Posts Tagged ‘Marvel’

DVD blog review ‘X-Men: First Class’ — The name gets it right

September 5, 2011

As a prequel, reboot, preboot, redo, re-imagining, whatever, X-Men: First Class is first-rate. And I say this with some authority, being old enough to have purchased X-Men #1 in the ’60s when it first appeared. (No worries, it’s now tucked safely inside a safe deposit box.) Now First Class makes me proud to be an aging Marvel kid.

Though we’ve seen such pre-X-Men history before (the opening Nazi concentration camp scenes seem downright recycled), I loved the way director Matthew Vaughn then cut to the Cold War chase, with a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) starting as allies as the U.S. and U.S.S.R. teetered toward nuclear annihilation. Only the mutants can stop this, right?

Action is aplenty, and exceedingly well staged, while the characters grapple with genuine dramatic heft — and add some cheeky humor. The Kennedy-era trappings, now in vogue, also work well, while Kevin Bacon as vile villain Sebastian Shaw (fun German accent, Kevin) steals the show big-time. And that’s in a rare superhero film that feels more character-driven than action-driven — not that First Class skimps on the latter bent.

With the glut of superhero movies it’s hard to stand out, but this one does–and rightfully earned $350 million at the global box office.

Whether you’ve seen previous X-Mens or not, it works, so make a note: On Friday, Sept. 9, X marks the spot with Fox’s Blu-ray and DVD release of the year’s best superhero movie, X-Men: First Class. Face front!

You never know: ‘Iron Man’ on DVD is a big winner

September 30, 2008

The enormous box office success of Iron Man (a $318 million haul) only goes to show that you never know about superhero flicks.

After all, Fantastic Four was “the world’s greatest comic magazine,” as Marvel proudly dubbed it in 1961, and it launched the entire Marvel universe now populated by Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men, Iron Man and so many more. But FF’s two theatrical films haven’t exactly been smasheroos.

And after all, if you shake up the equation by starring an Oscar-winning dramatic actor — say, Nicolas Cage for Ghost Rider — that doesn’t always work, either. But Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr., whom no one envisioned as a superhero before Iron Man, pulls it off brilliantly in this film, now new on DVD from Paramount. And Michael Keaton, while first known for comedy, wasn’t bad in his two Batman stints, either. So you see, you never know.

And beyond that, who’s Iron Man in terms of name value, especially among the likes of Spider-Man, Batman and Superman? Oh, I know. In fact, I know quite well, because I was a Marvel kid. In fact, I even purchased the first appearance of Iron Man in a comic book, which was Tales of Suspense, issue No. 39.

Then, Iron Man didn’t even have the whole comic — just the first story, followed by little five-page thrill yarns. So who’s Iron Man, anyway?

Try the most popular new superhero in the solar system. More than 40 years after his modest four-color comic book debut, Iron Man, on screen, knocks it out of the park for Marvel in its first foray into self-financed films.

So you see, you never know — and since you never know, and since the stakes and potential rewards are so high, we’re bound to find many more movie misfires with men and women in tights than we find Iron Man-worthy winners. But that’s show biz.

At any rate, well done Marvel, Robert Downey Jr. and director Jon Favreau. As the embodiment of adolescent power fantasies, the superhero genre can grow old, stale and thin, but it also can be alive, vibrant and energized, and Iron Man, more than any other superhero flick of late, gets that job done.