X-Men : First Class (2011)

I’ve been at the mercy of men just following orders. Never again.

If there is anything I love more than comic books (OK OK graphic novels mostly) it’s great acting. That’s why X-Men: Fist Class stole my heart. I’m telling you that Eastwood, Abrams, Cronenberg, Malick, Salles, Fincher, Clooney, Scorsese, Curtis, Crowe better bring their A-game or this eXtravaganza might end up crowning 2011 for me. Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method should come close considering the fact that the driving force behind the latest X-Men feature, Michael Fassbender will be taking on the extremely interesting and layered Carl Jung.

The comic book genre has been under some examination as of late, the growing amounts of attributions to it have rendered it under severe survaillance and pressure. Is it sustainable? Is it necessary? Sure, it sells, but can we really have a great film experience in this sci-fi world of costumes, tricks and supernatural debauchery? Let me tell you this, First Class lives up to its name. Presenting us not with just an entertaining, actionpacked comicbook tale of epic proportions, we get a deep, developed and higly classical show in dramatics, acting, suspense and heartache.

X-Men : First Class is a classic tale of origins, an archetype of storytelling that the world of superheroes have claimed its own. We are yet again introduced to the characters of X, Charles Xavier (played by the fabulous Scotsman James McAvoy and Magneto, Erik Lehnsherr (by the even more fabulous Irishman Michael Fassbender). Two very different characters, one, Erik, carrying a heavy burden of his mother’s death and a desire for revenge, and the other, Charles, a quick witted, charming visionary of peace and prosperity within the emerging mutant community. The two, and their compadres, (Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence, Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Banshee (Caleb Laundry Jones and Havok (Lucas Till)) are recruited by the CIA to work in liaison with their operation of preventing a nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union when in 1962 the Soviets (after pressured circumstances) get manipulated into transporting nucler missiles into Cuba.

The big bad baddie, Sebastian Shaw (a name fit for a tax attorney rather than the man trying to bring about the destruction of Homo Sapiens (played by Kevin Bacon) working on claiming the world his own and those likeminded, is determined to make this WWIII thing happen in order to let loose the mutant rule. Erik has other plans, as he craves to kill Shaw, the man responsible for the death of his mother and the emergence of his abilities.

Really a triumph of the two main characters, Charles and Erik, before they became those old, determined, passionate men in the original X-Men trilogy, the film graps the audience on all levels. It serves for the passive, entertain-me crowd, the romance starved and the ‘I’m-in-the-wrong-theatre’ type of character, bust most of all, it transcends above and becomes an intelligent character study. A great deal of this glory belongs to two men, Michael Fassbender and James Mc Avoy. The blooming of a brotherhood, torn apart by rage and hurt is one of those forever relevant and gravely impacting stories.

McAvoy and Fassbender (of both of which I’ve been a fan of for quite a while now) work together brilliantly, both comically and dramatically creating a believable and layered relationship between friends-turned-enemies. Rarely do we get characters this interesting and multifaceted in action entertainment that live up to their paragons. Jumping in to fill the boots of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen is no easy task, in fact it should be a daunting one, but these guys hold on their own by all standards.

I also have to commend Matthew Vaughn for yet again bringing us the freshest summer film imaginable. Last year’s Kick-Ass made him into a household name (yeah yeah, in the house of geeks!) by presenting us with his originality and younghipfreshcool point of view. You can see that p-o-w repeated in X-Men : First Class. (If you haven’t seen his 2004 Layer Cake, you need to check that out too!) It would seem easy to dismiss any of these films (LC, K-A, X-M:FC) as plain, straight up action, but having seen many-an-actio-film that simply are just that, there is really no logical reason to make that renouncing (in my eyes even demeaning) definition when it is clear they are much more both substansially and thematically.

