Friday, June 3, 2011

X-men Marathon: X-men: First Class

I was pretty lukewarm on this film during most of its development. It was only the more recent character centric trailers that really peaked my interest. I think after the last two films we all largely got our expectations lowered. Does it fit in with the X-men movie continuity? Does it stay true to the characters, if not the events, of the comics? Is it a good film at all?

It is, without a doubt, a good film. Here is my spoiler free version: If you enjoyed the first two films, you will enjoy this one as well. This is a proper origin story for the X-men and it mixes drama with action very well. These are the characters you know and love.

Now, it's time to get specific. While I'll do my best to not give away too much, if you want to go into the film blind, you need to stop reading now.


Singer's influence on the film is palpable, down to the beginning scene starting out almost identical to the first scene in the first film. From there, we basically get X-men Origins: Magneto mixed with X-Men Origins: Professor X, and get to see a lot of other mutants, both old and new to audience members. There are cameos, but I'm not about to spoil that for you. I'm sure someone else will, this is the internet after all.

While there are some mild contradictions between this and the other films (Xavier is 24 when he meets Eric, not 17 as he said in the first film) they are mild errors and not wild inconsistencies like we saw in X-men Origins: Wolverine. Any long running series has its flubs (Data speaking contractions in Star Trek: The Next Generation comes to mind) and I consider any of them here pretty excusable.

As a nerd beyond being a comic book geek, I found it fascinating to see this post cold war interpretation of cold war events. I'm afraid I'm not enough of a history buff to tell you how well they got their facts straight, however, the film strongly suggests an alternate universe due to mutant involvement in the whole affair, so you probably shouldn't worry about that too much.

While I would have liked to see some of the younger mutants get a little more screen time, it's quite clear that this movie is all about Charles and Eric. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender inhabit the roles fantastically, and if you can get over the fact that they look nothing like Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, you'll be fine. Their chemistry together is fantastic, and they did a great job of showing both their deep friendship and the way the two of them disagree. It is the emotional core of the film, and I loved every minute the two of them were together on screen.

I didn't notice any glaring errors in how the other mutants were treated for the most part. I still disagree with Beast's early appearance - he should be much more apelike beyond his feet in order for him to have proper motivation to want to cure himself. As it was in the movie, he could just put on some clunky shoes and no one would ever know. It's also a shame that this Alex Summers clearly can't be Scott's brother, but given how poorly Scott was treated in the other films, I guess it doesn't really matter. I hope we get to see more of these two in future films, if they get to make them.

I was a little taken aback by January Jones' voice. I've never watched Mad Men so I didn't know what to expect. She has a fairly high pitched voice, which is not how I've ever imagined Emma to be. Despite this I think she inhabits the role well. I don't know if people who love the character will be as happy. I've personally never seen her as anything other than a meddling bitch, so she seems right to me here.

I feel like I might have more to say on repeated viewings, and believe me, there will be many more. I'll probably see it in the theater at least one more time if my parents want to go.

As an aside, as I left the theater, I noticed another group of people who had also just seen the film. They were all talking positively about it, but more than anything I noticed that one of the men was wearing a Marvel heroes shirt, and one of the women an X-men shirt. Both of these people looked to be in their 40s. I don't think I have the proper words to describe how happy that made me. To go from the little girl who was a weirdo for loving these characters to seeing people older than me loving them enough to come to films and wear shirts of them proudly fills me with a lot of happiness. I even saw one woman of about 70 who came to watch the film alone. Awesome!


Conclusion(?)

This is sort of the end of my X-men Marathon, and sort of not. What I mean by that is, while this is the end of the sequential posts, this is not the last X-men review I will be doing by a long shot. Since there were many more posts I originally wanted to do, I plan on doing them sometime in the future. This will include more X-men: Evolution, more comic book and crossover reviews, and a look at the various collector's items and unique X-men merchandise I've gathered over the years.

