X-Men: First Class Review

X-Men First Class: Michael Fassbender & James ...

Image by Lyon & Pan via Flickr

Critics are calling it the best X-Men movie ever made, fans are calling it one of the best comic book movies ever made, but does Matthew Vaughn‘s mutant prequel really live up to the hype?

When I first heard the idea behind X-Men: First Class, I was sceptical but optimistic. Whilst I couldn’t see why Fox simply didn’t go back to basics with a full reboot, I thought making the film a prequel could add some much needed depth to the franchise, whilst separating it from other generic comic book movies. I’m happy to say First Class delivers spectacularly, giving us the mutant extravaganza we’ve all been waiting for.

I won’t spoil the plot for any one who hasn’t watched the film, but the basis is the film follows a young Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr before they took their names Professor X and Magneto. Whilst working together to help mutant kind develop, they encounter an enemy who faces human kind with annihilation.

Vaughn makes First Class work brilliantly as a period movie. Setting the film in the 1960’s adds some great nostalgia, but doesn’t hold the film back in any way. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had watching an X-Men movie so far. It’s easy to see why critics are comparing this to a 007 film. It really does feel like a Sean Connery Bond movie. That’s mainly because of the films leading roles. Make no mistake this is more of a Charles and Erik movie than an X-Men movie. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are amazing whenever they’re on screen. Their chemistry is fantastic and they make their characters ooze with charisma. Something Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen failed to do. The first half of the movie is really what stands out, as watching Erik hunt down Nazi’s whilst Xavier party’s in London creates a great contrast between the two.

The movie also succeeds in the drama department by highlighting the struggles mutants face within society. This adds some real gravitas to proceedings and makes the film the most dramatic X-Men movie to date. The main villain Sebastian Shaw (played by Kevin Bacon) works well as a bad guy, but you sometimes struggle to see his motivations in the second act of the movie. It’s the films beginning where you get to see what a bastard he really is. The team dynamic is also evident for the first time in an X-Men movie. Rather than split up on solo adventures like in previous movies, Vaughn creates some great teamwork action set pieces. There are also some great mutant cameos, which I won’t spoil, that are bound to please fans of the original trilogy.

Most of the supporting cast impress whenever they’re on screen. Jenifer Lawrence adds some depth to her character Mystique, whilst Nicholas Hoult makes for a great young Hank McCoy struggling with his mutation. Havok (Lucas Till) and Bansee (Caleb Jones) are fun whenever they’re on screen, but little screen times leaves you wanting more from them. That’s where First Class carries the same mistake as its predecessors. With so many sub-plots going on, at such a quick time, some of the characters aren’t given enough development and are left on the sidelines. This particularly affects January Jones as Emma Frost, as little development meant her character came off quite dull and cold. Other characters like Angel Salvadore, Darwin and Riptude could have been left out, as they added nothing special to the film. Also, those wanting to see the conception of Nightcrawler will have to wait a little longer as his father, (I assume to be) Azazel, is nothing more than a story device for action sequences.

If you take the film for what it is and ignore any continuity issues, X-Men: First Class is the best X-Men movie to date. It’s compelling, it’s fun and if it had been a little longer I’m sure it could have been the best comic book movie of all time. The last time we had an X-Men 2, we had one of the best comic book movies of all time, so with a little more development put into it, who knows what heights the First Cass sequel could reach.

4/5

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    • dreamworks21
    • June 4th, 2011

    Wow you really liked this thing, huh? Haha I agree with some of your stuff, I’d be interested to see what you think of my review:

    http://suckerpunchcinema.com/main/2011/06/x-men-first-class/

    • Really liked your review. I think it’s always going to be difficult to make every character interesting with such a large group. I’ll admit I was disappointed McAvoy and Fassbender (and partly Lawrence) were the only developed characters. At the same time every ensemble needs focus characters and I believe the Avengers movie will probably struggle handling all the characters as well.

        • dreamworks21
        • June 4th, 2011

        Thanks for the kind words! I’ve been perusing your site, and I found it interesting that you’re in Multimedia Journalism – I’ve just started Graduate School in Multimedia Journalism at Virginia Commonwealth University. Where do you go to college? How you liking classes so far?

      • Ah fantastic. I study Multimedia journalism at a university in London. I find it really interesting; journalism is such an underrated subject. I find it really interesting how Multimedia journalism is changing the way we live every day. It’s fascinating! Yourself? How do you find the subject?

    • dreamworks21
    • June 5th, 2011

    Oh, I love it. For my undergraduate studies I got a double major in Cinema and Mass Communications, with a minor in General Business. I decided to pursue a Master’s in Multimedia Journalism because a.) I love writing, b.) I love reading the New York Times on a daily basis, and c.) I think there is a definite dearth of journalists in the world today. My ultimate goal is to be a producer at a nightly news network, but we’ll see how that pans out!

  1. June 8th, 2011

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