Friday, June 3, 2011
Excuse the geek out of me: X-Men: First Class review, spoiler free,excitement
Sponsored by Integr8d Soul Productions, featuring DNA: The Mountain, drawn with crisp, clear story telling by Lue Lyron and the Marc Kane, with scenes and ideas you won't find anywhere else in entertainment!! The comic for those who don't read comics! Black and White, $3 plus shipping each.
Available from C Lue Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101 Ad from 1977.
First, i just LOVED X-Men: First Class. My friend Josh felt like it was one of the best action flicks he's ever seen, from effects to characterization. I can't explain why it seemed to slow down just as they hit the act with the climactic action, but I suspect it's me and my tendency not to sit through more than an hour of anything anymore, unless it's something I'm actively making, myself.
We got off to a great start; I felt like Xavier calling his mutants together as I checked to see who on this side of town would like to share the movie experience. With six of us set to converge, and Ed's enthusiasm pushing me to make it to the next, earliest show possible, we found each other in line, along with our friend DJ, a fine young comicbook artist in her own right. With so many of us good guys together, I remarked, some super villain was bound to attack the theater. That's how those things happen, y'know!
Kevin Bacon is the movie's secret weapon; it tends to flatten a character, to become extremely good or evil, but along with his cruelty, his Sebastian Shaw had depth. The leads were superb, the motivations mostly set up by the story itself, making certain pieces inevitable, if excruciating.
The first hour carefully, lovingly sets up the development of Charles Xavier, Eric Lensherr/ Magneto, and Mystique (with whom they created a sympathetic character with a strong support role at the heart of many characters). Characters originally created for action gained, over the years, a lot of drama fans relate to each of them, and that drama was convincingly portrayed. Mystique is particularly moving and central to the story in a greater way than any previous appearances; it is as much her story as it is the origin of Professor X and Magneto.
The direction? Riveting. The Cuban Missile Criss historical setting, to me, is classic Marvel incorporation of the real world. The mini-skirts are a few years early here, but they're nicely worn.
James McAvoy (Charles), Michael Fassbender (Erik Lehnsherr), Kevin Bacon (Sebastian Shaw/Dr. Schmidt), Rose Byrne (Moira MacTaggert), January Jones (Emma Frost), Oliver Platt (MIB), Jennifer Lawrence (Raven/Mystique), Nicholas Hoult (Hank/Beast), Zoe Kravitz (Angel Salvadore/Wings), Jason Flemyng (Azazel), Lucas Till (Alex Summers/Havok), Caleb Landry Jones (Cassidy/Banshee), Alex Gonzalez (Janos Questad/Riptide) and Edi Gathegi (Darwin Armondo).
Our group really loved it, although my director friend has a real beef with altering things from the comics, as if to say, "your comic books are stupid, we're erasing your memories!" His point is that, if these characters are so great, the original stories in which they appeared are what made them great. Why not reproduce that story, then? He asked me to consider it from the point of view as though they were telling me one of my childhood memories, like, "you went fishing when you were ten," has no substance, no influence, no existence. His point has to do with Hollywood erasing our culture, only to reap financial recompense while further burying the original idea. This is the experience for a lot of people.
He is right that we have yet to get a comic book adaptation that faithfully stays completely like its source, though he cited Watchmen and Sin City as being very close. He considers it very unflattering to the original source and creators, and self-loathing of fans to accept it.
I just don't happen to fall into that camp. I want a helluva story. I got it. The debate's an internet staple, isn't it? But one or two like that's all I need to read, really. I was asked to think about, what if it were my own material in question? But if the changes open a new facet that still rings true to the character, I would not mind; it would be a matter of whether or not true inspiration was at the nexus of the change, to fill out the characters as people, and to confront the constraints of time that come with film versus serialized stories over months and years.
Thing is, X-Men wouldn't even be the pop culture juggernaut it is today without a re-interpretation. This movie is more of a tribute to writer Chris Claremont, who took over the revamped title started somewhat haphazardly by comics greats Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and later cancelled due to low sales. He was the one who created the back story tying Charles and Eric together. In 1976, he was the one who shed most of the original team characters and used new ones created by Wein and Cockrum---Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler, and, oh yes, Wolverine, and Wolverine, and Wolverine.
I'm sure both of those moves were considered violations of comics purity by some at the time, yet without his changes? No X-Men as we know them. Furthermore, he didn't care so much for Wolverine, until his work got re-interpreted by his new co-artist, John Byrne, whose sympathy for the misunderstood Canadian runt hero led him to proudly involve and personalize him along the way. No one person had the right answer; in fact, each time X-Men has evolved, it involved the dissolution of some previous approach. Of all movies open to re-interpretation for the sake of stories, none have a history suited better than the Uncanny X-Men.
I hope my friend gets a shot at doing a faithful interpretation some day; it will start with something original he writes and films, himself. I don't doubt he would be just as tempted to give it his own spin in some way, through cinematography, direction, even characterization. I do know it's a discussion outside the interests of most movie goers, and it's probably much more boring than a recitation of the stunning scenes each friend favored, when you're just walking out of the theater. I don't think a creative person can avoid it at some point, though!
I actually think television, with its weekly serial, episodic format, is more ideal for adapting serial material like comicbooks. We can all agree, they are marketing to, and cannot have a blockbuster without, people with shorter attention spans than the fan faithful. As a format, each one, movies, comics and television, are different, and can each be used in unique ways.
I do like to see the original material considered, and sometimes, the original interpretation's too sweet to improve. I just don't think X-men #1 and #160 (the basis for most of this plot, from 1963 and 1981, if you didn't know) are necessary to reproduce verbatim. So maybe the chance to faithfully cinematically reproduce the Adams/ Thomas issues verbatim's now gone with the introduction of Havok, the original lost Summers brother (yes, introduced right before that team came on, but part of the Living Monolith section that overlaps with the Sentinels arc, the first completely belonging to Adams and Thomas). Was the discovery of a super-powered mutant brother of Cyclops, one never before mentioned but now freshly kidnapped, the element that 'made' the story? Alex as a Summers brother is, of course, an early retcon, itself.
Someone will find a comic book story to adapt exactly as it was made, and I can think of a pair of Frank Miller movies with that rep, yes. But before Frank Miller could be declared the saint of preservation, I bring up The Spirit. That's the nature of creative people: make something new! To the extent that has to do with nervous producers mucking with things, of course my friend has a point. But I pointed out that even the comics themselves are susceptible to retroactive change and editorial interference (Claremont's team-up of Xavier and Magneto in the first place for the former, Shooter's re-write of the Phoenix plans for the latter).
What matters is this: have they been as faithful to characterization as possible, if not duplicating the bio? And the much larger point: is it a terrific story that will help more people understand why the characters earned that place in the hearts of the fans?
It's true that these characters are chosen for their ability to generate spectacle; in this case, the drama that comes with them is served well. The truth is, i fell in love with the comic book stories, but I was drawn in by the spectacle. No problem with that. How much change is actually necessary? That's a debate True Believers will have so long as we remember the stories we loved in the years before most people had any clue what an X-Man is. First: DNA Comics #1 is ONLINE!!!
Listen, I'm still figuring out integr8dsoul.com, but meanwhile, you can do what Jason did. In Jason's case, he sent us $9 at
C. Lue Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
which was really cool as it covers shipping and handling, at $1.25 each! The issue itself, DNA #1, retails for $3.25.
Meanwhile, our remaining t-shirts are available at Convention Special Price, for $12 each or 2 for $20, plus $3.00 for shipping & handling.
You can do the same over PayPal, at firstname.lastname@example.org !!!
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