Tuesday, September 27, 2011
X-Men: First Class Review
Can't believe I missed this bad boy in the theater. So, X-Men First Class had a very interesting reputation prior it's release. When it was announced that Fox would be doing a prequel to the X films, people were intrigued by this decision. I myself thought it would be nice to see the early adventures of Professor X, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, and the rest. I like the X-Men films, but looking back, it was lacking, well, the X-Men! It focused completely on Wolverine rather than the team themselves. So it was going to be nice to see the team themselves with the focus on them.
Of course, we then heard that the First Class team from the comics, (Cyclops, Jean Grey, look it up.) would be dropped in favor of more obscure people. This literally outraged people, I never saw so many hate comments. People were bashing this film, I even heard some people saying it would be the worst comic book movie of all time. What was I thinking about it? I was kind of annoyed, but very intrigued about where they would go. When a trailer was shown, people actually said it looked alright. Some people even denounced their claim that it would be the worst comic book movie ever. Fast forward to its release, where it got better early reviews than The Dark Knight! It owned the box office, with amazingly positive reviews. Some even call it the BEST comic book movie of all time. Now, why don't we hear my take?
The plot, (who doesn't know it by now?) I'll keep simple. Two mutants, Eric Lensherr and Charles Xavier, put together a team of some of the non-discovered-yet mutant species to stop Sebastian Shaw and his Hellfire Club from igniting World War III.
Yeah, it was very good. This film actually surprised me at how great it was. This film is different than the other X-Men films, those were dark and gloomy, but this one is rather light and energetic. Indeed, it doesn't have a dull moment. This takes place before Mutants were fully discovered, so it's really interesting how the seeds were placed.
The two main stars here are Professor X (portrayed James McAvoy) and Magneto, (portrayed by Micheal Fassbender) and they were just fantastic. Different to be sure, Charles is a lot more up and bright, reminds of the Doctor from the 2005 Doctor Who series. Magneto stole the show, showcasing more of a slick, brutal character than the more quiet one we're use to. It feels "fresh" and "new" to see these characters painted in a new light. (Professor X can walk, and with hair? Count me in.)
Surprisingly, it was Sebastian Shaw (portrayed Kevin Bacon) who did for me the most. This guy comes off as lame sometimes in the comics, but this film made him truly a great foe. Cunning and ruthless, (with a smart script,) his performance was just as good McAvoy's and Fassbender's. Some truly impressive scenes with this guy, I especially like the scene on the boat with the grenade. Excellent.
The other characters do well, save for some. January Jones does a good job with the cunning Emma Frost, though lacks the screen time. (It felt like she disappeared during the third act, I know she was in jail, but still.) Azazel was a bit of a random choice for the Hellfire club, it's much different than the comics. In there, he's a very power mutant, a leader, not a pawn. In the film, they don't even showcase all of his powers. (For people that don't know, he's Nightcrawler's father, in the comics anyway.) There's this other forgettable member whom I forget the name......oh, that's right, Riptide, who is yet another random pick for the Club. I don't remember this guy being named in the film, and doesn't get that much lines. Forgettable to say the least. (It would have been nice if the HellFire Club was actually named, I don't recall hearing that title.)
Now, the other X-members were pretty good. Havok, (the younger brother of Cyclops in the comics) was one of the the big changes the fans complained about. I fully understood that, Havok shouldn't even exist at that time technically. (Or if he did, he would be very small.) Portrayed by Lucas Till, he plays the quiet arrogant type, and what's with his blasts being red? It's not a big deal really, but they could have stuck with the comics way and made it blue. Nicolas Hoult as the Beast was just "meh." I guess I'm more use to the no-nonsense Beast from X3 to like this mellow-in-self-misery one. Oh, how can I forget about one of the main stars, Mystique? Jennifer Lawrence does a good job of portraying her, it's amazing how well she fits and then look at the X films, and see that the transition works. Zoe Kravitz as Angel Salvadore, a very random pick, was decent enough. Her change of heart to join the Hellfire Club was utterly unexpected and wasn't played out that great in my opinion. Caleb Laundry Jones as Banshee was decent enough, lacked characterization, but was alright.
Surprisingly, there weren't that many big effect-driven scenes. There are a few awesome explosion sequences that must have been truly an awe in the IMAX. Emma Frost's diamond form was a cool, Azazel's teleportation was also pretty nice. Some do look very CGI, (Riptide's tornado for an example) but overall, some really cool effects thrown in.
Now, for something I don't fully get. This film completely contradicts X-Men: Origins Wolverine. I believe I read somewhere that Origins would be placed as non-canon.....but would it have been really hard to keep the continuity in check? I mean, Origins did a pretty good job with lining up with the X films, now it appears all of that goes out the window. First Class serves as a prequel, but the ending gives you the impression that it will get a sequel, therefore the sequel to this film being the real prequel. Perhaps then in the third sequel, it will allude to Cyclops and Jean joining the team.
This is the definition of a blockbuster, it has lots of action, but it is a very intelligent film. (Some footage of John F. Kennedy was shown during the film, a very nice touch.) Magneto's dialogue with Shaw on the ship in the final act was stellar. Professor X and Magneto were truly the highlights of this film, they were pretty awesome together, some of the best performances I've ever seen. Bacon as Shaw is definitely a contender for villain of the year, the only person I think deserves it better is Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull. The soundtrack isn't bad, some cool energetic tunes, but could have been better. (To this day, Ghost Rider still has the best comic book movie soundtrack.)
Overall, X-Men: First Class is definitely a film you don't want to miss. Super acting, great script, fun cast of characters, and is just plain fun. It gives comic book movies a good name, it ranks even with Captain America and The Dark Knight. Even with an unnecessary cameo of Wolverine, you do not want to miss this film. (They could have done a better job with the costumes, though Magneto's at the end was awesome.)