Notes from the Back Row 

First Class is classy fun

Geek is the new chic. Gamers, hackers and code monkeys are suddenly scoring the types of chicks usually reserved for jocks, pretty boys and trust fund douches. And not just because technology is where all the new billionaires are coming from these days.

Personally I think the recent rise of comic book movies is also helping break down doors. Geek is big money now that the combination of CGI technology and lack of original ideas in Hollywood mean comic stories can finally be done justice. As such, X-Men: First Class, opening Friday at the Village 8, is poised to be a massive success despite a ho-hum trailer and hard-to-sell concept (kids as X-Men? WTF?).

Set in the 1960s Cold War, First Class is the fifth X-Men flick (if you count Wolverine) but with a smart script and solid acting it actually re-energizes what was a floundering franchise.

In this origin story we learn that Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy from Wanted) used to be a real charmer back before the baldness set in and his future nemesis Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender from Inglourious Basterds) had some pretty rough times at the hands of an Auschwitz doctor-turned-nutbar (Kevin Bacon, slapping it on pretty thick but just pulling it off).

The two mutants become friends thanks to the CIA, which needs a hand with the whole Cold War conflict with the Soviets. Chuck and Erik then hit a couple swinging strip clubs and a few other old-school set pieces to create their band of merry mutants. And then it's off to save the world.

Director Matthew Vaughn is an action specialist with a comic book pedigree ( Kick-Ass) and Bryan Singer (who directed the first two X-Men , a.k.a. the good ones) is credited as one of the writers (he even ties the opening scene of First Class to his original X-Men flick) so First Class certainly has geek street cred.

The acting, even from the supporting mutants, is solid, the story is intelligent and there is a blatant "coming-out-of-the-closet" parallel for people who like thematic depth with their summer blockbuster ass-kicking and explosions. All in all, X-Men ­ - First Class feels more like an old school James Bond spy flick than a 2011 summer tent pole but it looks slick and watches much faster than its 130-minute runtime.

Speaking of pitching tents, First Class also stars January Jones (TV's Mad Men ) as Kevin Bacon's frosty sidekick (too frosty perhaps) and Jennifer Lawrence and Rose Byrne also sport enough cleavage to remind us the '60s were a real groovy time.

I guess we should all pour some on the block and reminisce for Rogers and all the Blockbuster stores that will close down this month. Even though they never had one of those shady/awesome porn rooms in the back and they essentially put the mom-and-pop-movie-lover video stores out of business, Blockbuster wasn't all bad - they had good selection and were the first joint to really take their snack section seriously so we didn't have to go to a whole 'nother store to get our almond M&Ms. Rogers, despite being the only game in town, also did a pretty good job with the selection and the snacks, and will be missed.

And thus the DVD is officially dead. Which means Hackers , the 1995 compu-thriller (starring Fisher Stevens and Angelina Jolie with short hair), will be referred to as just "The Download of the Week."

Hackers is cheesy but fun and it set up a future where the geek shall inherit the earth. That future is now.

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