Thursday, June 30, 2011

Movie Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

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Paramount Pictures is trying to get a jump on the Fourth of July long weekend by releasing Transformers: Dark of the Moon early. One of the reasons is that the movie is long, close to three hours, two hours and thirty-seven minutes to be exact meaning that theaters will lose one to three showings per day depending on when they start their day. If they released on Friday, Paramount would lose the equivalent of a day’s showings over a regular weekend. For those three hours, the pace kept me engrossed so that the time flew by although, I would suggest avoiding any big drinks before the show begins!

Transformers: Dark of the Moon Movie Poster
Just a few weeks ago we found out via the X-Men the real reason for the Cuban Missile Crisis and this week we found out what really drove the space race of the 1960’s. A ship from Cybertron crash landed on the dark side of the moon. It was a battle between the USSR and USA to see who could get there first. That was the reason, not attempting to push the boundaries of man’s knowledge and give them inspiration. Buzz Aldrin was sworn to secrecy until now! Ahhh, what little we know about our true US history and its motivations!

It’s been about a year since the last Autobot and Decepticon battle back on Earth. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) has a new girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and they live together in an old theater. He helped save the world not once, but twice and he can’t find a job and it’s wearing on him heavily. Maybe he’s not meant to be a 9 to 5 person, but the savior of the human race many times over so he should just hang back and chill until the next opportunity arises.

Abraham Lincoln once asked “At what point shall we expect the approach of danger?” to which his answer was “if it ever reach us, it must spring from amongst us. It cannot come from abroad.” This played true on different levels within the movie. Eventually with the discovery by the Autobots of what was on the dark side of the moon, another battle breaks out between humans, the Autobots and the Decepticons. This time, Chicago becomes the battlefield for the invading forces rather than Los Angeles.

There is something for just about everyone in the film. You have the science fiction aspect, conspiracy theories, over the top humor and situations, eye candy and wildly enormous battle sequences which are a good portion of the movie. The PG-13 rating for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo are very appropriate descriptions of the contents. But you have to wonder at times, why is it that the Autobots are just wheeled vehicles and they don’t innately fly or dig or as one character pointed out “get all the good stuff”? The movie lacked in creating any emotional connection to the characters, but did a great job with fights and blowing up stuff. Don’t expect a lot of touchy feely moments to connect emotionally with the characters. Do expect lots of anarchy, explosions and the drama leading to the massive amounts of damage! You know, the typical Michael Bay film.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Movie Review: Cars 2

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The animation continues to flow from Pixar. Cars 2 is their 12th animated feature. When the movie started they flashed a title card showing that they were celebrating their 25th anniversary. One lady in front of me said "No, that can't be" and another said "Must be...look it's right there" as she pointed to the screen. It started with Luxo Jr. in 1986 so, it would be 25 years. Funny that it started with a Jr and the current movie is a two!

Cars 2 Posters
Cars is not considered one of Pixar's best films, in fact many rank it towards the bottom of the list, if not the bottom. While not gathering the most critical acclaim, it has been very popular for Pixar and its parent company Disney because of the money they have made from the merchandising bonanza that the characters have been. Approximately $10 billion has been made in sales and the movie only came out in 2006. Hence one of the driving forces for the sequel. Maybe this is one that should have gone directly to blu-ray.

Before the main event like all Pixar films, we were treated to a short. The Toy Story ohana showed up for a Hawaiian Vacation. Taking place at their new residence, the toys are excited for a break because their new owner, Bonnie, is going with her family to Hawaii.
Mr Pricklepants and gang
When Ken and Barbie didn't successfully manage to sneak into Bonnie's luggage, the whole gang including new characters like Buttercup and Mr Prinklepants manages to treat Ken and Barbie to a Hawaiian vacation right there in the bedroom. Speaking of Mr Prinklepants, when I reviewed Toy Story 3 last year I mentioned about a Mr Prinklepants plush. It took the Disney store a while, but they finally got a plush and he now sits on my desk shelf overlooking me as I write and work on my computer. For the short, as a resident of Hawaii I found the jokes and stereotypes very funny. They only thing I think they missed was dropping a plug for the new Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa as the destination for Bonnie and her family which opens later this summer.

