Sunday, June 12, 2011

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class

I had some high expectations going into X-Men: First Class. Everything I heard about it was good, and it got 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. Usually, when I have such high expectations for a movie, they fall a bit short. But that isn't the case with X-Men.

I'm a big fan of the whole X-Men franchise (not so much Wolverine) and this one is definitely my favorite of the series. Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass), the movie is sort of a prequel in that it takes place before the other X-Men movies but doesn't really follow its timeline or plot lines.

The story focuses on the beginning of the relationship between Professor X and Magneto, along with the development of the first X-Men team. I love learning the backstories of all the characters, although I am surprised at some of them. Mystique and Professor X grew up together? Mystique and Beast almost hooked up? (I was totally rooting for them. Blue people have to stick together.) Beast tried to make a mutant cure? Huh, that's interesting.

I also love the 1960's setting and the James Bond feel of the movie. I half-expected Kevin Bacon to be stroking a fluffy, white cat. The casting is great, with the exception of one which I'll discuss later. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy as Magneto and Professor X, respectively, are perfect choices for these roles. Fassbender works a great balance between the badassness that is Magneto and the pain and sadness that unleashes his power. McAvoy is able to pull off Professor X's optimism and hopeless idealism without coming off as artificial or hollow. They have some big shoes to fill (Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart) and these guys did a great job.

One actor who does not live up to her awesome character is January Jones, who plays Emma Frost. Frost can read minds, has diamond skin, and is Sebastian Shaw's (Kevin Bacon) right-hand lady. She should have been a hot mega-bitch with awesome one-liners, like Mystique in the other X-Men films. Instead, she is so boring. I shouldn't be surprised since Jones adds little to Mad Men, but it is quite a disappointment. So I have to agree with Damon Lindelof and say that Jones "sucks at acting." She's just a prettier Kristen Stewart.

Overall, the movie definitely exceeded my expectations: great plot, great action, great characters, and great actors. Vaughn gives all of the mutant characters enough time to develop, unlike X-Men 3, which totally dropped the ball. I recommend seeing this in theaters, but don't expect a treat at the end of the credits like the other Marvel movies. There's nothing to wait for.

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