X-Men: First Class (2011)
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Written by: Ashley Miller, Bryan Singer, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Sheldon Turner, Zack Stentz
Starring: James McAvoy, January Jones, Jason Flemyng, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne
REVIEWED BY BOZZ
X Men: First Class (2011)
Running Time: 132 mins
Let me start out by asking you what this film is exactly? A prequel or a reboot or both. Honestly I don’t even think it knows itself. Once again Singer has gotten his paws on the X-Men frachise and while others hold up his first two entries as bonna fide examples of comic book movie works of art I would rather watch Ratners The Last Stand or the brilliant 90’s cartoon. Needless to say as a big fan of the comics i went into the this creature with a open mind, after all at least Singer wasn’t directing and the cast seemed interesting.
The plot of the film recalls the opening of the original X-Men movie (which leads me to believe this is in fact taking place in current continuity). We find a young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) in the concentration camps and unleashing his first display of mutant power. An evil Nazi scientist takes an interest in him and were led to believe some bad shit goes down for the reminder of his childhood.
Before we know it times passed and Magneto is all grown up and running around 1950’s Europe like a motherfucker taking names and kicking nazi arse in some well staged revenge segments. Meanwhile we cut back and forth with Oxford squatter Xavier (James McAvoy), who is trying to pick up woman in pubs, the CIA who has started to take an interest in all things evolutionary and a shady bunch known as the Hellfire Club who appear to operate out of Vegas and use their mutant abilities to manouvre military operations to their own advantage.
It’s not long before all these plot threads come together. Xavier and Magneto become buddies and with the help of their CIA pal Moira McTaggert (Rose Byrne) go about signing up their own covert team of mutants to go up against the Hellfire Club. That’s the basic plot and it’s fine. In fact the story is one of the films strongest aspects as is the 1950’s setting. Also great is the mutants on display. We get a ton of new faces fans of the comics will no doubt be eager to see, such as Havoc, Angel, Dawin, and fan fave Emma Frost. A refreshing breath of fresh air after the Jackman dominated previous flicks.
Acting wise the film is solid across the board. Michael Fassbender lends a strong edge to the young Magneto and is able to balance the darkness with the more emotional scenes required of his characters. James McAvoy is fine as Charles, as is current acting powerhouse Jennifer Lawrence as young Mystique. The stands outs for me however were Rose Byrne and Kevin Bacon. Byrne gives the audience and comic fans a pro active version of McTaggert we’d never known and could only wish for if one could turn back the hand of time in regards to the comics incarnation. While Kevin Bacon makes a welcome return to the big screen as the films main villain Sebastian Shaw. The only down side is January Jones as Emma Frost. Jones does a fine job as the could care less about anybody but herself telepath but is hardly giving a chance to shine and is shamelessly reduced to henchman status.
Handling the reigns of this flick is ‘Kick Ass’s’ Matthew Vaughn. Thankfully, unlike Bryan Singer, Vaughn is able to craft out some solid action set pieces and avoid snails pace scenes which act as metaphores for coming out as gay to ones parents. Talk about heavy handed messages. Anyhow the film flies by and before we know it it’s all over.
This is when the issues begin. Where does the franchise go from here? If it’s straight into Wolverine Origins then can someone explain why Emma Frost is in that film looking all of 17 years of age despite it being set two decades after First Class? Or maybe another adventure with the First Class gang? Yet whats the point since we know where the story is going or is the point just to enjoy the ride? I think FOX or producer Singer couldn’t give a rats arse to be honest. Evidenced by the BIG cameo in this film. Without spoiling it the cameo cements First Class as film in the current coninuity and therefore it becomes a big mess. Had they resisted the temptation to include ‘him’ in this film perhaps we would have had a reboot at the same level as the quality Star Trek. Sadly what we get is a nice little snap shot into the past and little else since we know where this train is headed.
[pt-filmtitle]X-men First Class[/pt-filmtitle]