Into the meat and potatoes; Cars 2 reunites us with the gang in Radiator Springs. Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) is just waiting for Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) to come back from the Piston Cup circuit. The producers pay a little homage to Doc Hudson who was voiced by Paul Newman and passed away back in 2008. McQueen is ready to stay put until Mater unwittingly gets him entwined in a global race series to prove the worthiness of an alternative fuel. So Lightning plans to take Mater with him on the road to the countries of Japan, Italy and Great Britain for the World Grand Prix.

This is where the usual tight stories of Pixar started to unravel a bit. The movie instead of focusing on relationships got caught up in a spy story focusing on Mater. In Tokyo, blunder and mistake after lack of exposure to life outside of Radiator Springs results in a wrong place at the wrong time confusion with Finn McMissle (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) of British Intelligence thinking Mater is actually an American Spy. So much for "British Intelligence."

So you have the master villain, the evil scientist, the big henchmen,the grandiose plan, the suave spy, the novice spy and the clueless just being himself bystander. All the components are there for a great story, but they fall short for a feature Pixar story. After the total emotional sequences from Toy Story 3 in its rites of passage ending, Carl and Ellie's love story at the beginning of Up and the connection between the robots of Wall-E and Eve on a scorched Earth in Wall-E, there weren't any highly emotional moments that would make a man suddenly develop allergies...if you know what I mean. Pixar is known for drawing out the emotion and it just wasn't there for this go around.

The animation was top notch as always, although at times it was over stimulating to the senses. I could appreciate all the details for the locations. The bright neon signs in Tokyo, the Odaiba Ferris Wheel, the rainbow bridge, all icons of the location. One of the really fun parts of the Cars universe is how they took items that are found in our real world in real cities and modified them to exist in theirs. Cars going through airport security, finding a capsule hotel and using a Japanese style bathroom are a few examples of the anthromorphization of the mobile pieces of metal be it ship, crane, plane, train or automobile. But I found myself overwhelmed by all these details and trying to pay attention for any easter eggs that may have been placed with the nooks and crannies of the movie knowing that there were over 60 hidden in Toy Story 3.

The visuals are complex, the story is a bit weak for a feature release; this is probably the first Pixar release that will only hit a single and not go beyond a double. The short ran for five minutes and 113 minutes for the main feature. There is no easter egg at the end of the movie but the credits are fun to watch. Kids will love the movie for the action of the spy genre and humor of Mater. Adults will go ho hum without the strong emotional hook. I have a feeling that Pixar in order to boost the numbers for the film will do like they did with A Bug's Life and release another version of the film in a few weeks that will contain bonus scenes, maybe scrapbook photos of our heroes in the different locations. Oh, the movie is rated G for general audiences.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Movie Review: Green Lantern

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Of the summer super hero movies released to date, this is the weakest of the group so far. Not saying that it's bad, it just didn't live up to the expectations that has been set by Thor and the X-Men. Those other movies set the bar high for this block buster season and while it wasn't the brightest day or the blackest night, Green Lantern didn't land in the extremes, it was just fair to middling.

Green Lantern Movie Poster
Like so many of our modern day protagonists, our hero-to-be Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) has daddy issues. His dad was a great pilot who died in the call of duty while little Hal was watching. Little Hal grew up and also became a great pilot as demonstrated in a sequence taking cues from Top Gun with Maverick and Goose but in this rendition, the secondary pilot is nicknamed Sapphire and she just happens to be the bosses daughter, real name Carol Ferris (a brunette Blake Lively). Not only is she Jordan's flight team partner, but they used to be an item complicating the team dynamics. During a training sequence Jordan breaks the rules and ends up with severe consequences, although not as dire as what happened to Goose.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Lost Sector of the universe there is an evil force that has gotten loose, is traveling and now gaining strength. When it arrives in sector 2814 which is protected by a green lantern Abin Sur (an unrecognizable Temura Morrison) just one of 3600 green lanterns set up to protect the universe; the evil force fights and injures Abin Sur who escapes to the nearest inhabited planet which happens to be Earth. The power of the green lantern seems to have its own intelligence and is sent forth by Abin Sur to find a replacement for himself since he knows that he's dying. Who better to replace him but Earthling Hal Jordan.

Like any good super hero origin story the appointed hero-to-be has moments of doubt. Jordan ends up putting on the ring and is transported to the planet Oa where the Guardians who created the ring's power and the legion of green lanterns who use the ring's power is headquartered. The head lantern Sinestro (Mark Strong) feels that Jordan is pathetic as a replacement for Abin Sur who is revered among the lanterns. Jordan meets Tomar-Re and Kilowog (voiced by Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan respectively) who give him the background of the green lantern corps and training on how to use the power of the ring. Jordan doesn't believe he can do it and goes home to Earth. You could say that had an uh Oa moment.

