Movie Review: X-Men: First Class [2011]

X-Men: First Class [2011]

X-Men: First Class [2011]
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama
Language: English
Country: USA

I feel obligated to admit right away that I am not much of an X-Men fan. I know very little about the series and its characters, and I have only seen the original 2000 film. It’s not that I am opposed to the series in any way, it’s just that I could never be bothered to dig into it. Until now.

X-Men: First Class is a prequel to the original movies, and it focuses on the origins of the groups led by Professor X and Magneto. This concept intrigued me quite a bit simply because it would tell me, a non-fan, how exactly everything came to be.

X-Men: First Class [2011]

The movie takes place predominantly in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. A young mind-reading Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets a fellow mutant, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), who shows him that he is not alone in the world. Their paths intersect with Erik Lensherr (aka Magneto, played by Michael Fassbender) who is on a revenge mission to kill the Nazi bastard (Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw) who murdered his mother. The two future leaders team up and recruit a bunch of other mutants including Dr. Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), Angel Salvadore (Zoë Kravitz) and Sean Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones) to take out Shaw and his small band of accomplices, the most noteworthy being Emma Frost (a terrible January Jones), who are now attempting to start World War III.

While the majority of the characters get their fair share of screen time, the bulk of the action is placed on Professor X and Magneto. McAvoy and Fassbender are more than up to the task for their roles, as they both deliver strong performances with impeccable chemistry together. The acting is generally pretty good all around, except for the aforementioned January Jones, whose only duty is seemingly to show off the movie’s required amount of cleavage. Jennifer Lawrence in particular is quite good as Raven, and she is certainly building momentum after last year’s brilliant performance in Winter’s Bone. I also enjoyed Rose Byrne’s role as a CIA agent who is working with the mutants.

X-Men: First Class [2011]

X-Men: First Class doesn’t have any major “holy shit” moments and relies more on dialogue than action, but it still moves at a brisk pace even considering its 132 minute run-time. I found the back story to be quite fascinating, and this movie has inspired me to continue delving into the series — something the 2000 film couldn’t even do. While I feel more could have been done with the film’s 1960s setting, it still made good use of the ongoing Cold War and offered an interesting fantasy alternative as to what really happened. As far as summer blockbusters go, this is one of the better ones to come out this year.

8/10

Movie Review: Bridesmaids [2011]

Bridesmaids [2011]

Bridesmaids [2011]
Director: Paul Feig
Genre: Comedy
Language: English
Country: USA

Is this the beginning of a new genre? The raunchy “Chick Flick”?

Bridesmaids is not your typical romantic comedy. In fact, to call it as such is a bit of a disservice. Many have compared this movie to The Hangover, which is a fair comparison, even if Bridesmaids doesn’t quite reach the level of the other’s Vegas shenanigans.

Kristen Wiig stars as Annie, the maid of honor for her best friend’s (Maya Rudolph as “Lillian”) upcoming wedding. While dealing with the stresses of this important role, Annie’s life starts to collapse all around her. She struggles to handle the possessive Helen (Rose Byrne), a bridesmaid who feels the need to take control of the pre-wedding events. She has issues with her job at a jewelry store, frequently scaring off customers with her “love is doomed” rantings. Her love life is in disarray; her current sleazy “boyfriend” (an uncredited Jon Hamm) is more of a self-labeled fuck buddy, and he treats her like shit. Annie is definitely a sad case, but damn if she isn’t funny as hell!

Bridesmaids [2011]

I have never been a huge Kristen Wiig fan. She is pretty much hit-or-miss for me, and I never really fell in love with anything she’s done. That has all changed with Bridesmaids. This is Wiig’s movie when all is said and done (she even co-wrote it), and she has some damn good comedic chops here. Her brand of physical comedy is hilarious, particularly during an elongated airplane scene in which she is unbelievably inebriated. Her timing is great, and she shows strong chemistry with her fellow women on screen, including a surprisingly hilarious dance-off with Maya Rudolph. I can really see this being the start of big things with Wiig.

The rest of the cast is great as well. The aforementioned Byrne excels as the wealthy rival of Annie. The other bridesmaids, played by Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper and Melissa McCarthy, all have their moments, but I thought McCarthy surprised the most. She is perhaps the most crude of the bunch, and she has some hilarious moments on the airplane ride with someone she suspects is an Air Marshal. In a movie dominated by women, Chris O’Dowd’s police officer character is really the only likable male to be found, and he is certain to charm the ladies.

Bridesmaids [2011]

While some traditional “Chick Flick” moments are in place, Bridesmaids does not hesitate to bring on the raunchiness. There are a lot of relentless sex jokes and vulgar language, and there is even a ridiculously over-the-top scene that involves excessive human excrement. Yeah, this movie goes there.

I could have done without some of the more slapstick sequences, but for the most part Bridesmaids is a hilarious romp from beginning to end. Consider me a Kristen Wiig fan from this point forward — I can’t wait to see what she does next. Guys, don’t be afraid to give this movie a shot. This is a lot of fun for both genders, no doubt.

8/10