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X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class

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Movie Introduction & Synopsis: The Run Down 

X-Men: First Class provides an in-depth view of the origins of primary X-Men characters Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto), as well as Raven (Mystique) – and their relationships therein. The movie kicks off with a most foreboding introduction, taking place at a German concentration camp during the Holocaust. We see a young boy struggling as he’s taken away from his parents – when the guards shut the gates, he reaches his hands out and attempts to crush the gates with his fledgling electromagnetic-manipulation [1]  powers. Afterwards, he has a confrontation with a Nazi scientist (Dr. Schmidt) who kills his mother when he is unable to use his powers – this action fuels his rage and triggers his abilities, leading to him wrecking the Dr. Schmidt’s office, much to the man’s pleasure. From this point on, Erik is establish with a motive for revenge, and this single goal will drive him to make drastic decisions. In contrast, we are introduced to Charles, a respectable young boy born into a wealthy home. We begin to see his kind, benevolent character at his confrontation with Raven as she attempts to steal from his home. Instead of being angry, he welcomes her with joy and invites her to stay at his family’s luxurious home – glad to find another child with unusual abilities much like himself. All three characters grow older, developing their motives and values – we discover that Raven has grown self-conscious of her looks, with much internal conflict. She sees herself as a socially unacceptable monster, while Charles continually insists there is nothing wrong with her.

Even further on, Charles and Erik meet – forming an alliance and developing a brother-like bond as the movie continues. They differ dramatically in opinion, which ultimately determines the movie’s finale. Throughout the film, Charles attempts to persuade Erik to let go of his vengeful nature and rely on less hostile methods – his efforts prove futile. Raven, the originator of nicknames (she comes up with Magneto, Mystique, etc. MacTaggert, a female CIA operative, comes up with Prof. X), ultimately falls in love with Erik – locking in her future alliance with him. Much of the other characters are introduced when Charles and Erik join the mutant division of the CIA – together training for a seemingly imminent nuclear war.

The movie’s finale takes place during the Cuban Missile crisis where the X-Men team intercepts a rogue Russian ship controlled by Dr. Schmidt who has formed his own team of mutants. The two parties face off – Erik gives into his hatred and kills the doctor, Charles is indirectly shot by Erik, and the Russian and American militaries open fire their missiles upon the mutants (which Erik deflects). Once the “coast is clear,” and Schmidt’s mutants are without a leader, the two parties divide themselves into teams (to put it quite simply) – Erik, now Magneto, forms his team of Raven and Schmidt’s mutants, while the remainder stay loyal to Erik, and effectively serve him in future movies.

Character Analyses (TBU: To Be Updated)

  • Charles Xavier: TBW (To Be Written)
  • Erik Lehnsherr:  TBW
  • Raven: TBW
  • Dr. Schmidt: Doctor Schmidt is a man without morals who cares only about his own selfish ambitions. When a young, Jewish boy is presented before him with extraordinary powers (Erik Lehnsherr), he seeks to exploit his abilities and scientifically examine them. When Erik cannot activate his powers, Schmidt has two Nazi soldiers bring in the boy’s mother, only to be held at gunpoint. Schmidt counts down from five, threatening Erik that he will shoot his mother if he cannot demonstrate his powers before then. 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Erik tries desperately to use his powers, emotion and fear overwhelming him, yet his efforts are to no avail. Dr. Schmidt coldheartedly shoots Erik’s mother dead, then laughs as Erik’s anger triggers his powers. “Good, good!” he says. “We’re going to have a lot of fun together.” From the beginning, the doctor is set up as a merciless human being, and his qualities will transfer into Erik’s undeniable hatred.