Back on Earth, Abin Sur's body is found by the government and examined by a crypto zoologist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) who ends up getting infected by the evil force which was responsible for Abin Sur's death. Within Hammond the evil force grows and eventually causes a transformation of Hammond's body and attracts the larger evil force to Earth. Eventually Jordan has to make a decision if he's good enough and believes in himself enough to battle the evil force and win with the fate of the Earth and the girl hanging in the balance.

The pacing of the story was awkward with the segregation between planet Oa in the set up, then Earth and finally to the big show down. Sarsgaard as the infected guy just didn't seem right. He's a regular guy while having his own daddy issues manifested to bring out this part of him that just didn't seem to be there before in the short set up. The conflicts between Jordan, Hammond and Ferris seemed contrived and forced. When the big battles which gave the PG-13 rating for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence happened there was action of a milder type that didn't leave you hanging on the edge of your seat at any time wondering if the good guy was going to pull through. You know in the long run the good guy will pull through, but what will they have to go through in order to cross the finish line. Were there enough challenges that they overcame that made you want to cheer for them?

The effects laden moments of the film leave you with the ohhh and ahhh factor. Reynolds gets to show off his body both directly and indirectly as the lantern costume instead of being cloth is created by the force of the ring. The movements ebb and flow under the power of the lantern's will and constitutes the green light which constructs the suit and mask. With the intelligence of the ring it determines if the mask is needed or not. Couldn't we all use a mind reading ring! The acting is based on the script and so with the issues already mentioned the actors live up to what was given to them.

At the end of the movie, hang around until the middle of the credits. There is an extra scene that will set up for a sequel if the numbers and responses are good enough. When all 95 minutes were done, I wasn't left wanting to rush out of my seat to get out of there, but I also did think, is this all? So Green Lantern, welcome to the the land of fair to middling.

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June Aulani update

Here is a link to the complete set of pictures that I took today

Only a little more than two months before the resort opens. It's getting exiting. More and more on Twitter and Facebook about people in the different stages of the hiring process.

For this update I was planning on taking the tour to try to gather interior pics as the resort nears completion. I had received the information needed in order to book a tour. I had a date in mind but needed to double check before committing. When I stopped at the Ala Moana kiosk their systems were down. Apparently they were down for a while. I asked to confirm for the next morning and was informed of the system issue and it wouldn't be possible to set it up. I asked about calling someone else and was told that the office closed at 5:30pm. I would have figured if the main kiosk at the largest shopping center in the state of Hawaii was having system problems that the call center would have remained open to support the kiosk. No such luck. More on this later.

Shaggy Mickey and Duffy Bear
Now if you take the tour at one of the mainland theme parks they would give you extra fast pass tickets as a thank you for your time. Here in Hawaii, they are offering either a plush Mickey Mouse that is a bit "shaggy" or the other option? A Duffy the Disney bear. For those of you who don't know, Duffy is a stuffed bear made by Minnie for Mickey to keep him company on his travels. The furry guy was imported to the US from Tokyo DisneySea where Duffy is a headliner there as part of the kawai (cute) culture of Japan. They are crazy for Duffy in Japan bringing him along to the park, giving him his own seat and taking pictures with him everywhere. When new costumes for Duffy are released people will line up...ah, why get into the craze details. Just know that at Tokyo DisneySea people go nuts for Duffy and there is a lot more to the craze than just the stuffed bear and his outfits. So, since Disney is making a large marketing effort into the Japanese market, it would make sense that they would use Duffy as a reward for checking out Aulani. With the emphasis on the Japanese market, I asked if Duffy would be at the resort vacationing with Mickey and Minnie and if Duffy's companion, Shellie May would be there too. My contact didn't know.

One amenity that I found out for guests at Aulani is in regards to their internet access. Yes, it will be wireless! Hallelujah! After my last trip to Walt Disney World I wrote a letter. I was in a room where they provided wired access tethering me to the wall and their table and chair. For a 15 minute session, that would have been fine, but for sitting for hours to do a blog report or anything longer than 15 minutes, the chair was very uncomfortable. Afterward some fellow techie Disney fans clued me into bringing my own wireless router and how to set it up for usage. Hassles to carry, but better for working. Luckily the people at Aulani will not have to deal with those issues.

