Howdy ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Day #30, the LAST DAY of my Month of Superhero Film Reviews! Over this month I’ve been reviewing of some of the best and worst comic book adapted films. So after one okay X-Men film, the brilliant second film, the disgusting third film and I can’t be arsed with the Wolverine one, we’re now going to conclude this month of reviews with the only other great X-Men film in the form of X-Men: First Class.
Man I remember seeing this in the cinema and being very surprised at the end result, I mean I’d had to live through both X-Men 3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine so my expectations were set incredibly low. Luckily this film found a way to be dramatic, cool, interesting and while it may not have totally convinced all of the X-Men fanboys out there, overall it was a good injection of awesomeness into the X-Men film series. So now in 2013 I’m gonna review it again and see how it fares.
When it comes to the story of X-Men: First Class it is set primarily in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and focuses on the origins Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lensherr (Magneto), two mutants brought up from very different backgrounds who as adults have different ideas of how they see world as a species different to humans. The film focuses on the formation of Charles and Erik’s friendship, the relationship between them and how their differing opinions about humankind and mutantkind split them apart into groups that would eventually become the X-Men (the good guys) and the Brotherhood of Mutants (the bad guys).
The story in this film is very good as it was smart, emotional and had a great deal of character development. I loved seeing the story behind Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr, we got to see new sides to them and witness some of their new abilities too. It is great to see their meeting and the focus of their relationship, the ups and downs and the eventual fall out that leads to them being on opposing sides. I like setting in this film, its much older point in time with various situations which allows for a lot of different stories to be told, some of which are interwoven. The whole Cuban Missile Crisis is a great setting for this film as the writers find a way to incorporate the mutants into it in a smart and sophisticated manner. There are problems in this film, at points there’s not enough screen time for many of the character involved and there are some unsatisfied conclusions to some of the characters and story elements.
Now let’s talk about the cast. James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X. McAvoy gives us a very different interpretation of the classic character we know from the comics, here is a more charismatic ladies man who while intelligent is a lot less of a serious character than we’re used to. I really liked McAvoy’s version of Xavier, he’s very cool, funny and epic when he’s serious. Then we have Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr/Magneto, here is a character who had a rough upbringing and definitely has a grudge against humans, especially Sebastian Shaw. I loved Fassbender in this role, he was incredibly intimidating, raw, badass and all-round amazing, he gave us a more sympathetic version of the character and gave justification as to why he is who he is at the beginning of the Bryan Singer film.
And then there’s Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, I thought Bacon was awesome as the bad guy of this film. His back story as a former Nazi scientist and the leader of the Hellfire Club and I thought his character while a bit ridiculous at times was actually really cool, evil and had some nice moments. Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkholme/Mystique, Lawrence’s performance as Mystique is very different from what we’re used to. This character is more reserved and is trying to come to terms with her ability, she’s been made to hide her true self by Charles but after coming into contact with Magneto her opinions change. I loved Lawrence in this role as she was super beautiful and very convincing in her role. January Jones as Emma Frost looks hot as hell and I’m glad that her comic book look was added in the film, the problem with her character is that she was a bit bland. Nicholas Hoult as Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy/Beast, in this film Hank is a bit of annoying character because rather than embracing his mutant heritage he’s instead trying to rid himself of his powers, which obviously doesn’t work out too well for him. Hoult is good but not nearly as good as the other members of the X-Men team, at least not until after he becomes Beast. As for Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert, she was pretty hot and I liked her in the film.
Zoë Kravitz was nice Angel Salvadore though I wasn’t too keen on how her character progressed. Caleb Landry Jones as Sean Cassidy/Banshee was okay and a bit funny but a tad annoying at times. Lucas Till as Alex Summers/Havok was nice, though I didn’t like how much of a douche he was towards Hank. Edi Gathegi I feel bad for as Armando Muñoz/Darwin, he seemed like a cool character but he’s severely wasted for plot purposes. And then we have Jason Flemyng as Azazel, this film’s equivalent of Nightcrawler (even though he’s technically Nightcrawler’s father). Even though Flemyng doesn’t say anything he’s really cool and has some great fight scenes. Álex González as Janos Quested/Riptide was okay, but he barely spoke and just threw around a lot of whirlwinds so he wasn’t too good of a bad guy. And lastly Oliver Platt as Man In Black Suit, he had some funny scenes and I enjoyed his role in the film.
Now let’s talk about the presentation. Visually the film is pretty impressive. The CGI is very nice good, there are some awesome effects used for action sequences involving Magneto, Azazel and Sebastian Shaw. I love so much of the fights and action and explosions in this film, it’s this kind of spectacle that the series has been missing for a while now. Though I have to say the effects for Beast’s face is questionable which goes from looking okay to pretty ugly. As for the soundtrack by Henry Jackson I think that it’s really good. It is sophisticated, emotional, loud and awesome at various points throughout the film and my favourite song was “Rage and Serenity“, the scene where it’s used is epic and so beautiful.
And lastly how does it compare to the comics? Well as I’ve said before I know the X-Men mainly from the cartoons, a few comic books and Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Like the previous films there are a lot of differences and updates to the characters and story from the source material. What I noticed was the inclusion of Nightcrawler’s father, Azazel, we got to see more of Charles and Erik’s powers and there was also the inclusion of Emma Frost too. But there was some messy elements like the inclusion of Alex Summers which was bit questionable and the treatment of Frost’s character personality too.
So to conclude X-Men: First Class is cracking good comic book film which takes the basic elements of the source material and modifies it in a way where it works in a dramatic and awesome way. The story is great and I love the focus on Charles and Erik’s relationship, the central performances from James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are incredible and there is plenty of action to satisfy the masses. While it may not be a perfect X-Men film that fans were looking for, I feel like Matthew Vaughn did a great job at bringing this franchise back from the shitter and into the good place in the realm of superhero films.
Rating: 8/10 (A fine film and bloody good step in the right direction for the X-Men film series!)
So there’s my review people, THE LAST ONE DONE! So have you seen X-Men: First Class and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo!
Well its been a hectic month, but I just about made it through, thanks for reading and a special thank you goes out to Tim The Film Guy for commenting and liking my material, you rule dude! Alright later on peeps!