X-Men: First Class

The Reject Report

Imagine Brad Pitt standing on a desolate road holding a gun on director J.J. Abrams. Sitting in front of Abrams is the mystery box, that figurative enclosure in which Abrams stores the secrets of his latest project. Brad Pitt screams a phrase we haven’t heard him scream since 1995, and as Abrams reaches into the box to reveal what’s inside (hint: it’s not Gwyneth Paltrow’s head), a shot rings out. Abrams drops dead, but it isn’t Pitt’s gun that fired. It’s Judy Moody who is standing behind Pitt and who, as of now, is NOT having a bummer summer. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a lame story with a stupid ending. You try writing these intros out every week. Let’s get to the number, okay?

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news round-up that digs and digs and keeps on diggin’ until it finds the most interesting things from around the web. Tonight it’s pretty proud of its ability to find things that it thinks you’ll like. Do enjoy. Long after it was one of the most buzzed-about movies of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, even after packing promotional screenings at SXSW months later, Eli Craig’s horror comedy Tucker & Dale vs. Evil had no distributor. Whatever the reason, no one wanted to bring these two bumbling hillbillies to the dance. Well now that’s all history, as Magnolia Pictures has acquired it. According to their press release, they will release it into theaters on September 30, with a VOD release on August 26. Personally, I can’t wait to see it again.

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Culture Warrior

Themes of identity, difference, stigma, and othering are explicitly or implicitly present in much of the X-Men mythology, whether expressed through comics, television shows, or films. While I was never a devotee to the comics, as a fan of the 90s animated television series and (some of) the recent slate of Hollywood films (that have, as of this past weekend, effectively framed the continually dominant superhero blockbuster genre), I’ve always been fascinated by the series’ ability to take part in the language of social identity issues. Fantastic genres like horror and sci-fi have often provided an allegorical means of addressing social crises (vampire films as AIDS metaphor, zombie movie as conformist critique, or Dystopian sci-fi as technocratic critique, for example). The superhero genre has possessed a similar history in this capacity, even though it has thus far been mostly unrealized in the medium of film. As big entertainment, superhero films ranging from the first Spider-Man to the Iron Man films have bestowed narratives of exceptionalism and wish-fulfillment rather than shown any aspiration towards critique or insight. Perhaps The Dark Knight is most involved example of social critique thus far – a film that explores themes surrounding the personal toll on fighting terror and the overreaches of power that can result in the name of pursuing safety. What X-Men: First Class (almost) accomplishes is mining fully the allegorical territory made available by its fantastic premise in a way that few previous comic book films have.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a movie news round-up column that comes to you from deep space. It comes as a protector of all that is good and interesting in the movie news world. It also totally swoons over Michael Fassbender. Seriously, have you seen this guy act? He’s the man… man. As my good friend Rusty Gordon pointed out to me this evening, “this summer is already better than last summer,” and it’s just now June. With two-thirds of its movie releasing to go, Summer 2011 is already coming along great. With that, there’s plenty to still be excited about. Like Green Lantern, which continues to look cool as WB dumps a giant batch of photos on the web. So much detail, so much cool.

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The Reject Report

Could have been a B-. Maybe even a C+. The point being X-Men: First Class rose to a somewhat acceptable occasion, about what was expected. Especially by analysts who realized the film wasn’t being backed by Hugh Jackman, the first time in the franchise, and was comprised of an entirely new cast. Add into that mix the idea that X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine were both such colossal disappointments, and it seems X-Men: First Class did rather well despite all it has going against it. It still opened larger than 2000’s original X-Men, but the film still came in fourth among the franchise’s debuts.

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There aren’t very many good prequels out there. For the most part, what George Lucas hath wrought is a wide range of direct-to-DVD prequels of films we never liked in the first place. See The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior starring Randy “I’m a UFC Hall of Famer and I Have Cauliflower Ear” Couture if you don’t believe me. In fact, heading over to IMBD and looking up their list of prequels sends a Paul WS Anderson chill down your spine. There aren’t very many good entries, and some of the the ones that are passable – I’m looking at you, Temple of Doom – are barely prequels at all. So in honor of X-Men: First Class, a rare good prequel, I felt it necessary to run down a list. It’s a kind of guideline for future prequel-makers to follow – born from those who came before and succeeded. How can you craft a worthwhile prequel that doesn’t feel like it came right off the Hollywood assembly line? How can you make a story that creates interesting origin stories for characters that have already been established? Basically, how can you come up with a prequel idea that isn’t going to end up in Russell Mulcahy’s filmography? We love you, Russ. There can be only one. Those are some good questions. Here are some possible answers.

