X-Men First Class is by far the best movie of the franchise. That is saying something considering that prequels and origin stories are very difficult movies to make. Prequels always have to live up to their predecessors. Origin stories are difficult because one of two things always gets sacrificed, you get a bland story with good characterization or you get a solid story but the characters get lost in the momentum of the movies. X-Men First Class does a fine job of developing intriguing characters while delivering a story that was not immediately forgettable.
Considerably before Eric Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) became the famous hero vs. villain, Magneto and Professor X, they are two young men discovering the depths of their special powers that stemmed from their genetics, a mutation that altered them in a way that made them unlike the general human population. First Class is development of the characters and the introduction to their friendship and how they eventually became archenemies. Also, showing the beginning to the famous X-Men, the movie develops a great story that does a good job of making comic book themes fit in well with real world happenings. The main story is about Sebastian Shaw a energy manipulating mutant who seeks to start World War Three, so that the nuclear devastation that followed would create a world full of mutants and rid the world of regular humans. When his plans are discovered, the united states government looks to put a team of mutants together to combat Shaw and stop his malicious nefarious plans.
X-Men First Class Directed By Matthew Vaughn
X-Men First Class did a very good job of creating an origin story for the first three movies. It developed its main characters perfectly, Professor X and Magneto. It gave each one a solid foundation and a background that made them lifelike. With Professor X we see how he cultivated an intellectual persona, what moved him to teach and what made him incapacitated.. and ultimately what caused him to start a school for the mutantly gifted. Best of all we get a deeper focus on how Eric became Magneto. We get to see his personal trauma, his evolution through hate and resentment and how the nefariously motivating feeling that he cultivated through his life, molded him into becoming the leader of the Brotherhood of Evil. While First Class involved different characters and is at the surface an X-Men movie, it really turned into a semi Magneto origin story, seeing as how they spent so much time on his character. His portions really made the movie become more than just a simple mindless action flick. By the end of the movie the relationship developed between Eric and Charles made the whole event meaningful and even heart felt. The characters were well cemented, laying down a firm foundation for upcoming sequels.
Better Than The First Three.
The main problem of the first three X-Men movies was that they were trying to merely be blockbuster action packed entertainment. The first two films while being sufficiently entertaining did not have above average character development nor utilized any of the great details that make the comic books of the same name so successful. X-Men The Last Stand third in the movie franchise was just horrible. Not only were the characters thrown out the window but things occurred simply for the sake of making action happen. Main characters died for the sake of killing them.. Not for substantial reasons. Their deaths had no significance.
*Spoiler Alert* *Spoiler Alert* *Spoiler Alert*
Due to the change of direction, X-Men: The Last Stand was a serious departure from the first two. It lacked the feeling of a good story and seemed to not care about what happened as long as major action ensued. It was no surprise since the director was Brett Ratner who always tends to go ultra generic stereotypical when it's a movie for mass consumption. In this third X-Men film instead of coming in and leaving his own interpretation, he said 'forget this' and just started killing off characters for the sheer fun of it. Storm, Proffesor X, along with many others were killed, as if they were side characters or that guy wearing red in all the Star Treck shows. He just axed characters that deserved at least a half-way respectful death. Instead we get characters that are supposedly Level 5 powerful go out like they are weaklings. Also, the movie made the inclusion of a plethora of new characters and failed to give any of them fair credence by developing them or at the very least making them matter. The movie was completely forgettable and pointless as a storytelling device. I know its comic book stories where talking about here but films like The Dark Knight and this latest X-Men First Class have shown that super powered stories aren't necessarily suppose to be disposable.
*End of Spoiler*
As opposed to the first three, First Class was chock full of good character development. It respects storytelling and understands that for the story to matter the personas in it have to carry some weight. Magneto and Professor X were splendidly fleshed out, while all the side characters were sufficiently explained. First Class also has a story that serves a purpose. It explains a bit about how the enmity between mutants and the general population occurred. Also, it showed how the existence of mutants became known to the government. While on its own the story wasn't exemplary it was solid enough to make the origin tale a worthy one to watch. Its villain was charming enough to entertain and was sufficiently grimy to where he promoted hate and was a worthy adversary.
All the usual things in a summer blockbuster movie were found. The movie had good action portions, side character development montages, solid special effects, and the usual needed CGI. It was lighthearted in plenty of moments, so that the movie would be fun and enjoyable.
The acting was adequate from all side characters. Everyone was adequate in their roles. Rose Byrne (Star wars: Attack of the Clones and Bridesmaids) was solid enough underplaying Moira MacTaggert. Jennifer Lawrence (Winters Bone and The Hunger Games) was above average as Raven/Mystique. Hers was one of the side performances that shines just a little brighter. Nicolas Hoult (Clash of the Titans and The Weather Man)was also effective playing Beast. While Kevin Bacon (Mystic River and Wild Things) gave his best effort of the side characters when playing Sebastian Shaw. The only side character that I found lacking was January Jones (Mad Men and Love Actually) as Emma Frost. I like Jones from her great role in Mad Men as Betty, however, from the start as Emma Frost, she just didnt fit the character. She is too dainty, has no body, and her presence is not one of an Ice Queen. We are suppose to believe that shes this cold hearted character but all we can see from the exterior is a frail little lady. It was completely against type when looking at the comic book character.
Now, the best part of X-Men First Class is the acting jobs of James McAvoy (Atonement and The Chronicle of Narnia) and Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Basterds, 300 and Band of Brothers). As Professor X, McAvoy completely captures the aristocracy and self indulgent behavior that the character displays in the comics. He is an intellectual that while often having good intentions always seems to do things for his own benefits. The smarminess and conceited tones and mannerisms were brilliantly displayed by James. On the other hand, Fassbender as Magneto was a delight. He played hard with ease. The cockiness, charisma, and self assurance that Eric displays in the comic books is brilliantly shown by his characterization. He plays his part with a confidence that makes us wish that his eventual turn to Magneto has a twist where he becomes a good guy as opposed to the sinful villainous person he becomes. The progressive dynamic between these two actors is what really elevates First Class into something more than the usual pop corn flick. While the movie doesn't merit any high class dramatic consideration, it definitely puts it in the top tier of comic book related movies.
X-Men: First Class is a great summer blockbuster movie that does not skimp in the acting department. It holds a solid origin story. With characters that are filled with intrigue, from the start it captures our imagination, makes us invest ourselves into the story, and delights us with an entertaining progression of a comic book tale.
Read all 23 Reviews
Write a Review