Tag Archives: fassbender

The Acting Masterclass #2 – Michael Fassbender

Image courtesy of CinemaBlend.com

Image courtesy of CinemaBlend.com

One of the most captivating performers to emerge from the last 10 years, German/Irish actor Michael Fassbender is certainly proving his worth.

After his breakout performance in Zack Snyder’s graphic novel homo-erotic fest, ‘300’, Fassbender began a working relationship with London artist/filmmaker Steve McQueen (not that one), and was critically acclaimed for his role as activist Bobby Sands in ‘Hunger’.

Since then, Mr Fassbender has undoubtedly become one of the most popular and sought after actors working in Hollywood.

My admiration for him stems from his ability to inhabit so many diverse and original characters. One that has been a huge testimony to this is his astounding portrayal of a sex addict in McQueen’s ‘Shame’. A film about a high-flyer working in New York that has an emotionally crippling form of hypersexuality, and engages in frequent acts of onanism and intercourse.

In the movie, his regimented lifestyle spirals out of control when his estranged sister, Sissy (Cary Mulligan), turns up on his doorstep. The most vivid turning point of the movie for me is at this point, where Fassbender’s character, Brandon, immediately begins to display signs of stress, aggravation and almost seething mental torment at the spanner his sister throws in to the works. Fassbender displays this with a conviction that is truly engaging – his uneasiness being a stark contrast to his behaviour around his co-workers, his friends and more predominantly with women. The character of Brandon, for me, is perhaps the most personal, insightful and beautifully performed role by the actor. It also has an incredible pay off.

Though his affinity with independent film has brought him much success. Fassbender has also made an extremely popular and easy transition into mainstream cinema. Last year, he starred as a young ‘Erik Lensherr’, delightfully preceded by Sir Ian McKellen, in the 60’s set comic-book movie, X-Men: First Class. This year, he featured in the lukewarm/fairly positively received ‘Prometheus’ as the android ‘David’.

In First Class, Fassbender oozes charm, danger and Bond-esque cool. Notably basing much of his performance on Sean Connery’s 007 and the overall aesthetic of Dr. No in many of his one-to-one scenes, not to mention disregarding Sir Ian’s performances of the character of Erik, and completely making it his own. It was a breath of fresh air to see such a well-known villain take on the role of the sympathetic, a man who could be a hero tragically fall that we, the audience, can so easily root for. And this was very much down to how Michael approached the character, his reasonings for his actions, his methods and his emotional turmoil.

Oddly enough, his most recent successful performance, in ‘Prometheus’ – is a completely different animal. His mysterious motives kept relatively in the dark for the duration of the movie is overshadowed by an obvious and unflattering form of self-possession. He teems with icy demeanour, and engages the other characters almost subjectively in parts. Fassbender plays this off with such an arrogance, and knowing, that it’s nearly impossible to not notice or appreciate the dedication he put into the character. Unquestionably the film’s saving grace in my opinion.

Of course, no actor can be without their stinkers, and Fassy in no exception, from the ‘promising on the outside’ ‘A Dangerous Method’, which I found utterly non-compelling and marred by a dire script. To the meathead favourite ‘300’. But these are examples of the ill-conceived. Frankly, I see this man becoming one the greatest actors to ever grace the screen. 2012 may have been the year of Fassbender…. But let’s see how the next one pans out….

#25 ‘Prometheus’ (2012)

Fass obviously saw his future wang endowment after gazing into his cosmic crystal ball


*Noomi Rapace

*Michael Fassbender

*Charlize Theron

*Logan Marshall-Green

*Idris Elba

Director:- Ridley Scott


Without question, Prometheus is the most anticipated movie of 2012 – argue with it what you will.. But it’s a cold hard fact. Namely because it heralds the return to the sci-fi genre of one Sir Ridley Scott – one of the greatest filmmakers of our time. And after over 30 years since his first sci-fi feature, Alien, Mr Scott returns to the franchise that chained one of the greatest film series of our time. But has he, and such a wonderfully talented cast delivered what we’ve eagerly been anticipating?

