X-MEN: First Class = Review by ANIL RICKLY

X-MEN: First Class = Review by ANIL RICKLY

...Long wait...indeed...is justice done...Charles and Erik...before they were enemies...they were brothers...

ANIL RICKLY's X-MEN: FIRST CLASS review

Waiting with bated breath is an understatement for someone like me, who after seeing Singer/Ratner conspire to shed 3 X-films, yet not a single proper Sentinel arc, not an ounce of Cable, Apocalypse, New Mutants or Sinister, yes...I was cynical, skeptical...and would be one initially hard to please. FOX studios is one I have little faith in as despite attaining good casts, they attract directors who don't cut it to me, but basically, my ire is drawn by the poor scripts they draft and use for the comic-films, that tear to shreds a lot of comic continuity. Marvel Studios and WB have made alterations as it is impossible to stick to pure lore and canon but their original script changes and deviations as per "Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Thor and Nolan's Batman"...seem to be working more than fine shards of magic to pierce our comic-loving hearts. I don't attend films of comic book movies just to go and watch for watching a movie's sake...I love films totally loyal and mostly in some semblance loyal...to the books...as Snyder's 300 and Watchmen showed...and also if deviations occur, as seen in Vaughn's KICKASS, then make it count to impress. FOX deviates and butchers rawly and wryly, so I bear no ill will to fans who don't regard and hold them in high esteem...and after Wolverine Origins with Barakapool...well let's not digress...I took to that film...not...one...bit!

First Class manages to wrap a script echoed upon by a production/creative team consisting of Director Matthew Vaughn, and boasting Bryan Singer, Jane Goldman and Lauren Donner, just to name a few, and we see the X-Men tale revolve around the friendship of Prof. Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr. The restraint by Fox to utilize a better cast baffled me, but while befuddled, it was pleasant to see a director whom I liked helming, as his works before (ironically Branagh did Thor after Matt didn't finish the deal to work it) as director or producer, show he has talent, and Vaughn's arrival was seconded by the blessings of James McAvoy as Charles and Micheal Fassbender as Erik. This seemed the right concotion thus far to conjure restoration to a franchise I felt treaded upon needlessly and haplessly, and whether some sort of vanity or pride could be restored, well it was a stepping stone to exclamating that something good may be a-cooking. The 2 leads would no doubt be the pivot of this film, anchored by what seems an iffy supporting cast on paper. So with a decent enough cast and production team offsetting limitations and constraints, could they punctuate the fans' desires and regenerate what Marvel/WB have done recently? It's all in the writers and script...I humbly believe...

The task falls to Mcavoy who impresses as Xavier and dissipates a raw energy and naughty charm much not akin to Pat Stewart. In fact, it's differentiated with tinges of a Younger Womanizing Ultimates Prof. X if fans remember his early appearances as a voyeuristic eye on Jean and Emma Frost. This Brit (forget Wanted, and revel in the joy of Last King of Scotland) is an immense talent and he does relish and take charge as X, but it's Fassbender who commands the screen with a vengeance-hungry pain-disseminating Erik. Commandeering the role of villain or anti-hero is no strange thing to Fassbender (Inglorius Basterds, Jonah Hex, 300) etc as this CBM fave dominates the film, surpassing Mcavoy a lot at times, and it's imminent that this is their origins stiory. The plot intricately weaves over Erik lost, depraved and intimate with revenge on persecutive and past woes brought on by the tragedy-inducing Sebastian Shaw. Kevin Bacon does manage to irk out some semblance of a workable villain as Shaw but doesn't pose the charisma needed for this role, which fans would also see boasts bits and pieces of Ult. Sinister as well as 616-Sinister. His CGI, as is the special FX of the film, is potent and handled well, but would that prove enough to quell banter and deliver impeccable goods? Charles and a certain aide realise quickly the impact of an impending threat to a newfound growing community of mutants, leading to his peace-seeking aim crossing paths with Erik. Xavier sets out on a path of peace and funnily enough, doused in a scale of war, forges a friendship with Erik. Key to this relationship, and surprisingly not a bit part in this film, is Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. As pretty as she is, and despite sometimes weak CGI appearance with her, she falls flat at junctions but does manage at times to hit slightly impressive peaks. When she falters, the gape at her is still something relevant in that...well...she's fine as hell. Other than that, mediocre is too harsh, but good performance is a bit too much to say. She's average...and furthermore, Charles and his new calibre-mutant seeking unit run afoul of the CIA, and the team decides that to combat the new threat of a villainous Hellfire Club, they need a roster of their own.

Bacon is not usurped by any villainous performance, as his unit comprises of the one known as Emma Frost, whom January Jones plays the role of...cosmetic at best, Alex Gonzalez as the emotionless Riptide, and Vaughn's fave' Jason Fleming as Azazel (whom fans know of as Nightcrawler's father) whose role here is a serious injustice to the books. In fact, Shaw is good in spurts but for the likes of Emma to be so poorly done, well it's a tad unacceptable at this point that such a wooden cadre and caucus of villains were assembled.

With Charles aiding the CIA, and indirectly fueling Erik's hate, against the mastermind plot of nuclear war by Shaw and his weakly portrayed faction, it's quite astounding to see the cast used here...as it isn't faithful at all to the First Class in comics. It's weird to see Emma aged here but younger in Wolverine Origins, and I ask is this a prequel or a reboot? The continiuity factor is pain staking as we also see Havok, Scott's dad word is, shovel a stapled wooden performance, as well as a disastrous Angel Salvadore, whose ruse and shenanigans are lethally an epidemic of bundled lines on screen. With nuclear embargos approaching, one would think this film asks more of the cast but its muddled, sketchy and shaded in the mire, when Edi Gathegi's Darwin and Oliver Platt's character, prove to be of no surreal dramatic purpose, except a clichéd film fodder tool. I rather one read 'X-MEN: Deadly Genesis by Brubaker', as the choice on screen to not reboot and leave out Iceman, Angel and Jean/Scott...doesnt soothe me at all. Fragments of positivity are gained with Nicholas Hoult's impressive Beast/McCoy portrayal as he brings a serene sense of normality-yearning and acceptance-craving amid genius, coupled with a great looking character post-FX, that leaps out in bounds to warm you with empathy. Simone Bianchi's art is done Thundercat justice here! He does well and also, lends to a lot of the plans that Xavier's team use to combat Shaw and his machinations to start a new world war where mutants and humans are all collateral damage. The end-game of Shaw is very fallible and sometimes laughable as it seems the writers opted to stray from the books as much as possible, and while some deviations were average, the ones that fell flat...horrendously did so...as seen with Rose Byrne's atrocious Moira McTaggert...as this revisionary role is fumbled and trampled with some mediocre acting by her. Banshee by Caleb Jones though is most welcome, despite again not being Scottish, as his take on screen is done well...and believable...till a failure of a climax with him and a firefly. Xavier does try to mend and prostrate at Erik's feet to show him to avert the urge to ascend mutantkind ahead of humans, but it all comes down to their team...training and training...honing skills and powers...which is done decently on screen...with a fine soundtrack and cinematograpic card, as they look to avert nuclear power houses going toe to toe...it's all about preservation of all people. Well, so it seems...as the climax of the film offers no surprise but the way that certain lore is brought to the viewers' hemisphere is well done and welcome a perversion in instances, as the final third sees Fassbender commit to a believalby ticked Erik, and Xavier trying to repair broken arms. He's performance as Erik is mighty and penetrating as you do feel his pain, and Xavier proves a good foil as they have amazing on screen chemistry, but somehow the nefarious schemes and villains, just fail to utilise the best out of these 2 great leads, and that's where I think a weak script brings a shortfall. It's another bridge detonated here as I can't rank it highly as I'd like to, as that'd be me just basing it on good leads, and a few good supporting roles...when really and truly, the script is not impressively catching and falls flat a lot despite a 2 hr run time. It's shoddy dialogue apart from the leads, and an array of disappointing cast performances. Vaughn didn't do terrible but as a restart, they could have done much more and rehashed a lot better, even throw in more easter eggs...the potential was more than there but they hinged on trailers highlighting Erik and Charles, and seemed to go for more style than susbtance. It's hard to see hardcore X-fans liking this, but the average moviegoer would swoon and fall prey to the leads' charm on screen no doubt, as Fassbender/McAvoy more than manage to hold their own. PS - Brendan Fehr of Dawson's Creek makes a lame cameo but it's more than compensated for with a few X-Men we adore popping up here and there, as well as one or two villainous easter eggs, not enough for my blood, which crawls when I wonder if FOX is going to do Deadpool...not likely I think with Ryan eyeing $$$ on a Lantern sequel!!! I digres...

We end with a straighforward crescendo of Erik donning a path, with a kickass helmet whose origins are iffy, and carving a cape as he assembles a new brotherhood, to oppose homosapiens, while Xavier guides the homosuperiors to better and more lush grounds. On that grass, the wheelchair jokes and hair jokes reverberate nicely, but apart from depending too much on the main lead cast to carry the film, the film wasted a lot of potential to reinvigorate my taste in this franchise...but alas lil ole' me...I'm just an army of one. Similar to hating on Transformers, I'm not a popcorn flick fan, I love my comics and expect better translations and adaptations...and this was a bit too loose for my blood...and I felt the advent for reinventing the X-Wheel on film was more than missed here...and color me iffy and sketchy on whether I'm up for a sequel right now...

See it and judge for yourself...average effort and an okay film, but nothing to warrant a second showing for me...
and I saw Thor 4 times...just saying...RICKLYYYY OUTTTT!!!!!
PS = there's a sexy cameo from X1-3 to look out for...
Posted By:
Anil Rickly
Member Since 5/14/2009
Filed Under "X-Men: First Class" 6/1/2011
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