No teasers in that title, eh? I debated back and forth in my mind, searching for some crafty heading for an article on the most recent Marvel Comics film. After wrestling with a few ideas, I said heck with it. Just call it like it is. I was amped sitting in my theater seat watching this tale unfold. Now let’s find out why this movie was just so damn good.
First hearing of this film last year, I was surprised to find Marvel re-exploring the X-Men on the big screen. They had their trilogy so that should be enough, right? Some may disagree with me, but I do not think those movies will withstand the test of time. ‘Silly’ is too strong of a word but there seems to be an air of cheekiness with those films. I think some of the writing is responsible for this, although the biggest flaw is in the casting. Hugh Jackman was/is an exceptional Wolverine, Famke Janssen a great Jean Grey, and Patrick Stewart the perfect Professor Xavier. However, the rest of the actors (as far as the good guys went) didn’t fill out their roles nearly as well as they should have.
Let me be the first to tell you that X-Men: First Class does not suffer this same flaw. James McAvoy (Wanted) headlines as Professor X. Before I go on, I have to say this. James McAvoy is one hell of a great actor. Mark my words, and I’m not saying this soley based on an X-Men movie, but he will win an Oscar some day. He adapts to his roles with extreme proficiency and just makes it look so easy. So back to the roster, Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Basterds) becomes Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence (The Bill Engvall Show) as the shapeshifting Mystique, Nicholas Hoult (Clash of the Titans - 2010) as Beast, Rose Byrne (Insidious) as CIA operative Moira MacTaggert, and lastly, Kevin Bacon (Footloose) as the devlishly deviant Sebastian Shaw. The cast of characters does not stop there though. Coming to the big screen for the first time is longtime X-Men temptress Emma Frost (played by January Jones of Madmen fame). Fans of the comic book have been asking for Frost since the first film. Well ask no more as the villainous blonde makes her movie debut here.
So what exactly does the “First Class” in the title refer to? No, it’s not the opposite of flying coach. The title extension is meant in the most literal sense as it is the inaugural class of mutants under the tutelage of Charles Xavier. This is the origin of origin films as far as comic book movies are concerned. It takes a childhood Xavier and progresses to the early 1960′s during the Cuban Missile Crisis when the United States and the Soviet Union waged a tension-filled nuclear staredown with one another. The lore of the X-Men is magnificently woven through this period of realism which produces a dramatic story that kept me at the edge of my seat throughout the entire film, from title to credits. Watching the early days of Xavier’s friendship with Erik Lehnsherr was a sight to see, since up until now in the movies, we pretty much only know Lehnsherr as the corrupted Magneto. The interaction between McAvoy and Fassbender was nothing short of brilliant as these two guys dominated the screen in this film. It was like putting Gretzky and Lemieux on the same team. Tell me something good is not going to come of that!
That cheekiness I referred to regarding pre-existing X-Men films is completely absent from X-Men: First Class. Yes there are a few very brief moments of slippery acting here and there, but with everything around it so structurally sound, these moments were not all that distracting. One of the many things I loved about this movie, aside from the characters, the writing, the story, the camera angles, the chemistry, and the well-placed bits of humor, was the different languages used in the film. Case in point; Enemy at the Gates is a film I have always been fond of. However, one big drawback in there for me was a Russian speaking with an English accent and a German speaking with an American accent. I’m sorry but that tends to obliterate the authenticity of the movie. X-Men: First Class went all out. The scenes in Germany are in German! The scenes in Argentina are in Spanish! And get this, the Russians actually speak Russian! I don’t mind subtitles and this multi-lingual delivery made this film all that much better.
When X-Men: First Class ended, I couldn’t believe what I had just experienced; one of the most kick ass comic book films of all time, and as far as I’m concerned, you can rank it as #2 behind The Dark Knight. It was without question, the best Marvel film ever to be released and I absolutely love a lot of Marvel movies such as Daredevil, The Incredible Hulk and both Iron Man films. Even the recent Thor movie was a good time but is certainly overshadowed by X-Men: First Class. Director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) did a phenomenal job with his rendition of the mutant super team, providing viewers with one very cunning and intelligent product. There’s no need to stay after the credits unless you want to see studio logos and I wouldn’t expect a sequel since that’s what the existing X-Men trilogy already is. Out of our traditional score of a maxium 5 here on Why So Blu, I want to give this movie somewhere between a 4.5 and 5. Since we can’t break it down to a 4.75, I’m just going to round up. The summer movie season is just heating up, and with action films like Green Lantern, Captain America and Transformers: Dark of the Moon still to come, it’s only bound to get more intense. For now, X-Men: First Class is by far and away my favorite film of the year and easily the best Marvel film yet. Period.