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Edinburgh Film Festival 2011/ Take 4

Day 4

The Last Circus (Balada triste de trompeta) **

Director Alex de la Inglesia/ 107 mins 

It is hardly surprising that this Tarantino inspired romantic horror won the best director and screenplay prizes at the Venice Film Festival, especially when the man himself was on the jury.

In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War,  a “Happy” circus clown is interrupted mid-performance and is recruited by a militia. e is given a machete and single handedly massacres an entire army. The clown is eventually killed and his son escapes.

Then in  1973 at end of the Franco’s regime,  Javier, the son of the clown, takes on the role of the Sad Clown. He finds work in a circus, but finds himself in trouble by falling for the abusive Happy Clown Sergio’s girlfriend, Natalia. Will Javier win her heart or is it the biggest mistake he has made in his life?

The film is an absolute mess from beginning to end, going through a number of different developments through the duration. It starts off as a war film, then a love story, a revenge tale and finally ends up being this weird crossover that is best described as Falling Down meets Phantom of the Opera.

Who we are supposed to feel sympathy for remains uncertain, as all the characters are unlikeable. The cartoon violence is over the top and is just too overwhelming. The film is well shot and the overall look of the film is impressive, it is just a shame that they overlooked substance to an overblown concoction.

 

Albatross ***

Director Niall MacCormick/ 88 mins 

An interesting and amusing coming of age love story Niall McCormick’s movie is one of the most anticipated debuts in the film festival.

 

A would-be writer Emelia (Jessica Brown Findlay) takes a job as a cleaner in a seaside hotel owned by frustrated writer Jonathan (Sebastian Koch) and his family. She befriends his daughter, Beth (Felicity Jones), but she becomes involved with the father,  while dealing with her personal family problems.

 

The script by new screenwriter Tamzin Rafn is fairly well written, the narrative is well paced and has some great dialogue. Where the problem lies is the under development of the minor characters within the story. Julia Ormond’s mother figure seems to be on there to look moody and doesn’t really bring anything to the story. While it would have been also nice to see more of Emilia’s relationship with her grandparents. 

 

Where the film excels in particular is with the performances, especially from Jessica Brown Findlay who practically steals every scene she is in from her co stars. The film also has a great soundtrack from Frightened Rabbit to The Editors.

 

This may not be a great British film, but the performances alone make this an unforgettable, charming cinematic experience.

 

Jack Goes Boating ***

Director Philip Seymour Hoffman/ 90 mins 

After acting in 50 movies, Philip Seymour Hoffman makes the leap into trying his hand behind the camera with a film based on an off Broadway play.

 

Jack (Hoffman) is a shy limo driver with a fondness for pot and reggae music. He meets Connie (Amy Ryan) for a blind date set up by Connie’s co-worker Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega), who is also married to Jack’s best friend Clyde (John Ortiz). As the couple begin their relationship, Clyde and Lucy’s marriage starts to dissolve due to an incident from their past. While Clyde gives Jack swimming lessons so that he can take Connie on her dream date, a boating trip on the lake. 

Hoffman has made a well executed if rather pedestrian first attempt into directing. The camera never really moves, it remains static throughout. The only sense of movement comes with the transition of effect shots that feature in a few of the scenes.

The performances by everyone in the piece are really great. The scenes involving the breakdown of Lucy and Clyde’s relationship are intense, moving and incredibly powerful.

The film overall feels as if it would have been better if it remained as play, it is more of a personal experience as a piece of cinema though it sinks rather than swims.  

Reviews by Paul Logan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edinburgh Film Festival 2011/ Take 3

Day 3

Arriety (Kari-gurashi no Arietti) ***

Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi/ 94 mins 

A delicate animation in the familiar Studio Ghibli style, this for me was a much better interpretation of a favourite childhood book than the earlier Howl’s Moving Castle.

 

The story will be familiar to many, a coming of age for the main character Arriety and the development of her friendship with a large ‘human bean’, which contravenes with the rules governing the Borrowers’ existence. They face the dangers posed by cats, crows and a housekeeper who has the local extermination firm on call. 

 

Although mildly adapted, the film keeps true to the book’s spirit, and is a rewarding alternative to the more hectic mainstream animation from America.

 

The visual style is charming, with good attention to detail. The water droplets as they pour from a tiny teapot into an equally tiny cup are large globules, remind you that the Borrowers exist on a minuscule scale. The world that the borrowers live in is richly detailed, made up of cunningly artifice debris. The larger world is less colourful, reflecting in part the illness hanging over the young boy who befriends the Borrowers.

