X-Men First Class Review

2 06 2011

Whether it’s good vs evil, white vs black, USA vs Russia, Mutant vs Human or any other incarnation of battling duos, it always comes down to two.  The story of X-Men revolves around the notion of us vs them. X-Men First Class, Director Matthew Vaughn‘s first foray into the X-Men canon, gives us numerous battling duos and in the end it comes down to one choice.  Who’s side are you on?  Come find out.

Even Rome needed two fellas to build it, Romulus and Remus.  Well Director Matthew Vaughn and Writer Bryan Singer (Directed first X-Men and X2) have given us a more detailed and entertaining duality for the X-Men series.  In this reboot of the series, it’s still Professor Xavier and Eric Lehnsherr (Magneto) who are our two main figures.

Though the film ultimately comes down to who’s side you will see yourself joining, the film takes a more in depth view of the younger versions of Xavier and Lehnsherr.  First Class does a similar job as Bryan Singer‘s X-Men film did in showcasing the holocaust history behind Magneto.  However, the element that was missing from that first X-men film is the story behind Charles Xavier.  The differences in these two men are hugely important to the dynamic that James McAvoy (Charles Xavier) and Michael Fassbender (Eric Lehnsherr) maintain through the rest of the film as the adult versions.   Here for instance is a sequence from Charles’ life that also introduces another important figure in the X-Men legacy.

Mystique/Raven, played by the incredibly talented young actress Jennifer Lawrence, is the real connecting point of the two sides that are battling.  Her physical mutation is a key element throughout the film.  It  shows how some mutants can hide, like Charles Xavier, while others cannot, like in Azazel played by Jason Flemyng.  Now First Class spans a 20 year or so period from the young versions of Magneto and Professor Xavier.  This pivotal 20 year period is also key in our own history as its the Cold War.  The film really does a masterful job of mingling real world events during the cold war with those involving the mutants.   Pulling the strings of both sides and also being the catalyst behind the pain and anger of Magneto, is one Sebastian Shaw.  At first I was scared to see Kevin Bacon’s smug grin pop up in an early scene with a young Eric.  But the moment that actual German comes spewing out of Kevin’s mouth you realize he came prepared for this role.  The transformation from German doctor to evil mastermind Sebastian Shaw is really only hinted at along Eric’s journey, but that isn’t missed as we are clued in pretty quickly to who the main villain is in X-Men First Class.  He’s manipulating both sides, he’s taking the yin and the yang.  Sebastian Shaw seems to be playing all the right cards in his epic trek to rid the world of humans.  Now a big reason for his confidence and ability is that Sebastian has already built a solid mutant force.

January Jones is ravishing as the “diamond loving” Emma Frost who is Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw’s right hand gal.  The real fun quality to the film is that the X-Men are not yet a group.  They are naive and need tons of training.  They are highly over-matched by Shaw and his goons.  Hell Charles isn’t really a Professor, yet,  rather just a horny fella with the ability to read hot chick’s minds.  In one of those flirting sequences he is introduced to US Government agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) who helps assemble a team for Charles.  With Moira, and the always funny Oliver Platt playing the “man in black suit” (great name huh), Charles is introduced to a key member of the team Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult).  It’s Hank who built the Cerebro machine that is so prominent in Bryan Singer’s first X-Men movie.  The “smaller” original version worked the same way in its ability to find other mutants.  Those other mutants help form the rag tag team that Xavier first leads.  The story though flips back and forth from the impending conflict of the Russians and Americans while the X-Men train.  All while Sebastian Shaw and his team are continuing to manipulate all sides.  The real intriguing addition to the story line and one that I think will be fully realized in the next few films is the love interest that is Mystique.  In the previous films Mystique has always felt a bit under utilized, while Matthew’s film pins her as the main female.  Xavier has grown up with her and so his love is brotherly like, while Hank McCoy is fully attracted to the “human” look of Mystique, and lastly (certainly not least) is the cryptic advances of Magneto.  Hank seems to have the upper hand throughout the film and their romance is a really fun element to the film.

That darn Mystique is a character that shines brightest amongst all others (damn near as important as X and Magneto).  She’s the catalyst for so much of the films emotional struggles.  It always seemed a bit weird when Rebecca Romain (or whatever her name is now) played along side Sir Ian McKellen.  We never really got who this kick ass blue chick was and why she seemed so intriguing.  This film allows us to see her as child, the only character other then Charles and Eric we see as a child.  It almost seems like in all this duality that its a single woman (or maybe women as a whole) that is the real key to the X-Men Story.  I can’t wait to finally meet the new Jean Grey, but that will have to wait!  Back to Mystique though, it’s her character’s inner and outer struggles that give us the big issue with being a mutant.  How can she truly be herself if she can’t actually “appear” as her true self?  Leave it to Magneto to bring up that point.  Well the whole,  Magneto and Mystique relationship brings a bit more of a sexual spark that really is an avenue i’m sure Singer and Vaughn will jump into.  This scene alone really showcases this unique “friendship” as well as Magneto’s selling point on truly being accepted.

You see through all the USA VS RUSSIA, EVERYONE VS SEBASTAIN SHAW, MUTANTS VS HUMANS there is always one question, who’s side are you on.  We haven’t been given the full line-ups or the whole battlefield even.  But it’s obvious that Matthew and Bryan want us to be thinking about that epic choice.  The cameos in the film even have that choice sorta given to them.   One particular camoe by a hairy fella with large claws gives the best of responses, “Fuck Off”.  In other words, get ready for greatness as X-Men First Class does a perfect job of setting up the X-Men vs Magneto’s Brotherhood that fell flat in the previous films.   There is no mistaking that X-Men First Class is one awesome way of showing the “first shot” of the impending war we all are about to witness in the future films.  Its that one shot that forces a line to be drawn and for sides to be chosen.  Its that one crippling shot that gives us the one plot line for Professor Xavier that makes him into the “father” like figure.  So after you go see this movie (AND YOU WILL SEE IT!) all you’ll need to decide is who’s side you’re on.

O one more thing.  Dear Mr. Vaughn,

You’ve given us gold with each film.  You and Guy gave us fun, fast, and frenetic Lock Stock and Snatch.   Layer Cake might be the best gangster story since a little Al Pacino decided to go all Scarface on us.  You’ve given us StarDust which was a great journey and you got Michael Caine to be a bad ass again in Harry Brown!  Kick-Ass was easily the most exciting action movie of the last few years and geez you hit it big with adorable little Chloe Moretz.  And now you’ve revamped X-Men!  I’m just going to say that if the rumors about what you want to do for the next X-Men are true.  Then PLEASE find away to film in Dallas!  I mean seriously show some love, you can’t tell anything about JFK if you aren’t going to at least stop on by D-Town.  We’ll welcome you with open arms!

For those not familiar with what i’m talking about, no worries they are just rumors…right?

All you have to do is go see X-Men First Class and figure out which side you’re going to be on.

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