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The Reject Report

And I hope they’re teaching math. But this class is probably more about learning skills like flinging energy beams from your eyes or learning how to hone you telekinetic abilities. I kind of wish I had some of those right now. That way I’d know exactly how many audience members will be attending X-Men: First Class this weekend, and my numbers will be a bit more accurate than they were this time last week. Thanks a lot, Kung Fu Panda 2. Regardless, it seems pretty evident First Class will come in #1 this weekend, as it opens unopposed. That is, if you consider the gargantuan second weekend Hangover Part II is likely to have. Still, I’m sticking with my guns. First Class all the way, but its debut might not be as astonishing as some would hope. Let’s look into that more right now.

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Whether you’re trying to avoid the releases this week or augment them with even more movies, Your Alternate Box Office offers some options for movies that would play perfectly alongside of (or instead of) the stuff studios are shoving into the megaplex this weekend. This week features one major release that has blue naked women, a political subplot, and huge action set pieces. Avatar 2? No! It’s X-Men: First Class, and it’s a movie that demands to be double featured.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr brushes up on his world history by studying the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. He learns how multiple mutants were involved in not only escalating it but also trying to solve it. Surely an education by Hollywood will help him out when he takes his GED next month. After spending hours reflecting on January Jones’s boobs, he took the rest of the day trying to move things with his mind, which led to an emergency room visit after bursting a blood vessel from concentrating too hard. Thank god there was only one movie opening wide this weekend.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as TheManFromWaco andTeenWlf2 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the pair questions what separates the wheat from the shit when it comes to reboots, prequels and movies capitalizing on name recognition in order to get ahead in the marketing game. What makes a prequel great? How can a reboot really succeed?

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The initial announcement that Fox would forgo a third X-Men sequel in favor of a Muppet Babies-like reboot wasn’t met with much enthusiasm. A rushed production schedule, a director coming off the divisive Kick-Ass, and some highly suspect early marketing images didn’t help matters any, but now that the movie is actually here it can be judged on the only thing that matters… the movie itself. And goddamn is it great. Maybe even the best of the series…

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly thing about movie stuff. Tonight’s edition features mini-ninjas, talk about naked pictures of Blake Lively, Sly Stallone set to music, an explanation of who Jane Lynch is, a joke about Michael Bay, an even less funny joke about Blake Lively and a profile of Richard Ayoade. That and more, we assure you. Above you will see something I never thought we’d lead with in a Movie News After Dark entry: someone’s grave stone. But there it is, the resting place of actor Leslie Nielsen. Modest, simple and complete with one last fart joke for the road. Nielsen may not have lasted forever, but his penchant for the fart joke will forever stay in our hearts.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news round-up that’s a little tired, a little wired and it thinks it deserves a little appreciation around here! Alright, so that’s the insomnia talking. For now, lets just do the news like we always do, shall we? The headline photo of the night is a shot of two morons Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin in Adam Shankman’s Rock of Ages, a film that will combine major Hollywood names with an infamously terrible director and a slew of over-the-top musical numbers. It’s so ridiculous that it just might work. But probably not.

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Culture Warrior

Movies have a strange relationship with history, that’s for certain. On the one hand, they have the ability to bring to life, in spectacular detail, the intricate recreation of historical events. On the other hand, films can have a misleading and even potentially dangerous relationship with history, and can change the past for the benefit of storytelling or for political ends. And there’s always the option of using films to challenge traditional notions of history. Finally, many movies play with history through the benefit of cinema’s artifice. Arguably, it’s this last function that you see history function most often in relationship to mainstream Hollywood cinema. In playing with history, Hollywood rarely possesses a calculated political motive or a desire to recreate period detail. In seeking solely to entertain, Hollywood portrays the historical, but rarely history itself. Tom Shone of Slate has written an insightful piece about a unique presence of that historical mode all over the movies seeking to be this summer’s blockbusters. Citing X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Cowboys & Aliens as examples, Shone argues that this is an unusual movie summer in terms of the prominence of movies set in the past. However, while such a dense cropping of past-set films is unusual for this season, these movies don’t seem to be all that concerned with “the past” at all – at least, not in the way that we think.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news round-up that, for the time being, is keeping things brief. Memorial Day weekend is one that Hollywood generally takes off, so news is light. That said, there was plenty of discussion and artful expression happening all weekend that didn’t require us to sift through the virtual pages of The Hollywood Reporter. Read: there’s some cool stuff in tonight’s edition. The Times has a report that, for some of you, can’t come soon enough. 3D is fizzling and Hollywood is scared. The report focuses on the lopsided box office of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which took in far more dollars in 2D despite a major push in the other direction from Disney. Even Kung Fu Panda 2, an animated 3D family adventure, opened soft in the additional dimension. Perhaps this will prompt some changes to be made. It probably won’t, but a guy can dream.

