Well, here it is, the long awaited review of X-Men: First Class…
There is much to say, and not enough brain capacity to say it, so I will dispense with the great, big, long-winded, poetic-narrative introduction and start off my saying this one simple statement that I am so fucking happy I get to say…
I. WAS. WRONG.
When I say that this movie was fucking incredible, when I say that this movie is now in my Top 5 Movies List, hell, when I say that I consider this not a movie but a film, I stand by it whole heartedly.
Me being a huge fan of X-Men in any capacity (the other four shitty movies being the last on that list), and I finally felt like I was watching a true X-Men movie; guess the 5th times the charm, right? Where to begin…
Perhaps a very-basic-not-giving-away-suprises-and-details-plot-synopsis? X-Men: First class brings the story of how the X-Men began, including the birth of the twisted and complicated relationship between Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). The film kicks off with many sections of the overall story; we see Erik in Auschwitz and Charles meeting Raven Darkholm (Jennifer Lawrence) and going to college. As the film continues, we learn that CIA agent Moria McTaggert (Rose Byrne) is discovering not only a plot to start another World War, but the fact that mutants exist when she sees with her own eyes the powers of Azazel (Jayson Flemming), Emma Frost (January Jones), and the leader of the Hellfire Club, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Moria enlists the help of Charles and Raven, and together they meet Erik in an attempt to bring Shaw down. Now together, helping each other, and becoming like brothers, Charles and Erik begin hunting mutants to fight fire with fire, using Hank McCoy’s (Nicholas Holt) mutant power amplifier; aka Cerebro. After gathering a bunch mutants to their cause, and a surprisingly hilarious cameo, the ‘Gene Men’ are gathered; Havok (Lucas Till), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Darwin (Edi Gathegi), and Angel (Zoe Kravitz), . Things being to heat up in Shaw’s plot, and it comes time to train and stop him from succeeding. This then leads to the best climax/epic-action scene/turning point in a movie ever. And I’ll stop there, the rest you really have to see.
I guess we could continue with the casting. Fucking. Perfect. James McAvoy was fucking fantastic. Michael Fassbender was fucking fantastic. Everyone in this movie was fucking fantastic. Honestly, I can’t really say there was any weak link in the casting (except for maybe them not casting me as Beast… )
That was from NYCC 2010. Anyways, the point being, they really knocked it our of the park with the casting.
The characters were written beautifully. There wasn’t much left out from who they were and their interactions with each other. I was worried that this movie, much like the rest of the movies, that they were just throwing mutants at a script and not taking the time to develop them into characters we liked; i.e. Cyclops, Colossus, Gambit, need I go on? I can if I have to. But I was pleasantly surprised at how the audience got to experience the characters in a way that wasn’t just ‘Hey, I know blank from the comics, and he’s represented in the movie, cool I guess…’; we really spent enough time with almost all of them to grow to like them, exceptions being maybe Riptide and Azazel, but to be honest, they still served their purpose. Wait, strike that, they actually had a purpose. They did a very good job at making us understanding who was who, and why they were the way they were. I especially loved Charles’ character arch. I loved how they really added him discovering how his power works, and using his power morally. Xavier becomes almost an asexual character later on, much like Dumbledore is in Harry Potter. You almost seem him genderless, more of a god to guide you than a person, and I loved how they didn’t start with this. The interactions between the group of young mutants was very strong, and everyone had a fantastic chemistry on screen. In particular, McAvoy and Fassbender. Any time they were on screen together was pure cinematic gold. The bond the two characters grow was incredibly powerful, and made for a fantastic climax to the film (of course, in the inevitable scene where Erik- … well I forget, not everyone is a huge X-Fan, I’ll zip it). Everyone was well developed, everyone was spot on point, and incredibly cast.
The story was perfect. It was everything you’d want in an X-Men movie, but never got. It’s like they finally stopped and said to themselves ‘what’s terrible about these X-Movies and what if anything is good about them’ and took the good and used it for a movie. It made for an incredible origin story and an incredible film in general. So much so that it was a great film outside of the fact that it was a great X-Men movie. Be warned, the movie is two hours long, but its long in a way that it’s worth it; it allowed for more time to not cut corners as X-Movies usually do. The parallel scenes in the beginning were pretty awesome, it allowed for a great juxtaposition between Charles and Erik. The training montage was pretty awesome and I liked the comic book-y transitions. Everything in this movie complimented each other well, and when everything finally came together, it fucking came together! The huge Russia/USA/Hellfire Club/X-Men-showdown-climax of this film was incredible, and this is really where it was apparent that the filmmakers took a page out of the X-Men comics (yes, absofuckinglutly pun intended). It was an amazing transition from one medium to another. And the choice to warp the X-Men around the Cuban Missile Crisis actually panned out pretty well.
The production it self was pretty cool. I loved the art design, the choice to make the film set during the 60’s allowed for some interesting sci-fi-in-the-60’s stuff. And how is it possible that the costumes were fucking amazing in the 60’s but shitty in the 2000’s? I loved that homage to the original series.
So, I guess being a critical film major, I have to talk about the minor things I didn’t like… but a lot of them are me being a critical comic book geek…
I felt I could have used a little bit more Charles and Erik on screen time, maybe a little more of them debating about the fate of mutants, and a little more about what they agree on. I was very confused about Kevin Bacon’s character, and how he was old looking in the 40’s and then Kevin Bacon looking in the 60’s. Some of the effects weren’t amazing, and there are a few minor parts where this is obvious. I almost wish Moria doesn’t have her memory erased, because in the inevitable sequles, we could see so much more of their relationship (maybe even David…). To be honest, I’m almost fishing for issues with this movie. I can almost say that there are a lot of inconsistencies with the other X-Men movies, but honestly, I don’t give a crap. This movie was so incredible, and those weren’t.
Overall, see this movie. I stand by how much hype I’m giving it, because it for me really was that incredible. Moral of the story? 5th time is a charm, hoping the two sequels they plan to squeeze out of this are still kick ass.
I plan on actually paying to see this movie a second time… maybe even a third….