X-Men: First Class

The best news to hit the X-Men franchise in many years was that X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn had signed on to make the sequel, and that said sequel would take its inspiration from a classic X-Men story called “Days of Future Past.” For weeks we’ve been living in a bright and sunny paradise where the future of Fox’s X-Men movies looks very bright, indeed. But suddenly, thanks to news from the party-poopers over at Deadline Hollywood, things aren’t smelling quite so rosy. They were the first to report the news that Vaughn has now decided to drop out of the project to instead focus on another comic book adaptation for Fox based off of Mark Millar’s ‘Secret Service.’ This leaves the future of X-Men: Days of Future Past somewhat up in the air. And, if you’ll remember, the last time a successful X-Men director dropped out of the franchise he was helming, the results were Brett Ratner being brought in for the abysmal X-Men: The Last Stand. There isn’t a chance that something like that could happen again, is there?

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As most of us no doubt know, it’s hard enough just to live with yourself after committing a gruesome murder – let alone dealing with logistics of the body and police and all that jazz. Thank god the act itself can be done pretty easily these days – what with all the guns and knives and catapults we have access to. Of course the problem is that your victim is always going to see it coming when you’re wheeling out your homemade trebuchet, which is why the best weapon is the one that’s right under their noses. The moving pictures know this, and have given us some remarkable kills with very unremarkable items in the past… Oh also – be warned now, the following is pretty gross.

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One of the most enduring and well-liked storylines from Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s legendary run on the “Uncanny X-Men” comic book was known as ‘Days of Future Past.’ It introduced readers to a post-apocalyptic future (hilariously, 2013) where the Earth is controlled by giant robots, mutants are all either killed or locked up in internment camps, and only a small handful of rebels remain. These rebels, determining that all of this badness started with the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly by the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and his subsequent martyring by anti-mutant forces, send an older version of Kitty Pryde back to the present to warn the X-Men that they must stop the assassination at all costs. Basically, the story is a cross between Back to the Future and The Terminator, with super-powered mutants, and it’s one of the front-runners for coolest thing ever. So it’s super exciting to hear that Matthew Vaughn is apparently going to be using it as the inspiration for the sequel to his 2011 reboot of the X-Men franchise, X-Men: First Class. Confirmation of this news came from an interview IGN conducted with producer Bryan Singer. When asked what he could reveal about the First Class sequel, Singer dropped a bombshell by saying, “It’s going to be very ambitious. It’s called Days of Future Past, and it deals with aspects of that comic but also some very new things… I just don’t want to give any of it away. Matthew Vaughn will be directing […]

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Consider this a bit of serious Hollywood housekeeping after a long, boring holiday weekend. In quick succession, a bevy of release dates (some new, some moved) have been fired out of the Hollywood cannon and straight into Reject HQ eyeballs. Ouch, Hollywood, seriously, those are our eyes. After the break, check out a full round-up of today’s many (too many, really) release date shuffles and announcements, including dates for sequels to both Rise of the Planet of the Apes and X-Men: First Class, along with a new date for Thor 2 and a big move for The Lone Ranger, all rounded out by some fun assorted dates, like so much Fun Size candy of the calendar.

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X-Men: First Class ended up being the miracle of last summer. With the quick production schedule and the less-said-about-it-the-better X3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, who would’ve thought we’d get the best in the series yet? Well, we did. If you’ve seen the first three films of the franchise, you really don’t have to be an analytical comic book nerd to notice a few continuity problems. Or, if you want to look at it in a brighter and more logical light, it was Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and the brass at Fox starting anew. With Vaughn recently announced to helm the sequel to his poppy origin story, hopefully he’ll continue to build a new X-Men film universe. Who wouldn’t want to see characters like Gambit and Angel all finally given justice, and in the 1970s nonetheless? I would. Whether or not that’ll happen is still up in the air, but it seems plausible. Although Jane Goldman isn’t officially attatched to pen the sequel and she’s got plenty of other projects on her schedule, I couldn’t help but to discuss the potential of a sequel, as well as her plans for Nate Simpson‘s Nonyplayer:

