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X-Men: First Class (Blu-ray Review)

X-Men: First Class is the official first chapter in the X-Men film universe.  One could even say that the film is a reboot of sorts, but that may or may not be stretching it a bit.  A very cool cast has been assembled to take on the roles of earlier character versions in this latest offering from Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Kick Ass).  X-Men: First Class is also the first of the X-Men films to be grounded in the real world and intermixed with real events of the time.  JFK and Cuban Missile Crisis anyone?   How would the new cast playing old familiars measure up to the gravitas of Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McCellan on the latter (or previous) trilogy?  How would “less popular” mutants fair without Wolverine having to carry each and every film?  For this and much more, you’ve come to right place.  Why So Blu presents: X-Men: First Class. 

 

 

Film 

X-Men: First Class starts off in a WWII concentration camp where young Erik Lehnsherr is separated from his family.  What’s cool about the scenes is that if you have a good memory, mirrors the opening scene of the first X-Men film.  No, your eyes are not deceiving you, that is a shot-for-shot reshoot of that scene.  Instead of flashing forward to the present day like we did in X-Men we actually get to see what happened right after the young Erik bent the gate.  Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) is a Nazi “sympathizer,” in the sense that he understands what they are trying to do, but are going about it all wrong.  His idea of a perfect race is that of a superior mutant race.  It’s this kind of intro to the world of X-Men: First Class that sets the tone for the rest of the film.  Be warned: This isn’t your Saturday morning kids show.

Flash forward to 1962 and we are like a fly on the shoulder of Erik and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), who by all intents and purposes is a player.  Not to mention a booze hound.  Charles, not Erik.  Erik in the meantime is on the hunt for those responsible for the events at the concentration camp some twenty or so years earlier.  Charles is great friends with Raven who cares for her as if she were family.  She does keep her shape shifting abilities under wraps when in public, not to mention putting salt in Xavier’s game with the ladies.   Haters gonna hate.

There are tons of story arcs, but the previous two are the bread and butter in terms of understanding where X-Men: First Class is going.  It is an origins tale, but they’re the ones that only really matter.  Later, we are reintroduced to Sebastian Shaw who is now an ultra wealthy individual who leads a secretive group of individuals known only as The Hellfire Club.  Yes, they are mutants.  The Hellfire Club consists of Emma Frost (January Jones) who has the power to form her body into a diamond and is a telepath.  Azazel (Jason Flemyng) is blood red in appearance, but has the ability to teleport anywhere at anytime, and does so by thought alone.  Riptide (Eric Gonzalez) has the power to create weather disturbances at will and can also turn his body into a storm, as well.  Shaw has the unique gift of absorbing energy and redirecting it back to his opponent. The energy he absorbs also keeps him young.

The rest of the film is spent with Xavier and Erik meeting up under unusual circumstances and form an alliance.  Xavier has the resources, so why not, right?  The government also gets involved.  They travel far and wide to recruit possible new members for the group.  Banshee, Havok, Beast, Angel, and Darwin are drafted into this group.  As things begin to escalate with Shaw using the Soviet Union to help start WWIII, Xavier and company will have to join forces to stop him and his band of evil mutants.

As you can see from the high rating that I have given the film you can tell that I really enjoyed it.  You’ve got actors that I really like, and Michael Fassbender has really become the “new” Christian Bale in terms of doing the most eclectic work nowadays.  He really shines as the young future Magneto.  James McAvoy also kicks butt as the young future Professor X.  The supporting cast is equally strong with the exception of January Jones.  Seriously, she has the deadest expression I have ever seen on a pretty actress.  It’s like she’s there, she’s hot and she knows it, but doesn’t give a crap, because she is rich and pretty.  I know she would rather be somewhere else and that is the weakest part of the film.  My man Kevin Bacon is sizzling as the evil Sebastian Shaw and truly relishes the role of the main bad guy.  He is a treat.  Jason Flemyng as Azazel (who will be Nightcrawler’s father) is unrecognizable in his pimp suit and red skin.  I had to do a double take.  The rest of the young people assembled to bring the X-Men to life carry on well with each other and show off a fair amount of chemistry.

Not only do these actors do their parts in conveying the action properly, but the film in general is gorgeous to look at.  The production is first rate, and I’m considering changing up some of my living space and turning it into a 60’s lounge with all the trimmings.  The costume design is great, and all the little details here and there are immaculate.  Groovy, baby!

