Saturday, June 4, 2011

School's Out.

Directed by MATTHEW VAUGHN
Starring JAMES MCAVOY, MICHAEL FASSBENDER, KEVIN BACON, 
ROSE BYRNE, JANUARY JONES, and JENNIFER LAWRENCE

X-Men First Class was better than I thought it would be, but not as good as I had hoped.  I'm not a big Marvel fan, but from what I do know of the X-Men comic-- this movie doesn't follow it.  However, this is still a decent movie, not a great one, but a decent one.  It was certainly more enjoyable to watch than Thor.
Plot:  As in the first film, the film starts with Erik Lensherr (future Magneto) as a child in 1944 in a concentration camp in Poland.  Little Erik manages to bend the gates when he's separated from his parents.  What we didn't see in the previous film was what happened to Magneto afterward.  In this film we learn that he caught the eye of a wicked Nazi doctor, Schmidt, future Sebastian Shaw (played by Kevin Bacon).  Kevin would not have been my first choice for the character, but he does a fantastic job as the villain of this story.  After 30 years, Kevin Bacon continues to be one of the most underrated actors and unlike his fellow actors from that era, Kevin has aged well.  He looked quite good in this film.
James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Zoe Kravitz
Schmidt learns that Erik's power manifests through fear and rage, which he amply supplies him with.  After his torturous experience in the camps, Erik never recovers, as shown in previous films by the brilliant Ian McKellen.  The adult Erik sets out on a course of vengeance against the Nazis who destroyed his family and Dr. Schmidt is number one on that list.  Erik is later played by the brilliant German actor, Michael Fassbender.  Until this movie, he wasn't well-known.  I'm sure First Class will change all that.  Michael has been one my favorite actors since 300.  His previous credits include the wonderful independent flick, Fish Tank.
The film picks up a bit once the yin to Erik's yang is introduced, Professor X, currently Charles Xavier (well played by James McAvoy).  Charles' dearest and closest childhood friend Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is with him at Oxford, supporting him while he finishes his doctorate.  As fate would have it, Charles' and Erik are destined to meet and start the beginnings of the X-Men by gathering up young mutants with different specialties. Hugh Jackman makes a surprise cameo, which was a treat, but I'm glad this movie wasn't focused on Wolverine.  I love me some Hugh Jackman, but I don't know how a guy with claws became the focus of four X-Men films.

Meanwhile in a story arc far, far away, CIA agent, Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) is following a U.S. Colonel into the Hellfire Club in Las Vegas, where she sees Sabastian Shaw (aka Dr. Schmidt), Emma Frost (January Jones), and their crew abduct the colonel to do their bidding.  Seeing things she doesn't understand, Moira enlists the help of Charles Xavier, as he is the premiere expert on mutation.
James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender playing chess
With the help of the CIA, Erik and Charles gather other mutants to help them fight the formidable Sebastian Shaw, who has single-handedly managed to start the Cuban missile crisis.  The real life events intertwined with the film were the most interesting aspect of the movie.  There are some great visual effects particularly with the teleporter, played by Jason Flemyng (who I think played Dr. Jekyll in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen).  The 1960s costuming was well done.  Men in well-tailored suits always look great.

However, considering the long and interesting histories of Professor X and Magneto, I was expecting a little bit more.  At some point, the writers threw the comic book in the trash and proceeded to burn it. If the story had focused on Charles and Erik and their relationship, then this film could have been great, but alas, lazy writers.  Again, it's not a bad comic book film, but it's not a great one either.  It's somewhere in the region of adequate.

THREE OUT OF FIVE STARS

2 comments:

  1. It's very interesting reading your opinion about this film.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ha, I'm sure. I'm pretty hard on films. I've been rewriting and changing things around a bit. I think I'm finally finished. I liked it, but I thought it could have been better.

    I did like Super 8. Although it was total melodramatic Spielberg towards the end, but overall really good.

    ReplyDelete

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