Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Some Stuff!

It was with some trepidation that I went to see X-men First Class this past weekend. After the very successful and GOOD X-Men the franchise steadily declined into mediocrity. I’m pleased to say that this movie returns the series to it’s former top flight status.

I realize that purists will have some issues with the way the origin stories and timelines were shuffled around a bit. I won’t deny that the film makers played loose with cannon. But as a MOVIE I thought First Class was entertaining and accessible to audience members that may not be comic book fans. And what can be wrong with that.

In particular I got a big kick out of the not so subtle homage to such early James Bond films as Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger! The film being set mostly in 1962 made it a natural for this type of film style. About the only thing missing was opening “Bond credits” with a hit song and an Aston Martin for Professor X to drive. I was not surprised to see that the film was shot at Pinewood, the home of Bond. In fact I would be delighted to see Michael Fassberger take up the mantle of 007 after Daniel Craig is through with it! Not only did he do a great job as Magneto, Fassberger is a legit action/adventure type in the mold of Matt Damon. James McAvoy was spot on as Charles and Jennifer Laurence was surprisingly touching as Raven.

Kevin Bacon was an interesting choice for Sebastian Shaw and I thought he carried it off quite well. Bacon is a tremendously talented actor and added a lot of nuance to what could have been just another two dimensional villain.

There were some great cameos for long time fans but I won’t spoil that for those who have not seen it yet.

So DC is rebooting their entire line. I am never opposed to a reboot! Cleaning cannon every now and then allows new readers to come in and not have to pick up on a decade or more of back story. It doesn’t render previous stories invalid. It just allows for a fresh take on familiar characters.

Having said that I AM a bit concerned over Barbara Gordon taking up the Batgirl mantle again. Not because I did not enjoy her in that role. It is just that ORACLE is such an important character on so many levels that I have to wonder if we won’t ultimately lose more than we gain by this. Watching Barbara overcome her paralysis to become such an integral figure in the DCU has allowed her to grow into, perhaps, THE preeminent hero in comics. Batgirl has, after all, always been a secondary character. Sort of the utility infielder of the Batman family. I just wonder if she isn’t being demoted here. PLUS I think Spethanie Brown is just great as Batgirl!
Well…as with all things new, I’ll wait to see how they execute this change before passing judgment.

James Arness, known to generations of fans as Matt Dillon from the classic TV series Gunsmoke, passed away at age 88 of natural causes. Arness was well known to Sci-Fi fans as the creature in the Howard Hawks Classic “The Thing From Another World” and also from the post atomic “Them!”.
Arness portrayal of Matt Dillon cemented the iconic square jawed Western hero in the American TV audience consciousness just as John Wayne had done for movie goers. In fact the opening of the very first episode of Gunsmoke was introduced by “the Duke” in which he predicted that Arness and the show would be a success.
How right he was. Gunsmoke ran from 1955 through 1975 and an incredible 635 episodes and James Arness was recently voted #6 in the top 100 all time TV heroes.

That’s 30!


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