Archive for June, 2011

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X-Men:First Class

June 6, 2011

X-Men: First Class

 

This was a well crafted fairly serious superhero film.  It is a set-up story like that of Batman Begins where we find out the history of many of the key players.  But it is brought together much better than Wolverine was brought together and focuses in much more on the characters in the film as compared to the action in the film, which is enjoyable to watch.  Matthew Vaughn does a good job directing this well crafted story.

The story is  the origin of Professor X and Magneto and their friendship and how that fell apart.  It starts with Erik (Magneto) is a Nazi concentration camp where he is separated from his family.  His powers are then revealed to a German guard who tries to train Erik to use his powers.  At the same time Charles Xavier comes across Raven who has broken into his house to find food.  She is like him in that she is a mutant and he takes her under his wing and they grow up together.  Things come to a head when Moira (in this telling a CIA Operative) runs across some interesting people and she goes to Xavier as one of the top genetics experts to solve her problem.  This leads to a team up with Erik who has been tracking down the German who killed his mother and trained him.  Xavier rescues Erik as he tries to attack Shaw, the German, and is going to die.  They team up and together locate some other mutants with the help of Hank McCoy.  They form a team and go after Shaw and his team of mutants, but they have a different way of looking at things.  Erik wants mutants to rule since they are superior beings whereas Xavier wants to live in harmony with the humans (if that is possible).  This comes to a head and Erik kills Shaw to become Magneto.

The acting of the two leads is superb.  James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender shine as Charles Xavier and Erik respectively.  McAvoy has a boyish charm and optimism about him and he turns into a sort of charisma with how he can influence people.  Fassbender shows off a nice dark side where you feel sorry for him but don’t completely trust his intentions all the time.  Raven (Mystique) played by Jennifer Lawrence is great as well.  She plays a very conflicted character torn between the fact she doesn’t look normal but she can change her appearance to be normal and the dichotomy of the two positions.  Kevin Bacon is also very good as Shaw.  At the beginning of the film when he is playing the role at the concentration camp he is simply brilliant, his performance falters a tiny bit as the movie progresses, but he is very strongly evil.  The cast wasn’t all perfect though, January Jones as Emma Frost was beautiful to look at, but quite poorly acted.  Considering that she is supposed to look like a sex symbol, that isn’t the worst thing in the world, but when paired with some of the great acting in this film, she does stick out as a weak point.  Nicholas Hoult also struggles in her performance as Hank McCoy (Beast), he isn’t bad, but the role was played so perfectly by Kelsey Grammer that Hoult seems to come up just short.  He has some fairly emotional scenes that he pulls of well, though.  The rest of the cast is solid, but not completely memorable.

Visually this film shines through as well.  It has an older quality feel to it as it takes place in the 1960’s for the most part.  Vaughn does a good job creating this world where the mutants exist but humanity doesn’t really  know about them.  Ashley Miller, Zach Stentz, Jane Goldman, and Matthew Vaughn do a great job putting together this screenplay.  The story is wonderfully character driven and while they show off a nice array of powers, they don’t get lost in showing everyone.  If they had tried to, it would have becomes a mess like the second Transformers movie.  But they keep it simple enough and they don’t go over the top with any of the characters.

Overall this is one of the better superhero films that I’ve seen.  It has some lighter moments that makes me appreciate it more than I do a film like The Dark Knight, but it takes itself a bit more seriously than a film like Iron Man or Thor.  I’m very hopeful that they can keep this cast together and make more films because it would be very enjoyable to watch and see how they end up developing the story.

Entertainment Grade: A

Critical Grade: B+

Overall Grade: A-

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