“You want society to accept you. But you can’t even accept yourself.”
Title: X-Men: First Class
Director: Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Layer Cake, Stardust)
Actors: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence
Ever since the trailer was released through the strangely weak marketing for a reboot of a successful movie series, X-Men First Class has popped up on people’s radars. The trailer which concisely explains the plot of the movie, along with suspenseful music and glimpse at the actors, locked the audience in suspense and desire to go see the movie. This movie focuses on the development of the characters that we have seen previously in the X-Men Series (X-Men, X2, X-Men 3: The Last Stand). The two major characters in this movie are Charles Xavier (later known as Professor X) and Erik Lehnsherr (also later known as Magneto). It may seem that these two people hate each other guts in the trilogy, but this film adds to the depth of how they became what they are; how enemies were once friends.
The film opens up with a scene in a concentration camp, where Erik Lehnsherr is forced to see his mother get shot by a man who wants to unite with Lehnsherr’s powers and rule the world. Kevin Bacon, who plays Sebastian Shaw, the man infatuated with the idea of ruling the world with mutants by his side, soon becomes Lehnsherr’s only goal. He lives to avenge his mother. A scene of Charles Xavier’s adolescence focuses on him forming a bond with Raven, him establishing that they don’t have to be alone just because they are muants. As the film progresses, both Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr meet and join forces to prevent Sebastian Shaw’s rise to supremacy by starting the world’s civil war; making the Cold War hot (in implicit words, World War 3). Xavier wants to take it the peaceful way, but “Peace was never an option” according to Lehnsherr.
Whatever Matthew Vaughn touches turns into gold (at least for now). He has directed Layer Cake, which focuses on Daniel Craig as a British drug dealer; Stardust, a movie about fairytale love; and Kick-Ass, a hilarious “Why can’t normal people try to be like superheroes” movie starring the up and rising Aaron Johnson. From that list, it is safe to say that Vaughn can work with different materials. In this film, Vaughn blends everything in, a good mix of action, clever dialogue (credits to his writers) and acting. The acting was a key part that solidified this movie. Sure, it’s an action flick, but if you are exploring the development of characters, you NEED acting. The underrated and under-appreciated James McAvoy (loads of talent), the man who is taking in a load of roles and dominating in each and every one of them (high demand) Michael Fassbender and the recently nominated for an Oscar Jennifer Lawrence have certainly done their part. Also, Kevin Bacon deserves an honorable mention for his fashion etiquette along with his acting; his suits were nice.
James McAvoy completely sells his role as Charles Xavier. He is easily likeable, thanks to his humble voice. He is a smart man who doesn’t look down on other mutants, but he wants to help them. He wants to educate them, he wants to bring peace to the world. McAvoy’s edge brings that knack that Charles Xavier contains. He shows that his character truly cares for people with his microexpressions of loss and guilt. There is one scene where McAvoy is trying to help Fassbender (Lehnsherr) use his power by accessing his mind and realizing the harsh reality he has faced, where McAvoy’s expression of guilt makes the audience feel Lehnsherr’s pain. Notice, how it is through McAvoy’s acting that we feel Fassbender’s pain, that’s some superb acting.
The great thing about Jennifer Lawrence, is that she still possesses an edge. She didn’t grow pompous and slack off this role because she got an oscar nomination. It is almost as if she had some fragments of her character in Winter’s Bone in her when she took this role. She didn’t slack off. Lawrence displayed her skills as a woman who does not want to be recognized as a “freak” or a “mutant”. She feels that she doesn’t belong in the society and the audience along with her fellow mutants pity her. Kevin Bacon as the villain is a performance that I fear will be overlooked( perhaps people will pay too much attention to his awesome clothing choices) He completely sells the role of the villain. In a way, I think he already naturally looks like a villain. He possesses that vibe and look that makes it seem like he has a trick up his sleeve, that he wants something at the expense of the lives of others.
However, the standout performance is by Michael Fassbender. He is a man who is dealing with rage, agony, revenge, sympathy, and being outcast by the human race. It seems like a lot of weight for Fassbender to carry but it’s nothing for him; He sells it. His stern look, grim voice, and dominating presence engulfs the audience in this aura where we understand what he wants. We want what he wants, no matter if it is against our moral values. Revenge must be done. He seems evil, but he cares for others. He cares that Mutants are not recognized and won’t be recognized, but he wants them to be confident in themselves. There is this impeccable chemistry between him and his co-stars (especially between him and McAvoy who both starred together in Band of Brothers) that really helps him excel. In a way, it is expected that he would be a standout performance not because of his exceptional track record of performances, but the fact that this story and movie was originally meant to be an “Origin”(like X-Men Origins: Wolverine) of Magneto (in a way it still is). If your eye hasn’t already caught the talent in Fassbender from his previous films, watch out because he is soon going to be a Oscar winner and a box office draw (if he isn’t already one).
The action and effects were top tier. They were impressive, engaging, and fun. My favorite effects were the ones done on the disappearances and reappearances of Azazel. He is the funnest character to watch thanks to the effects that the crew implemented to him. He didn’t let him simply disappear, he disappeared and reappeared in the same shots, with his “shadows” of his previous teleports still apparent. The CGI was top-notch, giving each character a unique ability which really helps the characterization element. There is a lot of action in the film, so despite this movie seeming like a character study (which it is) it will satisfy the adrenaline junkies.
The writing and dialog really separates this movie from other movies of the genre. The writers didn’t just make an action film. They didn’t include cheesy one liners that normally come with action films. The writers even seemed to have explored this fictitious alternate universe where the Cold War was ultimately decided by mutants, which irks a though in the audiences’ minds, what were the possibile conspiracies in our Cold War? (What was it really determined by?)The writers gave the characters the depth they needed to develop the story. The writers even managed to pull some jokes, making this movie already on par with a well-rounded movie. However, what really blew this movie out of the water in comparison to a “well-rounded movie” was due to the writers making the movie smart. The quotes make you think. The characters challenge the morals of people. Do you want to be accepted in a society where you do not belong, yet you are better than them? Do you want to accept not being recognized and accepted and still promote peace? Or do you want to to rise to power; to be recognized as the next generation of the human race? What would you do if you were a mutant? (Don’t worry we all soon will be!)
It all seems a bit strange now though. Marvel has been releasing a cluster of movies. Iron Man (2), The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and the soon to be released Captain America: The First Avenger; yet they silently snuck in X-Men: First Class and barely gave it any recognition as compared to the other movies which will combine forces for The Avengers due in 2012. The movie that received little recognition, isn’t part of the epic movie (The Avengers) looked the most promising and is already the best of the cluster (without knowing the consensus of Captain America: The First Avenger because it hasn’t released yet). The movies that are great deserve more recognition.
*Hugh Jackman and Wolverine lovers, he does make a cameo in this film. It is also funny.
Netflix Style Rating: 5/5
- Great Direction
- Exceptional Writing
- Action film at it’s best.
- Though Provoking
- Acting is top-notch
- Technical goofs
- Escapes the concept of realism sometimes (but its mutants)
This is the movie of the year so far. A perfectly rounded movie which fulfills aspects of many genres that jammed in one movie. The chemistry between the two leads and their co-stars helps this movie soar. Another winner by Vaughn.
- netflreax posted this