Movie Review: X-Men First Class.
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn.
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne and Kevin Bacon.
In 1962, the United States government enlists the help of Mutants with superhuman abilities to stop a malicious dictator who is determined to start world war III.
X-Men First Class was released in the Summer of 2011 and it is a prequel to the X-MEN trilogy. This movie serves as an origin for the X-MEN but also an origin for Charles and Erik (Professor X and Magneto).
Instead of just throwing Wolverine back into the mix because he's the most popular character and brings in the big box office, the film makers decided to tell a more interesting story and tell the fans the origins of Charles and Erik, my two favorite X-Men characters.
X-Men First Class is in my opinion one of the most interesting superhero movies ever. It complicates the X-MEN timeline and continuity even more but it decides to tell a bold and daring story and serves as both a prequel to a series and a sort of reboot of the franchise.
The film has many themes; evolutionary superiority, survival of the fittest, but ultimately this is a story about friendship. One of the most important friendships in all of comic books.
I love almost everything about this movie. Every role is perfectly cast, the visuals and action are stunning, it feels like a fresh take on the X-Men saga and its incredible emotional. The film is really about Charles and Erik but because this is an X-Men movie, it feels the need to feature an ensemble cast. So in that ensemble we get the B Team of X-Men. This is where the movie fell flat for me.
Instead of getting the actual first X-Men with Jean Grey, Cyclops, Iceman, Beast and Angel, we get Havok, Beast, Mystique and Banshee. We can't get the actual First Class because that would again mess the continuity of the franchise up. But it deals with its ensemble very well, it gives them all deserved screen time, its just I found that it distracted from the more interesting characters of Charles and Erik. On its own this movie is masterfully done, but because it serves as a prequel, some aspects of it feel confusing.
I love this movie because it focuses on the core of X-Men's primary themes. It focuses most of its time on the captivating relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. They really are two sides of the same coin and we see where those two sides come from towards throughout this film. This is interesting because the movie actually uses a coin prop and I believe that was a physical metaphor for the "two sides of the same coin" theme.
Because this is a prequel, there will be scenes where it nods to the other films. But where a film like X-Men Origins Wolverine really relied on those nods to be entertaining in anyway, X-Men First Class sidelines them and focuses on furthering the main theme that is so prominent in the X-Men movies, social equality.
This story is set during an important part of history, the Cuban missile crisis. I find this really interesting because it highlights how important mutants are in this word and to see them in moments in history is really cool, this is something that the upcoming X-Men Days Of Future Past is also going to do.
This movie could have easily benefited from just being a straight up reboot, forgetting everything that happened in the already established X-Men movie timeline and just starting over. But FOX stood by their guns and have decided to fix all the continuity confusion with the new X-Men film which features time travel and alternate timelines. This will hopefully right some of the wrongs in the franchise.
The X-Men have always been relatable characters because they don't feel wanted and they feel neglected by society and that is an issue for a lot of people. It's one of the reasons the X-Men are so popular. In this movie to bring that theme up they use the characters of Mystique and Beast who both have horrific physical mutations that deem them unsuitable for society. This is a problem they deal with throughout the film and that was a very good decision by the writers. It's also a nice touch because the mutant whose ability it to 'change' into different people is the character who actually goes through the most amount of change in the arc of the film. Mystique is really a stand out character here and she is played masterfully well by Jennifer Lawrence. We see why she and Erik have such a close bond, he teaches her to accept who she is and not be afraid by what other people think. Beast and Mystique have an interesting relationship in the movie, they are attracted to each other because they face the same issues, not being deemed suitable by society because of their physical mutation.
All the performances in the film are great but the best three and definitely McAvoy, Fassbender and Lawrence.
James McAvoy plays young Charles Xavier and in this film he's a lot more fun, charming and feels like more rounded character. No disrespect to Patrick Stewart because he's perfect in the role. It's just this version of Charles is a better character.
Michael Fassbender as Magneto is one of the best casting decisions in comic book movie history. Before this film, Michael Fassbender was an unknown actor to me so when I saw him in this, I was an instant fan. He is definitely my favorite part of this film. He made Magneto likable and someone who audiences could empathize with. He serves as a perfect younger counterpart to Ian Mckellen.
My favorite scenes in the entire film are those between McAvoy and Fassbender, their chemistry is remarkable and we can see that both off and on screen. I was captivated by their performances in this film and can't wait to see them in [X-Men: Days Of Future Past](movie:203942).
My favorite scene in the film is definitely the one on the beach towards the end. Magneto is defending him self in his rage and is ultimately the one who puts his best friend, his only friend, in a wheelchair. This scene was completely heart breaking because of both the performances of McAvoy and Fassbender and the musical score by Henry Jackman which is beautiful.
Mystique features as the symbolism that Xavier will never be able to fulfill his dream as long as there is someone out there like Erik. Mystique was Charles' first success but also his first failure because she abandons him to follow Magneto.
I believe this is the best X-Men movie in the saga because it is bold and daring and tells a truly interesting story. My favorite part of X-Men is the relationship between Charles and Erik and its beautifully told in this film. The movie does stray away from these perfect aspects at times to have some fun with the other mutants but its still very enjoyable.
I am usually not a fan of prequels but I feel this is one that was meant to be done as some point and its done very well. First Class does the job of breathing new life into the X-Men saga whilst staying within the same continuity. Instead of being a straight up action film like most comic book movies, it is thoughtful and careful. It is very delicate the way it deals with certain topics. X-Men has always been a very relevant franchise but the themes displayed in this film are incredibly relevant to today's society even though it's set in the 60's.
X-Men First Class was my most anticipated movie of 2011 and it was also my favorite of 2011, that is something that rarely happens. I'm going to give X-Men First Class an A-!