 

The sound made the film a success for me, as the smaller world was rich in close-up detail, a closed in acoustic set focuses on the small scale. In comparison, the human world was more resonant, with deeper hums and bass elements reinforcing the sense of danger for the small borrowers.

 

The film as it stands feels quite slow for audiences who come accustomed now to witty and action packed Toy Story and Shrek. The time is taken to develop the characters of the Borrowers and move the plot along slowly but inexorably. I appreciated the care being taken, but have some doubts that a young audience will keep still long enough to follow it.

 

 

While the festival programme lists an American voice cast, but Arriety is being shown with the original Japanese voices and English subtitles.

 

Reviewed by Andy Connor

 

 

Project Nim *****

Director James Marsh/ 93 mins 

Documentarian James Marsh follows his Oscar winning Man On Wire with an unusual fascinating story. The movie follows the life of a chimpanzee, Nim Chimpsky who after being raised by a human family was used in experimental research project in the 70’s into chimpanzees’ communicative skills through the use of sign-language.

 

Marsh uses the same techniques he used for his previous film, with a mixture of archive footage, new one to one interviews with everyone concerned with the project and also recreations of specific scenes. By giving a variety of different people and sources, the audience is given different points of view. 

 

It is hard to imagine if anyone by the end of the film will come to the conclusion that everything that the scientists did was done in good faith. In fact apart from a few of the researchers, the humans involved come across as very naive and incredibly stupid. 

 

There is a mixture of good and bad things that happened to Nim shown within the film. We see him playing with the family and scientists and generally having fun. But it also goes into the dark and violent side of Nim’s life and personality. Ultimately the only individual really harmed by the whole experiment both emotionally and physically is Nim himself. 

 

It is worth noting that some cinemagoers who are easily distressed, may find the animal research scenes very hard to watch.  

 

An astonishing film that will pull so many heart strings in different ways. This is a more compelling and effective documentary than Man On Wire.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edinburgh Film Festival 2011/ Take 2

Day 2

CALVET ***

Director Dominic Allen/ 86 mins 

A cop, bodyguard, thief, fugitive, junkie and now an artist, Jean Marc Calvet has been through many life changing things. This documentary covers those years and also his search for his son, who he abandoned almost two decades ago.

The story is solely told by Calvet himself, who goes back to the different locations that have lead up to this point in his life. The man himself is an absolute machine who continually talks in a machine gun fashion with very little pause for breath.

Even though his story is fascinating, it appears strange that the filmmakers have not interviewed other people on their take on the artist. By doing this they have given a very one sided view. While the stories are probably 100% true, it would have been good to have another point of view.

 

Ghosted **

Director Craig Viveiros/ 98 mins 

Camera Operator Craig Viveiros makes his debut as director with this gritty tense British prison feature. 

 

Jack (John Lynch), is a prisoner who is near the end of his sentence. He keeps to himself and stays out of trouble. But, when a new inmate, Paul (Martin Compston) is threatened by psychotic Clay (Craig Parkinson), Jack takes it upon himself to take the nervous youngster under his wing. By doing this he may have put himself in danger and risked everything that has kept him from being involved the v surroundings.

 

The main problem with this film is that the script is unoriginal and cliched. There have been countless prison films that have done this kind of storyline before and to better effect, notably Prophet. Pacing also suffers with multiple story strands that are briskly mentioned then forgotten about with no resolution. The ending also feels rushed and quite predicable.

 

What makes the film really stand out are the performances especially by Lynch and Compston who bring a dramatic intensity to their roles, which are primarily the reluctant teacher and naive pupil.

 

Viverios has made a competent prison drama, but it just does not set itself apart from other films that have already made their mark in this territory.

 

Our Day Will Come ***

Director Romain Gavras/ 87 mins 

After making his name in music videos Director Roman Gavras follows in his father’s footsteps, by making the leap into film with this strange mismatched buddy road movie. 

 

A bullied redheaded teen Remy (Olivier Barthelemy) flees his home and is tracked down by a bitter guidance counsellor and redhead, Patrick (Vincent Cassel). Patrick sympathise with Remy and decides to toughen him up. In doing this Remy goes from a social outcast to a violent vigilante. He convinces Patrick that they will only place they will fit in is  in Ireland and together they embark on the journey to the Emerald Isle, but at what cost?

