News

Jurassic World 3-D

Meet Indominus Rex, a designer dinosaur with the brain of Hannibal Lecter and a cloaking device like Predator! Steven Spielberg steps back and lets a pro team put together the most-likely-to-earn-billions entry imaginable for the Jurassic Park franchise, where dinosaurs love to eat people, but not cute kids or privileged heroes. The special effects are better than ever in 3-D. Jurassic World Blu-ray + DVD Universal Studios Home Entertainment 2015 / Color / 2:1 widescreen / 125 min. Street Date October 20, 2015 / 34.98 Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, Bd Wong, Judy Greer, Lauren Lapkus, Brian Tee, Katie McGrath, Andy Buckley. Cinematography John Schwartzman Film Editor Kevin Stitt <Original Music Michael Giacchino Written by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly, based on characters by Michael Crichton Produced by Patrick Crowley, Frank Marshall Directed by Colin Treverrow

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Is a review even necessary?
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

Giveaway – Win A Copy Of Jurassic World

Wamg is giving away copies of Jurassic World to five lucky readers.

Shattering records globally, Jurassic World crushed the opening-weekend box-office, scoring the highest domestic, international and worldwide openings of all time. The film has taken in more than $1.6 billion globally to become the third-highest grossing film in history.

Now fans can experience the thrill and awe when Jurassic World arrives on Digital HD on October 1, 2015 and on 3-D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on October 20, 2015, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

More than two decades since Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was released, fans of the original films and new moviegoers alike can witness the story come full circle as the park that was only a promise comes to life.

Now, 22 years later, an even bigger and enormously popular attraction has risen on Isla Nubar: Jurassic World. To keep attendance high, the park operators introduce a new, genetically modified hybrid creature called Indominus Rex.
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

Director Colin Trevorrow’s The Book Of Henry Goes Into Production – Stars Naomi Watts And Jacob Tremblay

© 2015 Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, Inc.

Filming has begun locally on The Book Of Henry, director Colin Trevorrow’s (Safety Not Guaranteed) first feature as director since this year’s blockbuster Jurassic World (which has grossed nearly $1.7 billion worldwide). Focus Features is overseeing the production and holds worldwide rights, including for domestic release.

The original screenplay for The Book Of Henry is by acclaimed novelist Gregg Hurwitz.

Two-time Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts stars in the film alongside young actors Jacob Tremblay (of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival hit Room) and Jaden Lieberher (of St. Vincent and the upcoming Midnight Special).

The supporting cast includes Dean Norris (Breaking Bad), Lee Pace (The Hobbit trilogy, Guardians of the Galaxy), Emmy Award winner Sarah Silverman, Maddie Ziegler (of Sia’s music videos “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart”), and Bobby Moynihan (Saturday Night Live).

The Book of Henry is the story of
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

Jurassic World Arrives On Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand October 20

Shattering records globally, Jurassic World crushed the opening-weekend box-office, scoring the highest domestic, international and worldwide openings of all time. The film has taken in more than $1.6 billion globally to become the third-highest grossing film in history.

Now fans can experience the thrill and awe when Jurassic World arrives on Digital HD on October 1, 2015 and on 3-D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on October 20, 2015, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. More than two decades since Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was released, fans of the original films and new moviegoers alike can witness the story come full circle as the park that was only a promise comes to life.

Now, 22 years later, an even bigger and enormously popular attraction has risen on Isla Nubar: Jurassic World. To keep attendance high, the park operators introduce a new, genetically modified hybrid creature called Indominus Rex. Bigger, stronger and far more intelligent than
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

Jurassic World Blu-ray / DVD Release Details & Cover Art

Viewers will be able to enter the realm of dinosaurs from the comfort of their couches this fall, when Jurassic World comes out on Digital HD October 1st and 3-D Blu-ray, standard Blu-ray, and DVD October 20th.

Press Release: Universal City, Calif., Aug. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Shattering records globally, Jurassic World crushed the opening-weekend box-office, scoring the highest domestic, international and worldwide openings of all time. The film has taken in more than $1.6 billion globally to become the third-highest grossing film in history. Now fans can experience the thrill and awe when Jurassic World arrives on Digital HD on October 1, 2015 and on 3-D Blu-ray™, Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand on October 20, 2015, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. More than two decades since Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park was released, fans of the original films and new moviegoers alike can witness the story come full circle as the park that was only a promise comes to life.
See full article at DailyDead »

“42″ The True Story of An American Legend

Hero is a word we hear often in sports, but heroism is not always about achievements on the field of play. “42″ tells the story of two men—the great Jackie Robinson and trailblazing Brooklyn Dodgers Gm Branch Rickey—whose brave stand against prejudice forever changed the world by changing the game of baseball. From Academy Award® winner Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential”) comes the real-life drama “42,” starring Chadwick Boseman (“The Express”) as Jackie Robinson and Oscar® nominee Harrison Ford (“Witness”) as Branch Rickey. In 1947, Branch Rickey put himself at the forefront of history when he signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking Major League Baseball’s infamous color line. But the deal also put both Robinson and Rickey in the firing line of the public, the press and other players. Facing blatant racism from every side, even his own team, Robinson was forced to demonstrate tremendous courage and restraint by not reacting in kind,
See full article at Hollywoodnews.com »

Win A Pass To The Advance Screening Of Jack Reacher In St. Louis

From The New York Times bestselling author Lee Child comes one of the most compelling heroes to step from novel to screen – ex-military investigator Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise).

When a gunman takes five lives in what seems like an open and shut murder case, all evidence points to the suspect in custody. On interrogation, the suspect offers up a single note: .Get Jack Reacher!. So begins an extraordinary chase for the truth, pitting Jack Reacher against an unexpected enemy, with a skill for violence, a secret to keep and a target on Reacher.s back.

Jack Reacher hits theaters December 21, 2012.

Paramount Pictures and Wamg invite you to enter to win a pass (good for 2) to the advance screening of Jack Reacher on December 19th at 7 Pm in St. Louis.

Official Rules:

1. You Must Be In The St. Louis Area The Day Of The Screening.

2. Name the first book in the Jack Reacher series.
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

Author Lee Child Talks Tom Cruise In New Jack Reacher Featurette

Global bestselling author Lee Child did not set out to be a bestselling author. After attending law school in his native Great Britain, Child signed on with the U.K..s Granada Television, and spent the next 18 years working as a presentation director on some of the most respected shows and series during what some critics term .the golden age. of British television. But a corporate restructuring left Child without a job in 1995, and so he sat down to write a book, eventually titled Killing Floor. Published in 1997, his debut novel featured a central character named Jack Reacher, who immediately captivated readers. 17 Reacher novels later, Child.s (and the readers.) affinity for the character has not lessened.

.Jack Reacher. is based on One-Shot, the ninth in the series of Reacher novels, so why begin in the middle, as it were? Producer Don Granger says, .One Shot is perhaps the most
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

First Sighting of a “Man on a Ledge”

  • HeyUGuys
We reported just over a month ago that Elizabeth Banks had joined the increasingly esteemed cast of Man on a Ledge, alongside Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell, Anthony Mackie and Edward Burns. Now, along with news from Variety that Ed Harris has signed on as well, we have the first on-set snap of Sam Worthington, well, standing on a ledge.

Collider, who we can thank for the snap, helpfully include the following detailed press release:-

Man On A Ledge Begins Principal Photography

Directed by Asger Leth and Starring Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Anthony Mackie, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, and Edward Burns for Summit Entertainment

New York, Oct. 30 /PRNewswire/ — Principal photography has begun in New York City on the Summit Entertainment feature Man On A Ledge.

An ex-cop and now wanted fugitive (Sam Worthington) stands on the ledge of a high-rise building while a hard-living New York Police Department hostage negotiator (Elizabeth Banks
See full article at HeyUGuys »

Man On A Ledge Begins Principal Photography

Principal photography has begun in New York City on the Summit Entertainment feature Man On A Ledge.

