x-men: first class

A friend of Sean’s responded to Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class with the raving that it was better than Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005). Already interested, and with the daughter away, why not catch the Early Bird ticket price at the theater with that kind of encouragement? It was not a regrettable purchase, but X-Men: First Class is not better than Batman Begins.  Perhaps it was its necessary scope that held it just short. There were just too many heroes, anti-heroes and villains to juggle amidst historical events, warring agencies, and youthful angst. Just the same, I can’t see how Vaughn could have gone any slimmer to meet mass audience expectation. And for a summer flick, I can see why he mightn’t have gone a bit darker and moodier—despite how grim the beginning was.

you want to see this movie…

Beginning with parallel story lines, we meet a young Erik Lensherr (later to become Magneto) in a Nazi concentration camp and in the United States living in a massive mansion lives young Charles Xavier—and Raven/Mystique. We see where the men they become form their polarizing ideas about Mutants amongst the non-. (James McAvoy as Charles and Michael Fassbender as Erik do better than what they are given to work with.) Placed in the middle is the much more conflicted character of Raven/Mystique who grows up to be played by Jennifer Lawrence—warring with beauty and identity, as any normal young person would. It was a bit startling to try to re-imagine Rebecca Romijn’s Mystique as younger (babyish) and rounder. It works in the sense that Raven has yet to develop some sophistication. Lawrence’s Mystique is what Anna Paquin does as Rogue in Bryan Singer’s X-Men (2000), she provides the character development for the majority of the other mutants you come to meet.  The Charles and Erik you meet are much the same as the Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto you have already come to know in previous films played by older men.

However, the relationship formed between Charles and Erik is a compelling one. And Raven/Mystique’s struggles play nicely into their philosophical warfare, too. Theirs is the weight of the film (to include the acting). It’s just a shame we had to meet so many other mutants and conflicts as well. Ah well, this is a superhero film of blockbuster proportion, and we go for the entertainment, right? And there is plenty of skin and explosion to satisfy. General silliness is available, and a marvelous cameo by Hugh Jackman as Logan (pre-Wolverine).

And then there is Kevin Bacon. How did I not know he was in this film? I was so delighted to see his deliciously villainous face. As Sebastian Shaw, he was perfectly cast to lead the enemy powers where, again, the bad guys have the cooler mutant abilities. If anything, that fact would’ve ensured Raven/Mystique’s turn to the darker side. But alas, there is more.

What I enjoyed, besides seeing the First Class, was how both Professor X’s and Magneto’s perspectives were validated. And how the victorious ending was Magneto’s—if there was any sense of victory to be found at the end—because really, this was just the beginning. A fine beginning for a reboot. And a fine beginning for the Summer blockbuster season, (ignoring Thor’s failed attempt).


X-Men: First Class (2011)

Directed by Matthew Vaughn

Produced by Gregory Goodman, Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer

Screenplay by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn

Story by Sheldon Turner, Bryan Singer

Based on Characters by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Chris Claremont

Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon

Music by Henry Jackman

Cinematography John Mathieson

Editing by Eddie Hamilton, Lee Smith

Running time: 132 minutes, Rated PG-13

IMDb page.  Wiki page.

Manohla Dargis’ NY Times Review

Roger Ebert’s Review wherein he amusingly begins:

“The best acting in X-Men: First Class is by President John F. Kennedy, who in his Thanksgiving 1962 message to the nation, expresses gratitude for the successful end of the Cuban Missile Crisis while suppressing what he surely must know, that American and Soviet missiles spent a great deal of time flying back and forth while mentally controlled by the awesome powers of mutants. The movie’s use of the missile crisis certainly serves the purpose of establishing this prequel in the early 1960s and answers a question I’ve always had: Does the real world overlap with the histories of superheroes?”

Published by L

I read, and I write. and until recently, I sold books.

2 thoughts on “x-men: first class

  1. I just saw a trailer for this – looks intriguing. I have liked most of Matthew Vaughn’s work, and the cast of this one is fun. Sounds like I’ll enjoy it. 🙂

  2. I’ve found that my summer movie viewing thus far has been a series of moments where I was excited to see a film followed by a general sense of malaise once the film is released. With the exception of Super 8, which I rushed out to see opening weekend (and need to review!), I haven’t been able to generate the enthusiasm to get out and spend money on these films. X-Men First Class was the one I was most interested in after Super 8 but I have yet to make any real effort to see it. Your review has sparked some interest though. It sounds like the film actually lives up to what I would want it to be. I’m growing a bit tired of superhero films (shhhh…don’t say anything or my Comic Book Geek card may be taken away) but I do like some of this cast, particularly James McAvoy. And thus far Matthew Vaughn has been an enjoyable film maker.

thoughts? would love to hear them...

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