I was a skeptical of the X-Men: First Class prequel when I first heard about it. I’m quite fond of the original cast and still hope they make a 4th. But this prequel won me over, mainly due to the chemistry between James McAvoy (Charles) and Michael Fassbender (Erik), the young, fresh faced cast, and the surprisingly fantastic work from Kevin Bacon, as Sebastian Shaw.

 

X-Men: First Class
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, January Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne

The Premise: This movie takes place before Professor X and Magneto were enemies, when they were Charles and Erik, two young boys discovering their powers in a world unaware of mutants. It begins, in the beginning – Erik is in Auschwitz, watching his family being shuffled away and as he reaches for his parents, his power is exposed. (An event we learn in the first X-Men). Now we learn that after the fact the “doctor” at the camp, Sebastian Shaw, intends to exploit Erik’s powers for his own evil. He discovers, through tragic events (well tragic for Erik that is), that Erik’s powers emerge from rage. Meanwhile, Charles, seemingly living in a life of luxury, meets a fellow mutant on the run and his makes first friend. This friendship is also the spark that helps makes him realize mutants need a safe place of protection, and that it could be possible for them to co-exist with humans.

Flash Forward to the 60’s, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Charles (James McAvoy) finds himself helping CIA Dr. Moria MacTaggert (a delightful Rose Byrne) in her search to find out more about mutations. Thus, Charles meets Erik (Michael Fassbender), who’s now on a rampage searching for Shaw, aka Kevin Bacon (apparently he’s just passing over those 6 degrees). With Charles’ help, Erik and a team of misfits later to be named, Havok (a muscly and handsome Lucas Till), Darwin (Edi Gathegi, that guy from Twilight), Banshee (relative new-comer Caleb Jones), Mystique (the soon to be Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence), Angel (Lenny Kravitz’s daughter, Zoe), and Beast (the adorably delicious Nicholas Hoult), learn to control their powers. But now the bigger question is: Will they use those powers for good, or for Evil? To save mutants or the humans? To blend in? or become their own?

My Review:  First, while fun to see younger versions of previous characters already established, I was glad things were kept fresh with new characters and mutants. And aside from the fact that I didn’t really understand what the Cuban Missile Crisis had to do with anything, I really enjoyed the movie as a whole. It didn’t necessarily make me jump up with excitement, or yearn to see it again, or make me gasp in amazement. However, it was entertaining, exciting, and superbly acted.

Most notably, was Kevin Bacon. I totally forgot that Kevin Bacon was even in this movie. And when he first appeared on screen the audience laughed. But I was pleasantly surprised with his performance, sure enough he stopped being Kevin Bacon and became Sebastian Shaw, an evil villainous, son of a b#&$%. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender have such chemistry I would love to see them do another movie together. There was one scene in particular between the two, when Charles was helping Erik develop his powers that was especially remarkable. Great work, by great actors.

Rose Byrne (who’s everywhere now) as Moira MacTaggert, the only human really showcased in this movie and *spoiler alert* Charles’ romantic interest for like a second, was a breath of fresh air. She’s spunky, plucky, and other adjectives that describe someone innocent and naïve in a dark, dark world. She fit in seamlessly and brought a lightness to counter the darkness of the other characters.

With the exception of Mystique and Beast, the other mutants, though pretty to look at, were not fleshed out enough. I would have loved to see the group bond more, aside from wild adolescent parties, and running for their lives. Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), one of the scientists with the CIA, was the standout of the group. Not just because of his adorable boyish good looks (dark hair mixed with blue eyes, yum), but because he had the acting skills to back it up. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of this cutie. Unfortunately when McCoy transformed into the Beast the makeup felt a little hokey. The Beast looked too FUZZY and cat-like. I like Kelsey Grammar’s version better. Judge for yourself, here. And all I kept thinking was how could this movie turn that beautiful, beautiful boy into….THAT?

As for Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, she plays the wounded puppy dog well. I don’t know what it was, but there was something about her that was just too perfect – too put together. Maybe in part it had to do with Raven’s need to be normal and human so she took extra care in her appearance, but I miss the gritty Mystique that Rebecca Romjin brought to that character. And sorry January Jones, but I almost feel like Emma Frost could have been played by anyone.

 

Random Thoughts:

  • I loved the two surprising cameos.
  • Love all the Xavier “losing my hair” comments.
  • Oh, so that’s how he got stuck in that wheel chair
  • That wheel chair looks too modern for the 60’s.
  • Aside from all the costumes, are you sure this movie took place in the 60’s?
  • I’m glad this movie didn’t re-inact the upside down Spiderman Kiss when Raven approached Hank who was showing off his powers.
  • Anyone notice some familiar faces with the tiniest parts?? To name a few…Ray Wise (HIMYM, Chuck) as the Secretary of State, Brendan Fehr (Roswell, Bones) as a communications officer on board one of the ships during the missile attack, and James Remar (Dexter’s Dad!) as a US general.

Overall, this movie is definitely worth seeing. The special effects were pretty awesome. That shot in the trailer of the submarine being lifted out of the air was even more spectacular on the big screen. The acting is really good and some good tension and action scenes are creating. I think I also like the fact that this article points out: X-Men: First class is a movie about superheroes, it’s not a superhero movie. And worst case scenario, if none of those things appeal to you, then just check it out for the eye candy: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Lucas Till for the ladies, and Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, and Rose Byrne in their skivvies for the men. Check it out, yo!

 

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

Advertisements

Riddle me this...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s