Taking on otherness, fear of difference, importance of appearences and struggles of acceptance, the film explores thematic aspects that have been relevant throughout history in class struggle, feminism and now, pronounced in immigration issues. The story explores interesting ideas in regards to the relationship between the new race of mutants and the prevailing human race, and introduces us to characters struggling with being accepted and accepting themselves, a topic dwelved into even more in the three first films. A underlying social commentary is often a difficult matter to handle when it comes its position and emphasis, but the film does a great job by not getting preachy, but making the audience think about these issues by introducing us to relatable characters going through these difficult decisions and prejudices. In the end we find the characters in a midst of two divisions, a division between the mutants and the ‘normals’ and those mutants looking for justice and domination and those looking for peace and co-operation.

First Class is by no means perfect. It has a bit of cheese, a bit of camp, and it holds a bit too much detail for the average viewer (especially unfamiliar with either the comics or even the films) but by no means does it have to be a model example of filmmaking at its finest. I mean, it’s no Citizen Kane (I don’t know why I keep using this saying, it’s not like I consider it to be the best movie ever .. oh well). It is simply, a uniquely well execute blockbuster that makes you both think and feel, and is elavated even higher by a few really great performances.

Prequels by definiton suck. There’s no instance where a prequel ever topped an original (no Temple isn’t better than Raiders), until now. I love the X-Trilogy (well I love 1 and 2, I like 3) but here is something that has just claimed the title of ‘an exception to the rule’.

The artform (well you can barely call it that to be honest) of blockbusters just got a well needed boost.

If You Don’t Like X-Men : First Class then …

– you should be nuked from the inside out / have your head crushed within a collapsing helmet / served Soviet Union style.


P.S. Call me Magneto bitch!


24 responses to “X-Men : First Class (2011)

  1. HAHA, awesome!

    We saw this one just a couple of hours ago and loved it. Loved, loved it. And I was really reluctant to go and see it… We might go and see it again in a couple of days.

  2. Huh tätä en osannu odottaa. Harkitsin ihan vakavasti, että en katso tätä ollenkaan. Eihän se nyt voi olla hyvä elokuva. Tai ainakin niin ajattelin. Nyt mietin jopa, että pitäisikö mennä teatteriin katsomaan tämä ja katsoa vanhat x-menit vielä etukäteen. Näin muistaakseni The Last Standin viimeksi ja en pitänyt sitä ollenkaan erikoisena.

    • Trilogiasta kakkonen on huippu, ykkönen hyvä ja kolmonen ihan ookoo (ja tämä on aika standardi arvio periaatteessa jokaiselta trilogian katsoneelta). Tämä erinomainen.

  3. I liked it, too. But even I’m surprised with 10/10 score! For me, it wasn’t better than “X2” because it wasn’t as much fun. I wanted to know more about Professor X’s students. I thought it was funny that they trained for ONE week and suddenly they were ready to fight. Having said that, it’s still better than summer movies that have been released so far.

    I do have a question, though. Why didn’t Emma Frost break out of the CIA facility? It seemed like she had the chance to do so. That keeps bothering me…

    • I rarely look for the ‘fun’ in a film (I’m fun that way … haha) so for me that wasn’t an issue! Nor were the plot holes that were few and far between compared to any other blockbuster I’ve seen this year or even in years.

      Hah! That’s true, when she got the class and was looking at them CIA peeps and the scene faded I was sure there was some asskickage + espacism, so it indeed was strange that she was still there. The cell did look pretty funky with the metal stuff so maybe it was covered with that same brainwaveblocking thing the Soviets created so Frost couldn’t work her magic?

  4. Wow very high praise for this Anna. It makes me want to see it even more, I went for The Tree of Life instead of this yesterday but all the positive acclaim has certainly peaked my interest.

    • Haha I’m not sure if it’s the best comparison point, Tree of Life. I think a great deal of your first reaction to a movie is about what other films you’ve seen lately and if the latest you’ve seen is Tree of Life .. I’m not sure how this’ll compare! I hope it’s released soon in Finland, I’m dying to see it.

