First look at Sophie Turner in X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Sophie Turner fans are going to get pretty pumped up about her role in “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” and she explains how she gave up partying for five months for the role.

  

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This Weekend at the Movies: Mutants, Mutants, Mutants

I’d be inclined to declare this whole weekend a massive multiplex fail if it weren’t for the fact that the only major release is actually getting really great reviews. And if you’re looking for something a little more low-key, this weekend is absolutely booming with opportunities provided you live in New York or Los Angeles. So onward we press into summer!

X-Men: First Class


Aside from its surprising ability to draw in very talented actors (its cast includes James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, and January Jones), my hopes for this film were unfathomably low until a couple of weeks ago, when word got out that Matthew Vaughn’s fourth feature (he previously directed Layer Cake, Stardust, and Kick-Ass) was actually really, really good. I don’t know why it surprised me so; after all, I liked all of his films to varying degrees, but it seems like, at least this once, a film slipped through the famously rigorous Fox development process. Currently boasting an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is better than any superhero movie has faired since the 2008 one-two-three punch of Iron Man, Hellboy II, and The Dark Knight, X-Men: First Class is poised to make a big dent this weekend both culturally and financially. I’ll be wading through the masses tomorrow to find out for myself how it holds up. Join me!

Hit the jump to see what else is coming out this weekend in limited release, including one of my favorite films of the year thus far.

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Wolverine & the X-Men: The Complete Series

It’s hard to imagine another “X-Men” series ever eclipsing the popular cartoon from the 90s, but “Wolverine & the X-Men” comes pretty close thanks to some great storytelling and gorgeous character design. The season-long story arc is especially impressive considering it manages to connect several different subplots in a way that doesn’t feel too forced. The main story follows Wolverine as he takes control of the X-Men after a mysterious explosion leaves Professor Xavier in a coma, all while Xavier speaks to him telepathically from the future to help prevent the doomsday event that’s about to occur in the present. Meanwhile, a brooding Cyclops spends his days searching for Jean Grey after she suddenly goes missing during the attack on the X-Mansion, and Magneto forms an army of mutants on Genosha to fight against the impending threat of Senator Kelly’s Sentinel Project.

Some of the other X-Men get their time to shine as well – like Rogue’s early arc involving her defection to the Brotherhood of Mutants, and Nightcrawler’s romance with the Scarlet Witch – but this is still first and foremost Wolverine’s show. And though I understand why the creators would want to thrust him into the spotlight (he is, after all, one of Marvel’s most popular characters), it’s a bit much. There are even some episodes that include him when he’s not needed, and it’s one of the reasons why the series starts to drag towards the end of the season. Still, the writers have done a nice job of integrating classic stories from all eras of the X-Men comics into the show, and the Age of Apocalypse cliffhanger in the season finale would have made for a great sophomore year. Unfortunately, Season Two got scrapped due to some financier problems, which is why this set is being called The Complete Series. It’s a shame someone else didn’t swoop in to save it from cancellation, because while “Wolverine & the X-Men” certainly had its problems (namely, Wolverine’s overbearing presence), it’s a show that was clearly made with comic book fans in mind.

Click to buy “Wolverine & the X-Men: The Complete Series”

  

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Friday night movie news dump

I’ve got a bunch of other stuff to get to, so let’s see how efficient and selective I can be tonight.

* We have a Bat-date and it’s July 20, 2012.

* “Iron Man 2” is already starting to rake it in.

98447551TT008_Iron_Man_2_Wo

* I can’t believe I failed to mention this a couple of days back, but writer-director Bill Condon is handling the next “Twilight” film. These days, Condon is best known for “Dreamgirls,” and he did a brilliant job turning Bob Fosse’s anti-dramatic theater-piece, “Chicago,” into an audience-friendly hit as a writer. However, he’s made a horror film (one of the “Candyman” films) and also his terrific “Gods and Monsters” was an homage to “Frankenstein” director and all-around filmmaking great James Whale. In other words, he’s far more interesting a guy to do this than you would expect.

* News-flash: “Kick-Ass” man Matthew Vaughn will, once again, not be directing an X-Men movie. Don’t stop the presses!

