Not a lot of films this time around, though certainly a step up from the previous episode. This was the week when my high school graduation exams took place, so I guess I could go with that as an excuse. I believe next week will be a tad better in terms of the amount of movies featured, but for now this will have to do.
X-Men: First Class (2011) - 7/10
What got me excited about X-Men: First Class more than anything was the film’s awesome trailer, which made me want to check out the movie as soon as it would be released. Having seen it, I can safely say that it’s a great film and certainly one of the best of the year so far, but it’s also a surprisingly flawed one. I was first and foremost impressed with the top-notch cinematography and directing, and the well-constructed storyline. What really stood out during the film were the performances by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as well as the chemistry between them. X-Men: First Class may look like an origin story, but it’s really about the dynamic relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr (or Magneto, if you will). In that respect, it works like a charm, and I thought the film made for a very interesting character study and certainly one we don’t see too often—or at all—in comic book adaptations. Despite its strengths, however, the film also causes a couple of missteps, especially when it comes to a few of the other mutant characters, which end up not being particularly interesting. Also, a few actors deliver underwhelming performances, with January Jones taking the crown when it comes to wooden acting. I’ve seen her in Unknown earlier this year and she didn’t do a very good job there either, but I’m hoping there’ll be some sort of redemption for her in the near future. In conclusion, if you’ve followed the X-Men series of films up to this point, this one’s a must.
The Illusionist (2006) - 7/10
The first time I saw The Illusionist was around the same period of time that I also saw The Prestige, another film revolving around magic; an occurence which I later found out was due to the fact that both films were released in the same year. I do believe to have seen The Illusionist before The Prestige, but despite dealing with the same subject matter, I found both movies just as fascinating, though now that I have gotten the chance to rewatch both of them, it’s become clear to me that The Prestige is by far the better film, much of which is due to Christopher Nolan writing and directing it (with help from his brother Jonathan on the script). But enough about The Prestige, let me get into The Illusionist. The film boasts quite an interesting premise, and Edward Norton is great in the leading role (though I’m still not sure what sort of accent he employed in this role), capturing the mysterious aura surrounding his character quite well. The storyline is engaging from start to finish, though I did find myself a little let down by the twist at the end, especially considering that cheesy sequence used to ‘explain’ it to the audience. Paul Giamatti and Rufus Sewell also delivered solid performances, and, as expected when put among such great actors, Jessica Biel turned out to be the weakest link, though looking back at it, she did do well enough so as not to be a distraction, so that’s something. All in all, The Illusionist is a very good film deserving of a viewing, particularly if you’re interested in the portrayal of magic in movies. However, if you’re looking for a film similar in nature but offering a more complex experience, check out The Prestige.