“X-Men: First Class”
Okay, so this isn’t cannon. Big deal, I say! So what if it isn’t Beast, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, and Angel? It has Professor X, Magneto, Moira McTaggart, and the Hellfire Club. But really what this movie has is some fine actors carrying off what could have been absolute garbage and making it a success. That’s how I see it anyway. James McAvoy as Charles Xavier was the 1st step to making the film work. Too mnay times, a studio rushes to put out another film to further the franchise without really seeing how it could impact the rest of the franchise. In this case, FOX didn’t do that. They said, “Okay so we can’t do the original canon storyline, but we can do something that captures the essence”. I think they succeeded in making a pretty solid film.
A couple of points I really liked about the film: James Fassbender as Magneto and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. Magneto is one of those characters that you can’t help but empathize with. He looked the part COMPLETELY, especially when hunting Nazis in Argentina. I don’t know why, but I always saw Eric Lensherr (Magneto’s real name) as completely right in advancing and advocating Mutants as the next higher form of evolution. In other words, Eric believes that mutants are the superior race. I mean, why WOULDN’T you think that if you had super powers? And some of these powers are incredible! Take for example Magneto himself. He can do some pretty magnificent things with his mastery over magnetic fields. Now, I don’t see a victim of the Nazis SS scientists suddenly becoming just like them – that part I don’t buy. Regardless, Fassbender does a great job with the character and I would be interested to see if FOX decides on another “prequel” film like this to show Magneto more.
I liked Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique because of the simple argument that Eric poses to her about how she shouldn’t have to change to “blend in”. She brought that simple argument to the core of her character and you could see how it works both within the cannon character idea and this film. Lawrence does a fine job in making you consider her plight in all of this. That deserves praise.
I also liked Beast, but more as Hank McCoy. Once the full transformation happened, the actor looked stiff and sounded liked he struggled under the prosthetic makeup. January Jones makes Emma Frost look good on screen, but she is utterly flat and unappealing. It’s sad that so many X-Men fans clamor for this character to get the royal treatment she deserves, but so far nobody has done her justice.
I really liked Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, leader of the Hellfire Club. In the opening sequence, he was mesmerizing! I take my hat off to one of the most prolific actors of my generation. This was a stellar job! He wasn’t quite menacing, but he was brilliant. There’s just something perfect about Shaw as a villain and Bacon captured that on film to a “T”.
What I didn’t like were the no-name other “original” members of the X-Men. Havok is thrown in because they didn’t want to screw up Scott Summers (aka. Cyclops) introduction in other films in the franchise. (FYI: Havok is actually Scott Summers younger brother in cannon.) But I didn’t really care about the discrepancy – it was the acting that was completely lame. The same holds true for the adapting mutant and the stripper with gossamer wings known as Angel. The Hellfire Club cronies were done better by far – they barely spoke! Less said the better when you can’t act or you don’t have the screen time necessary to develop a character. In other words, the “X-Men” in this movie are cardboard cut-outs that don’t need to be in this film. If you can’t devote the time on-screen to put in the work required to believe in the characters, then don’t put them in. Less is more in this case.
Anyway, I thought “X-Men: First Class” worked on a lot of levels. You will have no problem following the main characters, and you can ignore the other lesser characters completely. If you want to rank in among the rest of the FOX X-Men franchise, put it above “X-Men: the Last Stand” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, but below “X-Men 2: X-Men United”.
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE