Monday, 9 January 2012

08/01/2012: X-Men First Class [2011]

This is my second time watching this movie, which I deemed the 2nd best of 2011. The movie is still as great the second time, although it was better on the big screen. The X-Men movie series has been a little rough in general, with most people agreeing that the first 2 are superior, although I personally like Origins Wolverine a lot.

X-Men First Class however is my favourite of the X-Men  movies so far, and I can't wait for a sequel.

First Class is a prequel to the previous movies, originally intended to be another Origins story for Magneto. The movie covers this story, but is expanded to be the origins of the X-Men themselves, as well as Magneto's Mutant Brotherhood. The movie features a lot of comic cannon, and the storyline is amazingly kept strong and intact, deciding to ignore X3 and XOW, in order to keep the timeline proper.

One of the best things about the prequel is its Cold War setting, which has a very reminiscent James Bond feel to it. Sebastian Shaw plays the part of a bond villain well, with the X-Men representing Bond and his gadgets. With the villain masterminding a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia, traveling the globe in a submarine disguised as a yatch, and surrounded by his oddball henchmen and a beautiful woman, Shaw captures the aspects of 007's greatest enemies.

The X-Men play the role of Bond, with less cool gadgets but more cool superhero mutant powers. The team is a mix of those we know from previous movies and a mix of new gifted youngsters, and while not completely accurate to the comic timeline, the mix is great for the movie. The X-Men even come with their original yellow and blue suits, and show the discovery/invention of some of their cooler gadgets, like the X-jet, Cerebro, and Magneto's helmet.

The original First Class and suits.

While the plotline of this movie is Shaw's attempt to start global thermo-nuclear war, which leads to the founding of the X-men, the movie also does a great job of setting up for future titles. The mutants have always been divided between the X-Men and Magneto's mutant brotherhood, and the narrative of how these two sides came about is done exceedingly well in First Class. Magneto's standpoint is developed and explained to the point were one can agree and sympathize with him, whilst still seeing Xavier's points.

 The film deals with some of the series tones that the comics do, but still keeps things entertaining and humorous, featuring the best cameo of the year, and some good one liners about Xavier's hair. Ironically James McAvoy had shaved his head for the role, before he learned that Xavier was to have hair, this required him to wear hair extensions during the beginning of filming.

Go fuck yourself. (He improvised the line.)
Overall, X-Men First Class was the best of a number of superhero movies that came out this year, the best in the X-Men series, and my second favourite movie of 2011. The movie succeeds in capturing the essence of the comics on the big screen, with great effects, sets, cast members and narrative. The story is definitely its strongest aspect, making it appealing to even those not a fan of the comics and succeeding as a prequel, a rare thing indeed and a great movie.

(Liked the french poster best.)


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