USA/UK, 2011: X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class
Genre: Action, Superhero
Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr assemble a team of mutants to stop a rogue group bent on starting a nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union.
A prequel with hopes for its own spin-off series, X-Men: First Class is a fun addition to the Marvel franchise, although it has little regard for continuity with the other X-Men films. How much this may or may not upset your inner comic book geek is up to you, but on its own merits itís at least a fun movie about superheroes fighting supervillains. The cast is large and full of strong performances, most notably James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Xavier and Lensherr/Magneto respectively. Itís great to see the relationship between the two grow into the famous rivalry we all know today, and the pair developed it well. Kevin Bacon makes yet another appearance on film this year, this time as the villainous Sebastian Shaw. Itís a somewhat campy role for him, but he plays it with gusto. The supporting cast all have their own moments to shine, and itís a shame that we couldnít see more of their characters developed. But, already clocking in at over two hours, I can see why they cut it short.
Despite the length of the film, the story is surprisingly jumbled. Trying to combine elements from so many different elements and backgrounds, it ends up feeling very inconsistent as a whole. It ambitiously attempts to combine everything that made previous comic book movies successful, with strong actors, resonating political themes, and tie-ins to a greater storyline, and the end result ends up working fairly well, but it still feels like there were just too many writers on the team. The dialogue comes off as fairly generic and rather cheesy at times, which would normally make it difficult to connect to the characters and their struggles. At least one of the writers was trying very hard to add callbacks to other films in the franchise, and not all of them were successful. Thankfully, Matthew Vaughnís directing skills are strong, and manages to create some strong narratives within the jungle of characters and plot threads. The shooting and editing were on point, and the sound design really gives the right feeling of scope. The visual effects were impressive as well, although their abundance eventually began to look a bit excessive. On a whole, itís an aesthetically pleasing film with some questionable creative choices.
Not really known for directing in general, Vaughnís action sense comes through pretty well here. Though not as brutal as his work on Kick-Ass, the impact of the fights still hit home, even with people shooting lasers and conjuring storms all over the screen. Thereís a fair bit of actual hand-to-hand choreography, and it manages to look good without being too fancy or breaking the sense of superhero combat. It manages to keep things simple and practical, and still maintain the sense of epic proportions that come with the franchise. X-Men: First Class is a movie that aims high and tries to do a bit of everything, and in doing so it falls a little short of its lofty goals. Nonetheless, itís an incredibly fun film, and definitely worth a peek if you like superhero films.
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