Friday, June 3, 2011

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class

After two weak entries in the X-Men film franchise (the juvenile X3, and the unimpressive X-Men Origins: Wolverine), I was pretty leery going into X-Men: First Class. Yellow uniforms? Magneto’s helmet? Eurgh. Has there ever been a 5th movie in a series that was actually decent? Now there’s at least one; X-Men: First Class is an intelligent, exciting, stylized addition to the X-Men film franchise, and almost supplants X2 as the best X-Men movie.

X-Men: First Class takes place in the swingin’, Commie hatin’ 60s and chronicles the friendship and conflict between Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), a telepathic university professor and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender), a metal-kinetic Nazi hunter. I could watch “Magneto vs Nazis” all day, but the real villain of the film is the enigmatic Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), mutant mastermind.

I think one secret to pulling off a ridiculous movie is to have ridiculously talented actors. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are a tough act to follow, but James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender pull off the roles with panache. The sillier elements of comics mythology are embraced by actors and director alike, and the script is an appropriately timed mix of subtlety and hyperbole. In the trailer, seeing the cast run around in the yellow accented uniforms and Magneto wearing the helmet really doesn’t do the film justice; Charles’ and Erik’s friendship is built so organically that their inevitable schism is all the more heartbreaking, and the events that lead up to the costumes and helmet are internally logical and well paced.

First Class’ only major weakness was that it occasionally became a game of “Cram the Reference,” to deal with everything that could have possibly happened to all the characters between 1944 and 2000. Basically the only question left unanswered between First Class and X1 is “how did Charles lose his hair?” There’s enough dramatic potential with these characters that Magneto breaking away Professor X’s team could have been its own film, but for a fanboy like me, that isn’t so much of a weakness as it is a “Holy crap! Wolverine cameo!!! *fist pump*”

It’s a risk to say it, but if this movie had been released before X-Men 1, people would be saying “X-Men is good, but it’s just not as classy as X-Men: First Class.” A super powered period piece, X-Men: First Class is for fanboys, jaded X-Men fans, and average moviegoers alike.

3 comments:

  1. I didn't even know this movie was coming out until today, but I actually want to see it. It's really too bad they didn't address the hair loss, though. I'm quite curious about that too, ha ha.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Male pattern baldness maybe? I'm just guessing here...

    ReplyDelete
  3. enjoyed the Wolverine cameo!

    ReplyDelete