Conclusion

X-Men: First Class is certainly a successful prequel – the cast was splendid, and I eventually overcame the initial surprise of having James McAvoy as Prof. X (instead of Mr. Tumnus from The Chronicles of Narnia). As a fan of the previous movies, I greatly enjoyed the nostalgic look back at the origins of many pivotal characters. If you haven’t seen the movie, though plan on seeing X-Men: First Class, I would advise against it. A friend of mine, who watched the movie as well, did not find the movie to be well-developed, having no prior introduction to the series. Watch the other movies first to gain a taste and feel for the series, then enjoy First Class with prior knowledge of it’s characters, not having to feel empty when the character development appears unfulfilling. From a family-Christian perspective, the movie has some very questionable content. One of the mutants was a stripper before joining the team, many of the female characters wear low-cut outfits, and there’s some evident sexual content. Many of the beliefs presented oppose those of Christianity, being Evolution-based in nature – thus removing the spiritual side of humanity.

X-Men: First Class Preliminary Review

Today it looks like I won’t have the time to post my full review. However, I can provide a snapshot of what I thought generally.

X-Men: First Class was a terrific addition to DC’s X-Men films, unveiling the shrouded origins of many key characters, most notably Mystique, Magneto, and Professor X. If you’ve watched the other films, you’ll find this one in particular to be a smashing success, possibly even providing long-term fans with a dose of nostalgia. Content-wise, the film should be reserved for teens +, as the PG-13 rating suggests, since the movie abounds in mature content (strippers, f-bomb, other cursing, violence, graphic nature of one scene, etc.)

More on my review tomorrow!

 

Films to Look Forward To: Up & Coming (Part I: Jan. – Jun. 2011)

2009 ESPN Zone Chicago Ultimate Couch Potato C...

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The last few years have shown a variety of great movies, yet what of future films? In no particular order, here’s a few movies you may want to check out when they come around to theaters:

  1. Like Hoodwinked? It certainly brought about a fresh perspective to the old tale of Red Riding Hood – and an entirely redone plot to boot. While not at the same level of DreamWorks, it certainly passed as a successful animated film.  Coming to theaters April 29th, 2011 (my birthday as well) is its sequel: Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil [1].
  2. Thorarguably one of the greatest super heroes in the Marvel Universe (although I remain an advocate for the Green Arrow) comes to theaters May 6, 2011, let the epic war of the worlds begin [2].
  3. If you’re a fan of this Disney series, you’ll certainly want to watch its next installment! Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides comes to theaters May 20, 2011 [3].
  4. Now who could forget DreamWorks Kung-Fu Panda? Or miss its sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom? Watch Po face off against one of his greatest challenges yet… an Emperor Peacock! Skadoosh-ing into theaters May 26, 2011. Somehow I’m not shaking in my boots, though its certain to be one of this year’s best family-comedies [4].
  5. Did someone say X-Men? Marvel is  on a one-track, no-stops, back-to-back movie release agenda, and X-Men: First Class is next in its line-up! Can’t pass by an origins movie, now can we? Be sure to see all the action June 3, 2011 [5]!
  6. The green guardian sweeps into theaters June 17th, 2011 [6]. Green Lantern appears to take on the traditional role of recent super hero movies, with a modern plot and perception twist in order to expand its audience not only to comic lovers, but to the general movie-goers as well. Whether the series will meet up to the Iron Man trilogy however, is yet to be seen.
  7. Jim Carry takes on the role of Mr. Popper in theaters June 17, 2011 [7] on Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Watching how this fun children’s novel meets modern cinema will be something to behold indeed, and with Mr. Carry at the forefront of the show, we may have some laughs as well.

Here we’ll have to cut the list short until tomorrow, which will list movies from July 2011, to late 2012. Be sure not to miss it!


Sherlock Holmes: The Movie, The Novel, the Legacy

Sherlock Holmes (2009 film)

Sherlock Holmes (2009 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Movie

Robert Downey Jr., who took on the role of Sherlock Holmes in the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes (2011 Release mentioned below) brought a fresh, yet book-based, approach to the famous character.

The character of Sherlock Holmes reprises his usual role of a queerly behaved gentlemen – yet with a more modern-day, block-buster movie approach. At the start of the film, we gain a greater glimpse at Sherlock’s finesse in the art of boxing, as he knocks his opponent out by outwitting him to the utmost extent.

