Thursday, June 9, 2011

Off Topic Review: X-Men: First Class



 The comparison between the characters and philosophies of Professor Xavier and Magneto and the two most iconic leaders of the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King and Malcom X may be obvious but it is this relationship that is at the heart of the X-Men created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Entertainment appearing in its myriad of forms can serve multiple purposes, at its best it serves to both to provide an enjoyable entertainment experience and at the save time contains, lessons, morals or universal truths. 

James McAvoy as Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto are a tour de force in this film.    The young Xavier's mutant pick up lines were hilarious, and I think the film conveyed a certain sense of naivete that Xavier brought to his view of the relationship between Mutants and homo-sapiens. Fassbender's portrayal of Magneto was powerful and the Nazi hunting scenes reminded me of Spielberg's Munich

For Star Wars fans the inevitable fall of Erik Lehnsherr to become Magneto is evocative of the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker and his fall to become Darth Vader.  While they may want to be "good" the tragic events that these characters experience in their lives leave emotional scars and an internal darkness that is difficult if not impossible to resist.  

The breaking of the Xavier and Magneto friendship while tragic, serves to set up one to two potential sequel movies where we could see them as enemies and then re-connecting as allies before another eventual break into enemies before the events of the first X-Men movie.  If sequels are made of First Class they must keep the focus on McAvoy and Fassbender as their respective characters otherwise, the magic of this film will be lost.

First Class is a fairly long and drawn out movie at 2 hours and 12 minutes, and other then a certain cameo the movie seemed to drag during the recruiting scenes. 

On the negative side, Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw didn't really work for me, I can't help but seeing him as Kevin Bacon and not the character he is trying to portray.  He wasn't bad, it just took me out of the film.  Some of the supporting mutants I could have done without.  I hated Angel Salvadore. I liked the inclusion of Cyclops' brother and the acting was fine, Lucas Till as Havok looked to modern,  like the modern Hollywood High School student who could appear in one of the Twilight movies. 

Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique may not be the best actress in the world, but I think she served a pivotal role in the film between Professor X and Magneto, as well as tying this prequel to the other X-Men films.  Raven's aborted relationship with Beast and the foreshadowing of who the baby daddy for  Nightcrawler was pretty cool.

The biggest takeaway I have from the movie is that I wish we had even more of the Xavier-Magneto relationship shown, I couldn't get enough of their scenes, which were the strongest of the film.

Before hearing initial reviews I had little hope that this film would be much good based on the recent trend of the X-Men movie franchise, however Director Matthew Vaughn deserves credit for making one of the better comic book movies in recent memory. 

Whether or not you are a fan of comics or the other X-Men movies, this one is well worth the price of admission.

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