UK Box Office – June 3 – 5, 2011

1. X-Men: First Class – £5,438,386

2. The Hangover Part II – £3,826,158

3. Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – £2,144,179

4. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules – £645,196

5. JLS: Eyes Wide Open – £463,914

6. Senna – £375,173

7. Ready – £236,868

8. Rio – £94.127

9. Fast Five – £77,874

10. Thor – £59,994

US Box Office: June 3 – 5, 2011

1. X-Men: First Class – $56M

2. The Hangover Part II – $32.5M

3. Kung Fu Panda 2 – $24.3M

4. Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – $18M

5. Bridesmaids – $12.1M

6. Thor – $4.2M

7. Fast Five – $3.3M

8. Midnight In Paris – $2.9M

9. Jumping The Broom – $865,000

10. Something Borrowed – $835,000

Review: X-Men: First Class (2011)

Synopsis: When the CIA discovers the existence of Mutants, telepath Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is charged with recruiting a team to oppose the evil mutant Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and the mysterious Hellfire Club. But not all of Xavier’s team share his vision of peace with humanity as the powerful Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) becomes convinced of mankind’s intolerance of Mutants.

X-Men: First Class is 20th Century Fox’s chance to start over with the X-Men franchise, to iron out the creases and resolve the sour taste that the critically panned X-Men: The Last Stand left in viewers’ mouths. Thankfully, by bringing on board Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn and a crack team of screenwriters – including Vaughn’s Kick-Ass counterpart Jane Goldman – X-Men: First Class has truly reinvigorated the franchise. It has adapted, evolved and and, most importantly, re-imagined itself, rather than living in the shadows of Bryan Singer’s original X-Men franchise.

The script is tight and fast-paced, with very few dull moments throughout and, instead of focusing too heavily on big budget action set-pieces, Goldman and co. instead opt to create a more intimate character piece, knitting each one into the thoroughly realised 1960’s world. The ensemble characters’ passages are handled with such care, and intercut with such genuinely terrific yet retrained action sequences, that they don’t feel bogged down or too developed for their own good.

Instead, the film and its characters are set up in a timely and neat manner, before the focus quickly shifts to the tempestuous relationship between Charles and Erik, and urgent stoppage of Sebastian Shaw. Of course, this means that some of the supporting characters aren’t as explored as others – Emma Frost (January Jones) and Moria McTaggert (Rose Bryne) are two that instantly come to mind – but these are minor quandaries, and something that audiences have come to expect from comic book adaptations through the years.

Vaughn’s direction compliments the script wonderfully, and he impressively adapts to the kinetic adventure tone after the hardcore and R-rated blood-fest that is Kick-Ass. Through his enthusiastic eye, X-Men: First Class exudes charm, wit, excitement and moments of indubitable terror. What’s most impressive is the wonderful way in which he infuses all these different elements, enhancing the overall enjoyment of the film rather than simply letting it becoming too complicated for viewers to understand. Similarly, despite being set amidst the Cuban Missile Crisis, it manages to avoid tangling itself in a web of political inquisitions, remaining light, level-headed and to the point for its entire running time.

In terms of acting, McAvoy, Fassbender,  Bacon and Jennifer Lawrence, in particular, immerse themselves in their respective roles, while Bryne and Nicholas Hoult do their best with their limited screen time. McAvoy and Fassbender are the undeniable nucleus of X-Men: First Class, with both exquisitely conveying the push-pull relationship between Charles’s quest for world peace and Erik’s attraction to evil. It is, essentially, a friendship between two men who know they need each other, but who are pulled apart by the different aims they possess.

Lawrence, in her first mainstream Hollywood role, holds her own as Raven/Mystique, bringing a remarkable level of susceptibleness and sobriety to her shape-shifting alter-ego, while Bacon is able to truly shine as the films central villain. Bryne and Hoult, despite being used so sparingly, both inhabit their roles with equal flavor, and we can only hope they are used more centrally in future X-Men instalments so they can prove their worth.

Some of the supporting cast, however, including, but not limited to Jones, Jason Flemyng and Lucas Till simply don’t have the necessary instruments to hold their own against such a heavyweight principal cast and are essentially brushed to to the side – though, in some ways, this is to the film’s merit.

Unfortunately, some precarious special effects – perhaps due to the time restricted post-production schedule – and an uneven middle act prevents X-Men: First Class from hitting the giddy highs some were anticipating. Even so, it’s a remarkably cohesive and assured origin story that deserves to be treasured and adored for its valiance and entertaining dexterity. All that’s left to say is, bring on X-Men: Second Class.

