Sunday, August 28, 2011

X-Men: First Class

This is another late movie review... or, it could be an early review. It depends on which date you are looking at. X-Men: First Class came out in theaters on June 3, 2011 but, it's coming out on disk on September 9, 2011. I am definitely looking forward to the disk release. X-Men: First Class is my favorite comic book movie of the summer.

Under Matthew Vaughn's (Snatch, Stardust, Kick-Ass) direction and a screenplay by 5 writers (including Bryan Singer) we are introduced to Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto) before they became rivals and formed the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. In X-Men: First Class Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr finds each other and together they establish the School for Gifted Youngsters in Westchester County, NY in order to protect children whom are affected by gene mutation from being feared, ousted and even hunted by ignorance. During the first act of the movie, James McAvoy (always Mr. Tumnus and Leto Atreides to me) as the young Charles Xavier plays this role in a deviously fun way as he has full control of his abilities (actor and character). As the movie progresses, Charles Xavier's demeanor changes as his protected life disappears while he gets introduced to a more serious and dangerous world when he becomes friends with Michael Fassenbender's Erik Lehnsherr. Michael Fassenbender shares the same amount of screen time as James MacAvoy but, Fassenbender steals the show with his on screen presence (worthy of Ian McKellen's performance as Magneto). Michael Fassenbender does an amazing job. The first couple minutes of the movie felt like a James Bond movie with Michael Fassenbender being Bond when Erik Lehnsherr hunted the Nazis who were responsible for his torment and his parents' death. X-Men: First Class has the best performances of all the X-Men movies. Jennifer Lawrence surprised me as the young Raven Darkholme (Mystique). Where did this girl come from? She was nominated for best actress in Winter's Bone? Hmm... Unfortunately, it also had the worst performance. January Jones' portrayal of Emma Frost was horribly forgettable. Surprisingly I don't remember much of the "alluring" Emma Frost (January Jones) even though she was in lingerie for most of the movie. In the subject of allure, I do remember how pretty Raven Darkhomle (Jennifer Lawrence) was in a 60's style skirt. Sometimes it's not about how much skin is shown, it's about the presentation.

X-Men: First Class is no exception to veering off from the source material. One of the most glaring non-cannon changes was the addition of Havok in this timeline. Havok being Cyclops' younger brother doesn't seem right at all being one of the first members of the X-Men. Also, instead of the original members from the comics (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast and Angel) we get: Mystique, Beast, Banshee, Darwin, Havok and Angel. Beast being the same Beast as Hank McCoy but, Angel this time around is borrowed from Grant Morrison's run of New X-Men, Angel Salvadore. Even the uniforms were a rendition of Frank Quitely's design from New X-Men. I understand why some viewers are displeased with these changes. I can forgive the change in the founding members but, I don't like the change with the Summers Brothers (Havok and Cyclops). Even so, it didn't deteriorate my enjoyment of the movie. The screenplay was well put together coinciding the Cuban Missile Crises in the theme of fear, ignorance and human rights (mutant rights). With the fictional parallels you get Charles Xavier preaching education and peace while, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon giving a wicked performance) spreads fear and ignorance. Then you get Erik Lehnsherr stuck in the middle standing on that fine line between virtuous and villainous, wanting to do good but, not sure which method to choose. This being a prequel we know which method he goes with. Another thing I appreciate about X-Men: First Class was the fact that being a prequel, it didn't go from point A to point B mechanically and called it a day as if it's some sort of history lesson (ahem... Episodes 1-3). It could have easily done that ("he got angry and became Magneto, the end!"). The movie showed us a journey of emotions that these characters dealt with before they became who they are. I'm not even sure if any of the comic books went into this much detail with Professor X's and Magneto's past.

Most importantly, the display of the mutant powers and the action in X-Men: First Class are extremely fun to watch. Not to mention a ton of eye candy! I walked into the movie wanting to see a lot of Rose Byrne but found myself liking Jennifer Lawrence, Zoe Kravitz and.. ok, I got to admit, January Jones is still pretty hot despite the cardboard performance (from a guy's perspective). If the men of the movie is your preference, please leave a comment and balance this post out. X-Men: First Class hints as being in the same continuity of the previous X-Men movies with some surprising... "hints." I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't watched the movie yet. In the X-Men movie series, X-Men: First Class is my favorite (followed by X-Men: United (X2). Being a fan of the X-Men comics, I'm very happy that we get 3 very well put together movies which is quite a feat since these movies were not produced by Marvel (like Iron Man and Thor). The creative freedom at 20th Century Fox is not as broad. In any case, I highly recommend X-Men: First Class. Forgive the artistic licenses (it took some effort from me) and at least rent it when it comes out on disk. I am buying the Blu-Ray.


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