Guests at the Marriott Ihlani next door should thank Disney. Ihilani has been the home to the NFL Pro Bowl players for a few years now. Disney is going to be major competition for Marriott. It was just announced in USA Today this week that the Ihilani has completed an $18 million dollar renovation. They are also offering some specials who are staying three or more nights per the article. Note Disney, they are offering free internet!!

Heading out to the resort for this update was a very rare experience. At the stop I had several other people exit the bus with me and we all crossed Farrington Highway to head into Ko Olina. I was very surprised. It's usually just me or one other person every once in a while. To have a small group and walk to the main entrance in single file must have looked a little strange to any passersby zooming along to head into town.

Empty Clean water feature
The entrance to Ko Olina has a water feature on the right with the resort signage. For the past several times I've headed in, it's been empty but loaded with garbage and mushy stuff lining the bottom. Today it was cleaned out and had several special markings. I'm thinking that it will be operational next month when I venture in for my update.

I did a little different routine today for viewing the resort. After hitting the comfort station I did a clock wise walk of the resort when I've been doing counter clockwise all the other times. Noticed lots of smaller changes. The parking structure had a roadway with a gate installed. I saw bamboo planted around the resort. The main driveway entrance was paved with a stone like pattern where last month was preparing for a cement pour. The wall was moved back and I could walk on the sidewalk along the front of the property without having to walk in a special walkway constructed in the roadway. On the Diamond Head side of the resort some of the construction wall was removed and what appears to be the regular fencing wall was exposed. I could get a view without having to peer over the high construction wall.

Entrance getting ready for pour
Paved Entrance
Construction wall vs new fence
New Fence

The biggest changes were happening at the lagoon. My friend who lives in Ko Olina gave me a heads up but I didn't understand what she meant by construction traffic was crazy. Once I got there I viewed heavy construction equipment on the beach. Along the sides of the lagoon there were several locations where there was erosion resulting in little cliffs or edges. There were piles of sand, some pumped in from the lagoon itself that is being used to level out and create nice slopes for beach goers. You could already see in one area how badly the fix was needed once it was done!

Beach Reconstruction
Sand Piles
Smoothing the slope
Edge to be repaired

Due to the construction, I wasn't able to get to my regular spots to get shots showing some the the work in the Waikalohe Valley and other structures.

Along the Waianae side there were several spots where the construction wall was removed and I could get direct views into the site. It was nice not having to view up and over or back away from the wall in order to take some pictures.

Laniwai construction
Once inside Ihilani, I took more pictures that showed more construction where Laniwai is going. There was stone work going on to give the walls lava rock appearances. Lots of construction workers and tons of different trucks with vendor names on them going in and out. In the front entrance area there were very few construction workers roaming or working in the area.

Driveway fixture
There was one detail that I am a little confused at to what it is. It's in the driveway leading up to Makaala. I look at it and think street lamp, but it doesn't look like it could have light bulbs. It does look a bit like kukui nuts that have been skewered. Kukui nuts are also called Candle Nuts because they have an oil that can be burned. I'm wondering if this is what they are supposed to represent and are actually torches that line the driveway. If you know, could you let me know. Mahalo!

One area where I have been disappointed is the detailed information available. There is one cast member that any question I ask them the response is "I don't know." I've talked to this individual before and they know that I'm not buying. They are pleasant, but I get the feeling from this individual between responses, lack of effort to find answers or curiosity of the questions or even small talk and banter they come across as cold and uncaring. A couple other Cast Members are interesting to watch. They don't want to answer questions, they keep pushing me to take a tour of the facility, but they forget that even if I take the tour, information is going to change. I was originally told that there were not be a bus from the airport to Aulani. Now two different reps give different answers and when I asked if they are sure the answer was to take the tour. Even though I was looking at taking the tour, I still feel awkward and that it seems wrong since I know up front that I won't be buying. When I went back to the Ala Moana kiosk after taking the update photos the computers were still down!

Each time I've been going out over the past six months for update photos, I've stopped across the street at Two Scoops to pick up a quick bite. It's a small shop that serves hot dogs, BLTs and ice cream. Flavors for ice cream include Coco Mac, Hawaiian Mud Pie and Cotton Candy plus some traditional flavors like strawberry and vanilla. Check them out when you visit!

