I’m just gonna be as blunt as a sideburned Logan here : “The Hangover 2” is shit; go see see “X-Men : First Class” – it’s the only place you’ll get good value for money outside of a grimy, pants-off asian brothel. In all seriousness, it really is – in fact, Matthew Vaughn’s reboot of the superhero saga is, inked origins and type aside, one of this year’s best films (well, as of this moment, anyway). “The Hangover 2”? I’ve had more fun with the odds and ends I pick off the bottom of my sneakers at the end of a wet day.
I remember going to the media screening of “X-Men” in 2000. Jac (the publicist then and now) handed me the press notes, my friend and I sat down… prepared to watch well, ‘something called the X-Men that doesn’t even feature Brian Mannix’ (A joke only my fellow countrymen will appreciate). Two hours later I was smiling – I’d just watched one of the funnest, slickest and most engrossing superhero movies since, er, um, let me think, er, “Superman : The Movie”!? Yeah.. probably “Superman”; “X-Men” was that good – and mucho credito to Bryan Singer.
Here was a smart comic book movie that put performances and plot before anything else (the sequel would too; the second sequel – not directed by Singer but Brett Ratner – would forget the fundamental reason critics and audiences loved these films and take a Canon films approach to the material). And to this day, that original “X-Men” remains one of the best films of it’s type – well, not even it’s type, but of the action/adventure movie genre.
“X-Men : First Class”, which comes some 11 years after the release of that original movie (which introduced most of you to little-known Aussie Hugh Jackman who would become the film series’ break-out star), embodies everything Singer’s original did and more – it’s fun, action-packed, marvelously performed (If the Academy weren’t so frigid they’d definitely be looking in the direction of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy’s direction; both are wonderful here.. a great double-act to boot) and best of all, equipped with a strangely relatable real-world story that’ll have 12 year olds and 80 year olds glued to their seats.
So why aren’t you out seeing it?
That’s the question Fox is asking this weekend with “First Class” making a tad less than it’s projected $60 million dollar opening. The film, which is receiving rave reviews across the board, is doing quite well… but it’s not making the kind of money that would have Tom Rothman over there at the studio enthusiastic for a sequel… and that’s a pity, because “First Class” reignites the fire in a film series whose fire had seemingly been extinguished just two years ago and sets up many an opportunity for some great storytelling.
“X-Men : First Class” made $21 million on it’s opening day and looks set to take home about $50m – give or two a few yen – by the end of the weekend; that’s good stuff, but not as much as the piss poor “Wolverine”, a weary spin-off of the original film starring Hugh Jackman, made – from memory, about $85-90 million – when it theatres a year or so back.
Some say it’s Fox’s piss-poor marketing campaign (obviously I’m saying that, too – those teaser posters; the tardy trailer campaign; the postponement of an official website; the lack of online access to the movie), others say it was the ’60s setting (“Um, Mummy – what the heck was a Cuban Missile Crisis!?”), while a few people I’ve spoken to said they weren’t as interested because the film didn’t feature ‘the original cast’ – Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen and so on… (Believe me when I say, the band of actors that have been rounded up here are just as fine if not finer proxies than the cast of the original; you may even find yourself a fan of ‘Ren from Footloose’ again).
“First Class” is the lowest opening for a Marvel movie in… well, quite some time; it really does not need to be saddled with the studio’s other underperformers “Elektra” and “The Punisher” because, quite simply, they stunk, this rocks.
I’m hoping “First Class” has legs and as the good word spreads and as more and more reviewers take to the social networks, blogs or websites – as such is the case here – to sing the film’s praises, it picks up steam, momentum and a few more greenbacks.
Want to see a great 2D blockbuster? (Yes, no glasses! Win!) – Hello!
Want to see masterful performers like James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne and Jennifer Lawrence doing what they do best? – Hello!
Want to get wrapped up in a story that’s doused in emotion, incidents one can [almost] relate to, and people you can ‘feel’ for? – Hello!
Want to see January Jones in sexy lingerie!? – Hello!
Want to see less remakes, fewer 3D movies and keep some of today’s craftiest filmmakers in work? – Hello!
I plead you guys, go see “X-Men : First Class” it’s one of the finest and funnest of times you’ll have at the cinema – and I don’t believe I’ve said that since “Frog Dreaming” with Henry Thomas (or not). So, Big words.
A few weeks back I went to “Scream 4”, the third sequel to one of my favourite horror films of the ’90s, and didn’t much enjoy it. I put it down to the fact that I was simply older now and no longer the target audience for such a film. But you know what, having enjoyed “X-Men : First Class” as much as “X-Men” – despite eleven years having passed since the latter – if not more, I’m now convinced it’s not so much to do with age as it is content. “Scream 4” just didn’t ‘bring it’ – not in the way these mutant sons of bitches do.
Let’s see “First Class” drink those ‘Hangover’ lads under the table next weekend, ay!?