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‘Inception’ wake-up call -- ‘X-Men: First Class’ director jettisons similar dream-time scenes

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Director Matthew Vaughn is hard at work on ‘X-Men: First Class’ in London but he took some time out Sunday to catch a screening of ‘Inception.’ He enjoyed the Christopher Nolan epic immensely -- even though it prompted him to scrap a dozen pages of the ‘First Class’ script.

‘I saw ‘Inception,’ which I loved,’ Vaughn said Monday. ‘But my heart sank when I saw that a few of the ideas we had were up [on the screen]. So it’s either leave it in and look as if you’re copying or change things. We completely ripped out about 12 pages of the script and the storyboards.’

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The jettisoned sequence was a sort of dream-space combat, according to Vaughn; that reminded me of ‘psi war’ scenes like the one here on the right from ‘The Uncanny X-Men’ No. 117 way back in 1979, but the filmmaker said for the film the fight involving Professor X (James McAvoy) and some other mutants was to going to be presented with spinning rooms and other physics-bending imagery -- visions that he felt drifted too close to signature moments in ‘Inception,’ which has now piled up $363 million in worldwide box office and garnered some of the strongest reviews of any 2010 release.

The scramble to change the script adds to the flurry of activity on ‘First Class,’ which has gone through numerous revisions (there are six people with writing or story credits listed on IMDB, although that may change by the time it reaches the screen) and Vaughn only just inked the deal to direct in early May.

Vaughn is coming off of Kick-Ass (which hits DVD and Blu-ray this week, check back Tuesday for more on that) and says he is still adjusting to the idea of working for a major studio, Twentieth Century Fox, on the reboot of a huge special-effects franchise that has pulled in $1.5 billion in worldwide box office with three films and one spin-off in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.’ ‘I’m an employee now,’ Vaughn said with a wry chuckle. ‘I’m not used to that.’

‘X-Men: First Class’ is a prequel and franchise revival that goes back to the younger days of Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X, and Erik Lehnsherr, better known as Magneto and portrayed in this film by Michael Fassbender. The movie marks the return of Bryan Singer to the mutant saga; the director of the first two ‘X-Men’ films is back as a producer on this project and he has a ‘story by’ credit on the screenplay. The film is scheduled for a June 3, 2011 release in the U.S.

-- Geoff Boucher

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