Movie Review: X-Men First Class

Banana Boy P, S.S, Peppers, Raffy and I met up yesterday at Eastwood to watch X-Men: First Class and when the credits started rolling there was an automatic silent agreement that this film is easily the best in the franchise… so far.

The season kicked in with Kenneth Branagh’s spectacular Thor and with X-Men: First Class following, I thought this movie officially raised the bar for the rest of the movies opening this season. The film was all kinds of awesome, for many reasons that you really have to see it. Perfect blend of action, drama and humor and the standout performances from James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are a lookout. Everything works and this was the biggest surprise we got, considering it was the fourth film in the X-Men franchise but it definitely felt like this was supposed to be the first.

I’m terribly ecstatic about this film and I would love to watch it again for the second time. But for now, I’m giving it the movie review it deserve and I still feel terribly fan girlish over Michael Fassbender wearing a black turtleneck (you gotta admit, other than the military garb he wore in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, he looks good in casual wear—or just basically anything).

Onwards to the review. I’ll probably be mentioning the spoilers, so there’s a cut. Proceed at your own RISK, if you want your X-Men First Class viewing be spoiler-free.

X-Men: First Class movie poster Lego version by oldredjalopy

With X-Men: First Class, I realized that the past movies (including X-Men Origins) and the previous efforts, most the mutant characters were thrown in your face in an endless catwalk of ‘spectacular’ effects and fast-paced action. Visually, it was entertaining and it worked but it didn’t really gave you the satisfaction of answering the questions “what REALLY happened” or “what was the point of it all” after all that smashing and destruction. I think X-Men First Class was the movie with the strongest focus on mutant abilities: mutant abilities and superpowers are part of you, who are as a person and they are skills to be mastered and improved. This made the characters more relatable than the previous X-Men films where they seemed to be distant, untouchable, two-dimensional characters that’re almost always agitated by the plans of war and destruction set before them.

The film goes back to the 1960s where we are taken to the supposed secret history of the Cold War, where our world was actually in the brink of a nuclear Armageddon. Usually there’s a lot going on around and viewers are sometimes confused by all the action and bruhahah of the effects. In case, the film which recounts the origins of the original brotherhood of Professor X and Magneto, focused on their relationship when they were just Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr (and their corresponding philosophies) and this focus provided a linear storyline for the entire film.

Michael Fassbender as Erik and James McAvoy as Charles both gave great portrayals of the younger versions of the iconic characters in the X-Men universe. They both did a pretty fantastic job and hey shine the best in their moments together (no matter how slash-y it looks, much to the happiness of Jerich who kept slapping me the whole time he was giddy about the two) particularly the emotional scenes where they show their distinct characteristics and flaws: Erik, a solitary character, can’t utilize his powers well due to the rage he feels and his motivations are purely vengeance. On the other hand, Charles’ motivations are for the greater good using his powers of a telepath, but the irony is that Charles’ self-righteousness turns into arrogance and smugness which keeps him from understanding others (particularly Mystique). But this relationship has never been fully explored and it’s never been as fascinating. They served as each other’s foil and throughout the film the helped each other grow, working on their flaws.

If you’re using half your concentration to look normal, then you’re only half paying attention to whatever else you’re doing. Just pointing out something that could save your life. You want society to accept you, but you can’t even accept yourself.” – Erik Leshnerr

I’ve been particularly fascinated by Fassbender’s performance as a cold-blooded bad ass Nazi hunter to an efficient team player and motivator to the younger mutants particularly Mystique. And that last movie sequence between Charles and Erik was unbelievably excellent chemistry and it was the pivotal point in the film where we see how the Professor X and Magneto came to be.

The younger mutants gave a fresh energy and humor to this movie. The concern was to prepare these teenage mutants in facing the first real challenge, a first mission that was brought upon by Sebastian Shaw. It was emphasized that in order to fully master yourself, you need to learn to accept what your true anything is and this release will provide you to better master your skills as mutants and control them, to use them efficiently. I particularly liked this sequence in the movie since it gave a relaxing and interesting view on mutants which we’ve had little chance of seeing in the other X-Men films.

The direction is really good, it was engaging, pacing is smooth, and unlike previous X-Men movies I really had a sense of how the mutants felt in society. It’s not exactly perfect.  Storywise and cannon-wise, it was flawed (Havoc wasn’t supposed to belong in that timeline so is Emma Frost). Nevertheless, as a movie in itself, it was fantastic and I’d like to see it again. And probably fan girl myself to death looking at Michael Fassbender (handsomebastardheisohyes)

Green Lantern, the next in line in the upcoming superhero movies to be released, better bring it’s A-game because the bar rose just a little higher.


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