In a nutshell – Prometheus is a sci-fi spectacle that delves into one of the most posed questions by the human race. Where do we come from? After discovering ancient markings courtesy of ancient civilisations that have a striking parallel – Doctors Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Marshall-Green) lead a 17-strong expedition paid by the Weyland Corporation to investigate a distant planet literally written in the stars, in the hope of finding the answers they seek to the beginnings of human life.

On a production standpoint – Prometheus is visually astounding. Seamlessly blending physical sets with amazing computer generated imagery. Landscapes and beautifully shot vistas are undeniably epic in their scale, beauty and atmospheric effect… And give the film an extremely grandiose aura, harkening to some of Scott’s more recent work. It certainly gives credence to the frequent statement from various medias that Prometheus is a BIG film, in all its aspects and ideas. Building a whole new blueprint to work from (Yes that’s a minor spoiler, this film does bait for sequels). With a production on this scale and a superb bout of timely effort by the designers, the performances and stunt work in some external action scenes are lifted to a higher plane – far away from the craptastic green screen factory line that Hollywood have churned mile after mile of uninspiring bloke flicks on a continual cycle. A very refreshing and welcome shift for a big budget production. No doubt Ridley has set a benchmark here.

Unfortunately, that is where the film’s positive notes end. Because the film, as an entire package, is extremely disappointing.

Prometheus’ running idea of challenging opposing beliefs is highly abundant throughout the film’s first half. Irrevocably, it does nothing to drive the plot or premise of the film – leads to absolutely no character development or actual culmination, and certainly does not make for memorable, or even notable dialogue between the crew mates. A strong aspect of Scott’s ‘Alien’, was the camaraderie between the team aboard the Nostromo. As opposed to this film – With what is a rather extensive crew,  are barely even given arm’s-length to stretch their characters and are, as predicted, merely just lambs to the slaughter. Shaw and Holloway’s relationship is kind of a surprise(?)… we get a teeny bit of insight on their past during one scene midway through the film – but as a whole, the exposition police are still at the station eating donuts.  Shaw, individually, is actually given a few brief flashback moments thanks to some nosey digging of synthetic bod ‘David’ (a pitch perfect Fassbender). But it only amounts to more questions surrounding the Doctor’s ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ of there are really answers out there for what she’s looking for. It’s a real shame, as these ideas surrounding the subject are logical and reasonable – but it’s not constructively or appropriately developed. Rapace borders from passionate scientist come religious optimist (notably pitted against her partner Charlie – who is more privy to the scientific theory of humanity’s origin), to a reasonably small-scale heroine. In perhaps one of the closest scenes to Kane’s chestburster surprise in Alien, Rapace’s Shaw is subject to some pretty gut wrenching stuff. Subsequently stepping over that border aforementioned. For me, Noomi Rapace doesn’t really excel here – more a case of what she was given to work with.

Elsewhere there’s an impressive performance from Charlize Theron, as Weyland overseer, Vickers. Using her icy attributes and pragmatic nature to carry the film’s more ‘diplomatic’ moments and rather channelling franchise poster-girl Ellen Ripley. Idris Elba was a major surprise as perhaps another throwback to the early Alien movies, playing the ship’s captain – Janek. There’s a definite attitude, a groove that he runs on – engaging in some interesting sequences with the two female leads. Though his screen time was small at best, he was perhaps one of the more characterised crew members of Prometheus.

Michael Fassbender, is on another level as the ship’s caretaker/android ‘David’, who oversees the operation of the Prometheus for the two years that the crew remain in stasis. Our introduction to David is probably my favourite sequence in the entire movie. Fassbender almost seems like he’s fresh out of the mould – the mannerisms, a cold and disconcerting tone and quite often humourous nature really notches up some points. Really something. Proving yet again that he is one of the most versatile and talented actors working today.

Prometheus – though with its stunning visuals and fairly strong cast. Massively falters on its most important aspect – the story. With a very intriguing premise, and being overwhelmed with anticipation being such a huge Ridley Scott fan – I was disheartened to see such a promising start keel over near the half way hurdle. It spills out of steady hands into a structure that is fragmented and a very loosely ended narrative. Seriously dampening the efforts from the cast.

