Buff Review Show Sneaks the Mutants in through the Backdoor
Sounds like one or two dates I’ve had before now…
Anyway, here is my much-anticipated (I’m sure) X-Men: First Class review! Finally! It’s done! Stop emailing me! =P
X-Men: First Class
When a new franchise of films or games comes along, the following happens 104% of the time:
1st Title- is the new introduction to series/character/franchise, whether old or new.
2nd Title- normally follows on from the first, and can occasionally be the first part of a two-part movie spectacular when linked in with the 3rd title in the franchise. Also tends to be the strongest of the three.
3rd Title- used to tie up all the plot lines and stories of the 2nd title, if it is a direct sequel, or the trilogy as a whole, and otherwise tends to be both the longest and least successful of the three.
And while the “original” X-Men Trilogy (as I guess we now need to refer to them) doesn’t quite stick to the formula, with the proverbial jury being out on whether the third film was a brilliant piece of Superhero cinema or an overlong excuse for Hugh Jackman to flex his bits all over the screen again. The trilogy then lead onto the Wolverine: Origins movie, which was originally though to be the first in a new trilogy of “Origin” titles, but no now that has been buggered up, because despite it being pretty weak sauce anyway (did we not cover enough of Wolverine’s story in the original trilogy anyway?) it sold better than triple-breasted blow-up doll made of chocolate, as thus is likely to get it’s own sequel. So we’re giving a sequel to the spin-off. ‘Kay… Seems to me that’d be like giving “Elektra” a sequel.
So now this is the point in the franchise when the reboot kicks in, or a prequel title to set everything up from the beginning, again. Star Trek, Star Wars and the Prince of Persia games are among a huge list of franchises that have all done this, to relatively wide degrees of success. X-Men: First Class isn’t a reboot as such, although from what I’ve been told by everyone I know who is a fan of the films, the games, the comics, the Beast plushies and the Rogue bed spreads, this film messes around with the timeline of the actual X-Men universe from the films, but there are so many alternate X-Men universes at this point I think this is something we should stop worrying about.
X-Men: First Class is set primarily during the Cuban Missile Crisis of the late 1960s, but sets up the events of the film slightly earlier than that, from the concentration camps in Europe to the halls of Oxford University. The film is definitely a strange blend on the surface; three parts ‘Schindler’s List’ to two parts ‘Austin Powers’ with only a passing resemblance to the X-Me films we’ve come to know. Gone are Storm, Cyclops, Jean Grey and most of the other X-Men we’ve ever met. This story, like the Origin movie set around Wolverine, focuses on the dynamic duo of Magneto and Professor X, or as they were known in their younger days, Erik and Charles, played by Fassbender and McAvoy respectively, whom I must say do excellent jobs and really are in keeping with the characters you already know and love. Also returning from the future is Mystique, or as she was once known, Raven, whom we’re introduced to as a child when she mistakenly tries to enter young Charles Xavier’s home to impersonate his dead mother. Whoops. She reverts to her true form, which apparently comes with a rubbery faux blue skin complete with seams and zips and her name written in the label, and the two become inseparable (look at that scene closely when the DVD comes out).
First Class takes us on the journey of how the two became friends, before they became bickering geriatrics in fabulous costumes. I find it strange that although the huge presences of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are clearly missing, they are not missed. The whole atmosphere is more muted than the previous films, but not in a boring way. With all the 60s glamour and music and lingo and bad clothing, the gap in brightly coloured costumes and hair-styles and powers seems to have been filled quite nicely, and no point ever seems to devoid of life, nor to overly exuberant. It is a strange equilibrium, but there is clear thought into how this film was going to look and feel, and the finished product displays this proudly through every scene.
I watched this film, positively enrapt, from start to finish wanting to leave the cinema so I could queue up and watch it again. This is as close to perfection, I feel, that any superhero genre movie has ever gotten, and might ever achieve. And for a reboot, that is no mean feat.
But before I affix a plethora of gold stars to First Class’s blazer, I must point out that his cap is askew and there is a scuff on his left boot. By this I mean there are one or two things that irk me ever so slightly, and both come right near the end of the film. Actually the first of which happens throughout the film a number of times, and this is the witty little jokes and asides the characters have that set up things that have happened (and will happen in their future), such as names, professions, hair styles and generally they’re just there as a no to the audience. Fine. When used in moderation I was okay with this. Then we get a deluge of them right towards the end, and several are repeated that we have already heard from one character or another, and you’re kind of left sitting there thinking “I know he is going to end up being bald as a coot, get on with this scene”.
The only other thing that annoyed me slightly was Charles losing his ability to walk. Oh come on this isn’t a spoiler, he’s been in a wheelchair most of his life, although, depending on your source, exactly when this takes place is up to some sort of roulette demon who picks and chooses paralysis dates like he’d chose the evening’s takeaway. That, however, isn’t my cause for annoyance. In the scene when the incident happens for Charles to become paralysed, in the wide shot, we see James McAvoy’s legs move. Okay, fine, it might have been a small error, but when you have made me lurch out of my seat at every moment, you better get the big details correct in the final scenes, because I was sitting so close to the edge of my seat I was practically perched upon the person two rows in front of me. And if I am willing to clamber over my fellow man to get a better look at a superhero movie, that really is all the review from me that you need folks!