 

There is no set storyline within the premise. There are some strong themes and ideas going on here. But these are weighed down by a series of set-pieces that become increasing more violent as the unlikely pair descend more and more into madness. They are fun, but there is a sense that the overall messages that Gavras is trying to communicate are generally lost in translation.

 

The characters are well developed with both parties trying to understand each other. Dialogue is inventive witty and playful, Remy and Patrick continually mock not only the unlucky individuals who cross their path but also each other.

 

The performances like the action are over the top, but unforgettable. Cassel in particular seems to relish his role with spectacular relentless explosive energy.

 

An engaging powerful and amusing creative hybrid of a movie that almost succeeds in the crossover.

 

Reviews by Paul Logan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edinburgh Film Festival 2011/ Take 1

Day 1 

The Guard ****

Director John Michael McDonagh/ 96 mins 

The Film Festival could not have picked a better film to open with in this hilarious entertaining comedy. John Michael McDonagh (brother of Martin-In Bruges-McDonagh) follows in his sibling’s footsteps with another witty Irish based crime film starring Brendan Glesson.

Gleeson plays Sergeant Gerry Boyle a rural policeman who has a distinct personality, bends the rules, likes drugs and has a fondness for prostitutes. He is more interested in doing his own thing, than trying to assist FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) in trying to smash a drugs ring.

The drug smuggling plot and mismatched buddy storyline is unoriginal and at times feels like a comedy version of Bad Lieutenant. But the movie is driven by the clever dialogue and performances. The chemistry between Gleeson and Cheadle shines and it is throughly entertaining to watch them bicker like an old married couple. Even the cliched criminals (Liam Cunningham & Mark Strong) are memorable and have some of the best one liners in the movie.

The black humour is quite dark throughout with a mixture of innuendo and some racial insults, but nothing that will cause too much offence to an audience. Some of the subplots feel slightly undeveloped such as the dying mother.

McDough’s impressive debut is almost as good as In Bruges, but not quite as well developed.

 

Jane’s Journey ****

Director Lorenz Knauer/ 107 mins 

The life of primatologist and ethnographer Dr Jane Goodall is chronicled in this interesting and thought provoking documentary.

The film documents everything that has happened in her life, from her animal conservation and humanitarian work to her personal life involving two marriages and raising her son in the wilds of Africa.

Her story is told through a mixture of archive footage, photographs and new interviews with not only herself, but also with people who have been inspired by her work from ordinary families to celebrities. Kofi Annan, Angelina Jolie and Pierce Brosnan appear to show support to the work she is doing.

 

The film is slightly to long towards the end, with too much focus on the conferences that she attends, rather than solely concentrating on her Roots and Shoots projects.

 

This is a fitting tribute to a truly inspirational individual that has made the world a better place to live.

 

Fast Romance **

Director Carter Ferguson/ 93 mins 

The festival has been marketing this romantic comedy as Scotland’s answer to Love Actually. Unfortunately the different story strands that link the relationships between the characters do not flow quite as well as Richard Curtis’ effort.

 

The plot revolves around Gordon Boyd (William Ruane), a postman who is attracted to cafe worker Nadine (Jo Freer). After discovering that she is going to a speed dating night, he decides to go along to in the hope of that she will fall for him. Gordon takes his boss (Derek Munn) with him, while Nadine has taken her two best friends a nervous copy-girl and a bride-to-be (Lesley Hart). Will they fall in love or will Nadine fall for someone else.

 

The main problem with this kind of film is that there are too many characters and confusing subplots to follow. In this particular case the audience is introduced to everyone from work colleagues to family members. There are even cameo appearances from Scottish comedy stars in roles that are really not necessary to the plot. A variety of different subjects including cancer to trust are thrown at the audience, but it is hard to feel any sympathy for any of the characters.

 

There are also random shots that rely too heavily on crash zoom and strobing effects, which really look odd in a romantic comedy. The performances are very hit and miss with only Munn and Hart showing any promise. The comedy also fails to hit the mark often enough with only a few smile inducing moments worth noting, usually mainly from Barbara Rafferty’s eccentric neighbour.

 

Fast Romance could have worked as a story for a few episodes of a soap opera, but not as a feature film.

 

Reviews by Paul Logan 

The Lion King 3-D to bring a roaring finish to EIFF

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Edinburgh International Film Festival has today announced the latest addition to its 2011 programme by bringing Disney’s epic masterpiece, The Lion King, in stunning Disney Digital 3D, to the closing weekend of the Festival. The Pride of Disney will be screened at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre on Saturday 25 June at 2pm; tickets for this not to be missed premiere are on sale now at www.edfilmfest.org.uk or via the box office on 0131 228 2688.

 

For the first time, the jewel in Disney’s animated crown has been brought to life like never before and will debut to a new generation of fans, in dazzling 3D, at Edinburgh’s beautiful Festival Theatre, allowing the audience to enjoy this critically acclaimed and universally beloved classic like never before, ahead of its general release on 14th October.

 

An unforgettable story, breathtaking animation, beloved characters and award‐winning music set the stage for the adventures of Simba, the feisty lion cub who “just can’t wait to be king.” But his envious Uncle Scar has plans for his own ascent to the throne, and he forces Simba’s exile from the kingdom. Alone and adrift, Simba soon joins the escapades of a hilarious meerkat named Timon and his warm‐hearted warthog pal, Pumbaa. Adopting their carefree lifestyle of “Hakuna Matata,” Simba ignores his real responsibilities until he realises his destiny and returns to the Pride Lands to claim his place in the “Circle of Life.”

 

Featuring the all‐star vocal talents of Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Ernie Sabella, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Robert Guillaume, Cheech Marin and Moira Kelly, The Lion King is a rip‐roaring comedy with an uplifting message of courage, loyalty and hope; a timeless tale for all ages.

Daniel Frigo, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures UK & EMEA, commented: “We are delighted to be able to present The Lion King, in Disney Digital 3D, for the first time at this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival. This iconic Disney classic is an enduring story of friendship and family which has been brought to life as never before, immersing fans both old and new in to the epic setting of Pride Rock, bringing them face‐to‐ face with these beloved characters in a new and unique way”.

 

EIFF Director, James Mullighan added: “The Lion King is a favourite amongst children and adults alike and we’re thrilled to be premiering The Lion King in 3D at EIFF. This year’s focus has been to offer something for everyone and our closing weekend including the Kings of Leon and the Lion King certainly achieves that.”

EIFF welcomes royalty as Kings of Leon come to Edinburgh

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Revolver Entertainment beaming highly anticipated film of band’s history across record 150 UK cinemas

Edinburgh International Film Festival and Revolver Entertainment have today (9 June) announced an exciting addition to the Festival programme with the European Premiere of ‘Talihina Sky’, on June 25 2011 at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre with Kings Of Leon Live in attendance.

 

Following on from the film’s launch this year at the Tribeca Film Festival, where Talihina Sky played to packed audiences, received universal praise and critical acclaim ‐ has since been lauded as “One of the most compelling music documentaries you’ll ever see” by MTV.

 

Talihina Sky’s European premiere will mark the biggest one night only satellite screening event in the UK with the film and Live Q&A (with Kings Of Leon) beamed to over 150 cinemas nationwide.

 

Talihina Sky – Synopsis: As soon as I knew we were about to get a record deal, I never slept” – Caleb Followill. Talihina Sky: The Story of Kings of Leon is a unique insight into one of the biggest bands on the planet. Now a global phenomenon, the film charts their humble beginnings in the deep South, struggling with the grasp of God and the pleasures of the Devil through alcohol, recreational drugs and most importantly, the rock n’ roll that would make them superstars, to signing a record deal and selling out stadiums worldwide.

 

Featuring interviews with the full band – Caleb, Nathan, Jared, and Matthew Followill, plus exclusive footage of other family members and influential figures in the band’s lives and career, this is the first time their tremendous journey has been documented. Talihina Sky is the definitive story of the Kings of Leon, told in their own words.

 

EIFF Director, James Mullighan said: “We are hugely privileged to welcome Talihina Sky and the Kings of Leon to the EIFF, bringing together music fans and film lovers in what will be a first for the Festival, with the Q&A session transmitted across cinemas nationwide. Mitchell’s documentary gives a captivating insight into one of the world’s most admired bands and being able to have them as a late addition to our programme fits perfectly with our Sound Tracks strand, which explores the bigger picture around film and music.”

 

Edinburgh International Film Festival

15th – 26th June 2011

www.edfilmfest.org

EIFF brings Film Critics together for Project: New Cinephilia

                              

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has unveiled an innovative debate in cinematic discourse, Project: New Cinephilia, fronted by leading names in international film journalism.  Part of the soon-to-be revealed festival programme, the project, which culminates in a day-long event on June 16th, reinforces EIFF’s standing at the forefront of intellectual film discussion, aiming to ignite debate around film criticism and appreciation today.

 

Project: New Cinephilia will initially spark conversation with essays, thoughts and ideas from critics, writers, bloggers and film makers all challenging established modes of thinking on cinema. Remote contributors will publish work via a dedicated microsite, launching May 17th and co-presented by online cinematheque/social network MUBI, which will host comments and discussion around these commissioned materials in their Forums. Other contributors will participate in online roundtables chaired by Jigsaw Lounge founder Neil Young and Michael Koresky, editorial manager at The Criterion Collection and co-founding editor of Reverse Shot.

 

Koresky will join two other visiting journalists, freelance critic Eric Hynes (Village Voice, Time Out New York), and filmmaker/critic Jeff Reichert (Gerrymandering; co-founding editor of Reverse Shot) attending the event. Ideas and specially created exhibits will also be presented by EIFF from the project’s international contributors, who include:

 

· Chris Fujiwara – Author of books on Otto Preminger, Jerry Lewis, and

Jacques Tourneur and editor of Undercurrent

· Girish Shambu – Widely read film blogger and cinephile

· Leah Churner – Film/video archivist and guest curator at Museum of the

Moving Image and Anthology Film Archives

· Gabriele Caroti –   Film programmer/DJ airing a musical mash-up of

soundtracks

· Marcellus Hall – Illustrator exhibiting some of his film-related artwork

from The New Yorker, newly annotated for P:NC

· Michael Azerrad – Author, biographer, and music critic (Our Band Could Be

Your Life; Come As You Are) exhibiting clips/short commentary on rock

musicians in film

· Mark Cousins – EIFF artistic advisor who will present a series of short video

“provocations”

· Roundtable participants: Kent Jones, Melissa Anderson, Genevieve Yue, Daniel Cockburn, Mike Everleth, Frances Morgan, Mathieu Ravier

 

Project: New Cinephilia will culminate in a day-long symposium at EIFF 2011, comprising of six interactive sessions which are open to audiences, press, bloggers and film lovers.  Topics include new critical approaches to reading film; discussions on how film is consumed in the 21st century and the role of cinema in our daily lives; and a masterclass in how to start your own fanzine, blog or film journal. The day will come to close with a playful 140-character Film Critic Deathmatch, a “battle to the best review” using the social networking site Twitter.

 

EIFF Director James Mullighan commented: “EIFF is the proud home of intellectual discussion around film in all its forms; this year more than ever we are stepping outside traditional models to inspire audiences with innovative approaches to presenting and exploring film. Project: New Cinephilia has been lovingly sculpted from ideas, musings and thoughts around cinephilia’s role in enriching film culture – we can’t wait to see what ideas our curators and contributors debate.”

 

Project: New Cinephilia is co-curated by Kate Taylor, a freelance programmer and magazine contributor, previously running the London Short Film Festival and Abandon Normal Devices, Liverpool, and New York–based film journalist Damon Smith, editor of Michael Winterbottom: Interviews and currently Head of Curation/Story R&D for Thought Engine Media Group. The event takes place inthe University of Edinburgh’s Inspace Gallery on Thursday 16th June. For further information visit www.edfilmfest.org

 

Ends

 

Edinburgh International Film Festival

15th – 26th June 2011

www.edfilmfest.org

Ewan McGregor set to attend European Premiere of Perfect Sense

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Edinburgh International Film Festival has announced that the European Premiere of David Mackenzie’s ‘Perfect Sense’ will move from The Cameo to the larger, 1500 seater Edinburgh Festival Theatre venue due to a sell out of advance tickets. The screening, which will take place on Saturday 18th June, will also have star Ewan McGregor in attendance.

 

The Glasgow-set drama sees a reteaming of the Young Adam director and star and tells the tale of a chef, Michael (McGregor) and a scientist, Susan (Eva Green) who fall in love just as the world begins to fall apart.

 

Produced by the hugely successful Sigma Films, the team behind Hallam Foe and Young Adam, this haunting and moving sci-fi drama, also stars Connie Nielsen, Denis Lawson, Stephen Dillane and Ewen Bremner. Green’s character is a scientist researching for important answers, so important that she’s given up on other things, including love, until she meets Michael, a talented chef and then suddenly everything starts to change.

 

Speaking about the film and its Premiere at EIFF 2011, Ewan McGregor commented: ‘I’m delighted to be able to come to Edinburgh to support the Film Festival and the European Premiere of Perfect Sense and look forward to seeing the film in such an amazing venue.’

