X-Men: First Class (2011)


Finally it has happened, the release of one of my most anticipated BluRay releases in recent memory.  Last Friday was the day when X-Men: First Class was released.  I had already seen this movie 3 times by the time I picked up the BluRay but that did nothing to quell my excitement.  I had put off watching it because I already had a back log of reviews, but it finally came time to watch it.  So I opened it up, popped it in, and my BluRay player on my computer promptly failed about 3 minutes into the movie.  Once I’m sure it’s not my computer and is, in fact, the program I use, I may post a scathing review of it.  But that’s a story for a different day.  Today I watched X-Men: First Class, starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, January Jones, and Oliver Platt.

X-Men: First Class starts many years before the events of X-Men 1, though still starting at the same place with a shot-for-shot remake of the opening of X1, with Magneto as a kid in a Nazi concentration camp.  Here Eric Lehnsherr – later Magneto – meets a Nazi scientist that is later revealed to be Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon).  Having revealed himself as a mutant by messing up a gate, Eric has caught the interest of Shaw.  To attempt to help Eric find his powers, he threatens to kill Eric’s mother if Eric can’t move a coin.  Failing to do so, Shaw promptly kills Eric’s mother.  Turns out anger is a very good catalyst for Eric’s magnetic powers, which is shown by Eric trashing the room with his powers.  Jumping over to the states, telepath Charles Xavier as a child comes down stairs in his mansion to meet shapeshifter Raven Darkholme – later Mystique.  Years later, Raven (now played by Jennifer Lawrence) lives with Charles (now James McAvoy) in England where Charles is just getting his doctorate in genetics.  Eric (now Michael Fassbender) is spending his time hunting down Shaw.  Elsewhere still, Dr. Moira MacTaggart (Rose Byrne) stumbles upon Shaw and his Hellfire Club – comprised of telepath Emma Frost (January Jones), teleporter Azazel, and whirlwind creator Riptide.  Shaw threatens a general into voting to move nuclear weapons to Turkey, starting the Cuban Missile Crisis in hopes of getting both sides to nuke the Hell out of each other, leaving only the mutants.  No one believes Moira when she reports this because mutants are relatively unheard of at this point.  So she goes and gets Charles on her side and together they manage to launch a fairly unsuccessful assault on Shaw, which only becomes relatively successful at the intervention of Eric.  Shaw escapes and Eric joins up with Charles and Raven to create a team to take on Shaw in a facility run by Oliver Platt.  At said facility, they meet Hank McCoy – later Beast – who has created a machine that will amplify Charles’ powers.  Using this, they create a team with Angel, a stripper with wings who can spit hot fire like Dylan; Alex Summers, who can shoot destructive red circles as Havok; Sean Cassidy, who can scream real loud as Banshee; and a guy who can adapt to survive named Darwin.  This new team must now train to take on Shaw and stop the two superpowers from destroying each other.

My review of this movie?  I loved every bit of it!  THE END!  …Okay, I’ll do more.

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that knows me to find this out, but here goes: I … am a nerd.  And not only am I nerdy about movies and video games, but I’m nerdy about comic books.  Though not all comic books.  My childhood was spent reading almost exclusively Marvel comic books, my favorite of which being the X-Men.  So one could say that my opinion is a bit swayed by my preexisting condition.  That being said, this movie rocks.  I’m not sure if it’s based on some version of the X-Men I haven’t read, but it doesn’t exactly fit the actual story of the X-Men as I know them.  The first official X-Men team was Cyclops, Jean Gray, Beast (not yet blue and hairy), Iceman, and Angel (though not female bug winged Angel, but male angel winged Angel).  But do I necessarily want to see a movie based on a comic book I’ve already read?  Heck no!  I already know that story.  Gimme some new stuff.  I’m not the type of fan that says they can’t deviate from the text.  I’m the kind of fan that says entertain me, and this movie does that in spades.  It pains me not to spoil them, but the cameos (2 of them in particular) are worth the price of admission alone.  The story was all around fantastic and left me with no complaints.  And (again, no spoilers) the climax of this movie is basically what all movies should take as an example.  It has a very poignant and significant defeat of the main antagonist, an epic showdown, the crippling of Charles Xavier (that’s not a spoiler to anyone that’s watching this movie), and the birth of Magneto.

I would say the biggest thing I had a problem with in this movie was the casting, though not all of it.  Michael Fassbender was the perfect Magneto.  A bona fide badass if ever there was one.  The problem with him was the kid who played him in the beginning.  I thought that kid was awful.  Most of what he did was laughable when it should have been heart wrenching.  Thankfully that kid grows into Michael Fassbender soon enough.  Also, as a side note, from being the coolest Spartan in 300 to being the guy that nearly fudged up the whole plan in Inglourious Basterds, I have not seen Michael Fassbender do something bad.  I even liked him in Centurion, though the movie wasn’t that good.  Next up was Professor X.  Going into the movie I was pretty sure I’d like Fassbender, but something about James McAvoy rubbed me the wrong way.  And since I had only previously seen him in Wanted, and I thought that movie blew, I’d have to blame that.  Thankfully he did a great job as well.  The only problem was that Professor X acted kind of like McAvoy was doing an Austin Powers impression in the beginning, but that was youthful indiscretion and he grew up pretty quick to be the Professor X I wanted, though I was constantly curious about when exactly Professor Xavier became powerful enough that he could stop holding his fingers to his temple to use his abilities.  Didn’t see Patrick Stewart doing that!  Rose Byrne was, as always, a stone cold hottie.  She was good in the movie too.  Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique was good as well.  My only problem with her is that I really don’t see what everyone’s on about with her being so hot.  She’s good looking, sure, and I wouldn’t kick her out of bed, but she doesn’t hold a candle to Rose Byrne for me.

Two big bads to the casting for me were Angel and Emma Frost.  Angel’s performance was fair enough, my problem was with the character.  Who the Hell is she?  As aforementioned, I’m a huge Marvel nerd and even I had to look her up after my first viewing.  Turns out she was a real character in the Marvel universe, but I don’t know if she was significant enough to be in the movie.  And then there was Emma.  At first I thought January Jones made an interesting, albeit tedious choice, to make Emma Frost seem constantly bored and disinterested in being in the movie.  Emma Frost in the comics is a bit stuck up, sure, but devoid of personality?  Not so much.  But I let it slide at first because I thought it was a choice and it just wasn’t the one I would have made.  Then my roommate tells me that she always acts like that and now I can’t watch the movie without seeing how bad January Jones is here.  She is DEVOID of personality.  Hell, her CG diamond form emoted more than she did!

January Jones was not, however, able to dampen my love for this movie.  If you don’t like comic books or comic book movies I: a) pity you, and b) could see this movie not being your cup of tea.  I would say I put this movie as number 3 in my all time favorite comic book movies; right behind Watchman and, of course, Dark Knight.  You should at least see this movie, if not own it.  I give X-Men: First Class a “MAKE ANOTHER ONE, QUICK” out of “THIS MOVIE RULES!”

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.

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