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Last summer’s X-Men: First Class breathed some necessary life back into the superhero franchise, thanks to a stylistically cool film, an up-and-coming cast, and some generally energetic direction from Matthew Vaughn. While I don’t think anyone was particularly worried about Vaughn coming back to helm the film’s inevitable sequel, Deadline Warsaw has gone ahead and confirmed that Vaughn is indeed on to direct, with Bryan Singer back to produce. Their post also confirms that Simon Kinberg is set to script the film (news we’ve known about since November), which will likely be the film’s greatest hurdle, as Kinberg has yet to impress me with films like Jumper and the first Sherlock Holmes. Next up, he’s got two projects coming out that I cannot even remotely gather interest in – This Means War and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. He also helped script X-Men: The Last Stand, which was decidedly not good, but at least he has familiarity with his characters. Paired with Singer and Vaughn, who both have great affection for the franchise, this next X-Men could shake out just fine.

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Boiling Point

Way back in January of 2010 I crafted a list of ten things I figured I’d hate in the following year. I tried to predict my own hatred, which can be difficult. Hate is the most wily and evasive of emotions, prone to erupting without warning. I made a few safe choices on the list, a couple of generalizations, but there were some surprises. Hell, one of the things I thought I’d hate I loved, while a few never even made it to the surface. Anyway, let’s take a look back at my look forward and see how things panned out.

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Culture Warrior

Usually I’m quite cynical about end-of-year lists, as they demand a forced encapsulation of an arbitrary block of time that is not yet over into something simplified. I typically find end-of-year lists fun, but rarely useful. But 2011 is different. As Scott Tobias pointed out, while “quiet,” this was a surprisingly strong year for interesting and risk-taking films. What’s most interesting has been the variety: barely anything has emerged as a leading contender that tops either critics’ lists or dominates awards buzz. Quite honestly, at the end of 2010 I struggled to find compelling topics, trends, and events to define the year in cinema. The final days of 2011 brought a quite opposite struggle, for this year’s surprising glut of interesting and disparate films spoke to one another in a way that makes it difficult to isolate any of the year’s significant works. Arguments in the critical community actually led to insightful points as they addressed essential questions of what it means to be a filmgoer and a cinephile. Mainstream Hollywood machine-work and limited release arthouse fare defied expectations in several directions. New stars arose. Tired Hollywood rituals and ostensibly reliable technologies both met new breaking points. “2011” hangs over this year in cinema, and the interaction between the films – and the events and conversations that surrounded them – makes this year’s offerings particular to their time and subject to their context. This is what I took away from this surprising year:

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There were some supposed protagonists I loathed this year — everyone in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, that asshole narcissist Hal Jordan, the annoying Jack Sparrow — but there were plenty who showed honorable and, yes, badass traits. 2011 brought a few real American heroes (and from parts elsewhere), both in personality and actions. One doesn’t need superpowers or a gun to be a hero, but, as shown by a few choices I made, those simple good traits. And, even if one’s not the greatest of people, you can still be a great hero, as shown by the a*hole category that kicks off the list…

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The Holiday Gift Guide: DVD and Blu-ray

Merry Christmas movie/TV/goat-cheese lovers! As part of our week-long gift guide extravaganza thingamajig we’ve put together a list of Blu-rays, DVD and a few other ideas for you to use when shopping for others or for putting on your own Christmas list. Or both. Some of the films below are from years past, but they all hit Blu-ray and/or DVD this year so they totally count for this gift guide. Click on the links to be magically transported to Amazon, AmazonUK and other places where lovely things can be found.

