X-Men: First Class is the latest movie from the Marvel franchise. Matthew Vaughan was actually set to direct the third film, but had to pull out due to conflicting interest over what way to take the franchise; so in stepped Brett Ratner to royally piss on whatever groundwork was laid before.
But now Vaughan is back and his X-Men film is a prequel, with the story by Bryan Singer.
Could this be the breath of life and what kick starts interest and excitement again?
It begins with Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), a middle class child, who goes to Oxford University to study genetics, he is actually quite the galavantier, humorously using his knowledge of mutations as a chat up line. Though his fascination is driven by his own ability.
On the other hand Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) aka Magneto is on a quest to hunt down the Nazis captors of his concentration camp, in a somewhat James Bond esque style, even wearing the classic polo shirt and khakis combo. Vaughan actually looked to the early era James Bond movies as inspiration. Lehnsherr has an intermediate grasp of his ability to control metallic objects when we first meet him and uses his power in a minimal way to extract information and dispatch of his targets. At this point he is just suave, raw untapped anger and power.
When the two meet we are shown for the first time the bond that existed between these two and how they could have so easily been friends, were it not for Lensherr’s mindset after experiencing the death of his family under the hand of Nazis prejudice.
Set during 60s era cold war. Undercover CIA operative Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne)
recruits them both to form a team to help uncover suspicious rumblings which could set off the Cold War missile crisis.
Fortunately I can gladly tell you that Vaughan knocks it out of the park again with another superbly crafted action film. His grasp on all aspect of what makes a good film seem to be there, in pacing, cast, great action scenes and the relationship of the characters.
The strength of X-Men: First Class is the emotional grounding that McAvoy and Fassbender provide, making their two comic characters actually feel like real people with genuine conflict. Fassbender is absolutely superb as Magento and his performance even enhances the sudo-physics of his abilities, when trying to overexert his super power you can visibly see him straining as if he is really lifting and moving these objects. McAvoy on the other hand is well rounded as the stoic Charles Xavier, he is like a father figure to his team of young mutants and you genuinely feel sorry for when the inevitable occurs, given his emotional investment.
The film rewrites the origins story of the X-Men, but in a manner that is pretty much very well fitted and could easily exist within the continuity of the current films or in it’s own set; though I believe it would probably be wisest for Marvel to treat this as a reboot of the franchise, given just how much of a resounding success this is as a movie and the almost character defining performances of McAvoy and Fassbender.
A minor gripe of mine would be that some of the effects here and there do not look like they were quite finished, lacking a bit of polish; though given the incredibly fast turn around of this film I’m not surprised if they were still going up until release.
X-Men: First Class has plenty of great action sequences and is a great cinematic experience that stands strides ahead of the former counterparts. I would even put it up there near Nolan’s Batman in terms of what comic book films are actually capable of delivering.