09 June 2011

X-Men: First Class (2011)

Currently pushing: My list of top twenty most powerful X-Men. I count this as my greatest written work ever. And I should really update it.

And if you don't know about uncannyxmen.net already, we are not X-friends. I especially dig their character spotlights and costume galleries.

I conveniently forgot that Wolverine came out two years ago when I Tweeted about not having a X-Men movie since 2006. In my defense, Wolverine was really a spin off and without a whole team involved it just wasn't the same. For X-fans, the worry over First Class has stymied our excitement for the last year. The poorly Photoshopped posters were awful, and each subsequent one got even worse. In fact, I'm reduced to using fan made posters for my images because the official ones are just so bad.

The good news was that the casting was inspired all around but nobody knew where director Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, Stardust, Layer Cake) would take the franchise. Luckily the first few trailers assuaged our fears. After going to the midnight showing and watching it in a theater of fanboys, the verdict is in: It's great!

Super fantastic and right in-between the first X-Men and the epic second one for quality and entertainment. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are amazing as Professor X and Magneto, and Kevin Bacon serves as a fine villain. I mean, I got my nitpicks but I'll get to those later. We should concentrate on all the things the film gets right first. It goes without saying that I'm going to be spoiling things below. If you haven't seen the movie by now, we're probably destined to be former friends anyway. For true fans and friends, read on.

Despite not being as action packed as one might have liked, there was a lot going on in First Class. For a two and a half hour movie, they had to move from separately introducing Charles and Eric, to having them meet, then recruiting and forming a team, and then engaging in a final battle, all while explaining the high stakes involved. Pretty tough challenge and I think the screenwriters did well considering. The story by Bryan Singer was sturdy and covered all the bases.

It's pretty thrilling to see any X-characters on-screen, and the movie certainly lived up to the promise on that end. Cameos galore and some real fan favorites like Banshee. Okay, is he even a fan favorite? I just wanted redemption for his awful accent in the Generation X movie. You seen that classic? Don't worry, I have it on DVD if you need to borrow it so your life is complete.

Even with my X-knowledge, I had no idea who Riptide, Azazel, and Angel were. And it bothered me a little that Sebastian Shaw's powers were depicted incorrectly. Actually I do have a slight issue with the powers they chose. Riptide's tornado flurries were basically like Storm's, Azazel was a red Nightcrawler, Havok and Cyclops have similar similar special effects, and there really should be no other Angels (who I originally thought was Pixie) in the franchise. Maybe more imagination for the mutants next time around? I was excited to see what Darwin could do but he was tragically blown up way too early. Great death though.

I thought Emma Frost's diamond form was pretty neat and wish Colossus had been given as much screen time in the original trilogy. And for those people who are hating on January Jones and her acting: screw you, she's the perfect Emma and what else could she really have done with the role? I absolutely loved how they invented a great backstory for Mystique and the changing of her allegiance from Professor X to Magneto. Oh and the characterization of a flirty Professor X was an absolute treat too, and Magneto as played by Fassbender has to be the compelling homo superior this side of Wolverine / Hugh Jackman.

All this brings me to a quibble with First Class. How come when all the mutants choose sides, all the white people go to become X-Men and all the minorities go to the dark side? I know this is a reflection of who these characters are in the comics but the X-Men are such a diverse super group that it's jarring to see who ends up being aligned with the good guys versus the bad guys.

For a film with a focus on characters feeling ostracized for being treated differently -- largely because of their appearance -- First Class gives us scenes that make the viewer wince (or laugh out loud). I wouldn't call it racist, as some people are doing, but it's definitely noticeable. At least being evil means you dress better. Nice suits Hellfire Clubbers.

Overall you know I'm only going to give this movie a sterling recommendation. Sure I wish the dialogue was better in parts, there were some clunky scenes, a bit of the movie was a little slow, and Rose Byrne was criminally underused, but overall it's something I'm going immediately right back out to watch again. "Mutant and proud!" I need that T-Shirt. Okay, maybe not.

Also, in case you're wondering who's dating who from the cast in real life: Mystique is dating Beast, Angel is dating Magneto, and Zoe Kravitz, who plays Angel, is Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet's daughter! Plus Zoe used to date Ben Foster, who played the other/real Angel in X3: The Last Stand. Post-breakup she stole his name, turned evil, and started dating Magneto. Talk about moving up in the world. I hope January Jones and James McAvoy get together soon!