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How bad do I want the sequel to X-Men: First Class to be called X-Men: Second Class? Not that much now that I really think about it, but there’s almost no way that would happen, so we’re in the clear. Who’s not in the clear – as in, he’s got a lot of work ahead of him – is Simon Kinberg, a producer on the first film who has now been hired to write the second. This is amidst his continuing work as writer, producer or both for This Means War, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium. His past credits sadly don’t include a lot of winners – Jumper, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Sherlock Holmes – but those films were all messy for different reasons, and it’s unclear whether the writing was really to blame on any of them. Still, they were messy. On the other hand, Kinberg also wrote the airtight Mr. and Mrs. Smith. In a way, this hiring seems to prove that Fox wants to keep some of the same tone of the original while making it a bit more commercial (keeping in mind that First Class has made $350m). Kinberg is the kind of writer who does solid, popular fiction that’s digestible for the masses, and with his previous experience with the characters (and as a producer on the original), he’s a strong choice for the job. Hopefully Fox and Kinberg both realize that First Class was so successful because it was good, […]

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It’s only appropriate that, on the same day two films born from the neon womb of the 80s release into theaters, we get an announcement regarding yet another project that’s cribbing straight from the glory days of side ponytails and slap bracelets. Or, rather, the high-flying times of being dangerous. For whatever reason (cough, money, cough), Paramount is going ahead with their Top Gun sequel, which we’re all going to call Top Gun 2 until someone finally announces that it’s called Top Gun: Living Life Between Your Legs or similar. The studio is now reportedly in negotiations with X-Men: First Class and Thor scribblers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz to pen this latest iteration of dudes gone wild. If you’re looking for a plot, don’t come sniffing around here, as Variety says that details are “nil,” as the script has not even been written yet. What, was there no treatment? Maybe a model fighter jet emblazoned with key words? A volleyball with character names on it? In any case, who knows what the heck this film is about and how it will tie back into the 1986 original or if it will just focus on dweebs in trailers playing glorified video games that control fighter jets (whatever Tony Scott said a few months back, I don’t quite see that aspect being the center of the new film).

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Drinking Games

Yeah, we realize that technically X-Men: First Class came out last Friday, but what’s the point of giving you a drinking game if you can’t actually play it. So this week, we’ve got enough drinking rules to bring out the mutant in you. Watch one of the better movies of this past summer and enjoy your favorite beverage. May we suggest a nice, cold German beer. Just be careful that pre-Magneto doesn’t show up and stab you in the hand while you’re drinking it.

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Labor Day marks the end of summer, and like every other year the online bitching and moaning about how bad of a summer it was at the movies has already begun. Twenty-one rejects got together for our bi-weekly bake sale/FSR office cleaning day, and we got to thinking. That’s just bullshit. Because there were actually some surprisingly solid and entertaining movies that hit theaters over the past four months. From comic book heroes that soared above the competition, to legendary directors who returned with their best work in decades, to R-rated comedies that made us wet ourselves, to prequels that proved going backwards can sometimes be a genius move, this summer offered up plenty of bang for the buck. So we each jotted down our five favorite films of the summer, assigned a point value to each rank (5 pts for 1st, 4 pts for 2nd, etc), and fed the raw data into our Commodore Vic-20 office computer. It finished processing eighteen hours later, and we ended up with the results below. So screw the haters… let’s embrace the movies that made us laugh, gasp, applaud, and sit up and take notice this past summer. Here are FSR’s Favorite Movies of Summer 2011!

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This Week in DVD

This is a pretty big week for DVD releases with plenty of titles worth buying and renting as well as a couple worth skipping completely. There’s no real common thread here aside from almost half of titles featured below being TV shows on DVD. The best of the bunch include the second and third seasons, respectively, of Community and Parks & Recreation, but other TV releases include the classic seventies series Police Story, the trippy Sigmund & the Sea Monsters, the piss poor Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, and more. But there are some great releases for film fans too including Hanna and X-Men First Class. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Rebirth The events of 9/11 affected all Americans in one way or another, but for many people the nightmare struck very close to home. Jim Whitaker’s documentary was almost a decade in the making and follows five of those people as they deal with the events across the years. Each year we revisit with a son who lost his mother, a woman who lost the love of her life, a man who lost his brother, another who lost his best friends, and a woman who suffered massive burns across her head and body. We see them descend into depression, struggle with survivor’s guilt, and hopefully emerge whole again. Everyone grieves differently, and this ultimately triumphant and redemptive film shows it as a necessary step when coping with tragedy. Time lapse […]

