The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Movies

June 2, 2011

Review: 'First Class' a class act

Hollywood should pack it in for the summer. Move “Green Lantern” to December. Keep “Captain America” on ice. And don’t even think about unleashing the “Transformers.” It’s going to take a film on par with Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” to surpass Matthew Vaughn’s exhilarating “X-Men: First Class.”

BACKGROUND: The X-Men, a superhero team composed of individuals with powers created by genetic mutations, were created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. The team first appeared in “The X-Men #1” in September 1963.

The mutants made their first appearance on the big screen in 2000’s “X-Men,” directed by Bryan Singer. The film was a critical hit and earned a respectable box office of $296 million worldwide. “X2: X-Men United” arrived three years later, again under Singer’s guidance. Critics  heavily praised the film, and its take swelled to $407 million worldwide.

Fortunes began to change for the X-Men with 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand.” Singer was out. Vaughn was in. Then Vaughn was out, and Brett Ratner (“Rush Hour”) was in. The box office still gained, soaring to $459 million. However, the film’s mess of mutants soured many X-Men fans on the franchise and overwhelmed the typical moviegoer.

Things got no better with 2009’s critically panned “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” And this time it hurt at the box office. “Wolverine” fell more than $100 million worldwide, taking in just $373 million.

For the fifth film , Fox called upon Singer (producer) and Vaughn  (director) to reinvent and reinvigorate the X-Men franchise.

SYNOPSIS: Before Professor X and Magneto were archenemies, Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr were young men of the 1960s just discovering the depth of their unique powers and finding that there were others like them. When the world faces a threat unlike any it has seen before, Charles and Erik band together and, along with their new group of friends, take on the powerful force threatening to tear the globe apart. They are a team -- until a rift spurred by conflicting views of the world sends them down very different paths.

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