First let me start off by saying that both of these movies alone were two of my three most anticipated movies this summer.
I absolutely loved X-Men growing up, and while the first two movies of the original trilogy were great, they lacked, and I won't even discuss X-Men: Last Stand. The Wolverine movie was mediocre as well, but enjoyable I suppose. This movie however, completely trumped what those movies had to offer. It provided a great story, that involved zero Wolverine, who while being a great overall character, focusing 4 straight x-men movies solely on him was pretty much shoving him down our throats. This movie provided the perfect change.
Some say the movie was a reboot, others say it's merely a prequel, i see it as both. While it seems on the exterior that it changes the entire story, it really doesn't. There's not many plotholes that don't tie this to the original trilogy, at least not like the Wolverine movie did.
Now, the reasons i enjoyed this were first, instead of just casting characters who look the part, they cast people who could actually act. The entire movie has near perfect acting from start to finish. And while you may recognize a few actors, notably Kevin Bacon, James McAvoy, and Oliver Platt, most are relatively new and obscure. But while being novice, most do a fine job carrying their character.
Next there's the characters. Unlike the other films, this film features mostly obscure characters from the universe. Aside from Magneto, Mystique, and Xavier, unless you read comics or collected cards, you won't know who Emma Frost, Banshee, and Havok are. That's what added to the fun for me. You didn't know what these guys will bring to a battle. You knew X would read minds and manipulate reality, and that Magneto would create carnage with metal, but how would Banshee or Angel look in combat. We get that, and more.
While there aren't many twists or turns in the movie, it develops the bond and relationship that Magneto and Xavier have. Speaking of Magneto, let me say this, if Ledger wins an Oscar for his portrayal of Joker, then Fassbender should easily win best actor for Magneto. He completely carried the film with his presence. It really reminded me of Daniel Day Lewis as Bill The Butcher from Gangs of New York. Every time he has a line you're captivated. He displays every emotion possible throughout the movie and you really feel for him from start to finish. Yes the story had a lot to do with it, but it takes a skilled actor to pull it off correctly.
If you're an X-Men fan, or if you like well crafted movies, this one is for you. It'll illicite every emotion you want in a movie. And for a movie that's based on mutants and freaks, it's strangely powerful.
Super 8 was on my radar from it's first preview. JJ Abrahms, and Area 51, I was sold immediately. As more details of the film emerged I sort of lost some of my anticipation. Kids filming a monster movie see a train wreck and are the focal point of the movie. How dull does that sound? First, kids in movies suck nearly 100% of the time. Very rarely will you find quality child actors who do their part well. Most come across as whiny or just flat out dicks. This movie however, had none of those problems. Then there's the fact that they sort of stopped mentioning monsters and Area 51. I started to think that my initial hype for the movie was unwarranted. Maybe instead of a cool monster, they were going to take the contact route and do something silly like making the monster a figment of their imagination or something. Again, that was not the case.
The movie starts off with a little boy at his mothers wake after she was killed in an accident. The narrative goes on to tell you that the boy and his father weren't really close, it was the mom and boy. This comes up throughout the movie as the dad, a local deputy sheriff is distant and more worried about work than taking care of his kid, and the boy never really depended on his dad for anything, so when things start happening, he has nobody to turn to.
As the story carries on, you come to find out that the kid and his friends are making a zombie movie. His best friend tells him that he got the cute girl from school to join the cast as the wife to the protagonist and he is elated. He does his best to hide his emotions, but you can see it in his face as he puts makeup on her before they film their first scene. She seems to be his way of getting over the loss of his mother. The one he can turn to. Before they start filming the director notices a train approaching so he tries to get the scene shot as the train passes by. As the kid stands there and watches her wonderful acting as the wife, he glances and notices that a truck has driven onto the tracks and derails the train. Here's where one of the best destruction scenes in film history occurs. It's simply amazing. Just train car after train car goes flying and exploding in an amazing 5-10 minute set piece that was both intense and fun to watch.
I won't go much further, but the film manages to get every ounce of those kids. They act well, they are pretty much the focal point, and they rarely get in the way of the film itself. The story is pretty well done, despite being a bit cliche, and the monster is pretty badass.
All in all, i was surprised these movies were so good.