Jun 5, 2011

X-Men: First Class Review

This movie was absolutely amazing. It totally blew away my expectations, which were quite low after X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That being said this movie does of course have its flaws, but it is finally great to get another X-Men movie that matches the caliber of X-Men 2.

The movie follows characters previously established in the franchise, Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr as they discover their mutant powers, or as they are known to the more general public, Professor X and Magneto. But this time, we get to see them as young adults trying to find their place in the world as the 'first' mutants.

The casting of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender were prefect choices for younger versions of Sir Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. While I think James McAvoy's performance was superb, his performance doesn't measure up to Sir Patrick Stewart's. Fassbender on the other hand, eclipses Ian McKellen's performance at certain points, mostly when the character is being fueled by anger. The performance really adds to the depth of the overall character across the franchise.

The other mutants however, all seem to play second fiddle to these two outstanding performances. Where the previous X-Men movies excelled at balancing an ensemble cast, outside of Magneto and Professor X, there really isn't much depth, even with the films villains. The premise that World War III was going to be started by a series of miscommunication orchestrated by Shebastain Shaw is kind of far flung, and Kevin Bacon doesn't play the maniacal mastermind well enough. Based on the previews I was hoping for more Emma Frost action, mostly because of how much of a bad ass she is in the comics, but sadly she is reduced to a second fiddle character who is taken away half way through the film.

The action sequences really excel when the actors embrace their characters fully. This definitely comes across with Magneto when he is hunting down Shaw for revenge and his motivation drives the action. Xavier seems lost with no guidance until Moria shows up, and even then he seems like he is flying by the seat of his pants with no clear goal in mind.

The continuity is a big concern, and there are errors aplenty. However, the performances of McAvoy and Fassbender make you seem to forget this. My biggest complaint outside of that is that there are too many montage sequences, including two that feature ominous mushroom clouds, definitely bringing about the definition of redundancy. Although one montage does feature a great cameo!

Overall, this movie is fantastic just for the almost bromance between X and Magneto. Everything else is just icing on the cake.