X-Men: First Class
Director: Matthew Vaughn
I remember when the first X-Men movie came out. I was just a boy and my father took me to the cinema to watch the film. As I was a big fan of the cartoon and the comics I was very excited for the film. And even if I couldn't understand it on the level I do now, I remember how I enjoyed myself watching the film. Then, three years later X2 came out. Once again, my father took me to the theater. I enjoyed the film even more than the first. When The Last Stand came out I was older and had better understanding of these films. I watched the film with a couple of friends, and, despite it wasn't what number 1 and 2 were, I enjoyed it as well. Then it was Wolverine's turn. I was really looking forward to this one, as Wolverine was my favorite X-Men character, but the movie was a HUGE disapointment. And then, a new X-Men film was announced, X-Men: First Class. I thought it was a good idea, but after Wolverine I was a little doubtful about it. However, I still was looking forward to it. And I must say that my expectations were fulfilled.
The movie takes place in 1962, aproximately 40 years before the first film and 15 years before X-Men: Origins. Erik Lensherr(Michael Fassbender) has been plotting a revenge against Klaus Schmidt, a.k.a Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), for years because he murdered his mother in a Nazi concentration camp years before. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), a cocky and smart Oxford graduate, is publishing his thesis on human mutation. They are both mutants, Erik being able to control metals and Charles being a Telepath. Xavier and his friend Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), a shapeshifter who he found when they were just kids, are hired by the CIA to find Sebastian Shaw, who turns out to be a mutant himself and is the leaderof the Hellfire Club. At this they meet Lersherr, who tried to get revenge at Shaw but almost killed himself in the process. They then decide to track down mutants and form a special CIA division which will try and stop Shaw from starting a nuclear war between America and the Soviet Union. The film focuses on the relationship between Xavier and Lensherr, and how they finally became enemies and leaders of their movement of mutants.
As I said, it is nice to see the X-Men franchise back to form. The first two films were great, with a right mix of action and character and story developement. However, the third one sacrificed alot of its character developement for action, and while I still thought it was ok, it was a huge step down from its predecesors. Then, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released, and while its story and main character could be some of the most interesting of the X-Men universe, the film was a very big disapointment.
The film has a great script. The characters (or at least the majority) are thoroughly developed and their qualities as well as their defcts are explored. I tink the most fun to watch was Raven/Mystique. In previous films, this character was a mysterious and dangerous mutant, but in this one we can see that she was just an insecure girl who just wanted to fit in. Usually, when a mysterious character is given a background I'd rather they didn't do it, but with Mystique it is different. It was very interesting to see this. Another interesting character to see develop was Hank McCoy, alias Beast. He presents the same problems as Mystique, only that he goes further than she does to be accepted. Lets just say he learned the lesson.
The performances all around were very good. Michael Fassbender certainly steals the show as a younger and less evil Magneto. He said he would try to be a Magneto different than Ian McKellen's, and I think it is safe to say he was, but this is a good thing. We get to see different characters from the ones we are used to, and probably this is the most interesting to see. James McAvoy's performance as Charles Xavier is also very good. Just like Fassbender, he plays a different Xavier than Patrick Stewart's. While Stewart's Proffesor X was a (quoting McAvoy) "a monk... a selfless, egoless almost sexless force for the betterment of humanity and mortality", McAvoy's Xavier is (again quoting him) "an ego-fueled, sexed up self serving dude". Kevin Bacon's performance as Sebastian Shaw was also excellent, and I really think that he does a very credible and fun to watch villain. Jennifer Lawrence was also very good as Raven/Mystique, and as I said, her character is one of the most fun to watch. The rest of the cast all do very good jobs in their characters.
The direction this film takes is also very good. Matthew Vaughn does a fantastic job at holding the reins of the film. His direction is stylish and very cool, but he also gets what he wants and needs from his actors, as well as putting the importance of the screenplay on the screen. I really hope that he sticks when the sequel (if its done, which I believe it will) is made, his job in this one was very good. If he had directed The Last Stand, and he had been attached before filming started, I'm sure we would have had a much better film. His mix of action, humor, human drama and character development all make up for a fantastic film.
For the visual part the film is amazing as well. The effects are first class, all flashy and fun to watch. The action scenes are eough to please any average summer moviegoer. You getthe exhilerating pulse that you get when you watch a fun action film, and it never sacrifices the plot or character developement.
I know I already have written alot so I'll end my review here. I have to say that this is a fantastic film, one of the best movies of the year, and the best installment in the franchise since X2. The performances are very good, the character and story developement are very well mixed with the action, and Matthew Vaughn certainly proves that he knows what he is doing. I really hope that we get a sequel for this, as long as they keep it good and don't screw up like many sequels do.
My recommendation: For X-Men fans is a must see, and for regular movie fans I think it is worth a watch.
My score: 91%