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Monday, June 6, 2011

X-Men: First Class - 2011

X-Men: First Class is the simple tale of how Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Professor X (James McAvoy) became arch rivals, and is the old story of once the best of friends, but a series of unfortunate events tear them apart. As young children they came up, along with a few other mutants, and were just learning about their incredible inhuman abilities. Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) is a man trying to use the younger mutants for his own reasons, and murders young Magneto's, formerly known as Erik Lehnsherr, mom. This sends Erik on an outrage unleashing all of his true powers, needless to say he gave Shaw what he was looking for. Now that they are older the mutants have two things to look out for, the cold war and the threat of a nuclear war, and Sebastian Shaw's attempt to drag all the mutants onto his side against the humans. As the story goes, differences in opinion of how the mutants should treat the outside world separates the two best friends, and strongest of the mutants, Professor X and Magneto.

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.

Rating: 7/10


  1. Nice review. I'm hoping to see this soon, but I have another film I have to see first! I'm hopeful for this one though.

  2. Ha ha!! I used exactly the same word..solid!! I think that sums it up. I can't rave about it as the CGI is nothing new or spectacular and the story line is pretty basic but it still is a good outing. Solid!!

  3. Ruth - What film? And I expect you will like this, it's definitely worth seeing :) thanks!

    Brent - Yeah, and compared to other Marvel films it just was a big improvement. I liked it way more than Iron Man, but that's just me. Thanks for reading!

  4. Matt i am looking forward to seeing this soon enough i hope its better then the last two that were just poor in my opinion.
    Still Nice review on it and i look forward to seeing it.

  5. 'Everything about the film is not incredible' is one of the most concise reviews of summer blockbusters I've seen.

  6. Jesse - I have not seen the first two, but agree with you on The Last Stand and Wolverine, they just were not good movies. I wanted to see this though because of the director and I liked the cast, and sure enough it did not disappoint. I hope you feel the same way. Thanks!

    Chris - lol, well thanks I guess haha.

  7. I'm trying to get my act together and see Snowtown, its a new Australian crime thriller.