X-Men: First Class

19 06 2011

Most of us loved “X-Men,” even more of us loved “X-Men 2: X-Men United,” but ever since Brett Ratner’s “X-Men 3: The Last Stand,” things have been looking bad for 20th Century Fox. I liked all of the X-Men films, even “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” I thought that it was entertaining and I liked how cheesy it all was. Granted, it was never near the greatness of the first two X-Men and even a bit worse than the third movie, but still fun to watch. I’m happy to announce, however, that “X-Men: First Class” is not only better than “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” but that it is by far the best in the series.

The first two films were helmed by Bryan Singer, who did a great job with them. The other films apart from this one were badly received, they were also not directed by Bryan Singer. Here, they’ve hired the guy who was supposed to directed “X-Men 3: The Last Stand,” but eventually didn’t get involved. That guy is Matthew Vaughn. Known for co-producing films like “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch,” and directing films like “Layer Cake” and the more recent “Kick-Ass,” Vaughn is an undeniable talent in Hollywood, these days.

Having directed “Kick-Ass,” Vaughn is experienced in the superhero genre. And even though I can’t say that I enjoyed “Kick-Ass,” I love what he’s done here. “X-Men: First Class” tells the story of Charles Xavier and Eric Lehnsherr before they were Professor X and Magneto, respectively. The film opens with Eric being separated from his parents by Nazis, when he uses his powers of controlling metal to bust the gate that separates him and his parents open. The film’s villain, Sebastian Shaw, effectively played by Kevin Bacon, sees this and orders Eric to be brought to him. He “tames” Eric and becomes sort of an evil for him. Then, eighteen years later, Eric (Michael Fassbender) meets a British college-boy Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and together they begin to form the X-Men.

The film’s mainly set in 1962. The plot revolves largely around the Cuban Missile Crisis, and I think that they’ve taken proper advantage of that. The film feels very authentic, which is good, not many superhero films do. Vaughn co-wrote  the screenplay, which has clever lines for Fassbender, who doesn’t quite steal the show when McAvoy’s around, but does so when he’s not.

I really liked Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique. She is a great actor. I thought that the performance she gave in “Winter’s Bone” was the strongest female performance of 2010, and should’ve landed her an Oscar. She did get nominated though. Here, she doesn’t outshine anyone and still gives a great performance. She is believable as a mutant who wishes to get rid of her powers and her abnormal look.

The first superhero film we saw this year was the horrid comedy “The Green Hornet.” I respect Seth Rogen, but his films just aren’t funny for me. “The Green Hornet” wasn’t funny at all, and it wouldn’t have been a good movie to begin with. It was muddled, the action was incomprehensible, and although I like Cameron Diaz, she seemed out of place. The next superhero flick we saw was “Thor,” a very entertaining, well-made, and awesome film. “X-Men: First Class” is as good as “Thor,” perhaps slightly inferior. With the overwhelmingly negative reviews for “Green Lantern,” it’s beginning to look more and more as if “X-Men: First Class” is this year’s best comic book movie. I still have my hopes up for “Captain America: The First Avenger.” I love Joe Johnston’s work and I think that the film is going to be awesome. I hope it’s better than “X-Men: First Class” and “Thor” put together.

That doesn’t mean that this is, in any way, a bad movie. The direction is good, the script is good, the special effects are good. Henry Jackman’s score is also awesome here. But the film is perhaps a bit too cool. It has the same problems that “Kick-Ass” did, though they are considerably smaller here. “Kick-Ass” wasn’t funny at all, it was far too serious and violent. “X-Men: First Class,” while it isn’t too violent, it’s slightly too serious. I could’ve used more humor, but it was still entertaining throughout its 2-hour running time. A solid superhero flick.

Rating: ★★★

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frcCCHb9LHc

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