Without speculating about sequels – there’s an immediate brain wave after watching the film that not enough back story or development is given to the planet-dwelling (sort of) antagonists. Rendering the film’s last 20-30 minutes nose-pinchingly redundant. Additionally, one of the film’s most important and key moments – unfortunately destroys the entire idea of this being an Alien prequel, completely blowing one of the most mystifying aspects of the franchise’s history out of the water. Fact is, yes it is an Alien prequel, regardless of what’s been reported (sharing ‘strands of Alien DNA’ is a double-entendre, people). Even though some of the references to the franchise are incidentally misplaced that it almost seems less ambiguous and more ‘here look at this little easter egg we tacked on’.

Undoubtedly, opinions will be split right down the middle for Ridley Scott’s return to science fiction, and though the film sets out to ask the great question. We are left asking ourselves a shit load more by the end…


#15 X-Men: First Class (2011)

Singer's initial casting for 'The Usual Suspects' tweenquel

**MILD SPOILER ALERT** (Ah, who am I kidding, you’ve already seen this)


* James McAvoy

* Michael Fassbender

* Jennifer Lawrence

* Nicholas Hoult

* Kevin Bacon

* January Jones

Director:- Matthew Vaughn

Not a conventional review of sorts. But more of an analysis of the two leads. Their characters, which I believed, to be the most rewarding part of the film.

It’s safe knowledge that this decade-old Marvel film franchise was indeed stale and needed a jump-start into the new decade. The Wolverine stand-alone shit-fest was the last straw in many eyes, and it came with a subsequent outcry of ‘Less Hugh Jackman: More everyone else.’

Directed by Matthew Vaughn, British producer and director of 2010’s acclaimed adaptation of Mark Millar’s ‘Kick-Ass’, X-Men: First Class is a welcome addition to the ongoing onslaught of superhero films. Which not only leaves a wider scope in development, but also may possibly be far superior than X2. One of the best films in the entire genre. Originally, franchise stalwart Bryan Singer was attached to direct the prequel, but was replaced by Vaughn, while Singer stayed on board as producer. A genuinely smart move by Fox (for a change), and practical regarding Singer’s prior success.

With Singer on board and Vaughn’s credentials on the up, many fans were excited. Would there be much connection to the first 3 films? Would a bridge between them appear? Will they cast Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart as full-on CG plastic Magneto and Xavier in their yoof?

So Fox went against my better judgment (which was for them to re-sign Stewart and McKellan and cartoonify them again to laughable effect – no seriously, I really did) and cast Scottish breakout star, and relative unknown to Hollywood – James McAvoy as Charles Xavier. While the role of Erik Lensherr went to Screen Actors Guild award winner, Michael Fassbender. Who was justifiably cast based on his strong and memorable performance in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds from 2009. With a massive act to follow, they not only positively recreate the characters, but channel enough of their predecessors to not question the director’s decision to cast them.

The plot of X-Men: First Class is a combination of fact and fiction. In the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis of ’62, the CIA gain knowledge of the existence of mutants, humans with extraordinary abilities and powers. Agent Moira McTaggart (Rose Byrne), seeks the help of Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), an Oxford genetics expert, to aid the CIA in diffusing the danger posed by connections between the USSR and a powerful mutant called Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Xavier, aided by new friend and fellow mutant Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) and under the supervision of Oliver Platt’s unnamed agent, put together a team of young mutants from around the US, including Raven Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence), Dr Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), Sean Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones) and Alex Summers (Lucas Till). As the threat of World War III looms over the United States.

Xavier is on his way to becoming a full-fledged Professor of genetics at Oxford University. McAvoy displays in smirking detail his passion for his studies as his most obvious attribute (much like Stewart’s), while also acknowledging that he is a young man. Not a bald, crippled OAP. Charles loves to get drunk, have it large with the lads, and use his superior intellect to, well, kinda get nekkid with the ladies. Too much emphasis in the opening quarter of Xavier’s ‘Professor Personality’ would no doubt make him extremely unlikable character in terms of realism, and fundamentally – the natural aspect of being a man in his mid to late 20’s. Here, the dialogue and structure of Xavier’s first scenes are smart, funny, entertaining and still kept me intrigued to find out what exactly makes Charles Xavier tick.

