X-Men: First Class First Look

11-Feb-11 2:38 PM by
Filed under Trailers; Comments Off on X-Men: First Class First Look

Comic books have been adapted to film for decades, but it was Sony's adaptations of X-Men (2000) and Spider-Man (2002) that seems to have kicked off the popularity the genre is currently enjoying. Now everything under the sun is getting the silver screen treatment, with 2011 in particular experiencing a glut. This year's lineup includes Thor, Captain America, and Green Lantern, all of which have potential to be great summer blockbusters.

The X-Men? Not so much.

The trilogy that ended in 2006 is getting a prequel. Well, another prequel: we already got the cleverly named X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which told the, uh, origins of Wolverine. By contrast, on June 3, we'll see the beginnings of the leaders of the two tribes of mutants that waged war across that trilogy. Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr are set to become Professor X and Magneto in X-Men: First Class, directed by Matthew Vaughn.

As trailers go, this one is mediocre. The use of clips from the first film, without showing the actors' faces, is clever. Their new avatars are James McAvoy, who played Mr. Tumnus the faun in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Michael Fassbender, from Inglourious Basterds and Jonah Hex. The trailer doesn't show us enough of Kevin Bacon as villain Sebastian Shaw. I'm also not sure I remember any history books acknowledging the role mutants played in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Wanting more details, I checked out the film's official Web site, which disappointingly is simply a redirect to a Facebook fan page.

Although the original X-Men film showed only the first manifestation of Magneto's powers, we didn't see any of the intervening fifty-plus years in which he met Professor X then strayed from the path of justice. It's an interesting story — but with the four X-Men movies thus far being 50/50, I'm inclined to sit this one out.

(Hat tip to Erik Davis)

Alpha Wolverine

16-Dec-08 10:00 AM by
Filed under Trailers; 1 comment.

DC and Marvel are going gangbusters at adapting their comic book licenses to the silver screen. Of the two, Marvel has had more releases, and also more bombs. Though their debuts of the Spider-Man and X-Men franchises were financial and critical successes, I was less impressed with the third installments. So I'm not quite sure what to make of the upcoming X-Men spinoff that puts Hugh Jackman in the starring role he technically already had in the previous trilogy:

X-Men Origins: Wolverine comes out May 1st, 2009. Will you be in line?

Heroes for One Season

17-Oct-07 5:37 PM by
Filed under Television; 6 comments.

In the course of the last six days, I watched all 23 episodes composing the first season of Heroes. It was a perfect application of the DVD medium: uninterrupted, commercial-free broadcast of a continuous narrative with no waiting. It was difficult for me to ever turn the television off, as the story never disengaged its audience long enough to warrant such a break.

It's true that perhaps this series about ordinary people who discover they can do extraordinary things may be unoriginal; in comic book format, we've see similar powers in the X-Men, and on television, it's been done by The 4400. I'm not familiar enough with those efforts to say how Heroes stacks up, but I definitely enjoyed this particular take. I appreciated that it was set in a modern, everyday world, free of aliens and mysticism, while still incorporating the staples of science fiction, such as genetics, time travel, and samurai.

Having engorged myself on a half-year of story in less than a week, it's almost dizzying all the details and character development I've witnessed. (I usually hate it when bad guys turn good, as it leaves me with undirected angst — but they handled this one well.) Though I didn't find the depth and breadth hard to follow, I did think it unlikely that all these disparate threads would weave together. I'm willing to chalk it up to the "destiny" they were always talking about — even if all the secrets and misunderstandings between the characters sometimes made it seem like a soap opera.

There were so many characters that I felt their specialness was diminished by the frequency with which they met people like them; what are the odds that everyone in the Petrelli and Sanders families would empowered? (Must be genetic.) Yet I'll contradict myself by saying Mohinder was the least interesting character. Except as "guardian of the list", I don't feel he played a very important role in bringing the characters together or providing them with vital information. Though an interesting person, he was, in more ways than one, underpowered.

The tapestry of which he was a part was a rich one, and anyone looking to further explore its mythos need not look far. Many of the show's key people and places have their own Web sites, most notably Hiro's father documenting the legend of Tazeko Kensei. NBC has also produced nearly five dozen short comic books detailing the background and side events of the show, available for download as free PDFs. (Or pick them up as a single $30 hardcover this November 7th) I'll be consuming these shortly, as it probably won't be until this time next August that I'll get to watch season 2. That gives me a full year to contemplate the many questions with which the final episode left me:

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Fantastic Faux

26-Dec-06 11:15 PM by
Filed under Films; 6 comments.

And now the trailer for the next Fantastic Four film is up.

I know why I watch this stuff: after watching the best parts of a bomb excerpted into trailer form, I'm saved the time and money of watching the rest of the movie. Here, we have Johnny Storm chasing the T-1000, who has some pretty nifty powers but whose motivations are unclear. I'm happy for them to stay that way.

I saw the first Fantastic Four film at KansasFest 2005 as our annual geek field trip; other such titles have included Superman Returns, Terminator 3, X-Men, Planet of the Apes, and both Bourne films. Obviously, we've had both hits and misses. But based on past experience, I think we can safely rule out this Marvel flop as a likely candidate for KFest 2007.

It's a shame that Marvel's cinematic adaptations can't be more consistent, as they have great potential. I rewatched Spider-Man 2 today, and the original X-Men last week (more on that in a future post). So far, four-fifths of these two franchises are fantastic; but the other Marvel films I've seen, such as Daredevil and Hulk, were simply painful. I'll take my Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno DVD sets anyday.