Cinema Releases: June 1, 2011

X-Men: First Class

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Starring: Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence

Feature: 30 Most Anticipated Films Of 2011

2011 is shaping up to be a wonderful year for cinema, with a lot of big name and word-class directors offering up new films across a wide range of genres. Here’s the thirty I’m most looking forward to:

1. Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky’s highly acclaimed psychological ballet drama finally hits UK cinemas. This one stars Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel and Winona Ryder.

2. Blue Valentine

Derek Cianfrance’s juxtaposing relationship drama, starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling.

3. Submarine

Richard Ayoyade’s comical coming-of-age directorial debut, starring Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Sally Hawkins and Paddy Considine.

4. Sucker Punch

Zack Snyder’s futuristic action-fantasy film, starring Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone and Vanessa Hudgens as girl’s willing to do anything to survive.

5. Scream 4

Wes Craven returns to the Scream franchise, along with regular actors Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette. New recruits include Emma Roberts, Adam Brody and Hayden Panettiere.

6. Your Highness

David Gordon’s Green hilarious-looking medieval stone comedy, starring James Franco, Danny McBride, Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel.

7. The Skin That I Inhabit

Pedro Almodovar re-teams with Antonio Banderas for terror film The Skin That I Inhabit.

8. Attack The Block

Directed by Joe Cornish, this south London comedy-action film pitches a gang of youths against an alien invasion. Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker and Luke Treadaway star.

9. Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Johnny Depp returns as Jack Sparrow for a fourth installment in the colossal Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise, this time with new faces (Penelope Cruz and a surprise Judi Dench appearance) and a new director (Rob Marshall).

10. Bridesmaids

Judd Apatow produces Paul Weig’s comedy about two women dueling for the perfect wedding, starring Kristen Wigg, Rose Bryne and Jon Hamm.

11. Paul

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg reunite for an ensemble alien road movie. Greg Mottola directs.

12. Melancholia

Lars Von Trier returns with a psychological disaster film, starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Keifer Sutherland.

13. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2

The final installment in the globally successful Harry Potter franchise, featuring Harry, Ron and Hermoine as they race against time to kill Voldemort.

14. X-Men: First Class

Kick-Ass director returns to the superhero genre with an X-Men prequel showing how Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magnet (Michael Fassbender) met and the first time they discovered their powers.

15. Wuthering Heights

Andrea Arnold follows-up the critical darling Fish Tank with an adaptation of Wuthering Heights, starring Kaya Scodelario, Nichola Burley and Oliver Milburn.

16. Contagion

Steven Soderberg’s film centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease, starring Jude Law, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Marion Cotillard.

17. The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson collaborate on a 3D motion capture film based on the comic books created by Belgianartist Georges “Hergé” Remi about an adventurer, Tintin (Jamie Bell), and his white dog Snowy.

18. Fright Night

Craig Gillespie directs a remake of Tom Holland’s 1985 original horror, starring Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, David Tennant and Toni Collette.

19. A Dangerous Method

David Cronenberg’s historical biopic focusing on the turbulent relationship between Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Sabina Spielrein, the woman who comes between theme.

20. Cowboys & Aliens

Jon Favreau teams James Bond (Daniel Craig) with Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) for this genre-blurring science-fiction western film.

21. Wanderlust

Producer Judd Apatow teams with Jennifer Aniston for a sexy comedy that could well reignite her struggling career. David Wain directs, with Paul Rudd, Lauren Ambrose and Malin Akerman also starring.

22. Hanna

After the acclaimed Atonement, Joe Wright switches genres with this action-thriller starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana.

23. Route Irish

Ken Loach’s study into the consequences suffered by private security contractors after fighting in the Iraq War opened to lukewarm reviews at Cannes, but features a vigorous performances from Mark Womack.

24. We Need To Talk About Kevin

Lynne Ramsay’s long-awaited return to directing. We Need To Talk About Kevin is an adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s novel of the same name and stars Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly and Ezra Miller.

25. Thor

Marvel’s latest superhero incarnation to hit the big screen, directed by Shakespearean thesp Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston.

26. The Darkest Hour

A new science-fiction film starring Olivia Thirlby and Emile Hirsch as young people caught in an alien invasion. Chris Gorak directs, with Timur Bekmambetov producing.

27. War Horse

Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s acclaimed children’s novel War Horse, starring Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Emily Watson and Stephen Graham.

28. The Invention Of Hugo Cabret

Martin Scorcese’s first foray into 3D, featuring a cast including Sacha Baron Cohen, Chloe Moretz, Jude Law, Christopher Lee and Ben Kingsley.

29. The Tree Of Life

Terrence Malick’s long-delayed film about the quest to regain the meaning of life, starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain.

30. Sherlock Holmes 2

Guy Ritchie returns to direct a sequel to the 2009 box office success. Sherlock Holmes re-teams Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, with new additions including Noomi Rapace and Stephen Fry.