X-Men: First Class (2011)
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Sheldon Turner, Bryan Singer
Based On: Characters From The X-Men Comic Series: By: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & Chris Claremont
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon
Country: US & UK
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Time: 132 minutes
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
USA Release: 6/3/2011
On DVD (USA): 9/9/2011
In a year of prequels, sequels and reboots, X-Men: First Class dives head first into the abyss, taking a risk with more dialog and less action. Although it may seem like a reboot to the franchise that started over a decade ago, it is in fact just another prequel much like “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. This time though they are heading all the way back to the very beginning to where and how X-Men first formed.
In “X-Men: First Class” we see two side of the 1940’s. The lonely and life changing world of young Erik Lensherr who is caught up in the middle of German taking over Poland. On the other side we see young Charles Xavier living in his New York mansion with his family no where in sight. Yes, two very different children but they share a common trait, they both have very special abilities. We jump to almost 20 years later, Erik (Michael Fassbender) is on the hunt for the person responsible for his mother’s death and Charles (James McAvoy) has graduated from university with Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) his foster sister by his side. Little do they know that soon there paths will cross and will share a bond like no other. Elsewhere in the world, CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrnes) is following a Colonel and there she see something that she has never seen before. Curious about what she had witness she tracks down Charles since he is an expert on mutations and soon realizes he too has special abilities. Soon Charles and Raven are brought into a special division called “Division X” and there they meet another mutant Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) who is one of the top scientist. Together they decide to try and track down more mutants like them to help the CIA with their plan.
As you can probably guess I am unfamiliar with the comic book itself. But I still found this to be an interesting movie. Although I was expecting something else, not really sure what but I was pleasantly surprised to find how this had been put together. Matthew Vaughn who directed last years “Kick-Ass” did a splendid job, granted there wasn’t anything mind bending or new to the genre directing wise. Like my last review “Midnight In Paris” this movie also did some blending, but for this it was with fiction and historical events of the 1960’s. And like I said earlier this is more dialog based than the other films, but obviously because the needed to introduce us to the characters. The bad part of an action film being like that is it seems to slow the movie down, it was as if it was trying to be as historical (or epic) as the events they talked about. Granted it did give non comic book readers more information of the back story, there is probably still some things avid readers will have over us non readers. Now besides the story being refreshingly different than the other X-Men movies, was the cast all of whom took on the roles with a sense of stability. Of the supporting cast, there wasn’t much done by them acting wise, but that’s not a bad thing because the story was focused on bigger characters and story line. But anyways they all did an superb job giving us everything we needed to know about their roles and how they came to be. Some performances stuck out more than others, like she is known to play, January Jones played the ice queen, in this case it was crystal very well, but she seemed to just walk through the movie there just didn’t seem like a lot of effort. I’m also afraid to say she is getting type casted in a big way and hopefully she will bust out with a different role to make sure it doesn’t happen. Rose Byrne was surprisingly in the movie more than I thought she was originally going to be in (but again I haven’t read the comics). As for Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult, they did pretty good too but it wasn’t even close to the acting ability they are capable of. But on to more pressing matters, that being the main cast. Michael Fassbender was perfectly casted for this role, and was one of the best things about the movie. James McAvoy was as always a joy to watch, and nailed the role, matching the zen like easy going quality done by Patrick Stewart. But hands down the best reason to go see this movie is Kevin Bacon, who pulled an armed robbery of sorts and absolutely stole the movie. This is maybe one of his best performances in years.
All in all this is a pretty great movie. Fanboys of the comics should be happy with everything going on. Non comic readers might feel this to be a bit drawn out, but will still have a fun time. Although the story is somewhat more in depth than the other movies, the thing that’s going to make you stick around it the fantastic performances done by everyone especially Fassbender, McAvoy and Bacon. Oh and be on the look out for a couple of surprise cameos.