Wednesday, June 1, 2011

X-Men: First Class: Brainy blockbuster

Starring Michael Fassbender,James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon, January Jones, Jennifer Lawrence and Rose Byrne. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. 132 minutes. Opensmidnight June 2 at major theatres. PG
We interrupt this summer ofblah sequels and pointless remakes for some astonishing news. It turns out even cash cows can moointelligently.

X-Men: First Class is the welcome case in point, a blockbuster with brains. So much so, in fact, that newcomers to the X-Men saga might well be advised to do a little advance homework, or risk missing all the subtle connections and foreshadowing of things to come.

The movie is a reboot of a Marvel Comics franchise thathad worn out its welcome, to the point that even a 2009 prequel, X-Men Origins:Wolverine , felt like X-cess baggage. Maybe not at the box office, where sameness often sells, but certainly in the hearts and minds of many fans.

The new film, set mainly in the Cold War combustion of 1962, is the second prequel and numerically X-Men 5 , but it doesn’t feel like it. Director Matthew Vaughn brings similar freshness to this comic creation as he didto Kick-Ass , and manages to do so while hewing to the saga’s serious dramatic intent.

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