Monday, June 06, 2011

'X-Men: First Class [REVIEW]

It's called 'First Class', but is it - by Nick van der Leek
The good news is X-Men First Class is like to reboot of the James Bond Origins Story.  Remember Casino Royale?  And like Casino Royal, X-Men First Class aims to build a very solid foundation for a slew of spin offs, possibly involving various sets of mutants.  This flick is broadly focussed on Charles X. Xavier, basically the world's most powerful mindreader, and Erik Lehnsherr, who can manipulate metal - and how their friendship evolves into...well...a franchise.
Erik Lehnsherr: I've been at the mercy of men just following orders. Never again.
Still on the good news, the acting in X-Men, and the casting, is spot on.  You can't go wrong with serious actors like James McAvoy [Atonement, Wanted, last King of Scotland] and German-Irish Michael Hassbender [Inglourious Basterds, 300, Centuroin], who plays Magneto/Erik. These two form the core of the flick, and a strong core is needed with so many other mutants emerging out of the woodword it's sometimes hard to keep track.  Not that that's a problem though.  More mutants adds up to more fun, and the story trots along acceptably.  A highlight is the encounter between Xavier and Magneto in a bar somewhere, where they encounter a moody Wolverine having a drink.

Professor Charles Xavier: Hello I'm Charles Xavier and this is my friend Erik...
Logan: Go fuck yourselves.
As for the baddies,  Kevin Bacon adds gravitas and more good acting to the cine soup, and the likes of January Jones as the extremely watchable Emma Frost doesn't hurt.  But wait, there's more.  Jennifer Lawrence does well as a mysterious and surprisingly unshallow Raven/Mystique, a critical character in this story.
The special effects are also jaw dropping, but here there are a few gripes.  Beast - that blue bear-like creature - admittedly can't be hard to render, but where previous X-Men succeeded, this one looks B-grade.  Plenty of the special effects are first class, but one stands out as being poor quality, even for today's pc games.  It's a scene involving a submarine which...well, let's just say instead of skittles there are palmtrees.  Nice idea, terribly executed.

Erik Lehnsherr: [to the Class] You want society to accept you, when you can't even accept yourselves?
Overall, the films good points by far exceed the odd glitch.  Again, the acting is really what delivers and decent-enough story. This is because Matthew Vaughn directed this instalment, he also did duty on the brilliant Kick-Ass.  But will X-Men be able to compete with the other comic book heroes doing the rounds consistently in the cinema these days. Vaugh says,
"… look, I will say the following: X-Men as a brand is bigger than Captain America, Thor and the Green Lantern, all put together.”
And Kevin Bacon comments on another dimension worth a mention: …
"I think the youth of the movie, that is really exciting. You’ve got Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) and Zoë Kravitz (Angel) and James McAvoy (Professor Xavier) and all these young actors who are about to explode. When you see them become what we know of as the X-Men, to me, that’s really cool.”
He has said of his appearance:
"My look is very different from the guy in the comic books. We decided pretty early on that that was not going to translate to film. But there’s a certain kind of style to the suits that I wear, but I don’t have anything extreme in the makeup department.”
 IMDB gives First Class an 8.3/10 at the time of writing.  That sounds about right to me.  

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