Last night finally marked the return of X-Men to the big screen. After the major disappointments of X-Men 3 *shudder* and Wolverine I did not err on the side of caution and deployed full scale excitement mode despite the cautious advices of the other 2/3 of The Nerdy Trio.
PLOT: Back in the days of yore, before Toads got struck by lightening, Rogue became a whiney little bitch and Cyclops became criminally underused, Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) were involved in a bromance to which all future bromances shall be forever compared to. The two become friends and create the first team of X-Men in order to defeat Sebastian Shaw.
The Hellfire Club spend the first 2/3 of the film running back and forth between America and Russia trying to upgrade the Cold War into a Flaming Hot War. During the final act Sebastian suddenly remembers that he has the power to start the nuclear war himself and is promptly defeated by the Xavier and Magneto.
Xavier and Magneto continue the merry dance of being best of friends/greatest of enemies. Mystique finally gets a decent amount of screen time but almost strays into whiney Rogue territory. Havok is most definitely the most interesting Summers and I discover that my hatred of January Jones runs deep. END PLOT
I was ridiculously excited for this film and it is my pick for summer blockbuster of the year so my hopes were high. I went into X-Men 3 with delirious levels of excitement and came out of the screen with worryingly suicidal levels of disappointment. I think we were all grateful that X-Men: First Class ended much more positively.
Professor X and Magneto are a strange characters as they are so familiar yet also completely unknown. It was nice that we went back to their younger days and got an insight into their backgrounds - Charles with his rich upbringing and Erik and his torturous time in the concentration camps.
Charles is the never flinching voice of hope throughout each X-Men film and although he is the most consistent character it is Magneto who is the most interesting as he is the one with the inner conflict. X-Men: First Class is essentially the telling of how Magneto joined the dark side.
James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender were fantastic choices for Xavier and Magneto. They are both great actors and did not bring shame to the performances of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan. The two played off one another really well whether it be in the more light hearted scenes such as the traditional “bring the team” together montage or the emotional moment when Xavier brought a happy memory out of Magneto's buried subconscious.
Fassbender proved that he can act in Spanish, German and French but his English accent did slip a few times. There were several occasions when Magneto became very Irish and during one particularly mean moment of badassery he appeared to be possessed by Batman and deployed a level of growl to his voice that would scare the shit out of Christian Bale. He is fantastic and dare I say it - slightly better than McAvoy........
Kevin Bacon rocks back onto the big screen as Sebastian Shaw and does a good job. I can't think of a stand out moment though as he basically walked around and looked quite smug in his dashing suit.
The special effects were all fine. There were a few nice little moments with Banshee and Havok learning to use their powers but the big set piece was reserved for the Magneto vs. Submarine battle.
The original X-Men Trilogy suffered greatly as Wolverine and Storm got FAR too much screen time and other characters who should have been given more to do (Cyclops and Nightcrawler) were relegated to the background.
In X-Men: First Class the screen time seemed to be spread out a lot better and although there is a distinction between leading and secondary cast I didn’t feel like any actor forced their way to the front of the queue ala Hallie Berry.
This is the summer of reboots and I think with X-Men: First Class we now have a reboot which worked and can be followed up with a new wave of X-Men films which will hopefully be as strong as this one.
X-Men: First Class will not be everyone’s idea of a great film but these are characters I grew up with a kid. I absolutely love watching them in film. It gets my first 10/10 for the year. There are flaws yes - we got a bit too much Cold War stock footage and no one can be forgiven for hiring January Jones but I don’t care.
I have fallen in love with these characters all over again.
I have added to my original review as a friend thought that the CGI looked a bit dodgy in parts and as I didn't bother to cover it at the time I've decided to add it into my review.
I thought that the CGI was fine for the most part. If I were to pick a fault it would be the character of Beast who did look bad - even X-Men 3 did a better job. According to Wiki the budget is in the region of $120million so maybe they should have done better with the budget. I read that there were quite a lot of reshoots so perhaps time became a factor.
Matthew Vaughn hasn't directed many films, but I do like the Vaughn/Goldman partnership which also brought us Kick-Ass and Stardust (another Vaughn film where the effects are poor), so I hope that his ability to work with big action set pieces which require CGI improve.
Did it dampen my love of the film? That would be no! It still gets 10/10.