Monday, June 13, 2011

Review - X-Men: First Class

Some comic book movies are spectacular (The Dark Knight, the first two X-Men movies), and some are dreadful (Daredevil and the last two X-Men movies). X-Men: First Class may not reach the stunning heights of predecessors (1 and 2 that is) but it does go a long way towards recapturing the magic that made those first two films so fantastic in the first place.

When an evil mastermind named Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) is bent on putting missles in Cuba, guaranteeing WWIII, and his eventual domination of the world (despite being a history major, this little rewrite of events didn't phase me too much), the CIA (Rose Byrne) seeks out a former nemesis of shaw with metal bending powers, Erik (Michael Fassbender), and a genetics professor Charles (James McAvoy), to assemble a group of young, talented outcasts, whose so-called mutations, make them apt for fighting the greatest evil the world has ever faced.

This group of outcasts includes Charles' adopted sister Raven (Mystique), a trouble teen named Alex (Lucas Till), a stripper named Angel (Zoe Kravtiz), a young scientist named Hank (Nicholas Hoult), and a terrible geeky flirt named Sean (Caleb Landry Jones). After training for weeks, these mutants must go up against Shaw and his team (including January Jones as Emma Frost), to save the world, while trying to stick together through impossible challenges.

X-Men: First Class is a thrilling action-adventure, with stunning visuals, a smart script and an incredible cast. The script is stuffed full of explanations, that are never too long or too borng, but also is packed full of emotion and humor. The cast is also incredible. Rose Byrne and January Jones add some sexiness and bite, and Kevin Bacon plays a perfectly sinister villian. The kids are not bad either, especially Jennifer Lawrence, who proves that her Winter Bone's talent was not a one-hit wonder, and Nicholas Hoult's cautious, geeky Hank, who not so subtly morphs into X-Men favorite Beast. The real revelations here however, are Fassbender and McAvoy, who bring maturity and talent to the roles of Erik and Charles and completely steal the show.

If I have one problem with the film, it is Vaughn. Unlike Bryan Singer, who never cut scenes short and never relied on action to fill in holes, Vaughn (do dida better job Brett Ratner) is a little too quick with the cutting scissors, and a little too jumpy with some of the scene shifts. Apparently Vaughn forgot that this wasn't Kick-Ass, and if he directs the sequel, I hope he learns that letting some scenes linger and play themselves out is a wonderful tool that should be utilized.

Despite its flaws, X-Men: First Class is a rollicking good time, and is anchored by its visuals, and awesome cast and is more than able to overcome its director's obvious naivety. If you are looking for a fun summer movie, and liked the first two X-Men, then rejoin the franchise with this promising new start to what I hope will be a fantastic film series.

Grade: B+

Oscar Potential - Some technical awards are definitely a possibility such as Cinematography, Costume Design, the Sound awards, and Visual Effects.

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