Release Date: June 3, 2011
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Screenwriter: Ashley Miller, Jack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Kevin Bacon, Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence, Caleb Landry Jones, Lucas Till, Edi Gathegi, Jason Flemyng, Oliver Platt, Morgan Lily, Zoe Kravitz, Bill Bilner
Genre: Action, Adventure
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language)
Official Website: X-MenFirstClass.com
My prediction prior to seing X-Men: First Class – “X-Men First Class will be just as good as X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” For those of you who know my opinion of the Wolverine, You can probably deduce that I neither liked it nor disliked it. I was very neutral. I feel it safe to assume my prediction was right when concerning First Class.
In 2000, the first installment of the X-Men Franchise debuted in movie theatres across America. Two years later, Spider-Man came along, thus solidifying the push for more comic book films that mirrored the quality brought on by the two said films. Now, over a decade later, the initial X-Men movie has been anointed by fans as the pinnacle comic book film that started the craze over ten years ago.
But what of the franchise itself? Are the X-Men becoming less and less of a defining cinematic adventure that other comic book films can model themselves after? Has it lost its “umph?” For me personally, I would answer in the affirmative.
Now that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy First Class; it’s a thrill a minute as director Matthew Vaughn brings in a lot of quality action scenes and digital effects which, of course, amplifies the “action” in the phrase “Action Movie.” Likewise, being a comic book fanatic myself, I don’t think I could ever NOT enjoy a film based off of any comic book superhero even if I tried. The only exception being Punisher: Warzone…God what a train wreck!
The freshness and creativity that came along with the first two X-films has dwindled away into a more modern film making façade that’s delivered convoluted and very hefty storylines within the three most current X-films. However, the problem First Class doesn’t lie with the multiple plotlines and inability to decide the central location of the storyline, but rather the fact that this prequel provides audiences with nothing new.
I don’t read X-Men, or anything published by Marvel Comics for that matter. However, being a comic book fan, I can’t help but know the canonized origin story of the X-Men and how they came to be; Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr start a team, they use cerebro, some crazy shit happens, Erik decides to break away and form his own band of mutant freedom fighters, Charles becomes paralyzed and the X-Men are formed! The only thing that’s different is the mutants in this film (besides beast) are actually some of the newer mutants within the X-books. Needless to say, the informed comic book reader will walk out of the theatre the same that they were before, and the uninformed audience member (based on the preface set by the previous three films) will STILL walk out of that theatre knowing nothing new to add to their knowledge of the X-Men. I did, however, enjoy a certain counter-factual historical event during the Cold War being retold as the result of mutant involvement. I’ll take that little conspiracy theory and put it in my geek files for later usage!
As appropriate and accurate as I think it was, the cheesy catchphrases made me want to upchuck the Jimmy John’s sandwich I had earlier that day. “We’re mutant and we’re proud!” Really? Could we try some other way of building up the pride of a race without using silly one-liners that make me feel embarrassed to be watching this movie?
The film’s strongest aspect was the relationships built from start to finish. Vaughn gave extra special attention to the one-on-one dialog between each character to ensure the audiences relatability to them; Beast and Mystique, Magneto and Professor X, the students, and the love and friendship they developed for one another was expertly executed in print and on screen. Even after the split happened between Prof. X and Magneto, there remained a certain amount of respect between the two splintered groups thanks to Vaughn’s attention to the story established prior to the release of First Class.
Unlike the films Thor and Iron Man, the entire X-Men mythology is a strong and creative one which makes for outstanding potential in the film industry. The excellent quality of the X-Men franchise, however, stands firm within the first two X-Films, leaving the most recent three films on a downward slope into nothingness. First Class is still fun and enjoyable, but it’s nowhere near worthy of remembrance.
However, it is better than X3; Last Stand!
Also, can I point out just how disappointed I am that Stan Lee DIDN’T make a cameo in this film???? I’m jest sayin’
6.5 out of 10 stars