Movies releasing today: Morally ambiguous mutants and morally ambiguous lawyers

If you're not in the mood for drama - teen drama (38% Fresh), family drama (73% Fresh) or Afrikaans romantic drama - then your high profile choices this weekend in South Africa are as follows:

X-Men - First Class: This fifth X-Men comic-to-film adaptation is a prequel that plunges the viewer, and the beloved Marvel characters, back in history. Set during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, First Class examines the "coming out" of the first generation of mutants, and exactly how the close relationship of Professor X/Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) soured. Multiple popular characters appear in the film, including Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), Emma Frost / White Queen (January Jones), Havok (Lucas Till) and Azazel (Jason Flemyng), just to name a few.

With a current Rotten Tomatoes rating of 98% Fresh, X-Men: First Class looks to be shaping up as Marvel's best ever adaptation; its own The Dark Knight. Perhaps it should be called Xcellent-Men then? Anyway, a quick skim through reviews sees critics calling First Class energetic, exceptionally well acted and featuring outstanding special effects. Plus the film has an enjoyable globe-trotting, Connery Bond-esque feel, and, well, that certainly didn't hurt The Incredibles. Trailer Tuesday profile of X-Men: First Class on my blog here.

The Lincoln Lawyer: Based on the crime novel by Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer sees Matthew McConaughey leave lazy romantic comedy turf and return to the genre that launched his career (Remember A Time To Kill?). In The Lincoln Lawyer McConaughey plays a morally frigid, small fry defense attorney - operating out of his car - who finds his conscience pricked when he's called on to defend a playboy (Ryan Phillippe) accused of beating a prostitute. Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, Frances Fisher and John Leguizamo round out the cast.

The Lincoln Lawyer is a solid 84% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. As a courtroom thriller the film apparently offers nothing new, but then again we're not often exposed to the genre these days. Much of The Lincoln Lawyer's success rests on McConaughey's performance and he unleashes his full charisma in this slickly made and entertaining film. His fans will no doubt be delighted.


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