An ex-cop and now wanted fugitive (Sam Worthington) stands on the ledge of a high-rise building while a hard-living New York Police Department hostage negotiator (Elizabeth Banks) tries to talk him down. The longer they are on the ledge, the more she realizes that he might have an ulterior objective.

Sam Worthington (Avatar) and Elizabeth Banks (The Next Three Days) star among an ensemble cast including Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker), who portrays Worthington’s best friend and ally and Jamie Bell ( Billy Elliot ) who is Worthington’s younger brother and ardent supporter. Also along for the ride is four-time Oscar® nominee, Ed Harris (Pollock) who plays a powerful businessman, while Edward Burns (27 Dresses) is a rival negotiator who tries to swoop in when he believes Banks has a conflict of interest. Newcomer
See full article at Filmofilia »

First Image of Sam Worthington as a Man On A Ledge

Summit Entertainment has begun principal photography on Man on a Ledge, and as such we have our first image from the set of Sam Worthington. On a ledge. The thriller revolves around the attempts of an NYPD hostage negotiator (Elizabeth Banks) to talk down an ex-cop and wanted fugitive (Worthington) from the ledge of a high-rise building: “The longer they are on the ledge, the more [Banks] realizes that he might have an ulterior objective.”

The impressive cast is rounded out by Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker), Jamie Bell (Jumper), Ed Harris (Gone Baby Gone), and Edward Burns (27 Dresses), and newcomer Genesis Rodriguez. Hit the jump for the high resolution image and the official press release.

Click on the image for high resolution.

Man On A Ledge Begins Principal Photography

Directed by Asger Leth and Starring Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Anthony Mackie, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, and Edward Burns for Summit Entertainment

New York,
See full article at Collider.com »

DVD Playhouse--May 2010

DVD Playhouse—May 2010

By

Allen Gardner

Avatar (20th Century Fox) James Cameron beat his own title as box office champ, set with Titanic over a decade ago, with this eye-popping sci-fi epic about a paraplegic Marine name Sully (Sam Worthington), who takes the form of an “avatar,” or virtual being, to go undercover on the planet Pandora, attempting to infiltrate the native Na’vi to gather intelligence that will aid a joint corporate and military operation to rape the planet of its natural resources, destroying its indigenous population in the process. When Sully suddenly “goes native,” he locks horns with the company CEO (Giovanni Ribisi) and his gung-ho commanding officer (Stephen Lang, in a wonderful, scenery-chewing turn from a long-underrated actor). Thought of by many scholars and film buffs as a “game-changer” as much as the first Star Wars film was—and they may be right. While Cameron’s politically-correct
See full article at The Hollywood Interview »

Blu-Ray Review: Forgotten ‘Surrogates’ Worth Another Look

Chicago – We have grown accustomed to experiencing the world through technology. One of the great gifts cinema grants us is the ability to experience the world vicariously through the lives of others. The reason why mainstream movie stars are unnaturally beautiful and glamorous is because they represent how we’d like to envision ourselves.

Jonathan Mostow’s “Surrogates” takes this concept a step further, imagining a world where humans live vicariously through mechanical bodies that possess superhuman looks and abilities. In essence, people can “become” movie stars without ever having to leave the comfort of their house, allowing their “perfected” self to experience the world without fear of pain or disease. This ingenious premise could not be more relevant in today’s society, where addictions to social networking sites often lead to the deterioration of “face-to-face” relationships.

Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0

And yet, the film itself has a curious lack of urgency.
See full article at HollywoodChicago.com »

American Cinema Editors Love Sci-Fi Films! Check Out Ace Eddie Awards Nominations!

The American Cinema Editors have released their nominations for the 2010 Ace Eddie Awards and sci-fi films dominated the Feature Film category.

Winners will be revealed on Feb. 14th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. And there's a strong chance that the winner of the Ace Eddie will also win the Oscar for Best Editing.

Here are the nominees for the 60th Annual Ace Eddie Awards:

Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic):

Avatar

Stephen Rivkin, A.C.E., John Refoua, A.C.E. &

James Cameron, A.C.E.

District 9

Julian Clarke

The Hurt Locker

Bob Murawski & Chris Innis

Star Trek

Maryann Brandon, A.C.E. & Mary Jo Markey, A.C.E.

Up in the Air

Dana Glauberman, A.C.E.

Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy Or Musical):

500 Days of Summer

Alan Edward Bell

The Hangover

Debra Neil-Fisher, A.C.E.

Julie & Julia

Richard Marks, A.C.E.

A Serious Man
See full article at Manny the Movie Guy »

Ace Eddie Awards Nominations

Stellar times for Star Trek….a Writers Guild nomination, a Producers Guild nomination and now this! But where are those Inglorious Basterds among the editors? One of the most interesting noms among the Ace’s lists is in the Documentary category – This Is It. Almost all but forgotten, except for those full-page Fyc ads of the Jackson rehearsal documentary in Variety. I’d love to see it as the big surprise Best Picture nominee on nomination morning. No film has won the Academy Award for Best Picture without also having received an Ace editing nom since “Ordinary People” in 1981.

60th annual Ace Eddie Awards nominees are….

Feature film (dramatic):

Avatar, Stephen Rivkin, John Refua & James Cameron District 9, Julian Clarke The Hurt Locker, Bob Murawski & Chris Innis Star Trek, Maryann Brandon & Mary Jo Markey Up in the Air, Dana Glauberman

Feature film (comedy or musical):

500 Days of Summer,
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

'Avatar,' 'Star Trek' land editing noms

'Avatar,' 'Star Trek' land editing noms
As the nominations were unveiled Tuesday morning for the American Cinema Editors' 60th annual Ace Eddie Awards, this year's awards season is looking more and more like a Hollywood version of Comic-Con.

Just like the Art Directors Guild, the editors organization nominated "Avatar," "District 9" and "Star Trek."

Those three movies will compete for best edited dramatic feature film along with "The Hurt Locker" and "Up in the Air."

Two Meryl Streep vehicles -- "Julie & Julia" and "It's Complicated" -- were nominated in the best comedy or musical category along with "(500) Days of Summer," "The Hangover" and "A Serious Man."

For best animated film, the contenders are "Coraline," "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "Up."

"This Is It," the Michael Jackson documentary, scored a slot in Ace's best documentary race alongside "The Cove" and "Food, Inc."

An honorary society of motion picture editors founded in 1950, Ace's noms usually point toward Oscar victory
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

The Kingdom

The Kingdom, about a terrorist attack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, would seem to be another addition to the list of this fall's politically-charged movies. But unlike the upcoming Rendition or In the Valley of Elah, Peter Berg's movie is no more than an action movie with an exotic backdrop. That would be fine, if only the movie were more exciting. It succeeds neither as a pointed political commentary nor as a taut thriller. With Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, and Jennifer Garner heading the cast, the movie should generate some healthy opening-weekend business. But its long-term prospects seem iffy.

The title sequence does a nifty job of sketching the history of America's involvement in Saudi Arabia during the last century, from the discovery of oil to the emergence of Osama bin Laden. The film itself opens with a gripping set-piece -- a baseball game held in the American compound (populated mainly by oil company workers and their families) that is disrupted by a deadly terrorist assault. The FBI is charged with investigating the killing of Americans on foreign soil, but Washington honchos, including a craven Attorney General (Danny Huston), refuse to authorize any official American action. So a strong-willed FBI agent, Ronald Fleury (Foxx), assembles his own small team and heads off to the Middle East to investigate. While the Saudis are initially wary of these American interlopers, the leading Saudi officer eventually decides to cooperate with Fleury's team. They mine the crime scene for clues and interview witnesses, with the hope of tracking down the mastermind behind the attacks.

The relationship of the two lead investigators is the strongest element in the film. Screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan seems to have taken some inspiration from In the Heat of the Night. The dynamic between the two detectives is exactly the same as in that Oscar-winning 1967 film. Fleury is the fish out of water in an alien world, and after some tense initial encounters, he and the local sheriff join forces to solve the crime. Foxx demonstrates his usual charisma, though the best performance comes from Ashraf Barhom (who previously appeared in Paradise Now) as the humane Arab colonel.