 

James Mullighan, Director of Edinburgh International Film Festival said: ‘I am delighted that we are staging the European Premiere of Perfect Sense at this year’s Festival, and collaborating with Sigma and Distributor Arrow Films in celebrating another fine production. It’s encouraging to see the enthusiasm of film fans who have already snapped up tickets for the premiere and we’re delighted to be able to move the screening to the glorious Edinburgh Festival Theatre venue – one of the finest movie going experiences in the UK.  We look forward to welcoming Ewan and other members of the film’s cast and production where audiences can enjoy a first screening of this gripping new feature.’

 

The 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival will take place at venues across the city from 15th-26th June, offering a ‘film for all’ remit and over 100 screenings for audiences to enjoy. As well as a mix of groundbreaking global film, cutting-edge documentaries and shorts, this year will see some exciting changes to the festival format with a lively programme of new events, collaborations and innovative film experiences for the city – plus the EIFF’s new headquarters, Festivalhouse@Teviot in the heart of the city’s historic Old Town.

 

Senna *****

Running time: 104 mins  Certificate: 12A

Synopsis: A documentary detailing the  Formula 1 career of controversial Brazilian driver, Ayrton Senna, the races and the death of one of greatest sportsmen in the recent decades.

 

A refreshing documentary about one of the world’s greatest sportsman that chooses to tell the life of Senna through archive footage and interviews at the time, there are no new in camera interviews whatsoever. By making the film have no visible talking heads or any modern footage it is more compelling and engaging. The audience will not only just hears what has gone on, but has the chance to witness the events first hand without going back in time.

 

Rather than going back to Senna’s childhood, the film starts at the point where the young driver started his career in professional go-karting and quickly segues into the first race in 1984. By doing this there is no padding, the audience learns more what drove this ambitious youngster into becoming a world champion.

 

Much is made of interesting extremely bitter rivalry with team-mate Alain Prost, who comes across really badly in this film as a self obsessed bad loser. If continually puts Senna down about everything from his driving to his religion.

 

The tragic ending is deeply moving ,director Asif Kapadia has taken great care to be respectful and rather does not focus mainly on the crash, but celebrates the contribution that the Brazilian gave to racing.

 

Even if audiences are not keen on motor racing or Formula One, they will enjoy this well put together piece of factual filmmaking. It is not just a fitting tribute to a fantastic sportsman, but is also one of the best films of the year.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

X-Men: First Class ***

Running time: 132 mins  Certificate: 12A

Synopsis: In 1962, Sebastian Shaw (Bacon) plots to create nuclear war turning all of Earth into  armageddon. Genetics student Charles Xavier (McAvoy) joins forces Erik Lehnsherr (Fassbender) and they work with a secret US government organisation in order to stop him, but will they’re kind be accepted into society?

 

Hollywood appears to be in reboot fever at the moment with new versions of everything from Mission: Impossible to Tomb Raider being planned. Franchises that may have been lucrative, but have somehow lost their way. With the sole exception of James Bond this very rarely works. Marvel has decided to follow 007 with a back to basics reinvigoration of the series.

After the lacklustre The Last Stand and the poorly conceived spin off Wolverine, it surely would be easy to improve on those disappointments. For the most part the filmmakers succeed in giving a much needed shot in the arm to everybody’s favourite mutants.

The best thing about this reinvention is the casting which is pretty much spot on. Michael Fassbender is a worthy successor to follow in the footsteps of McKellan bringing intensity to the complex role of Lehnsherr. Although it has to be said that it is a mystery why his accent turns Irish within the last twenty minutes of the film. James McAvoy may have a strange choice for a younger Patrick Stewart, but is a suave and sincere Xavier. While Kevin Bacon is fantastic show-stopping, scenery chewing villain. There is even a fun short cameo from a famous regular of the series.

Where the movie suffers is with the script and supplying too many different characters that are easily forgotten about in the expansive running time. The scriptwriters take too long in setting up characters that have already been established in earlier films. Did the audience really need another long exposition piece regarding Erik’s time in the concentration camp, when this story was already told in X2. 

The special effects are also not really up to scratch and appear to be rushed and incomplete in many key scenes. But the 60’s theme around the Cuban missile crisis is executed well and the whole thing has enough charm and wit to keep the momentum going.

With a less detailed story and fewer characters this could have been one of the best comic book movies to grace the silver screen. But ultimately what the end result has become is an enjoyable perfectly cast, but overlong action film, but at least it is light years better than Wolverine.

 

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan