X: First Class

I’m generally sick of remakes and relaunches and reboots — it seems borderline obscene that it only took 10 years for Sam Raimi’s awesome Spider-Man movies to get kicked to the curb in favor of new blood — but this revamped X-Men origin story is kind of fun. Set a couple of generations ago, when fear of the Cold War still cast a long shadow over the swinging 60s and memories of the Holocaust still festered like an open wound, it’s a period piece into which has been injected a tale of two mutants.

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Love the borderline-subversive opening sequence, a bravura special-effects piece that has a teleporting Nightcrawler kick secret-service ass in the White House, stopping just short of driving a stake through the heart of the president. Generally got a kick out of Hugh Jackman’s gruff posturing as Wolverine and once again dug the teen-angst angles and overt outsider drama. (Finally, a soap opera for freaks and losers!) And the quick shot of Ian McKellen and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, as Magneto and Mystique, sitting in the back of the X-Men’s plane, whispering, pointing and snickering, is the wittiest on-screen imagining of supervillains that I’ve ever seen. It all adds up to less than the sum of its parts — mainly, it seems like a lead-in to a retelling of the legendary Dark Phoenix saga from the X-Men comics, presumably to come in X3. Pretty good summer fun nonetheless, and less utterly enamored of itself than The Matrix Reloaded.