So, as you may recall, the theme of this movie club was "Popcorn movies we managed to miss on circuit but rather wanted to see", although I'll take a side bet on "Conflicting groups of supernaturally enabled individuals searching for meaning and identity with the dubious assistance of betraying father figures, and partially under water".
We started with Pirates of the Caribbean number the whatever, infinite, what is it, four, now? Huh. Jack Sparrow is becoming an ever-more-tic'y caricature of himself - he is now, in fact, considerably more like Jack Sparrow than Jack Sparrow is. I also don't think he works as a romantic or heroic lead, as Jo pointed out - he's more of a supporting character, he needs a straight line to bounce off. I never thought I'd say it, but I missed the overly pretty gormlessness of Will and Elizabeth; without them the film feels off centre, unbalanced. Attempting to revolve around a staggering eccentric is a mission doomed to failure, or at the very least drunken acrobatics. The missionary/mermaid romance was not a substitute straight line, it was cute and gormless but insubstantial, and seriously lacked payoff. What, you can't tell us what happened to them, film? Not cricket. All of which notwithstanding, it's still a fun movie to watch - slightly less slapstick than its predecessors (to which I say, woe, I have a reprehensible fondness for slapstick), slightly different vibe with all the London bits (grime! wigs! kings! swinging from chandeliers!), an indecent plethora of captains (Blackbeard was cool, as were the bottled ships), and some seriously dishy Spaniards, all goth and driven. I also completely approve of any storyline involving Ponce de León, if only because he has such a ridiculous name. And the mermaids were beautiful.
X-Men: First Class was a considerably better film, and a more than respectable entry into the superhero stakes. It was unexpectedly serious - I mean, I thought I'd come out of the film needing to research obscure mutants, not the Cuban Missile Crisis. I now know rather a lot more about the Cuban Missile Crisis, thereby remedying a lack caused by the fact that I had to choose between history and geography in my second year of high school and went for geography1, so that there are wide swathes of the last four hundred years which are a dimly-sensed fog of vague impressions to me. (I also had to research the mutants, of course. Riptide! He's cool.) That underlying seriousness is, of course, absolutely intrinsic to the X-Men mythology, which grapples continuously with issues of prejudice and social control, and which is why Brett Ratner should be fired out of a missile tube into concrete. This film is carried not only by a solid script, but by the lead actors - James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are compelling and believable, and Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw is genius casting - and by the high stakes and tension of the crisis, which becomes absurdly heightened by the injection of superpowers into a potentially catastrophic stand-off. The young mutants are an enjoyable bunch, and I rather liked Rose Byrne's Moira. Weak links in the acting chain were Mystique and Emma Frost, sadly, as both are, I think, pivotal to the story's themes and shape. Magneto's hat is, however, still silly (although not as silly as Wolverine's hair, spotted in an extremely enjoyable cameo); most of all, I wish the bloody Americans would pronounce "Xavier" correctly.
Right! I know blogging has been a bit intermittent of late, mostly because I'm tired and unable to think; since my copy of Skyrim arrived this morning, you can confidently expect that I won't blog much for a while, either, other than to whinge about whatever Skyrim's equivalent is of the cliff racer sneaking up behind me again. My state of non-brain means I've been swearing at Dragon Age II, on more or less masochistic principles, for the last couple of days, so a change of scenery is very much indicated. Skyrim beckons! I believe it's pretty.
1 My experience of school history had been shaped entirely by a terrible teacher's version of a terrible curriculum comprising politically re-jigged Zimbabwean history and an entirely dry version of ancient Greece and Rome accessed by copying out our textbooks. The geography was terribly useful in the DMing stakes and a certain facility with map-reading, but I still deeply regret the moment's hesitation in the corridor outside the third-form classroom, which ended up with me going left instead of right more or less on a whim.