  5. Wahoo! 10 out of 10 huh? Well, if the movie didn’t have January Jones, I just might give it a full score as well. I haven’t got a chance to review it yet because I’ve been working on my fantasy movie pitch, but I can tell you I really enjoyed this tremendously.

    I agree that this movie is so much more than just an entertaining Summer blockbuster, but it serves up an ‘intelligent character study’ as you said it. Fassbender and McAvoy were the main reasons I went to see this and they did not disappoint!

    • They wanted someone else for Frost but couldn’t get them .. : – S I don’t mind her, she’s suppsoded to play a limited character, a villain slut so it’s not like she falls short of expectations haha.

  6. And I thought I was being generous giving the film ✭✭✭/✭✭✭✭?

    I liked a lot of it. I just felt the film tried to convey some significant messages, but fell short. And none of the mutants X and Eric pick up are interesting.

    • I didn’t think it was. It does touch upon some obvious things created by the human/mutant dynamic creates, but doesn’t dwell in them, which is a great thing imo. If they left that completely out, I think the film would lack a bit in depth. The idea of this is very generic and it would take a lot of great screenwriting to remove completely the ‘message-clichés’ it conveys on a quite low level. There are a lot of action movies that are plain action, right before the last 5 minutes and then there’s this big proclaim about the fragility of life or something which I find way way worse and dampening.

  7. It may not be subtle, but it is a return to what made the series so good in the first place [and is] the first X-Men movie to contain some truly spectacular action/special-effects set pieces. Also, McAvoy and Fassbender are great as Professor X and Magneto. Good Review! Check out mine when you can!

  8. Yay, you liked this too! I thought this was awesome, plain and simple. Fassbender practically blew my mind as Magneto, an excellent choice. This is the best X-Men movie so far..

  9. Wow, you really loved it ^_^.

    I thought it had some genuine delights (eg. Charles & Erik picking up new mutants, Cerebro) and Fassbender does a tremendous job standing on his own as Magneto, even when the screenwriting does not deliver.
    Still, it was way too messy, unbalanced and frankly, way too lost with underwritten/uninteresting characters to be The Origins Prequel story you seem to be hailing here.

    Though I have to admit I did consider giving it 3 stars but… no, too ill-equipped.

    • I didn’t find it messy or uninteresting at all, I guess that is a matter of taste and interest in the story itself. I’ve read so many of the comics especially the 60s to 80s one where most of the side characters are also introduced that for me many of them were familiar, including their stories. Obviously some of the taglines and quotes are a bit clunky and cheesy, but there nothing compared to the actual speechbubbles in comics of that time.

      I see what you’re getting at, with the “uninteresting” characters, because obviously X and Magneto are in a league of their own, but for a fan of the series I’m taking all I can get since there probably won’t be another one.

      I don’t feel like I’m alone in my praise (imdb is rocking a 8.3 average), I would like to here a compelling argument as to what other blockbuster so far this year outranks this one.

  10. X-M FC is definitely VERY entertaining, but the plot is a bit of a rambling disaster. If only they had concentrated on the origin story of the X-Men OR the relationship between Erik and Charles OR the major-insane-baddie-fella, who wants to nuke the world, but when you try to fit ALL of these things in to one movie, it’s just too much. I do love the Erik/Charles relationship and I’ll propably be watching this film several times, but someone must have forgotten their editing scissors home.

    • I was very familiar with the things so didn’t find the alleged overflow of the plot that bad : -s maybe that’s just me being a supergeek.

  11. “If You Don’t Like X-Men : First Class then …

    – you should be nuked from the inside out / have your head crushed within a collapsing helmet / served Soviet Union style.”

    Not so subtle but you voice my sentiment precisely.

  12. I saw this yesterday and liked it quite a bit. I had only seen the original X-Men movie beforehand, but First Class made me want to dive in and check out the rest of the films (even though I have heard the last two were not so good). Great review!

  13. Pingback: LAMBScores: X-Men: First Class | CelebrityDaily.info·

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