Michael Fassbender, again, totally reinvented his character in Erik. As a vengeful, emotionally torn anti-hero. A man thirsty for retribution against the Nazi regime that had claimed the life of his mother, and had subsequently torn his heart in two. After some years, we see his travels to France and Argentina on the trail of Sebastian Shaw. With the eventuality of bumping into Xavier, just for plot convenience, whilst on a collaborative mission with the CIA to locate and seize Shaw during his Love Boat cruise with Emma Frost (a stunningly dull January Jones). It’s a debatable theory that Magneto is the antithesis to Xavier. Whilst being united in their quest for finding and acknowledging other mutants, the two have a stark contrast in ways of operating. Charles more in line with helping normal humans against crisis and danger, whereas Erik has dreams of ascension and believes mutants to be superior in all manners. Like a two-headed coin perhaps.

Erik’s power (magnetism) is fuelled by emotion, the most prominent one being ‘anger’. But with a little help from Charles, Erik finds a balance and is able to harness his abilities somewhere between ‘rage and serenity’. It’s actually in a particular sequence from which I just quoted, that Erik finally masters his gifts. Considering the fact that he’d use it eventually to threaten the lives of millions doesn’t seem to tarnish this very poignant and impressive exchange between Fassbender and McAvoy. Many have said, and I’d agree, that Fassbender’s continental trip for blood is much akin to that of a James Bond-esque agent. He’s cold, calculating, charmingly suave and pulls no punches into finding the man he’s looking for. In true sense, one cool customer.

The canon of the original trilogy does not burden First Class in my opinion, aside from setting up the building and dissolving of Xavier and Magneto’s friendship. I guess the location of their ‘secret’ base was to be handled. Other than that, there’s hardly anything to tie this film to X-Men 1. Or WOLVERINE, thank fuck. The premise of the film is million times more engaging than other entries, due to its reference to real-life events – Selecting the potential danger of World War III – obviously not a very original choice in the simplest of terms. However, the convincing amalgamation of science-fiction and nuclear warfare, fused with a multi-faceted story of revenge, hope, uprising and redemption, helps to put a very unique stamp on this film.

Supporting cast, mainly the X-Men themselves, could be considered under-utilised next to the two leads. Particularly Lucas Till, and Zoe Kravitz. Till is given little to do after his lengthy training montage. Caleb Landry Jones, who is dubbed Banshee, is probably the most prominent character in the action scene context. Forcibly pushed of a ledge, jumping from a jet high in the air into the ocean, not to mention saving a fellow X-Man from the opposing faction The Hellfire Club.

There are a few dud performances, i wont lie. January Jones is positively dreadful as X-Men fanboy pin-up Emma Frost. A very one dimensional, monotonous and almost near-comatose portrayal. There’s absolutely nothing recognisable of the character I was familiar with. Not even the tits were worth a mark… Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique is also given a character arc, but ends up falling flat. Sounding more like a whiney teenager about to get her first period, rather than the headstrong, powerful advocate for mutant power she becomes later. Additional, her rather ‘forced’ attraction to Hank McCoy seems more played out purely for romantics and similar demographics. The only logical reasoning was to give McCoy a transformation story with a little more.. ‘zazz.’

In conclusion to this, McAvoy, Fassbender and Bacon are the ones that carry the film. Along with a few supporting members. It’s a saving grace. If those lacklustre performances were up to par, then they really would’ve made a very good film, great.

So, apart from the cast, what else did I really like about First Class? Well the sets are impressively in accordance with its 60’s setting. The stylish wardrobe, infrequent use of the word ‘groovy’ and an integrated score of a modern action movie from Henry Jackson, with hints of 1960’s pop. It’s those simple, little aspects that really draw the line under this film. Considering the setting for ‘Wolverine’ didn’t really seem to reveal itself in terms of era.

Closing comments. X-Men: First Class is a frank, engaging and highly enjoyable superhero/action film. Its strongest part being the relationship between the leads and the dramatic ramifications that could be explored in future sequels . I loved the plot, certain action sequences to name a few, the dialogue and the final scene taking place on the island – One which everyone was expecting I thought.

I wait with bated breath for more like this.


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