Looking at X-Men: First Class

As we look at X-Men: First Class today, we need to keep one thing in mind. I am a huge X-Men fiend. Ever since I viewed the cartoon in the ’90s, I’ve been following the stories of this Marvel team, and gobbling up anything that has to do with them.

With that in mind, we also need to be brutally honest. Ever since X-Men 1 & 2 came out in theaters, the franchise has been drifting. The first two films are generally recognized as a great effort to make things seem plausible and realistic, showcasing the mutants in different ways as they battle each other and the world.

The third film, although doing decent in theaters and getting OK ratings, is recognized as being as being a horrible cash-in by an unenthusiastic director and some of the snottier members of the cast. Wolverine, the 4th film, proved to be… well, stupid. It was a brainless exercise that gave us… nothing. Does anyone even remember it? (Besides with sighs of exasperation)

X- Men: First Class is seeking to remedy that. The movie is taking a chance, by going back to the time when the X-Men were first assembled, in the 60’s and showing a different range of characters. And everything is new.

Everything has been re imagined, from the outfits to the actors to the setting. This is a fresh start, using new people and direction and production values to make something great looking.

From everything that I’ve seen, this director is making an honest effort to stay true to source material, and to make a vibrant and dynamic film that makes the X-Men something special. By inserting the X-Men into the 60’s, the project not only changes up setting and gives us new characters, but it also gives them situations that require heoric people to step into.

If there was a fatal flaw with X3 and Wolverine, it was an abundance of pointless useless mutants that served as cannon fodder for the X-Men. The films were just composed of mutants punching and zapping each other and crying about it. X-Men has always been about the team working together to help the world.

By going with political strife in the 60’s the setting is something that actually concerns people. It’s a smart move overall.

The introduction of different characters that are not in the previous movies also gives people faces to discover. The relationship between Professor X and Magneto will also be fascinating at this point in their lives.

All in all, X-Men: First Class looks like it has the potential to be a breath of fresh air. It may just be the reinvention of the franchise we were looking for.

Flashpoint

Let’s look at Flashpoint today! I was recently introduced to the show, and I came in with low expectations. I pretty much expected it to be an NCIS/ CSI/ 24 clone of sorts, and I was dead wrong.

Flashpoint is about a SWAT team that is called in to handle incredibly dangerous and volatile situations. It is their job to handle these situations and resolve them in the best possible way. Using tactics and specialized gear, the trained officers approach and resolve a wide range of criminal situations while protecting the public.

The great thing about Flashpoint is the pacing and obvious attention to detail that is paid to the way that the team interacts with situations. In every situation, the police work is done with a careful and methodical way, using force only when absolutely necessary.

It’s obvious from the tactics and pacing that the producers of this show have retained some specialists that are able to add a level of reality to the proceedings that would otherwise be absent.

Additionally, the show tries to portray realistic situations, rather then stooping to some of the extremes seen in other TV situations. Common issues include domestic abuse, suicide attempts, and drug busts. Put simply, these are actually things that a SWAT team might encounter.

The action is good, and it actually mirrors tactics and scenarios that could possibly happen. Character interaction is also handled well, with the team being likable and complex at the same time.

Flashpoint is good. It’s about two steps away from being completely realistic, but the sense of realism and believability is always welcome in a spectrum that is chock full of mindless shooting. It’s in its third season now, and here’s to hoping for a few more to come.

Pirates Review

Righto! I’m gonna do a review of Pirates! I’m gonna try to stay neutral about the whole thing, staying on a pragmatic note.

This is because Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was good… but not great. While the scenery was beautiful and there were some genuinely funny moments, it didn’t really blow me away.

Part of it had to do with the presentation of all of the elements, and the characters in general. While Johnny Depp is always lovable as Jack Sparrow, the story lagged and kind of dragged a bit. Also, the introduction of a mermaid and a missionary as characters was kind of weird, since there was little story focused around them.

Like much of the elements of the film, these characters were just… there. While the shashbuckling parts were good and the settings were great, other random elements just kind of existed without reason.

Off the top of my head, I can list zombies, the mermaid and the missionary, Blackbeard’s powers and ship, and Jack Sparrow’s new sidekick as elements that were added, then just kind of hung out for a while. Better integration would have been nice.

It bears repeating that Johnny Depp was of course delightful as the incorrigible Jack Sparrow. It’s always a treat to see him ambling around.

To be fair, the movie lost a good chunk of the cast and got a new director. It was a faithful attempt to keep everything feeling the same, and the effort was a good one. The general rhythm that we’ve come to expect was followed well, and the ever welcome music by Hans Zimmer was present as well to get us all in a good mood.

All in all, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was… decently good… I guess. Viewed as it’s own film, it was silly fun.

I dunno. It’s entirely possible that we’ve all become so saturated with the premise that we no longer find it all magical. It’s also possible that there is too much of a good thing, and that the crazy expectations that we all have for Pirates are all kind of unrealistic.

In either case, Pirates has already grossed enough money to justify making another one. But, I don’t know if it all is sustainable. It just doesn’t click like it used. However, the film deserves extra points for not featuring Orlando Bloom’s whining and Kiera Knightley’s shrieking, so it kind of balances out.

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