This is turning out to be a fantastic year for super hero movies. We have already seen a strong adaptation of Thor, and now we are treated to a prequel to X-Men.
X-Men: First Class is set in the 1960s and reveals not only the beginnings of Professor X and Magneto, but also the secret history of famous global events.
Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) are discovering their powers for the first time and the future enemies work together with other mutants to prevent nuclear Armageddon during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, Stardust), it also stars Rose Byrne, January Jones, Jennifer Lawrence and Kevin Bacon.
Although the marketing of the movie did not have me too excited for it, early reviews have been good to great, with Dark Horizons’ Garth Franklin calling it, “Not just the best film in the series, but the best adaptation of a Marvel comic title yet.”
Other reviewers are calling it a not just good superhero movie, but a good movie, period.
20th Century Fox already has plans to make this the first in a new trilogy, which seems likely if audiences discover it like critics have.
X-Men: First Class is rated PG with a warning of violence.
Since X-Men is the only new wide release in this season of big budget blockbusters, I wanted to write about a little sci-fi movie I happened upon called Monsters. Its synopsis had me intrigued.
It’s set after a NASA deep space probe crash lands in Mexico and spreads life forms throughout northern Mexico, leading to the quarantine of the area. While the U.S. and Mexican militaries battle to contain the creatures, a jaded American journalist must find his boss’ daughter and escort her through the quarantine zone and to the safety of the US border.
While it reminded me of a number of sci-fi classics from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds to District 9, it was by no means on par with them. However, what fascinated me about it was how good it was despite its low budget and how it was made. According to Wikipedia, it was made for under $500,000, shot with digital video cameras in Central America and Texas over three weeks. Many of the filming locations were used without prior permission and the extras were just people who happened to be there at the time.
Many scenes featuring non-actors were improvised and resulted in 100 hours of ad-libbed footage which was edited into a coherent film.
Most incredibly, the special effects were created with off-the-shelf computer software in the director’s bedroom.
While I wouldn’t give the film a four star review, it is an incredible achievement and has received positive notices from critics like Roger Ebert to filmmakers like Kevin Smith. Most importantly, it shows what young filmmakers can do with modern technology which gives both future Spielbergs and movie buffs like me hope for the future of the movie industry.
If you do watch Monsters and do not like the ending, I dare you to watch it again as you will understand it better.
Rick Davis is the manager of the Capitol Theatre in West Kelowna.