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Erik Lensherr/Magneto mustn’t be the easiest of characters to jump into. Can you imagine being on set trying to look serious while throwing your hands around to make it seem as if you’re controlling metal? And, at the same time, while sporting a big cape and a purple helmet? Playing drama seriously – especially when wearing a potentially goofy outfit and doing unworldly things – can’t be easy. But, as Michael Fassbender says below, you just have to jump in and take chances. While many keep citing Fassbender’s take on Magneto in X-Men: First Class as being very Bond-esque, that doesn’t totally fit with how he describes the role. Yes, there’s a coolness factor to him, something that apparently sticks out even more when he’s hunting down Nazis in the film, but it was important for Fassbender to subtlety find a tragic anger to the future villain. Recently, I had the chance to speak briefly with Fassbender (whose résumé would already make some veteran actors jealous) about working on a control freak’s set, trying not to look goofy, and finding humanity in potential bastards.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that often sits around in its best lingerie a little too much. Like Emma Frost in the new X-Men film, it loves walking around in its skivvies. However, unlike Ms. Frost and her lovely attire, it does not receive a positive response. It’s okay, because this movie news column is not a real thing. It’s just an object. We begin tonight with a scantly glad, hollow-gazing January Jones lounging around in Matthew Vaughn’s uber-stylish X-Men: First Class. What I find interesting about Jones is that whether she’s about to turn into a woman with diamond-coated skin or she’s waiting for Don Draper to come home from a night of whoring around, it’s the same facial expression. That’s consistency.

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Variety has gotten its hands on the director shortlist for The Wolverine, and it, mostly, consists of fairly safe and obvious choices. But, like many of these lists, a great and head scratching question is posed: Does Hugh Jackman and company actually know what type of movie they want to make? When a list of favored directors features the likes of Mark Romanek and the director of Tokyo Drift, it boggles the mind. Here’s the apparent list of favored options that, per usual, you should take with a slight grain of salt:

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It’s tricky tackling a comic book film. For starters, one is generally adapting fairly fantastical ideas. Secondly, if a comic book film gets too serious, it can easily lose a sense of fun and self-awareness. Director Matthew Vaughn seems to have found a good middle ground for his superhero epic, X-Men: First Class. The genre favorite director could not have made more of a 180° turn from Kick-Ass to X-Men: First Class, both in terms of scope and his approach to the genre. Kick-Ass was the first – or most notable – modern comic book film to turn the genre on its bloody ear. Now, Vaughn is working in the genre he just previously deconstructed, which, as Vaughn says, makes him even better suited for it. Here’s what the candid and always confident Matthew Vaughn had to say about not taking comic book properties too seriously, making a film for his broadest audience ever, and reading fanboys on the internet.

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Official images have all been released, the trailers have been scrutinized, screenings of the completed film have been shown, and it’s getting to be about the end of the pre-release publicity party for Mathew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class. So what’s a 24-hour a day media cycle to do when looking for something else to talk about? Look ahead to the sequel of course! Luckily for all of us Vaughn recently sat down for a chat with Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny and let a couple of juicy nuggets slip about possible plans for a First Class sequel. Firstly, on the possibility of him doing such a thing, Vaughn said, “Yeah, definitely. I really loved working with them, and with Michael [Fassbender] and James [McAvoy], the chemistry was really lovely.” Of course, that’s pretty much what any director is going to say about a possible sequel to his upcoming, hopefully huge super hero movie. But Vaughn doesn’t just stop at saying everyone is wonderful and everyone got along great. He’s got some concrete plans about what he wants to do in a sequel. He continues, “I’ve got some ideas for the opening for the next film. I thought it would be fun to open with the Kennedy Assassination, and we reveal that the magic bullet was controlled by Magneto. That would explain the physics of it, and we see that he’s pissed off because Kennedy took all the credit for saving the world and mutants weren’t even mentioned. And we could go from there, and I’ve […]

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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