installment which may be the best of the series, if not one of the best of the genre, at least in terms of art direction. I was eager to see it given the hype from friends and critics and impressively it lives up to high expectations.

It evoked two genres that never get evoked in super hero movies, the history channel war documentary (with its rendition of the Cuban missile crisis which was fun to watch after seeing the recent JFK biopic on the topic), and the recent genre of bad-ass Jew killing Nazies Holocaust revenge film which curiously is a popular sub-sub-genre these days (The movie also included a preview of The Debt).

But most notably it had the most savvy art direction of any super hero movie I have ever seen in a comic book movie, with the same attention to 60's detail as Mad Men, from the ever presence martini glasses, to the casual mysogeny. But also, the over the top Sean Connery James Bond / Dr Strangelove US and Soviet War Rooms, or the Austin Power style villain interiors, and montages. Most impressively, like the perennial problem of the super hero costume, it does all this with a wink, but without the Camp.

I also liked the ensemble case. Not quite the star power of the recent X-men franchise, but they all looked like they belonged in the time, perhaps because they starred in Mad Men. And James McEvoy really works reprising the dorky super-hero role he did so well in Wanted.

And of course it rewarded us X-men fanboys out there, by staying true to the original X-men themes of outsideness and persecution, the original 60's silliness and cold-war mentality, and throwing in plenty of inside references, and recurring throwaway characters.

Overall Grade: A
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