Monday, July 11, 2011

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class
Directed by:  Matthew Vaughn
Released in theaters June 3, 2011

My Rating:  ★★★★★

Before this movie was released, I heard a lot of flak about how it couldn’t possibly live up to the X-Men standards most of the previous films had. Well, I have to say those that doubted were completely wrong!

Against the backdrop of the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis, the X-Men we know and love first came together.  Recruited by the CIA, a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) begins to locate other mutants, stumbling upon Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) in search of a dangerous and powerful Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Erik, who we now know as Magneto, is on a vendetta to destroy the man who shattered his life, and, of course, Xavier briefly tames Erik’s rage allowing them to become close friends in the process. That is, until they are once again forced apart by the rift that begins the eternal war between the two men. When the mutants finally realize the human world will never fully accept them, they form their own societies, Xavier’s X-Men and Magneto’s Brotherhood. And, well, you know the rest of that story.

This was truly a first class (pun intended) X-Men film. My husband questioned some of the casting, comparing many to their older counterparts, but honestly, how can you go wrong with James McAvoy and Kevin Bacon (who is AMAZING with those foreign languages)?!?!? We also get to learn the backstories of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Beast (Nicholas Holt). And what’s an X-Men film without even the briefest appearance of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman)? I know, at least, my son was appeased with that little cameo.

I loved the historical aspects that were included in the film—Nazi Germany and the Holocaust up to the ‘almost’ skirmish between the Americans and Russia. All that factual background content made the possibility of genetically enhanced beings even more believable. Of course a power hungry mutant would be behind some of the greatest terrors and threats of human history!

The mix of the familiar with the new was great too. The new mutants in this film, for me anyway, were Riptide (Álex González), Azazel (Jason Flemyng), Angel (Zoë Kravitz – daughter of Lenny Kravitz), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Darwin (Edi Gathegi), and Havoc (Lucas Till). I don’t read the comics or watch the cartoons, so I hadn’t heard of any of these before. I did learn while reading some character synopses, though, that Angel’s backstory was actually more like Rogue’s story in the movies. That’s what I got from it anyway, since in this film Wolverine does not save Angel and take her to the academy.

Great film, great storyline…a little drama, a little comedy, and lots of action. If you like X-Men, go see it!