Ror Reviews: X-Men: First Class
Was the praise heaped on Matthew Vaughn's mutant prequel justified? Or have we all just been starved for a solid X flick for too long? Click for my take...
"Fist Ass!". "This will be the worst CBM ever made!" "[frick] Fox, bullshit, arghhhhh!" Etc etc.(just check out some of the comments in this Editorial :) Now of course, the benefit of hindsight is great thing. But my problem with these type of comments from these type of people has always, and will always be that they simply refuse to give some things a chance. First Class was a Fox X-men movie, it bastardized the "real" comics First Class team and came up with it's own version of the origin of the team. And that was all some people needed to write it off as a bad movie. Well, many others recognized that this "travesty" also had a great director, a great cast, and a pretty good team of writers. Guess who turned out to be right?
Straight up, X-Men: First Class is a great movie. Great adaptation? No, because it isn't really an adaptation at all. It's a movie based on the characters featured in Marvel's X-Men comics. On the surface, that might piss many people off. But look a little deeper and you will see that these characters are done justice to. They may not have used the ones you wanted em to, Hell they didn't use the ones I wanted them to! But that doesn't mean that they didn't do a great job of bringing them to life in this particular story. And of course that story is fundamentally Charles Xavier and Erik Lennsher's friendship, it's destruction and their journey towards becoming Professor X and Magneto. I'm afraid that aside from Mystique and maybe Beast, the other X-Men are basically just there to help out with the action sequences. This is pretty much the McAvoy/Fassbender show, and it's all the better for it.
By not trying to spread the focus too much to every character Matthew Vaughn has allowed these two excellent actors to deliver what imo are the best interpretations of any comic book characters we have seen on screen. Bar none. Their individual journeys, friendship and eventual parting of ways is all utterly convincing and at times even moving. This type of emotional complexity is something that many CBMs fail to communicate, or in many cases don't even bother attempting to. But the really great thing about this is that as well as all of that "talky" stuff, Vaughn also manages to make a damn fun flick too. It's serious at times, but it never takes itself TOO seriously either. There are quiet a few laugh out loud, borderline cheesy moments that work pretty well. I'm sure you all know about a cameo from a certain cigar smoking Canuck. Even though I knew what was coming I still laughed my ass off. And he's not the only actor from the previous movies to make an appearance! But McAvoy and Fassbender's are not the only great performances on display. Even though a few of the characters may get the short end of the stick development wise, the actors still do the very best with what they have to work with. Jennifer Lawrence shines as the younger, more innocent Mystique. Nicholas Hoult also does very well as Hank McCoy(although when he becomes Beast..emm, not really sure about the look). Kevin Bacon makes a great villain too, evil and threatening without ever descending into camp. You know the rest of the cast, you know who they play. They all do fine, except for January Jones and Rose Byrne. Byrne is ok, she over acts a little(check out some of her early reactions at seeing Mutants for the first time) but never really makes an impact, Jones is flat out bad imo. Never convincing in any way shape(lovely though it is) or form.
Vaughn keeps things moving at quite a pace, and even though the movie clocks in at over 2 and a half hours you won't feel it. Now personally I thought that things moved along a little TOO briskly. Some earlier scenes in particular might have benefited from being left to resonate more. Remember that opening scene from Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds? Well there is a scene with Erik tracking down some Nazis that is reminiscent of that, the setting, the lighting, the menace bubbling below the surface. It's a great scene, but had it been a tad longer I think it would have been even more effective. Vaughn also delivers too many extreme close up reaction shots for my liking and is overly fond of the camera zoom. But really, I'm nit picking now. Vaughn also gives us some spectacular action scenes, and if you think you have seen it all in the numerous clips and tv spots, you haven't! The special effects are for the most part awesome, But there are a couple of iffy shots, both involving Beast. Trust me though, you really won't care!
Does X-Men: First Class deserve the praise being heaped upon it? I would say so. It's certainly not without it's problems but I would say it's comfortably up there with the best CBMs we have seen. It may even surpass a few but I'll have to clarify that with a second viewing. Believe it folks, Vaughn, and yes, FOX, delivered big time.
PS: Sorry for this very late addition to the review but I totally forgot to mention something else that bothered me about the movie a bit. For about the last 20 minutes or so Michael Fassbender 's accent switched very noticeably to his natural Irish one. It's pretty bizarre! He spends the majority of the movie with a slight English twang and then all of a sudden just sounds like me! I'm not sure if it was something to do with the rushed production and they didn't have time for re-shoots or it was never noticed(although I find that hard to believe), either way it's strange. Doesn't take you completely out of the movie, but I thought it was worth mentioning anyway.
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