Movie – X-Men: Days of Future Past: A

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Massive casts like this are only possible in sequels, and Days of Future Past shows how to do it right. They picked the best characters from the original trilogy and from First Class, and swept the less interesting ones out under the rug, but not in a particularly jarring way. Then they introduced some great new characters, especially Blink, who makes all the “future” action sequences so utterly fantastic (well the awesome future sentinels certainly helped too). Fassbender continues to excel, Lawrence is still great, and Dinklage performs admirably. And of course I can never get enough Patrick Stewart. But Quicksilver easily gets the best sequence in the whole film. He steals the first half, and I was incredibly disappointed he got left behind for the finale.

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Movie – 12 Years a Slave: A

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This is easily the best depiction of a well-tread subject. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender give performances that will surely earn nominations if not wins. Lupita Nyong’o’s debut will certainly also capture some attention. But I also loved the use of fantastic actors in extremely minor roles, including Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, and Brad Pitt. I especially loved how contrastingly eloquent everyone was, particularly the slaves. It portrays slave-owners without resorting to cliche, with even the “good” ones having serious faults in their morality. At times, some of the more stylistic sections would drag a bit, and the opening time skip caused me some mild confusion, but overall I enjoyed the competent look of the film. The music and sound effects had some especially great moments of focus too.

Movie – Prometheus: A


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For all Ridley Scott’s “this is not a prequel” talk, it certainly was filled with direct connections to his Alien. That said, he delivered on every promise. It was moody and ominous, full of great performances, especially Fassbender’s, and contained just the right amount of suspense and action. Some of the new alien designs were interesting, while others were merely satisfactory. Good sci-fi is rare, and this is it.

Movie – X-Men First Class: A


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This X-Men movie double-entendred its name by being the first to bring some class to the series. (Rimshot!) Most of the characters, when introduced, are sly and interesting. (Ok, maybe just the main few characters.) This allows some forgiveness after the movie progresses into the cheesier comic-book-movie style that I expected since the core characters are so well developed. The revenge themes and the civil rights allegories play out smoothly and elegantly and the final actiony bits, though displaying a bit of poor CGI, run about as one would expect (as hoped.)