Monday 6 June 2011
I had been dying to see this film since it had first been announced so I was filled with excitement and more than a hint of trepidation as the Nephew and I filed into the theater. I had been screwed over before when my expectations were so high. Not today, though.
From the opening shot, X-Men: First Class raised the bar and threw down the gauntlet to all other superhero films before and still to come. Matthew Vaughn and crew have delivered a high octane, deeply emotional and provocative movie. There is so much complexity to this film, that at times one almost forgets it’s a superhero flick. It has the feel of great, character-driven drama.
James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender have a strong chemistry that mirrors that of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan and yet, they take it deeper. They are allowed by virtue of this being an origin story to be the friends that the previous trilogy only hinted at. Here we get why Charles goes one way and Erik the other. As Charles, McAvoy is fearless. He commands your attention the moment he enters the frame. He plays Professor X as loyal, driven and empathetic with a hint of arrogance. He is idealistic, determined to save everyone and in his passion, fails to see the problems with his methods.
A real standout scene between these two comes when Charles teaches Erik to access his power without anger or pain. He brings up a happy memory of Erik and his mother that the other man had forgotten about. It’s such a profound, moving moment that this tough chica was crying in her popcorn. These two will spark endless debate, which is an awesome thing when it comes to a film and its characters.
Of the other mutants, Jennifer Lawrence is spectacular as Raven/Mystique. She is the epitome of a young girl desperate to be normal, to hide her appearance. All alone, she stumbles into Charles’ life and he helps her to realize she’s not alone. However, it’s Erik who teachers her to accept herself and not be afraid to be who she really is. The scenes between her and Fassbender rock. There is also a touching performance by Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast. He is quiet, nerdy and deals with his fear of rejection by pouring all his efforts into a scientific solution to his appearance. He wants more than anything to be human. The other mutants like Riptide and Angel Salvadore did not have much to say, but they were sure pretty to look at. Alex Gonzalez and Zoe Kravitz were B-E-A-Utiful to quote Bruce, my fave Jim Carrey character. Like my man Lenny could create ugly kids.
For all her top billing, January Jones is rather meh. Emma Frost has hardly any screen time and when she does appear, her dialogue is rather lackluster. It may be due to the fact that she shares the screen with Kevin Bacon, who owns every scene he is in. However, I suspect it also has to do with the fact that Emma spends most of her time scantily clad and doing the bidding of her master like a good little slave. She just can’t seem to leave Mad Men behind.
The f/x in this movie are stunning and I, for one, am so glad they did not stoop to 3-D. The CGI images were seamless and mind-blowing. Everything made sense, there were no wasted moments of extra explosions just to have something blow up. I loved the production design especially. It all fit perfectly into the early 60’s time period. From the costumes to the vehicles to the tech, everything was spot on and logical.
I am going to stop gushing over my keyboard here and let you make up your own minds, but trust me when I say this was one hell of an awesome film. I intend to see this again as soon as possible and I haven’t said that since Return of the King.