Things of note for the week ending September 19th, 2014.
1. Sennheiser Urbanites
Featuring the German ‘Ultimate Love of Ears’, this has to be the oddest ad I’ve seen all week.
Obviously I’m sharing it with you.
Sorry not sorry.
2. A complete summary of 17 years of X-Men comics
Doesn’t matter if you’re a fan or not, this Reddit write up of [nearly] everything that’s happened in the X-Universe since its inception is pretty darn awesome.
3. In praise of Fincher’s women Little White Lies is a fantastic film magazine. I cannot express this enough: Little White Lies is a fantastic film magazine. Bizarrely, I only recently discovered that it actually produces web content too. One of those pieces (titled above) is an excellent read:
A formalist with a forensic eye for detail (and no patience for wading through emotional sludge), David Fincher holds his characters at arm’s length – perhaps all the better to see them in their entirety. Most of these characters are men; Fincher is, after all, a man’s man with a particular predilection for stories about fraternity in crisis (The Game, Zodiac, The Social Network) and the crumbling framework of masculinity in a late-capitalist society (Fight Club, The Social Network and – we think – Gone Girl). However, that is not to say that Fincher’s women are shrinking violets.
Covering off everything from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo all the way back to nods to Alien 3, this article is a celebration of the interesting, complicated, and just plain subversive female characters Fincher commits to celluloid.
4. An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words
‘Lost in Translation‘ is a collection of drawings illustrating words that don’t exist in English (I’ve covered something like this before) and I really, really I like them.
Before you carry on, watch it again, and then look at the poster below (which is also awesome).
Days of Future Past (DofP) is the next instalment of the X-Men franchise and, as you can see from the trailer, combines the casts from both the original X-Men films (1, 2, and 3) and those from the rather excellent prequel (of sorts), First Class.
If you stayed past the end credits after watching The Wolverine, you would’ve already known that something else was in the works. Well, this is it. Based on the 1980s comic book of the same name and back in the extremely capable hands of original director Bryan Singer, DofP looks set to be amazing.
I am, somewhat unsurprisingly, extremely up for this. Yes the X-Men film hit rate has been patchy, but I’ve got a good feeling about this one.
Oh, and don’t think that’s it after this one either. X-Men: Apocalypse (yeah, you know) is being lined up after this with the third Wolverine film to drop straight after. So that’s three X-Men universe-based films (that we know about, X-Force has been rumoured for some time too) to look forward to.
Anyone familiar with the #DOFP storyline will know that in the original it’s Kitty Pride that gets sent back in time. But in this version, it’s looking like our friend Wolverine will be the one making the jump back. If any of you stuck around for the post-credits scene after The Wolverine, you might already have an inkling about this already.
Whatever happens, this crossing of the streams of the two cinematic X-Men timelines is set to be pretty damn awesome and with original (and equally awesome) director, Bryan Singer, at the helm DOFP can’t come quick enough!
This is only the first trailer. Next time around we might get to see a sentinel in action…
3. Comic book stuff
I’ve been reading Project Rooftop for some time now, and it is an ace source of fantastic artwork on some my favourite characters. Their remit is to highlight and drive the craft of redesigning comic book characters that you know and love and generally showcase some gorgeous work.
This past week has been no different, but these two redesigns, Ninja Turtles and X-Men respectively, stood out particularly.
Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo all getting the redesign treatment. Given the myriad of interpretations the Turtles have been through over the years, giving them a fresh take is no easy task. But this effort is actually brilliant. I want to see more… And guess what, you can! Full set available here
This one stands out for two reasons. First, it’s the original X-Men (who are still one of the best teams to date) and two, the version of Ice-Man is sweet. I’ve not seen an ice-as-armour version before and well, no pun intended, it’s just too damn cool for words. You can check out the full set over on P:R. It’s worth a look, definitely.
What do you think?
4. The Lumia 900 The Nokia Lumia 900 launches this week and, while it is only really a bigger version of the Lumia 800 (which I’ve been rocking and enjoying since late last year), it’s intriguing to me as it’s the big N’s first serious play in the USA since, well – since forever really. To say it’s make or break time might be an understatement, but I think they might actually have winner on their hands. Only time will time.
“There have been rumors that Nokia is paying AT&T to make sure that every rep uses the Lumia 900 as a personal device. The idea is that consumers trust sales reps to steer them in the right direction. Even as an advanced early adopter and mobile technology reporter, I often trust sales reps to tell me what the best device is and what is coming out (sometimes I quiz them to see how much they actually know about the ecosystem because I am that type of jerk).”
Heh, you’re not on your own there chap…
I’d like to have a play with the Lumia 900 at some point (honestly, I haven’t played with one yet!) and I’m sure it’d be great, but what interests me more is what’s coming next. We all know the Lumia range is merely a proof-of-concept device (and a very nice range it is too) but I want to see what the tech-heads in Finland are going to do next. Now they’ve proven they can design gorgeous Windows phones, let’s see some of that innovation that they’re also famous for. Exciting times ahead, both for Nokia itself as well as the industry as a whole.
Bonuses: Dan Goodall got his blog back online,go read it; Fish: a tap essay is one of the best things I’ve come across for a long time and finally, I’ve been looking at the image below nearly every day – it’s just beautiful.
Wolverine #90 got me into comic books and since that fateful day in 1995 I have dipped in and out of the comic book universe as I saw fit. In fact, tracing it back further still, growing up watching Christopher Reeve save the world as Superman influenced my life with and love of the superhero genre, definitely. But we’ll come back to him later.
To be fair to the guy, he didn’t do a bad job. Generally considered to be more of a taster of things to come, the first X-Men film definitely proved the concept, and when X-Men 2 (X2) arrived, we finally saw Singer’s vision fully coloured in before our eyes; Wolverine cut-loose, cameos-a-plenty and of course, that epic epic Nightcrawler opener.
Since then though, with the X-Men at least, we have not been so lucky. X3: The Last Stand was frankly, terrible. A rushed schedule (largely in part to a last minute director change) not helping much and what with Mr Singer departing to work on [the extremely underrated] Superman Returns, the wheel was left unchecked and the series lost its course.
The less said about X:Men Origins: Wolverine the better.
Which brings us to First Class.
A few years ago the ‘Origins’ moniker was attached to a number of X-Projects (with Wolverine getting the first stab, so to speak) and First Class was one of them. When the news broke that the film was going ahead, it was promising to say the least.
First off, irrespective of takings (both X3 and XO:W both broke $200m at the box office) the studio knew they had to do something to prevent yet another bad X-film being made. This is a good sign. Second? Singer was back. This time taking a writer/producer credit and – in a match that seems to be made in geek heaven – Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn (fresh from their own successes on the fantastic comic book adap, Kick-Ass), stepped into the roles of screenplay and director respectively.
The Gods were smiling.
But then, reports of a rushed production started appearing, followed by a poorly received above the line campaign and, to top it all off, every time a set pic was leaked, the ‘fans’ heaped scorn upon a franchise that was already fighting an uphill battle. Not cool.
When then trailer finally dropped, people did not know what to expect –
“Hang on, this actually looks quite good…”
Four months later, tickets were purchased and with much trepidation, we entered the cinema. Set in 1962, just before and during the Cuban missile crisis, First Class riffs on its 60s backdrop perfectly. With retro black lines drawn across the inevitable training montage scenes as well as a very suave, almost Austin Powers-like, Charles Xavier – brought to life by my second favourite actor in this film (I have a top three), James McAvoy. The time of the piece is set perfectly and trust me, it works.
Coming in third in the aforementioned trio of awesome, comes Kevin Bacon as the nefarious Sebastian Shaw. Hell-bent on world domination through a hitler-esque survival of the fittest, Bacon excels here. Fans of the books will understand that physically, in build at least, the two aren’t exactly similar however, with a combination of sheer stagescreen presence and the film’s iteration of Shaw’s mutant power, this is swiftly forgotten – Kevin Bacon is Sebastian Shaw.
In at number one, our star of the show, Erik Lensherr – aka – Magneto.
Brought to life magnificently by Michael Fassbender. The vengeful intensity that he brings to Magneto’s early years is completely believeable and, once his solo mission of revenge comes to the end of its first chapter, you understand completely why people are already calling Fassbender out as the next James Bond. Seriously.
The rest? Mystique and Beast (who share a number of interesting moments together) are noteworthy as is The White Queen, Emma Frost. However, the others are fairly forgettable. Perhaps it’s only Banshee’s Irish charm that keeps him from fading from my memory… Additionally, whilst Riptide manages to get through the film without uttering a single word, the award for most criminally under-used character goes to Azazel.
Let’s be clear; X-Men: First Class is by far and away the best X-Men film to date. Given that X2 set the standard pretty high, this is praise indeed – especially for a franchise that was close to coming to an end.
Finally, don’t try and worry yourself about the time line too much; if you work under the assumption that Singer ‘did a Superman’ and ignored the third and fourth films in the series, then they kind of plug in together nicely. You learn how and why Mystique is the way she is, why Magneto is the way he is and – crucially – what happens after a young Erik Lensherr is spotted bending gates in a Nazi concentration camp.
In closing; if you’re a geek (and can forgive a bit liberty thievery here and there), you’ll get a kick out of this. If you’re not, it’s still a bloody good, almost caper-esque, action flick.
I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t leave the cinema completely blown away but now, a few days on from seeing the film, it has definitely grown on me.