Wikiquote-logo-no

Image via Wikipedia

“Head cocked to the left. Partial deafness in ear. First point of attack. Two: throat; paralyze vocal chords, stop scream. Three: got to be heavy drinker. Floating rib to the liver. Four: finally, drag in left leg, fist to patella. Summary prognosis: unconscious in ninety seconds, partial efficacy quarter of an hour at best. Full faculty recovery: unlikely.”

-Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) Formulating His Next Move. [Wikiquote]

The film certainly makes a full-fledged attempt to appeal to movie-goer’s as a whole, rather than your typical Sherlockian bookworm – especially with introducing the series most infamous villain, Prof. Moriarty, as the primary criminal mastermind before the end of the film. The plot however, is primarily centered around a man by the name of Lord Henry Blackwood – a supposed black arts master who is later proven to be, with his practice along with him, a mere gimmick – deduced by the one and only Sherlock Holmes. Various book-based plot details, such as the engagement (and eventual marriage) of Watson and Mary Morstan (which furthermore made for some humorous moments involving the usual oddities of Sherlock Holmes’s character).  Irene Adler also makes an appearance, playing a surprisingly large and fairly vital role in the development of the film – including a further established romance with Sherlock Holmes.

The film is quite suspenseful, and fairly well lives up to the general level of the same fascinating and most captivating mystery invoked by the novels of Sir Doyle.

As for the nitty-gritty technicalities of the matter – the film is rather gruesome in some moments, especially in it’s portrayal of murder sequences and the full-fledged graphic detail of a dead man’s decomposing corpse. In this, the film is certainly unfit for a child under the age of 13 – thus the rating of PG-13 (for thematic material including violence, disturbing images and a scene of suggestive material.)

Christian Aspects

For those Christian Sherlockians out there, some of  the films content may appear disturbing in more ways than one. Sherlock Holmes, most peculiarly, engages in a ritual of pentagrams and crosses, to discover a further aspect of Blackwood’s plan. The very man himself [Blackwood] is also cause for concern, for, as PluggedIn.com puts it:

Lord Blackwood isn’t just some well-moneyed madman with a yen for murder most foul. He’s actually portrayed as the devil’s loyal servant, and there’s even a suggestion he might be the spawn of Satan himself. His father confesses that the boy was conceived during a dark, pagan ritual, and that ‘death followed him wherever he went.’

Sherlock Holmes READ Poster with Jude Law and ...

Image by ALA staff via Flickr

The Literature

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing was [and still is], in short, genius innovation. He brought about one of the most famous literary characters in history – with an imagination beyond that of many mystery writers today. The unique character of Sherlock Holmes, with all his oddities and nearly inhuman faculties, produced a series that has endured over 123 years since it’s creation and into the modern day. It is still enjoyed by scholars, adults, and kids & teenagers alike.

The Upcoming 2011 Film

Sherlock Holmes 2 (December 16, 2011 [1]), with Robert Downey Junior reprising his role as the famous Holmes, promises much. Featuring the dynamic personalities of such characters as Mycroft Holmes (Stephen Fry), the intellectual twin of Sherlock Holmes (and his brother by blood),  and Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), the paradoxical entity of Sherlock, using his vast faculty for crime. Its very title seems to add an amount of intrigue to the movie, being Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – and what better than the introduction of Moriarty?

The AW Blog review is now available.

Th 2011 Novel: The House of Silk

Anthony Horowtiz – author of the famous Alex Rider series, and Power of Five novels, has been enlisted, for the first time in history, by the Conan Doyle Estate to write a new Sherlock Holmes novel. Mr. Horowitz has stated that he will stay true to the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, yet intends to place Sherlock Holmes in a new environment – the 21st Century. Look for it this September in a book store near you! [1]

-Adventure Writer's Blog: January 19th, 2011

The House of Silk has already arrived in bookstores, much to the delight of Sherlock fans across the globe. It certainly makes the mark, and many of the critics agree, but you’ll have to read it for yourself. Be sure to check out the Adventure Writer Blog’s preliminary, but detailed, review of the novel: available now!

