June 20, 2011

X-Men: First Class

Last night I went with my dad to see X-Men: First Class after weeks of anticipation- and it did not disappoint. Yes, there was a great hype around the film, a hype almost as large as Alex Summers' ego (watch the film if you don't get that), but I believe that Matthew Vaughn has directed my favorite film in the X-Men series.

From left: Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Rose Byrne as Dr. Moira McTaggert, January Jones as Emma Frost, Jason Flemyng as Azazel, Nicholas Hoult as Dr. McCoy/Beast, Lucas Till as Alex Summers/Havok, Zoe Kravitz as Angel Salvadore, Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique and James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier.

I have to admit that it is a difficult statement for me to make. The original two X-Men films were dark and real and the pain and rejection that the mutants felt was tangible on the screen. I really did love them. Just don't get me started on The Last Stand.

That being said, Vaughn's approach to First Class was unique to the series in that it was not a comic book being turned into a movie, but rather a comic book that was transferred to the screen. The wit and humor of the original comics was still there while still framing an action packed story. Perhaps the most purposefully direct homage to the comics is the film's training montage, which literally frames the images in comic book panels across the screen. Pretty clever.

The character development throughout the film was pretty good, although I did feel that some parts were lacking. First, there's Professor X. Honestly, as one of the most interesting characters in comic history and the most openly mysterious
in the original trilogy, I expected a greater expansion on how his views were shaped, yet he seems to have innately had them. I guess that's acceptable, but I would have liked a bit more. Not that James McAvoy didn't do a fantastic job. He really nailed Professor X's ambitions and character while remaining a likable leader.

Also fantastic was Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, who, as I have mentioned in earlier posts, I have a bit of a crush on. Still, she captured Mystique's body image struggles and desire to fit in perfectly. (Not anorexia. She has a little problem where she's blue). Also standing out in my mind was Nicholas Hoult (of About a Boy fame) as Dr. Hank McCoy aka Beast. His body image struggles and bond with Mystique proved to be one of the defining interactions of the film and really showed how Mystique turned into the villainess she did. In addition, January Jones was smoking hot as Emma Frost - super sexy and alluring but hard as, well, diamonds. Kevin Bacon was perfectly adequate as lead villain Sebastian Shaw, although he didn't bring anything special to the role.

Still, the true standout of this film had to be Michael Fassbender as future villain Magneto. His emotional turmoil and pain as a Holocaust survivor who was emotionally tortured to release his power is what drives the film more than anything else. And Fassbender didn't hold back. Even at his most reserved, his pain is apparent and his anger is clearly nothing more than a mask for despair. With Fassbender in this role, it is clear how Magneto's path was determined.

I'd also like to mention how skeptical I was when I first heard the plot of the film. Cuban Missile Crisis? Really? But I must say that it didn't take away from the film. As an origin story in the film universe (this is a FILM, people, not a direct copy of the comics), I must say I was thoroughly entertained and pleased with the result. Although some parts were slightly slow and the film wasn't overly unbelievable (don't expect any Dark Knight accolades), I loved it and thought it was cool and clean and fun.

I give it a B+.


  1. great review! Im really lookin forward to this. Fassbender is a fine actor, it'll take a lot for this to beat X2 in my world, but Im goin in with an open mind :)

  2. Thanks! It was really hard for me to say that I liked it better than X2, and I think that X2 was probably a better quality film as a film, but I think that this was a better comic adaptation. And I loved when it went campy.