The best entry in a–at best–shaky franchise, X-Men: First Class finally presents at least a couple of its superheroes as more than vessels for neat abilities. They are characters with backgrounds, ideas, and ideals. The heart is the conflict between Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), later Professor X, and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), later Magneto, who start off as friends with a common foe (a fugitive Nazi war criminal (played by Kevin Bacon) with powers of his own and a super-secret spy submarine to boot) but different outlooks on how mutants should react to the inevitable prejudice. The rift between them grows, as does Xavier’s lessons for a group of young mutants and the possibility of nuclear war as the Cuban Missile Crisis plays out in the climax. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray on Friday, September 9.
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is like some otherworldly sprite–an otherworldly sprite who’s really adept at snapping necks. Her story is one of manipulation (by her father (Eric Bana), who really should be a villain) and fleeing (from a CIA agent (Cate Blanchett), who’s part wicked stepmother and part big, bad wolf), and Hanna, though kinetically directed by Joe Wright (A few single-shot action sequences are thrilling), is ultimately undermined by the static nature of its heroine. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Will Ferrell is quite good in another dramatic role that sees him as a recently-fired alcoholic who returns home to discover his wife has left him, changed the locks, and unceremoniously dumped all of his possessions on the front yard. To keep from going to jail, he calls the mess a yard sale and learns valuable life lessons along the way. Yes, it’s as simplistic as it sounds. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.