* If James Cameron paid such careful attention to the science in “Avatar,” why couldn’t he also spend a little time on the dialogue?

* With all the sequels being made, why the f*** not “Anchorman 2”? Too many comedy superstars means too much $, I suppose.

* Speaking of money, you’d think it would be easy for David O. Russell to get enough money for two or so days of shooting to finish “Nailed,” written by Kristen Gore (Al and Tipper’s  funny daughter). It seems the quirky comedy (the extremely talented, conflict-prone Russell makes no other kind) has been sent to cinema hell — or purgatory if we’re all lucky — not by Russell, who for once seems to have things nicely under control, but by seriously troubled producer David Bergstein. For those of you with enough time, check out the long version of what left this film literally hanging as written by Kim Masters. Sad/fascinating stuff.

* Justly respected critic Todd McCarthy is back after being canned by Variety and blogging for Indiewire. Good news.

* J.J. Abrams may be doing something with Steven Spielberg. Quoth Beaks:

[It] will be “both a tribute to and a collaboration with Steven Spielberg”. The film, about which nothing specific is known, is intended as an homage to Spielberg’s ’70s and early ’80s output; “…an interpretation of some of Spielberg’s earlier films, but done in a personal way.”

…This is either kinda cool, or a little creepy. I can’t decide.

  

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Celluloid Heroes: Best Characters of the Decade

There are a lot of variables that go into making a successful movie – actors, writers, directors, producers, and all of the other overlooked crew members – but even if everything is done exactly right, it doesn’t mean anything without a good character. And at the end of the day, that’s what people remember the most when they leave the cineplex. As part of our look back at the movies of the 2000s, I present you with a list of the best characters of the decade. Obviously, some cuts had to be made (notable omissions include The Joker, Batman and Derek Zoolander), so feel free to comment on which of your favorite characters didn’t make the cut.

spiderman

10. Spider-Man

The web-slinger would probably make a list of best characters in any decade-end review of comic books, but this is the first time he can even be considered for a movie list. Thank Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” for that, because without its success, there’s a good chance we may have never seen Spider-Man jump to the big screen. Sam Raimi definitely deserves credit for adapting the character without all the cheese of the 60s TV series, but it’s Tobey Maguire’s strong performance that really brings the character to life. Although many claim the second film to be the best in the series, we think that all three have their own strengths and weaknesses. Sure, Peter Parker may lose some of his appeal when he goes all emo in “Spider-Man 3,” but seeing Spidey rock the black symbiote suit was just as cool as anything he did in the first two films.

Memorable Quote: “You know who I am. Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”

jigsaw

9. Jigsaw

Say what you will about the deteriorating quality of the “Saw” films: Jigsaw is right up there with Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Kruger as one of the ultimate horror icons. What makes him so different from the others, though, is that he’s a fairly regular guy (when he dies, he really dies) who isn’t so much a villain as he is someone who goes to radical extremes to get his point across. Though his argument that he doesn’t ever kill anyone could be debated for eternity, Jigsaw is still a pretty badass dude. Not only is he one of the most inventive baddies to ever grace the silver screen, but the fact that he’s doing all of this while dying from cancer is beyond impressive. Tobin Bell may never be remembered for anything other than his work in these films, but his limited appearances are so memorable that we wouldn’t really mind.

Memorable Quote: “I want to play a game.”

wolverine

8. Wolverine

Though it’s difficult to think of anyone other than Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine, it certainly could have ended up that way. You can go ahead and thank the comic book gods for interfering, because if Dougray Scott hadn’t gotten hurt while shooting “Mission: Impossible 2,” “X-Men” fans might have seen a decidedly different take on their beloved adamantium-laced berserker. And since Wolverine has since become the mascot for those films (even earning a mediocre spin-off of his own) that also would have affected the movie as a whole, which might have stopped the whole comic book movie revolution before it even began. Just think about that the next time you see Jackman in his role as the wise-cracking, cigar-chomping mutant, because without his charismatic, star-making performance, this list would look a lot different.

Memorable Quote: “I’m gonna cut your goddamned head off. See if that works.”

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