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Monday, June 6, 2011
X-Men: First Class - 2011
When Iron Man first hit the theaters some years ago in 2008, those of us who waited for the end of the credits knew that a film about The Avengers was in the process. Once Iron Man 2 released and we saw Thor's hammer, it has all been announced of the many Marvel films (and the Green Lantern) coming out. I, personally was very worried. Too may arriving at once and I felt it wouldn't work. They had many different directors and it seemed Marvel was pushing The Avengers too fast. However, Thor was surprisngly decent, and my expectations were up for X-Men: First Class. And after returning home from Disney World the first thing I did was hit the teaters to go see this film. Luckily, while it was flawed and was no masterpiece, X-Men: First Class did not disappoint.
Everything about the film is not incredible, the story is not extremely complex, the visuals aren't too eye popping, and the action sequences aren't fantastic, but what X-Men: First Class does right is character development. So many times (Thor, Iron Man) we see the comic book films jump into special effects and it seems like that is all they are going for in the film. No real story, no real characters. While I would have liked more spiffy special effects, X-Men: First Class is so great working with its characters that it is almost impossible not to like. There were several people working on this screenplay, Matthew Vaughn (director) being one of them, so i'm not going to bore and confuse you by throwing out random names, but I will say that the screenplay was the most impressive part of this film. When critiquing a screenplay, a young aspiring critic like myself must ask a question, is sotry, script, or characters the most important part? Characters is, and X-Men: First Class does a fine, and I repeat a fine job with it.
The visuals, and here is something you will not hear often spoken about a comic book film, really weren't that spectacular, as I mentioned earlier. That is probably my main complaint about the film though, with a tad more action and Thor's beautiful visuals I think we have ourselves a perfect film, or at least as perfect as a comic book film comes.
Matthew Vaughn is, though I have only seen one of his works (Stardust), a director a admire quite a bit, and one I hope and expect will have a long and quite successful career. He has a certain style to his direction that is very hard to describe, and it is certainly stylish, which I know has been said before but it's the best word I can find. And what I mean by that is his film works really well for our time period, reaching out to not only comic book fans, regular movie goers, film buffs, but also to teens and viewers that are just looking for popcorn entertainment. You take certain movies, such as "The King's Speech" that to film lovers is remarkable work in the film industry, but to just an average movie goer looking for entertainment it may just seem boring. Vaughn has clearly grasped this concept, and makes a very marketable, and good film. However, there is a bit of a smudge in his direction. The films pace is a little too even, it just stays the same, and at times begins to lag. On paper it looks much better than it actually did on screen, it may not have been a huge flaw, but it was something I did not love about First Class.
James McAvoy is an incredible actor, that's all there is to it. His performance in First Class was astonishingly impressive to me. In comic book adaptations, the lead roles, or any roles for that matter, while they may be good, they seem to lack a certain amount of needed emotion (Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., Christian Bale). But here McAvoy unloads his talent onto the screen, with what I would call one of the best roles by any actor or actress in a comic book adaptation yet. Michael Fassbender was really quite fantastic as well, and a perfect choice to play Magneto. The writers give us reason to have sympathy for this character, and Fassbender delivers in portraying the role. Jennifer Lawrence, however, was a huge disappointment. After her brilliant role in Oscar nominated film "Winter's Bone", she comes of with sort of a "bleh" performance in First Class. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. She had her moments in the film, but overall i would not expect too much, and would go as far as saying she was a miscast. Kevin Bacon was Kevin Bacon. Don't be excited or worried, he does the role the way it was meant to be played. Even through the miscast, all in all I would say the cast did a fine job with their roles.
Overall, is X-Men: First Class the best comic book film ever made? Maybe not. But it still was a well acted, well crafted addition to the summer, and hopefully a sign that the rest of our many comic book films coming out will have a decency to them. Watch the film, whether you care for the genre or not, a recommendation comes from me.