– Movie Review by D. Noble
Let me start by saying I have yet to see “Fast Five”, which most are calling the movie of the summer. With that being said, I pronounce “X-Men: First Class” my first summer movie so far. There was very little I didn’t like about this movie and most of what I disliked comes from a film-maker’s prospective and was more about the editing and flow of the movie in certain areas.
When I first heard this movie was being done I was concerned that it would produce another “X-Men 3” or “Wolverine: Origins”, both of which I though were extremely weak offerings. I became hopeful when Director Matthew Vaughn signed on to direct, as I was pretty enamored with his last movie “Kick Ass”. I was also concerned when James McAvoy (Professor X) was casted as I wasn’t sure how we was going to play a young Charles and bridge the gap between the Patrick Stewart we know and love, not to mention I had no idea who Michael Fassbender even was prior to this and unsure what he would bring to Magneto. The only sure casting that excited me was Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw. I mean is Kevin Bacon ever bad in anything? Lol.
So, with all that said, everybody pretty much nailed their roles. McAvoy portrayed Xavier with conviction, intelligence and the presence you would expect from a young Charles, while Fassbender brought a phenomenal depth to Magneto that made you actually root for the guy at times. The chemistry between the two actors is what highlighted the film and ultimately makes you want to see a continuation of their story in a sequel. Kevin Bacon (Sebastian Shaw) played his role well presenting an equally charming and menacing villain who at no point failed to deliver during his scenes.
The rest of the cast of the Hellfire Club and the First Class of X-Men played their parts well and were able to stand out even in limited roles, the strongest being the female roles of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Emma Frost (January Jones). I also have to add that Nicholas Hault (Beast) was another standout of the cast. Usually in movies like these the focus on main characters is so heavy that the secondary characters usually get forgotten or become gimmicks, but Vaughn did a pretty good job of trying to spread out the screen time, showcasing everyone’s abilities and their struggles of coming to grips with being mutants in a world that didn’t know they existed at that point.
The entire movie was set in the 60’s with the backdrop of the Cuban Missile crisis, where director Matthew Vaughn cleverly uses mutants as the catalyst to the event. Sebastian Shaw and the Hellfire Club trying to bring about nuclear war to wipe out the humans and allow the mutants to take over played well in the real life situation. It was also interesting to see a world where mutants were not yet known and the reaction to their abilities being seen by humans for the very first time. The second act of the movie was very strong with X-Men facing off against the Hellfire Club the events that shaped the on screen divide of Xavier and Magneto that led to the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants being formed.
My only knocks on the movie were mostly in the beginning where I felt there was so much set up of the storyline and characters being done that the movie felt disjointed. It jumped between characters and scenes way to often, to the point where it was a little distracting. I sat watching Xavier in a bar and just when I began to get invested in the scene, it switched to Magneto, then to Shaw, then to McTaggert. But to be fair I understand there was a lot of ground to cover and it was necessary evil so to speak.
The other problem I had with the movie came in the mutant of Darwin who I thought was pointless and used specifically to push the plot forward. His mutation I feel would have made him a worthy ally/adversary in the final battle or even the upcoming sequel.
Overall I was extremely impressed by Matthew Vaughn’s take on the X-Men universe and I hope that this movie makes enough money to warrant a sequel where we are able to see more of the Magneto/Professor X dynamic in this universe and we are able to see more familiar x-men come to the school.
Overall I give this movie: