Sunday, 9 October 2011

X-Men: First Class

Thank you Matthew Vaughn. Thank you for finally giving us a slice of popcorn entertainment that is not in 3D, that is not an insultingly dumb experience, that has a solidly written script as well as some fantastically staged action sequences and polished effects. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to X-Men: First Class, a comic book film that raises the bar in terms of blockbuster and superhero entertainment (at least until The Dark Knight Rises gets here). Those who had doubts and/or low expectations after the abominable Wolverine and X-Men: The Last Stand (you're not alone), can breathe easy. X-Men: First Class combines superb performances, some extremely solid scriptwriting, great effects and action, as well as fantastic direction from Vaughn, to present to audiences exactly what this once great franchise needed: a right big kick up the ass and a fresh cast and take to revive the franchise. Thankfully it does that and then some. Not only does it kick start the franchise, it also opens the door for a whole new franchise that, for once, feels very welcome.

The film, set in the 1960's, shows the origin stories of many of the characters that have become popular over the series, including Charles Xavier (played by James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr or Magneto (Michael Fassbender). With the threat of mutant Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) trying to start another World War with the threat of nuclear war, Xavier and his team of newly trained mutants, including his new 'friend' Erik, set out with their mutant powers, to stop him, with the help of a CIA operative (Rose Byrne).

It's not often you come across a big-budget film like this and find a story well polished and solidly told, but here, with a story coming from the mind of Bryan Singer himself, it is top notch. So much so, that pretty much most of the mutants get just enough character development so we can actually give a damn about the characters, more than I can say for any of the Transformers. What's more impressive, is that Vaughn is able to use these character developments without bogging the pacing of the film. In fact, sometimes the film moves at such a pace, that a couple of the mutants get rushed over. Vaughn, who did such a great job with Kick-Ass, proves that he was the perfect choice to direct, as he is able to give the film a great sense of fun despite giving it a serious tone, which really suits the film, making it a whole lot more intriguing. Vaughn gives the film a great sense of the Cold War-esque feel, making it significantly classy and stylish. It's also quite refreshing to have a whole comic-book film set in the 1960's, amongst all these present day set Thors and Iron Mans.

The film, unsurprisingly, has some extremely exciting and well choreographed action set-pieces, as well as some great effects. Also working to its favour, is its pacing, which is just about perfect, creating a delicious sense of urgency, making the film that much more interesting to watch. However, the real joy and strong point in First Class, is the pitch perfect casting. McAvoy finally should get the attention with this role, as he injects the right amount of charisma and emotion to make for a believable and likable Xavier. And the sight of a young Xavier sculling down alcohol, is one to be lapped up. The supporting cast is all excellent, in particular Byrne, who is solid in a role that could have been disposable, Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique, and Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast, who's come a long way since his About A Boy days, and all the better for it. Kevin Bacon is also great fun as the film's villain. But it's Michael Fassbender, who you've seen in Inglourious Basterds, Hunger and Centurion, who really steals it, and becomes an instant star. If there's one performance that will leave people talking, it's Fassbender's. He is a worthy lead in to Ian McKellen's Magneto, and he's just as menacing as he is an interesting character. Oh, and there's one cameo in here, that I won't reveal of course, that is awesome, and great fun, even if it's only a split second cameo.

It's not perfect of course; January Jones is ineffective in a pointless role, despite being fantastic eye-candy (she can wear the fuck out of some of those costumes); the third act is sort of unnecessarily dragged out, and as I mentioned before, some of the mutants are brushed over. But its not everyday you find blockbuster entertainment of this calibre, and this is undoubtably first class stuff; the best comic book film since The Dark Knight, and even the best film of the X-Men series. Do yourself a favour and check out X-Men: First Class. It brings the X-series to new heights. X-cellent stuff. 

4.5 out of 5


  1. I absolutely loved this film. i agree, it is the best comic book film since the dark knight and the best x men film, but I would go as far as to say that this was the best Marvel comics film. Great review