In any case, the Aulani Resort and Spa is really shaping up and I watch and see details filling in. The plants, lettering, the moving and removing of walls, the lack of workers in one area but heavy in another...all this with a little over 70 days to opening (at least as I write this). When all the walls come down the place is going to be amazing both with the resort and the lagoon. If you are interested in making a kamaaina or military discount booking contact Lindsey and let her know that Joel sent you!

In case you're wondering, I am not receiving income from mentioning anyone or anything in my postings. I am completely independent although a huge Disney fan. If you would like to support these postings and the updates I've been posting, at the top of the blog there is a PayPal Donate button. As an added bonus, in Hawaii we just celebrated Kamehameha Day. Part of the celebration is draping the Kamehameha Statue with giant lei. If you would like to see what putting a 30 foot lei on a statue is like, check out my video on YouTube.

Here is a link to the complete set of pictures that I took today

Friday, June 10, 2011

Movie Review: Super 8 (spoiler free)

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What appears to be the best kept secret for the movies happened this weekend. After seeing trailers for Super 8 you're left wondering just what is it braking out of the train car, scaring away dogs, putting fear into the towns folk and causing the disappearance of nine people. Usually weeks or months in advance there are clues as to what "it" is. Not this time around. I don't know, maybe they put some major damage clauses in contracts with everyone involved in the project that they wouldn't even dare risk it. The beauty was that walking into the theater I had no idea what to expect.

Super 8 Movie Poster
To ratchet up the hype, Twitter and Paramount teamed up. Two days before the advertised release they went through different venues to let people know that they could go to a special location for information about pre-release date shows. It happened to be showing at my regular theater in IMAX format. Regular 2D format would release on the scheduled date. Normally I would have waited, but this time I went: one because I was really interested and looking forward to the movie and two I had another M&Ms prize for $3 off a ticket. So for $7 I was able to see the IMAX version a day early.

Now here's where it gets tricky, reviewing without giving away any spoilers. It was directed and written by J J Abrams of Lost, the Star Trek reboot and Cloverfield fame with Steven Spielberg producing. Both men leave their fingerprints all over this movie. Right from the opening scene we're pulled into an emotional state. The slow camera movement and the minimal on screen action without words speak loudly tugging at the heart strings. From there the level of emotion is held tightly and pulled tight and then relaxed accordingly.

The emotional center is Joe (Joel Courtney). The year is 1979. Match Game is on TV, Disco is waning and the aftershock of Three Mile Island is weighing on the minds of Americans. Life events are changing rapidly for Joe. His dad who is a deputy for the small town of Lillian, Ohio doesn't think his friends are good enough given those changes. His friends are making a horror movie via a super 8 camera hence the name of the movie. While trying to capture a scene at the local train station, a train accident happens under mysterious circumstances. Afterward, strange things are starting to happen. Something on the train got loose but what is "it"? We don't know until about half way into the 112 minute movie. So like Cloverfield we don' t know what "it" is allowing the drama and action to build.

Speaking of "it", the lens flares are not "it". Abrams has used the lens flares before. We saw them used extensively in Star Trek. In Super 8, it was over done and became annoying. Any of the night shots had flares left and right and up and down. It would have been one thing if they were views through the camera the budding movie production team was using, but no it was from the mind of the director. Maybe he was using the flares as a type of misdirection to hide little clues in the background as to what was happening.

While we're talking about clues, there was a short clip that just recently started making its rounds on the internet. Abrams took a page from the Lost game book. Pierre Chang had orientation films for the Dharma Initiative that outside of the hour each week on network TV gave those little extra information nuggets to help explain what was happening in the bigger world expanding the little slices of story we were given. If you do a little poking around with Google, I'm sure you'll find the Super 8 "leaked" footage.

The emotional journey of Joe with his friends and family in dealing with the accident drive the story and keep our eyes glued to the screen and our minds scrambling to try to put pieces of the story puzzle together. The coming of age story has threads similarly woven within Goonies or even ET. While they didn't use quite the same language those 80s movies had it had its own to earn a PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and some nudity. There were a couple of items that were introduced that didn't have a completely satisfying explanation or ending but the overall picture was well worth seeing.

When you go, do not leave as the credits begin. Take a moment to breathe deep to take in the ending and make sure that you stay through the credits. The bonus that you get gives the movie a satisfying conclusion tying together some of the loose ends. It is a great little treat for those that wait!