Unfortunately, the other actors have less opportunity to shine. Jason Bateman (as the least experienced team member) and Jeremy Piven (as a slick American diplomat who might be a cousin of Entourage's Ari Gold) do have a few funny moments. Garner has little to do, and Cooper barely registers at all. The biggest waste of the film is casting this superb Oscar-winning actor in a role that any B-level TV personality could have played just as smoothly. The fault is not with the actors; their roles are completely devoid of sharp character details. All we learn about Fleury is that he's a devoted father, which is established in a treacly early scene in which he visits his son's school.

The shallow script might have been salvaged by more dynamic direction. But Berg (Friday Night Lights) films much of the action in close-ups with a jerky moving camera. The film cries out for long shots that would clarify the logistics. Berg simply thrusts us into the middle of the chaos, which might have been his intention, but the result is a vertigo-inducing ride that leaves a lot of the action unintelligible.

The excessive use of close-ups undermines the strong work of cinematographer Mauro Fiore and production designer Tom Duffield. The film ends by suggesting that lust for revenge can warp righteous American patriots as well as Islamic fundamentalists. Still, this earnestly even-handed message is a bit of a cheat. Given the heinous actions of the terrorists, audiences are primed to cheer when they finally get blown to smithereens. We might cheer more loudly if The Kingdom were a more effective piece of rabble-rousing.THE KINGDOM

Universal Pictures

Relativity Media, A Forward Pass/Stuber-Parent Production

Credits:

Director: Peter Berg

Screenwriter: Matthew Michael Carnahan

Producers: Michael Mann, Scott Stuber

Executive producers: Mary Parent, Steven Saeta, Sarah Aubrey, John Cameron, Ryan Kavanaugh

Director of photography: Mauro Fiore

Production designer: Tom Duffield

Music: Danny Elfman

Costume designer: Susan Matheson

Editors: Kevin Stitt, Colby Parker Jr.

Cast:

Ronald Fleury: Jamie Foxx

Grant Sykes: Chris Cooper

Janet Mayes: Jennifer Garner

Adam Leavitt: Jason Bateman

Col. Faris Al Ghazi: Ashraf Barhom

Damon Schmidt: Jeremy Piven

James Grace: Richard Jenkins

Gideon Young: Danny Huston

Sgt. Haytham: Ali Suliman

Aaron Jackson: Tim McGraw

Francis Manner: Kyle Chandler

Elaine Flowers: Frances Fisher

Maricella Canavesio: Anna Deavere Smith

Prince Ahmed Bin Khaled: Omar Berdouni

General Al Abdulmalik: Mahmoud Said

Abu Hamza: Hezi Saddik

Running time -- 110 minutes

MPAA rating: R

Paycheck

Paycheck
Opens

Thursday, Dec. 25


"Paycheck" is a nifty science-fiction twist on the old amnesia plot where a guy spends most of a movie trying to remember what he did and why everyone is after him. Only in this case, the character played by Ben Affleck isn't trying to remember the past but the future.

Working from a story by Philip K. Dick -- aren't the best science-fiction movies usually based on stories by Dick? -- writer Dean Georgaris and director John Woo propel a viewer through shoot-outs, chases and suspense sequences that break enough new ground to feel fresh. There are moments when you know you're watching a John Woo film but many more where he seems to want to flex new muscles without drifting too far from the action genre. The moral issues that are central to Dick's science fiction are touched upon only briefly, yet they do reverberate through the film. While opening against stiff competition at Christmas, Paramount and DreamWorks nevertheless should find yuletide cheer in this "Paycheck".

Affleck plays scientific genius Michael Jennings, a "reverse engineer" who can take a piece of high-tech equipment, disassemble it so he sees how it ticks, then improve and reassemble the device into a more advanced piece of equipment in a few weeks. He is also a scientific whore, agreeing to perform his reverse engineering for a conglomerate run by his old buddy, billionaire entrepreneur Jimmy Rethrick (Aaron Eckhart), in exchange for a whopping paycheck and -- this is the kicker -- his willingness to allow his quirky pal Shorty (Paul Giamatti) to erase his memory of those work weeks so he cannot disclose company secrets to anyone else.

Jimmy's latest project for Michael breaks the pattern. Not only does the job require three years -- a lot of one's life to give up -- but when he finishes and all memory is erased, Michael is mystified to discover that he agreed to forfeit his $90 million paycheck in exchange for an envelope filled with random objects. What's more, both the FBI and Jimmy's thugs are hunting for him.

When two of these seemingly innocent objects allow Michael to miraculously escape FBI custody, he quickly realizes that each of the objects not only provides a clue to his erased past but is vital to his survival -- worth more, in other words, than $90 million. The movie gradually lets the viewer in on Jimmy's dirty little secret: In the past three years, Michael perfected a lens powerful enough to see past the curvature of time into the future. So everything that happens to Michael he has already foreseen using his own super lens and has taken the precaution to supply himself with everyday objects that will allow him to change that future.

Now for readers who hate Logic Nazis, who delight in pointing out fatal plot holes in movies, this is fair warning: One enormous plot hole is about to be revealed, so you might want to skip to the next paragraph. Once Michael changes his fate and escapes the FBI and his foretold destiny, he is in a new future where he cannot possibly have foreseen anything that happens to him. The rest of the movie cannot be the future he saw with his super lens but a new series of events that directly result from his altering the future.

Fortunately, while caught up in the gripping tension of Michael's race against time to destroy his own machine and to recall his life with Rachel (Uma Thurman), the woman he has loved for the past three years but cannot remember, you don't think about plot holes. The payoffs from each of these everyday objects -- a matchbook, a coin, a crossword puzzle -- are fun. And when both Jimmy and the FBI realize what's going on and scheme how best to thwart a man who has seen the future but cannot remember, these strategies keep the movie intriguing down to the last moment.

Affleck gives his scientific genius enough of a blue-collar attitude to make the character believable. Although underutilized until the picture is almost half-over, Thurman gives Rachel a determined strength of character. But after the gymnastics of "Kill Bill", her fans can only see this outing as a comedown.

Woo and his crew make good use of Vancouver, where they stage a chase through heavy traffic with Affleck and Thurman on a motorcycle and another down in a subway tunnel with a train is about to wipe out the hero. Jeffrey L. Kimball's cool, crisp photography seamlessly integrates the visual effects and stunts into a very real-looking environment. Similarly, William Sandell's futuristic sets don't unduly call attention to themselves as is often the case with science-fiction movies.

PAYCHECK

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures

Credits:

Director: John Woo

Screenwriter: Dean Georgaris

Based on a story by: Philip K. Dick

Producers: John Davis, Michael Hackett, John Woo, Terence Chang

Executive producers: Stratton Leopold, David Solomon

Director of photography: Jeffrey L. Kimball

Production designer: William Sandell

Music: John Powell

Co-producers: Caroline Macaulay, Arthur Anderson

Costume designer: Erica Edell Phillips

Editors: Kevin Stitt, Christopher Rouse

Cast:

Jennings: Ben Affleck

Rethrick: Aaron Eckhart

Rachel: Uma Thurman

Shorty: Paul Giamatti

Wolf: Colm Feore

Agent Dodge: Joe Morton

Agent Klein Michael C. Hall

Running time -- 119 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

Film review: 'X-Men'

"X-Men" contains a lively enough mix of athletic stunts,

otherworldly characters and heavy special effects to ensure keen youth interest in this film version of the wildly popular Marvel Comics title. But nonfans of the comic book may wonder what all of the fuss is about. While it's spirited entertainment, "X-Men" lacks the style and substance of such top-drawer science-fiction movies as "The Matrix" or "The Empire Strikes Back".

Whether the film will have enough boxoffice oomph to establish a franchise for Fox is an open question. Unlike film series based on comic books such as "Batman" or "Superman", "X-Men" features an army of heroes and villains, leaving the nonfan without a major character to identify with. Of course, the multiplicity of characters may be a positive attribute in a film series, bringing more depth and complexity to future installments.