Now just because the film takes itself serious doesn’t mean that there is no time for some brief levity.  Xavier’s introduction is great as are some moments in the young ones training.  I do think that director Matthew Vaughn has pulled off a feat only rivaled by Christopher Nolan in that he has created the first superhero film to actually take place in the “real” world.  The events in X-Men: First Class are grounded in reality.  JFK and The Cuban Missile Crisis events are meshed flawlessly into the context of story.  The film doesn’t just focus on mutants fighting mutants its entire length.  Speaking of length, X-Men: First Class runs 132 minutes.  I don’t think it would be that long if it didn’t have a cool story to tell.  Do you?

 

Video 

X-Men: First Class is presented in 1080p, 2.35:1 widescreen.  Since the film takes place in the early 60’s, it was proper of the filmmakers to take note of the interesting and bold color palette afforded to them.  Did it translate over to the Blu-ray?  Mostly, yes.  Colors are bold, but generally reserved for costume and set design.  When out in the real world locations the colors take on a more pastel quality to them and are less vibrant.  I didn’t mind that, but for those that are expecting it to be a psychedelic trip, should be warned.  Sharpness levels are in check with only a few instances of softness.  Again, that’s probably due to the lighting design.  I did spot many instances of diffusion, so take that as you will.  Grain levels are pretty top notch, as well.  Edge enhancement is not visible, the black levels are nice and inky, and contrast levels rarely run hot.  X-Men: First Class gets a passing grade in the video department.

Audio 

X-Men: First Class is presented in DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 lossless.  The real star of the show is the LFE, because it bumps hard.  There are lots of mutants with curious special powers along with a few telepaths running around and the LFE (subwoofer) handles their powers amazingly.  Dialogue is also crisp and clear, and the awesome music score flows into every channel effortlessly and without intrusion.  Explosions, and energy blasts are handled well, and I never found myself asking what did that person just say?  X-Men: First Class has a very balanced sound field.

Special Features  

X-Men: First Class is packed with a small offering of special features and extras.  Ever wonder what Magneto looks like in drag?  Head on over to the deleted scenes for a gander.  Do you long for the days of isolated movie scores in 5.1. Dolby Digital?  We’ve got one here.  What about an actual featurette that isn’t a kiss ass fluff piece?  I am happy to report that the featurette included on this Blu-ray contains just that.  From pre-production to post production you will be taken on a journey that will answer most of your questions with regards to the making of X-Men: First Class.

  • X Marks the Spot Viewing Mode
  • Cerebro: Mutant Tracker
  • Children of the Atom Multi-Part Documentary
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • Composer’s Isolated Score

Final Thoughts 

The one thing I do see about having this film come before the trilogy that we all know and not necessarily love is that the the time frames of those events don’t match up with the events of First Class. This is especially glaring if you watch the beginning of the third X-Men film and the end of First Class. Even the end of Wolverine doesn’t quite match up.  It is advised that you watch X-Men: First Class on its own merit.  You may enjoy it more this way.

 

Order X-Men: First Class on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

6 Responses to “X-Men: First Class (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Gregg

    Brilliant review! I loved this movie! While I’m still awaiting my copy for delivery later this week, I was relieved to see the video quality was above average. As for any continuity between with this movie and Wolverine, I’ll just pretend the Wolverine movie doesn’t exist. That film was garbage and ruined so many things. Where do I start? Why did Gambit speak with a yankee accent? Why did they absolutely ruin the whole origin of the Deadpool character? I’m ranting. Anyway, First Class rocked. Great movie! McAvoy’s da man!

  2. Brian White

    I’ll be checking this out on Friday!

  3. Matt Goodman

    One of the best of the year.

  4. Ryan

    Yea I am very irritated at the moment. I purchased my copy of this movie on Blu Ray for the sole fact of the added special features. I get to the end of the movie to look for said features, lo and behold they are no where to be found. I am not only irritated but I am pissed as well. There is mention of this any where that I have found on my limited search. Any one know what this is about, any info would be appreciated.

  5. Gerard Iribe

    Ryan, I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. As far as I know, the special features on the same disc as the feature.

    Other than that, I don’t know what to tell you.

  6. Bryon

    The casting in “First Class” was quite good, especially the side characters such as the captains of the Russian and U.S. ships, and the world leaders. I wonder what it must be like to emulate a character that was beloved by millions like Charles Xavier and Eric Lehnsherr?