X-Men: First Class. Now, this isn’t a terrific movie. But it’s good. And some parts are incredible, but it definitely doesn’t live up to the “as good as Dark Knight” hype.
Brief summary: Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr (Professor X and Magneto) are both young and starting their journey towards either saving or destroying mankind. And then some other mutants are there. But the real story is Charles and Erik.
This is what works the most. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender both do well in their respective roles, though I found Fassbender incredibly captivating as Magneto. And there are moments when he’s so badass we are left thinking, “Why doesn’t Magneto do that when he’s older?” He gave new life to what we thought we knew about Magneto’s capabilities.
There’s also a storyline involving Mystique and Beast which I found interesting, since they end up (as adults) fighting to cure being a mutant or accepting mutants as people (there’s actually a lot of parallels to X3, which I kind of appreciated).
I do appreciate that this movie seems more on-par with the canon of X-Men, as opposed to X3 and Wolverine: Origins. I was unfamiliar with the mutant named Azazel in this movie, who can teleport. Well, in the comics he is the biological father of Nightcrawler (X2). And Mystique is Nightcrawler’s mother! Oh snaps! And as for the question of… is this is a reboot or a prequel? It’s most definitely a prequel. The world of the first 3 X-Men and the Wolverine film is most definitely consistent. There are even a few cameos that connect the films to each other, which left my jaw dropped.
So, what works? The effects are spectacular, the action scenes are pretty cool, and there are moments where this feels like an X-Men movie (such as the final battle scene involving submarines).
I also thought the choice of Sebastian Shaw as a villain was a cool choice. He’s a much lesser known villain but his power was pretty cool to see on the screen. And Kevin Bacon did a cool job at being the bad guy but echoing what Magneto will (years later) be fighting for.
But a lot of things don’t work.
Why do they create new mutants? Who is this new Angel person? She was pointless. She is similiar to the character Pixie (a little known X-Men, at least to me). But then they gave her the power to spit little fireballs…? It’s weird. Though this isn’t as bad as X3 and the dude who turned into a pufferfish. (Edit: Okay, I guess this is a real member of the team but I’ve never heard of her and I’m okay with that.)
A lot of the other X-Men get the shaft in terms of character development. I don’t even think we learn Banshee’s real name. And Havok is all angsty and he’s in prison and stuff… but we don’t even learn why. It FLEW through their greetings and cut straight to them being a cohesive team. Kind of ridiculous, though the effects often had me forgiving the producers for that decision.
I wasn’t too impressed with White Queen. January Jones was flat and completely uncharismatic. The other members of the Hellfire Club didn’t even speak. Azazel and Riptide just hung out and looked cool.
I know it’s hard when they want to do an ensemble movie, but this really felt like it should have just been Charles and Erik the whole time. The young’uns barely got any screen time. There’s supposed to be a tragic moment about halfway in and I felt nothing because I didn’t even know who these people were.
The movie is good. It’s action-packed. It’s entertaining. And there are some crazy effects. But it’s not AMAZING. It’s good. Go see it if you’ve traditionally liked the X-Men movies. But don’t expect this to be the second coming of a new era, because it falls in many of the same traps that X3 and Wolverine: Origins fell into.
Oh, and there’s nothing after the credits. Just FYI.