Monday, July 11, 2011

Two Short Reviews: X-Men: First Class and Bad Teacher

X-Men: First Class

What a movie this is! This is the kind of film you get when you have a real director behind a decent script and a great ensemble cast. A film that gets all the action beats right, lets the actors shine, and ultimately gives a very satisfying, electrifying conclusion. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are great as Erik aka Magneto and Charles Xavier, respectively. Fassbender especially captures the inner turmoil of his character and you actually feel compelled to side with him by the end even though he becomes the eventual villain. It's too bad this film came out six years after Star Wars Revenge of the Sith... X-Men First Class shows you just how to turn a bad guy into a good guy without any embarrassment. Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, and Rose Byrne are also great in this film. Bacon is his usual slimy self whereas Lawrence and Rose Byrne both are able to hold their own with the rest of the strong cast. Overall, the film's plot is one of the most interesting and compelling ones that I can remember in a superhero film. This isn't just typical good vs. bad here, there's real conflict. The film is not without its faults, of course. A good number of the side characters are fun to watch just to see what types of powers they have, but ultimately, only about half of them are truly compelling. Plus, January Jones is quite disappointing in her betrayal of the White Queen. While she's pretty to look at, her character feels weak and underwritten. Still, the director Matthew Vaughn does a fantastic job here and the '60s setting really adds to the atmosphere of the film. This is the best of the summer superhero blockbuster crop, by far. Rating: 8.5/10

Bad Teacher

Though there seems to be a mixed reaction towards this film, at least with the critics, I actually found Bad Teacher to be a pretty funny film. It's fun to watch Cameron Diaz play a character with such low morals while Justin Timberlake, John Michael Higgins, and Jason Segel work very well with her. Segel has some of the film's funniest lines and he's unfortunately way underused in this film. However the film has enough jokes and is enough of a good time even when he's not on the screen. I really thought they could've gotten a better supporting actress than Phyllis Smith (of "The Office") who is just completely flat in this film and her character goes too far into the pathetic category to really enjoy. Also, Lucy Punch does an admirable job as the villain of the film, but the writers made her out to be way too cartoonish and one-dimensional. There was also a missed opportunity with the kids. Cameron Diaz is supposed to be a Bad Teacher and yet there's simply not enough interaction between her and the kids. Regardless of this, the good still manages to outweigh the bad and the writers create enough enjoyable moments in its 90 minute frame to keep you satisfied throughout. Overall, it's a pretty enjoyable flick. Rating: 7/10

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