‘X-Men’ is worth getting excited over
Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender star in “X-Men: First Class.”
- “X-Men: First Class”
★★★ 1⁄2 (out of four)
2011, Dir. Matthew Vaughn, U.S.,
- New films
Director: Martin Reynolds.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively.
The plot: When he's granted a mystical green ring that bestows
him with otherworldly powers, test pilot Hal Jordan becomes the
first human to earn membership into an intergalactic squadron
tasked with keeping peace within the universe. His mission: to
combat an enemy called Parallax, which threatens to destroy the
universe's balance of power.
Genre: Action, crime.
“Mr. Popper’s Penguins”
Director: Mark Waters.
Starring: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino.
The plot: After businessman Mr. Popper receives a penguin as a
gift, he soon finds himself the caretaker of five more of the
seabirds, and he subsequently changes his life and home to
accommodate his new charges.
- Film roundup
‘THE HANGOVER PART II’
★★★ (out of four)
I went into “The Hangover Part II” with the understanding that I
would be witnessing a cynical act of studio-sanctioned pandering,
and that’s exactly what I got. Yet, since I was going in with
lowered expectations, I was able to let my guard down and
appreciate this crass cash-grab on its own limited terms. And, lo
and behold, I had a good time. I suppose the importance of
creativity is diminished when one is faced with the prospect of a
drug-dealing capuchin monkey riding a motorcycle. Or a heterosexual
man being seduced by a Thai lady-boy, or any number of the other
lewd gags the film lays out with record speed.
‘PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER
★★★ (out of four)
You see, against all odds and despite what you may have heard
from basically everybody you’ve ever met, “Pirates of the
Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is not a bad film. It is not
aggressively stupid, as some have charged, nor is it woefully
boring. Its horridness will not inspire you to burn effigies, and
it is not among the worst films you will see this year. In fact, in
many respects, it is indistinguishable from the rest of the movies
in the series.
But that’s the problem. Uninspired, inert and listless on every
conceivable level, “On Stranger Tides” is perfectly content to
simply exist alongside its predecessors without setting itself
apart in any meaningful way. The result is a summer spectacle
without the spectacle. With nothing even remotely new or
interesting to offer audiences, the film just sits there, waiting
for you to be impressed simply by virtue of the fact that you are
watching a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.
In some ways, “Bridesmaids” is a breath of fresh air for
audiences who tire of the same old “chick flick” formula. Styling
itself after the gross-out/heartwarming comedies of filmmakers like
Judd Apatow and Todd Phillips, the movie attempts to tackle female
subjects with the crudeness and irreverence typically reserved for
the boys. The result is a raunch-fest that wears its heart on its
sleeve, and if you’re keeping track by counting laughs per minute,
“Bridesmaids” easily stands up to the best gross-out comedies of
the past few years.
Posted: Friday, June 10, 2011 9:32 am
We’re almost halfway through 2011, and so far this has got to be
the most mediocre year for film in recent memory. Thus far, we have
not seen many outright terrible movies — no more than in any other
year, anyway. But it seems like every week brings yet another film
that toes that uneasy line between the barely passable and the
outright unacceptable — movies like “Fast Five” and “Thor” and
“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” which are too
intermittently entertaining to be called “bad,” but too lethargic
and by-the-numbers to truly be worth your time and money.
It’s a privilege, then, to write about Matthew Vaughn’s
franchise “pre-boot,” “X-Men: First Class.” At last, here’s a
summer “event” movie worth getting excited about — one that thrills
its audience not by overloading them with sound and fury and chaos,
but by enveloping them in a solid story with interesting characters
and deliberate, carefully measured action sequences. The result is,
for my money, the best “X-Men” entry to date, and certainly the
best live-action spectacle we’ve seen this year.
Arts and Entertainment
Friday, June 10, 2011 9:32 am.