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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Review: X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class is a prequel to the X-Men movie series. Considering that the third X-Men film was reported as a disaster, and the Wolverine origin movie was less than impressive, it's understandable that the executives at Fox would want to start the X-Men franchise on a clean slate, hence First Class' status as a reboot/prequel. Indeed, it is probably the only prequel I have seen to date which was actually successful both critically and commercially.

This movie, the majority of which is set in the 1960's, stars James McAvoy as a younger, hipper Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X, and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr, later to be known as Magneto. In this film, Charles teams up with Erik to find various mutants from around America to help the CIA take down the Hellfire Club, led by Erik's old enemy Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), who brutally murdered his parents in a concentration camp.

First of all, I want to congratulate this movie for absolutely nailing the dynamic not only between Eric and Charles, but also between every other character. You can actually feel the tension and the fellowship between them. Granted, the large casts makes it difficult to sufficiently develop all of the characters, but the development they do get is nothing short of splendid. This is bolstered by the terrific acting by every actor and actress in the movie. I give special credence to Fassbender as Erik and to Bacon as Shaw. I absolutely loved how Erik was portrayed as totally formidable, Fassbender portraying his character artfully, with emotion. Shaw is at heart a Bond villain, playing his role with a smoothness that is both zany and cool at the same time. I also liked how they explained the origins of various element of the X-Men franchise, such as Magneto's helmet, Cerebro, and the X-Mansion. Heck, they even covered Professor X's teaching degree! There were also some genuinely good action sequences, which were wonderfully shot.

However, this film is not without its downsides. There are some continuity issues with the previous films, such as Emma Frost's age. Also, the climax was a bit frenetic as it struggled to juggle all of the various characters who all split off to do their own thing. I would have preferred it to be a bit more focused. I also found it laughable that this superhero movie didn't have the characters show up in superhero regalia until about two thirds of the way through the movie. Also, I've said this before, but not all of the characters are incredibly well developed. Hard, deep character development is reserved for Charles, Erik, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne). A majority of the villainous mutants are relegated to the periphery in terms of character development.

All in all, however, X-Men: First Class is a marvelous (no pun intended) origin story, a good superhero film, and the greatest prequel I've ever seen. I would recommend it to all X-Men fans and to all general Marvel and superhero fans. There are some brief scenes of scantily clad ladies that make this movie not exactly family friendly, but the action scenes are entirely bloodless. Thus, be forewarned.

RATING: 8.5/10

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