Saturday, June 4, 2011

Xmen: First Class Movie Review


As anyone who has spent 3 seconds looking at this blog can tell, I am a geek.  One of the facets of the geek diamond Claunch would be my love for comic books.

 When I was young I dug the spandex super powers, but these days its the character driven titles that draw me in.  However, I have always read at least one X title.  I love those multi-powered mutants.  I was excited with all the other fanboys when the first Xmen movie came out, then slightly disappointed with the second (although Nightcrawler being in it helped) and only enjoyed the third because Beast said 'Oh my stars and garters', and Iceman went full glacier.  My requirements to call a movie 'good' are fairly low by most standards.  However, that cinematic abortion called Wolverine: Origins pushed low standards right off the edge of a roof.

At any rate, my biggest pet peeve with comic book films tend to be the studios unerring need to mess with the comic book history.  Make this guy a woman or a different race to balance demographics.  Delete characters, merge them with others or create all new team members.  Anyone who has read an X-title for more than a month knows there is a character in there for every power, need or persuasion, so the only reason to make up someone new is because the creators were to lazy to do their research.

The X-men: First Class trailers hit and I swore a little.  It seemed the most base fact for this team was ignored. The first class in the comic book throughout its 50 year history has always been as follows:  Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (Jean Grey), Beast, Angel and Iceman.


However, in the First Class Movie you get: Beast, Mystique, Havok, Angel Salvadore, Darwin, and Banshee.  So, one out five.


To add to my nerd rage there was rumor early on that they establish Havok as Cyclops's dad (they are brothers).  Then they make Mystique the same age as Professor X and Magneto. Why?  So its not weird Magneto is sleeping with her I guess.

'Calm down, geek,' I can hear people say.  'Its just a movie.'

Quiet, you.

I was going to be watching the movie in the historic Chinese theater in the heart of Hollywood, and still I was prepared to be disappointed.

I was eating crow within the first 10 minutes.

It was like a James Bond film written by Stan Lee with a splash of the Cuban missile crisis thrown in for flavor.  It was glorious.

The script was tight (I do not mean that in the way young kids do these days).  All of the primary characters had a decent amount of development, the pacing was dead on and I was left hoping it wouldn't end. 

There were no mustache twirling villains but fully realized motivation for every nefarious deed the black hats perpetrated.  The good guys were valiant and the guys in the grey area in between were intriguing to watch as they labored over which path to take.  

Kevin Bacon played an incredibly suave Sebastian Shaw.  This really felt like it could be something of a comeback role for him as his presence filled the screen every time he stepped into frame. He was assisted by the red skinned teleporter and sword wielder Azazel (who in the books fathers Nightcrawler with Mystique).  He had some of the most entertaining action scenes in the film.  Emma Frost (sporting her diamond secondary mutation) along with her telepathy and constant lingerie wearing kept the Hellfire club from being a boys club, but in my mind was the least 3 dimensional of all of the primary characters.  And then there was Riptide.  Alright, he was the least 3 dimensional, but give a third stringer a chance.

Emma Frost

The acting from the heroes was solid as well, but since there were more of them you didn't get enough of anyone beyond Xavier, Magneto and Mystique to call them primary.  What little you get of them was good, funny without being ridiculous and endearing with the exception of Angel Salvadore. However, she was a weak character in the comics and I have a feeling putting a stripper with dragonfly wings in the movie was just to up the sex appeal quota.  Tickets must be sold, after all.

The actors playing Mystique, Xavier and Magneto were nuanced and a joy to watch.  Magneto was definitely my favorite, a man seeking revenge for the atrocities of the holocaust suffered by his family.  The scene in an Argentinian cantina was amazing, I wanted to watch those few minutes again and again.

As a slight word of warning, considering an F-Bomb dropped and a lot of death I would make sure you're cool with your kids seeing that before bringing them in.  The entire movie seemed incredibly grown up.  Its hard to imagine a toy line going along with this film, but I am sure they will make them anyway.

The biggest surprise of the film for me was Mystique.  Completely colored by my minimal time with her on the set of Winters Bone, Jennifer Lawrence just didn't strike me as the sort of actress to play the sexy future mercenary that I expect Mystique to be.  I also was dubious of the her talents being able to match those of the likes of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.  However, if you look at shear frame count I think she was on camera more than any one else and I'll be damned if she wasn't fantastic...and sexy.  Like a fine wine she seems to be getting better with age.  I look forward to future projects she graces with her talents.

Of course, there is one over arcing thing that made me happy with this film.  Prior to First Class I was four degrees from Kevin Bacon.

degrees of bacon1

Now I am only two.

degrees of bacon2

I'm coming for you, Mr. Bacon.

degrees of bacon3