Friday, 17 June 2011

X-Men: First Class


"Mutant and proud!"

X-Men: First Class is the long-awaited prequel to the X-Men movies, but is also in some ways a reboot, taking the characters back to their roots in the Cold War and preparing the groundwork for a "new" franchise.

We start with a recap of Erik "Magneto" Lehnsherr's origin from the first movie. We're back in the rain-soaked Hell of a Nazi concentration camp, watching Erik learn what his powers can do, but also watching is Sebastian Shaw ( Kevin Bacon ) a Josef Mengele-alike doctor who has plans over and above those of the Fuehrer. And he doesn't mind murdering Erik's mother to get what he wants. Cut to a 12-year old Charles Xavier stumbling across child shapeshifter Raven " Mystique" Darkholm stealing food from his parents' mansion in Westchester County. This is Xavier's first meeting with another mutant and sets him off on his life's work of studying and aiding his fellow "Children Of The Atom".

The film follows the developing lives of the future Professor X and Magneto, as Charles goes to college to learn about mutation and chase women, while Erik tracks Shaw and his Nazi cronies around the world, bent on revenge. This glossy, globe-trotting section is the most successful part of the movie with the wonderful Michael Fassbender playing Magneto as a kind of James Bond with super powers. Licence to Bend Spoons. James McAvoy, however, gets stuck with more exposition than action, but coasts through on sheer charm. The two mutants' lives intersect when Xavier ( now working with the CIA after being recruited by Rose Byrne's Moira MacTaggert ) rescues Erik from a nearly fatal failed assassination attempt on Shaw. They discover that Shaw himself is a mutant and is planning to engineer nuclear war between Russia and America, with a view to creating a mutant-dominated dictatorship from the ashes. On his side, Shaw has enlisted other embittered mutants like Jason Flemyng's teleporter Azazel and January Jones' telepath Emma Frost.....


Realising they're outnumbered Charles and Erik start recruiting mutants too, including Nicholas Hoult's Hank "Beast" McCoy and Zoe Kravitz's Angel.....


The comparisons with '60s Bond movies becomes more evident as Jones, Kravitz, Byrne and Jennifer Lawrence as the grown-up Mystique all slink around in lingerie... and... I've forgotten what my point was here... must concentrate... look away from lingerie pics.....

*Ahem!*
Anyway, all this points towards the big confrontation between the two groups/viewpoints as the Cuban Missile Crisis looms, sides are swapped and two friends become enemies. It's all great fun and possibly the best-looking X-Men movie yet, with director Matthew Vaughan ably handling both the huge set-pieces and the quieter, human moments. There's also an outrageous cameo appearance about halfway through which provokes the biggest laugh in the movie, with a line of dialogue that might be more at home in Vaughan's family-unfriendly Kick-Ass. I only had a couple of minor problems with the movie - the seriously under-developed trainee mutants who seemed far too modern in character, and the mangled chronology which makes little sense when seen from the perspective of the original trilogy - but these are just quibbles. X-Men: First Class is an exciting, action-packed super hero / spy film hybrid and I would love to see more of this world. Maybe a move into the 1970s, the era of Watergate, Kent State and the fall of Saigon?
And, of course, more of the mighty Magneto.....




Oh yeah, I went to see this movie with my mate Glenn who is a major fan of the X-Men movies but has never read an X-Men comic, so is in the fortunate position of being able to watch the film without decades of mutant continuity messing up his head ;-)

2 comments:

joe bloke said...

it was alright. the bird with the wings was hot.

cerebus660 said...

Definitely...

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