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Gwen is on a bit of a vacation this week, so I’m taking over writing duties for the one column on the site that forces us to ogle and think deeply at the same time. Hopefully I do it justice. Hopping into a cinematic time machine to set a film in a different decade is always a precarious occupation, but for X-Men: First Class (a movie that doesn’t seem exactly topical despite coming out two months ago), the danger of portraying the men and women of 1962 was even more difficult. Sure, Mad Men had come along and made the sleek chauvinism of the 60s chic again, but Matthew Vaughn and company had to juggle the suspension of disbelief inherent in spotlighting mutants alongside the possible cartoon that forms whenever a guy in a tight cummerbund slaps a woman on the ass and goes back to enjoying being white and male in America. So is X-Men: First Class anti-feminist or a sexy love note to the powerful women of our world? That’s a tough call. And since it’s a tough call, here’s an attempt at giving both arguments equal weight.

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The Reject Report

And around and around it goes. Kind of like the box office. It comes and goes, and sometimes you look around and wonder what exactly is changing? Well, the movies are getting bigger. The animation is getting slicker. And the sequels are starting to take over. They’ve even got PIXAR in their grubby claws this weekend. Cars 2 is the big Summer movie, the likeliest candidate to the the top spot, but where will it rank among the rest of Pixar’s slate? Does Bad Teacher have a shot at a big opening? Is Ryan Reynolds still flying around space or did he get eaten by the Super 8 monster? Okay, that last question probably won’t be broached, but we’ll hit on everything else in this week’s Reject Report.

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The Reject Report

In darkened theaters… In brightest lobbies… Yeah, I’m not finishing that. Instead I’m looking forward at what’s in those darkened theaters this weekend. We have Green Lantern. We have Mr. Popper’s Penguins. We also have the returning Super 8 looking to hold onto that nostalgia for one more weekend. One of these is sure to come out on top of the heap. The other two will be submerged into a vat of self-pity. Unless the winner is the penguin movie. Then all three films as well as American audiences should really take a hard look in the mirror and gauge their worth. But I’m not judging. It’s the Reject Report, and no evil shall escape our site. Lame.

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Culture Warrior

You’d be hard-pressed to find two filmmakers who are more wildly different than Woody Allen and Terrence Malick. One is a notably prolific and economic filmmaker who still releases one movie a year well into his senior years, while the other is a perfectionist who labors over his films and has thus far released, on average, barely more than one movie per decade. One has an unmistakable public persona, while the other is a notorious recluse. One makes films about life in a great city, while the other turns his lens to nature and the experience of the rural. One is as much an atheist as his characters, while the other is a spiritualist who searches for “God,” whatever that may be, through the lens of the camera. Allen and Malick are, in many ways, perfect opposites. But after watching the strong new work by each of these talented filmmakers this past weekend, it became apparent that, at least in the shared thematic preoccupations of Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Malick’s The Tree of Life, these two ostensibly dissimilar filmmakers may have more in common than meets the eye.

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The Reject Report

Oh, yeah. It’s a verb now. It’s not easy for anyone to open a period piece with no A-list names and the only brand loyalty coming in the form of its director and producer. It’s even difficult for J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, which would indicate why Super 8 underperformed in its opening weekend. Don’t get me wrong. $37m is a great opening. When you consider the sci-fi/family drama/coming of age story reportedly cost $50m, that $37m seems even more impressive. Analysts, myself included, were estimating in the $45-55m range, and much of that stemmed from Spielberg and Abrams, who is directing his first film that isn’t part of a large franchise with this one. We obviously overshot the estimate, but maybe some of us just wanted the film to perform better.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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