For director Bryan Singer, though, whose career really took off with his stylish "The Usual Suspects", "X-Men" marks a backward step into impersonal, effects-driven filmmaking. This is a thoroughly competent though not terribly compelling work that demonstrates Singer's ability to handle the logistics of a big-budget production. But he loses his storytelling voice in the process.

In the not-too-distant future of Stan Lee's "X-Men" comic books, a sizable minority of humans have evolved into creatures with phenomenal mental or physical abilities. But the international community is divided about how to respond to these "mutants." Are they warrior-saviors or dangerous misfits who should be isolated from society?

The situation forces Prof. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), himself a telepath, to gather together these misunderstood individuals into a "mutant high," where they learn how to harness their amazing powers.

Among the pupils are white-haired Storm (Halle Berry), who is able to control the weather, Cyclops (James Marsden), whose eyes emit energy rays, and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), who possesses telepathic and telekinetic abilities. Despite the gender mix, these are the X-Men.

Meanwhile, the professor's former friend and now archenemy, Magneto (Ian McKellen), prepares for the coming battle between men and mutants by recruiting an evil brotherhood to rule the world. Magneto's minions include the physically powerful Sabretooth (Tyler Mane), whose growl is definitely not worse than his bite, the leaping Toad (Ray Park), whose recoiling, yards-long tongue creates all sorts of mischief, and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos beneath layers of blue makeup and silicone prosthetics), who can morph into seemingly anybody.

Interestingly, two main protagonists among the X-Men hate their "gifts." The sullen, anti-social Logan, a k a Wolverine (Australian actor Hugh Jackman), possesses the ability to physically heal himself. Because of this, years before, he fell victim to a bizarre medical experiment that welded retractable metal claws to his skeleton, giving him an unwanted power that only brings him unhappiness.

His companion is Rogue (Anna Paquin), a young girl whose touch can destroy, rendering her incapable of intimacy with any boy. But since she can absorb the powers of other mutants, she becomes an object of desire in Magneto's plot to destroy humankind.

The high-tech battles -- the de rigueur melange of stunts, effects and explosions -- are executed well but fall curiously flat. Much more intriguing is Stan Lee's notion that these superheroes suffer from paranoia and angst. Their unwelcome powers are hurtful and troubling to them as human beings.

Indeed, this angle could have been fruitfully explored at greater length. But Singer and screenwriter David Hayter (working from Singer and Tom DeSanto's story) get easily distracted by both the need to introduce many of the potential franchise's characters and the desire to deliver the action goods.

As a consequence, the film suffers from incompleteness. Characters are poorly sketched, and story lines dangle. When George Lucas created his first "Star Wars" film, before anyone could tell that a series would follow, he made certain that his film stood on its own with completely realized characters and a story line that had closure.

In "X-Men", though, only fans of the comic book will understand many of the scenes and oblique references. Even the main protagonists get short shrift.

Visually, the Toronto-lensed production is impressive. In his third collaboration with Singer, cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel goes for dark, subdued hues. The editing by Steven Rosenblum, Kevin Stitt and John Wright makes for a well-paced film. Only Michael Kamen's forgettable score misses the mark.

X-MEN

20th Century Fox

in association with Marvel Entertainment Group

the Donners' Co./Bad Hat Harry

Producers: Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter

Director: Bryan Singer

Screenwriter: David Hayter

Story by: Tom DeSanto, Bryan Singer

Executive producers: Avi Arad, Stan Lee,

Richard Donner, Tom DeSanto

Director of photography: Newton Thomas Sigel

Production designer: John Myhre

Music: Michael Kamen

Co-producers: Joel Simon, William S. Todman Jr.

Costume designer: Louise Mingenbach

Editors: Steven Rosenblum, Kevin Stitt,

John Wright

Color/stereo

Cast:

Xavier: Patrick Stewart

Magneto: Ian McKellen

Wolverine: Hugh Jackman

Jean Grey: Famke Janssen

Storm: Halle Berry

Rogue: Anna Paquin

Sabretooth: Tyler Mane

Toad: Ray Park

Running time -- 104 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

See also

Credited With | External Sites