Other 2011 Blockbusters

Dismayed by the lack of good movies? Well there’s plenty on their way (and now on DVD) in various genres, here’s just a few:

Kung-Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom (DVD [Comedy])

X-Men: First Class (DVD [Action/Adventure])

Green Lantern (June 17th, 2011 [Superhero Adventure])

-Transformers III: Dark of the Moon (July 1st, 2011 [Sci-Fi Action Film])

Captain America: The First Avenger (DVD [Superhero Adv.])

-Happy Feet (Nov. 28th, 2011 [Family Favorite])

Sherlock Holmes II (Dec. 16th, 2011 [Thrilling Classic])

-National Treasure III (Dec. 25th, 2011 [Captivating Historical Adventure])

Release Information from Wikipedia: Movie Release Dates.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Da...

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third installment of the TCON (The Chronicles of Narnia) movies released by Disney, Walden Media, & 20th Century Fox. The first movie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was a hit, making way for it’s sequel, Prince Caspian, which received a fair amount of positive and critical feedback from it’s fans. The latest film, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, seemed to promise much when I first came across the previews – a surge of excitement at finally being able to see the magic brought to life in another blockbuster film. However, was it successful?

Overview & Speculation:

Unlike my opinion with Prince Caspian, I believe The Dawn Treader is well accomplished. Although some areas of the movie differ from the book, I could recall a plethora of scenes that I remembered were in the book (when I read it sometime around 2004). The end even serves to make way for the next two books in the storyline, The Silver Chair and The Final Battle. Though the Final Battle will most likely be the only option, as it appears the Dawn Treader film has already taken many scenes from The Silver Chair.

The movie is filled with amazing effects, beautifully accomplished animation, all-around design, and a fitting cast. It returns with the same feel that was brought about by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, taking the audience back into the magic, wonder, adventure, and inspired genius that is the world of Narnia.

As for the basic storyline:

It has been a year since the events of Prince Caspian, and Edmond and Lucy find themselves in a terrible situation – as the war persists, they must live with their Aunt and Uncle… along with their cousin, Eustace Scrubb, who takes an immediate disliking to the Pevensie children and their Narnia non-sense, and finds no trouble, in his odious manner, in expressing his aversion. As in most stories as this, the boy is bound to become a believer. But how, one may ask? Why, being sucked into a painting! The room fills with the water, once a mere beauty to admire in the painting, now a torrent which violently tosses them back into a sudden reunion with Narnia, and onto one of their greatest adventures yet. Evil has shrouded the land of Narnia once again and Prince Caspian, accompanied by his royal castaways (Edmund and Lucy), must gather the Seven Swords of the Seven Lords (that’s a mouthful…) and set them on Aslan’s Table, which will vanquish the darkness if they succeed.

Many characters reappear from the previous movies, including one of my personal favorites: Reepicheep (beside my top favorite Aslan.)

It’s a terrific movie fit for the whole family – although there are some elements which may be unsuitable to younger audiences [Rated PG].

Religious Elements:

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader is rich in Christian elements and theology.

“I am,” said Aslan. “But there [in your world] I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

The name He speaks of is evident and beyond misconception, though some people may bring up controversy to attempt to establish otherwise. In the world of the Pevensie’s, and our world as well, His name is Jesus Christ – Savior of Humanity – The Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

If you liked this movie, be sure to check out…

In order of relevance, recomendation, and other factors…

Tron: Legacy [December 17, 2010]

Disney’s A Christmas Carol [Available on DVD]

Despicable Me [Available on DVD]

Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom [May 27, 2011]

Kung-Fu Panda [Available on DVD]

How to Train Your Dragon [Available on DVD]

Iron Man II [Available on DVD]

Iron Man III [May 3rd, 2013]

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World [August 19, 2011]

X-Men: First Class [June 3rd, 2011]

Captain America: The First Avenger [July 22nd, 2011]

Transformers III: The Dark of the Moon [July 1st, 2011]

Green Lantern [June 17th 2011]

Sherlock Holmes II (December 16th, 2011]

Ice Age: Continental Drift [July 13th, 2012]

From Wikipedia: Movie Release Dates.