Thursday, 9 June 2011

X-Men: First Class Review

As far as prequels go, this is as good as it gets.  They take a successful franchise and explore the beginnings of the whole thing.  They explain a lot about the characters and the whole underlying story of mutants vs the rest of the world.  And it's all done very well.  Not only do they do all of this but they also throw in some brief references to the X-Men movies that we all know in kind of a fun way.  Normally, stuff like that comes off as a bit cheesy but in here, it works.  While it isn't the best in the series (I still think that is the second one), I think it was actually better than the first one.  There are a couple of things that bugged me but I will deal with those later.

The one thing this movie needed to deliver on was the action.  Without that it could have the best acting, directing, etc. and would have been a failure.  With this, it delivers in spades.  It is over two hours long and it does not feel like it.  The film moves quite quickly and I found myself with a bit of a "wow" feeling during every action sequence.  But, while First Class delivers on action, it also delivers in story and acting.  The story is cool because it takes an event we all know (the Cuban Missile Crisis) that has many wild conspiracy theories attached to it and brings forth a tongue in cheek alternate theory as to what all happened.  Secondly, for an action/comic book movie, I thought the acting was quite decent.  If it was a serious dramatic piece, I would have thought it was average but I try to judge based on what kind of film it is.  There was one performance that was above the rest and that was Kevin Bacon.  I didn't even know he was in it (I did literally no research other than seeing a preview at the theatre) and, when I saw him, the first thing that went through my mind was, "please don't let his junk be in this movie."  Rest assured, it isn't.  And his performance is flawless.  Another good casting choice was the nerdy kid from About a Boy.  Turns out, he makes a good nerdy young adult too.

Now, to the things that bugged me.  Keep in mind that none of these are enough to make me not like the movie but I feel they need to be said.  First, I'm confused as to how an eastern European can come to have a North American accent only to have it become vaguely Scottish when he's about to confront his tormentor.  Then, 40 years later, it becomes very English.  That notwithstanding, Michael Fassbender was well cast because he is the only one who actually looks like he could grow to look like his future X-Man, Ian McKellan.  Second, if you are going to set a movie in the past, you'd better be ready to make it look like it is in the past.  That means that even if the actor is a pretty boy, flavour of the month (Lucas Till), he has to have a hairstyle that fits the time period and not look like an ad for Axe products.  Further to that, the clothes also need to look vintage and not retro hipster (Azazel and the Tornado Hands dude).  So, for the whole time, I had a difficult time really believing the setting and, in a comic book movie, that should be the only believable part.

Finally, I want to say that the whole thing did have a bit of an old school James Bond feel to it in the fact that the villains are a bit too into their own luxurious surroundings.  If you see it, you may see what I'm talking about.

All in all though, this is a definite see recommendation.  It is a great action movie that stands well on its own or as part of the franchise.  And see it at the theatre that has the best sound around you or pay extra for Ultra AVX.  It adds to the experience.

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