As a side note this week. Have you had the aggravating experience of someone who talks or texts throughout the movie? Or do they even pull out their phone to check texts or calls or try to use them as a flashlight during the show with the screen light shining as a bright high beam beacon in the middle of the dark theater? I had it happen while watching Super 8, a man having a conversation on the phone during the middle of the movie. The funny thing was that I had noticed that they didn't run the theater trailer telling people not to text, call or talk during the movie. The Alamo Drafthouse had that situation and they kicked out the patron who called back and left a nasty profanity laced voicemail for management. Alamo Drafthouse turned around and created a PSA (Public Service Announcement) using that voicemail. Here is the link to the censored version over at YouTube. If you want the uncensored version, check the suggestions on the side of the censored version. As I write this between the two versions it has about 3.5 MILLION hits in less than a week. AHHHH, if only all theaters would enforce their own rules in the same way! Oh, I did let my management know about the situation and not having the house rules before the movie. The manager said he would check with the projectionist because it was supposed to be there for the IMAX theater.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class

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Two weeks ago there was only one new movie to rule the weekend and this week there is only one new release, but will it rule the weekend coming after the long Memorial Day weekend releases. X-Men: First Class comes into the weekend with formitable foes including Thor, Captain Jack Sparrow, a furry panda and three guys trying to figure out what happened during their overnight bender. The mutants learned how to control their powers and be worthy adversaries!

X-Men: First Class Movie standup
Some people call this a reboot of the series and some people are calling it just a pure and simple prequel. I would agree with both. First off, it is a prequel. It brings us back to the day when a young Charles Xavier, Raven, and Erik Lehnsherr are first discovering their powers. Charles and Raven at the Xavier estate and Erik at the hands of the Nazis. These few moments in the life of each one sets them on a path that will both bring together and then divide them. Jump ahead from the 1940s to the 1960s where we meet up with the adult versions of Xavier (James McAvoy), Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). These paths end up crossing in what is the real story of what caused the Cuban Missile Crisis, wink. In a sense, the movie is a reboot taking characters that we've already met and using them to tell their individual stories from their earlier lives. But because they are not telling us the same story again, is it truly a reboot?

Part of the fun of the summer movie season is the big block buster movies that spend a lot of money on special effects and effects that look good. This movie delivers on multiple detail levels whether it's the alterations they've made for locations to add extra features, tweaks to the appearances of objects or, for this movie specifically, the mutant powers which come alive before our eyes. The blue skin of Mystique or Beast along with his blue skin and additional fur or watching Angel's wings come from resting form to wings that can lift her aloft like a pixie are examples for the blending of art and science to make a believable story.

Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon...sorry no six degree of separation jokes here) feels that the mutants are the next stage of evolution brought about by the nuclear age causing the changes within the DNA of a human. Bryan Singer who directed and wrote the original X-Men and X2 ended up providing the story for First Class. Singer in his story tied actual history, that of the Cuban Missile Crisis to the formation of Professor X's X-Men and Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants. Shaw's idea is to force the USSR and the USA to use their nukes against each other thinking they would take out the bad guy being of course, the other guy while not knowing the truly bad guy, Shaw, was the puppet master pulling the strings.

The movie runs 132 minutes and it's needed. Over the course of the movie introductions to about a dozen or so different mutants are covered. Along the way, if you've seen any of the previous movies, you'll be going "oh...that's why" or "ahhhh" as little pieces of the X-men universe, personas, devices, tie-ins or future mutants are put forth, some just as little nuggets, to be discovered or explained. By the time the movie ends you'll be left wanting for more.

The only part of the movie that was weak to me was the development of the relationship between Charles and Erik. Erik was a man with a chip on his shoulder with a task to accomplish due to his Nazi captors. It's understandable after being tourtured. Charles had the pampered life of privilege. When the two team up to accomplish an extremely difficult task, yeah, they are friendly. But in the end, when Charles says, "Killing will not bring you peace." to which Erik responds "Peace was never an option." you just know that no good will come from it. As the two "friends" diverge and Mystique chooses Magneto, she comments how Charles can never fully understand since his power is not betrayed by his appearance. She has a good point.

Now comes the question will they do a sequel of the prequel, or will they jump to somewhere else in the time line of the X-Men universe. We'll just have to wait and see. If they can keep the writing and action on par with this movie, I'll be there to buy a ticket as this was better than both X-Men: The Last Stand and the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movies.

The movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language. I was hoping there would be an Easter egg that would tie some part of the X-Men universe into the upcoming Avengers movie but you don't have to wait to the end as one wasn't given.

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