This will also quite likely be the very last marathon I ever do. I originally had another one planned for next year to coincide with the release of The Dark Knight Rises, but the problem with sticking to one topic for so long is it isn't so interesting for those who don't care about that particular topic. Not to mention the insane amount of preparation it requires to read/watch/play so many things one after the other like that. So I will be handling it more like what I've been doing with Harry Potter and the Monsters vs Aliens Challenge, more like a recurring theme rather than a marathon. I've got some others planned besides X-men and Batman, and I think it will be a lot of fun. I hope you'll come back to check them out!

6 comments:

  1. As one who has never been a big X-Fan, I've much enjoyed reading your marathon. I have no experience with them outside of the movies - a couple of toys from the '80s and X-Men II for PS2 (I meant to comment on your review of the first game, but blogger was not letting me log in that day.) - so it's nice to get the take of a passionate fan.

    As far as First Class goes, I found myself liking it a lot. I thought Fassbender made the film as Erik, and was shocked at how interested I was in the Mystique stuff. In the other films she seemed like a combination of eye candy and plot device (I mean, how easy is it to fix holes in a script if you have a shapeshifting character?), but here she was pretty fascinating.

    I'm now interested to do a little more digging (and I totally wish I still had that video game). Keep up the good work!

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  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! You have exposed me to a lot of new movies, so it's nice to return the favor.

    As far as Mystique, unfortunately, that's what you get for casting a model for the role - she just can't bring much to what is otherwise a complex and interesting character. I think they kind of repeated their mistake in this film with Emma Frost.. but since I've never been a fan of her, I can't particularly care. :)

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  3. +JMJ+

    Being incredibly slow, I just noticed that another blogger I follow has been doing his own X-men marathon at the same time as yours!

    http://aseriesman.blogspot.com/search/label/X-Men

    He hasn't got to X-men: First Class yet, though.

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  4. +JMJ+

    Okay, I just saw X-men: First Class today and read the spoilery part of your review.

    I loved McAvoy and Fassbender as Charles and Erik. They really made me believe in their characters. You're right that their friendship is the heart of the film--although I think this is more Magneto's movie than Professor X's. We're more fascinated by the rise/fall of a villain than the rise of a hero.

    Mystique also really moved me--which I did not expect. Her insecurities and the way she keeps looking for validation from the men around her made me hurt for her. Jennifer Lawrence is a pretty girl, but she was really uglied up as Mystique. It was hard for me to see the beauty behind the blueness, and I'm already sympathetic. What more the rest of the world?

    But Hank was my favourite. I found him so endearing and sweet, and wish he hadn't let his own inferiority complex get the better of him. You're right that there was nothing a pair of clunky shoes wouldn't hide. But I think the writers deliberately kept him so normal looking because they wanted to highlight his blind spot.

    I kind of admired the way he finally embraced his mutation after his big "accident"--though I also thought it was too easy a resolution. (Then again, what else is he getting? He's a minor character!)

    And I'm so relieved to find I'm not the only one who can't stand Emma Frost. My brother really, really likes her--but I suspect half of that affinity grew out of wanting to annoy me. =/

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  5. Mystique's story really was a nice surprise. There's a part of me that still feels really divided about her relationship with Charles here. While the two of them don't really interact in the later movies, she does sneak into the mansion to poison him in the first film. My stepmom felt like this was contradictory, since she clearly was in love with Charles for awhile there. However I think it sort of still makes sense if you figure enough time has passed and she looks back on their friendship in a not so fond manner.

    I can see what you mean about Hank and his blindspot. Hopefully if there is a sequel, we'll get a lot more Beast time!

    Every time I read/hear someone say they love Emma, I scratch my head. I thought she was an interesting foil to Banshee in Generation X, but everything that has been done with her since makes me annoyed. Unless people enjoy her in a "love to hate her" kind of way...

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  6. +JMJ+

    The Charles/Raven dynamic really intrigues me--and is one reason I desperately wished this movie had given itself the freedom to be a reboot.

    We tend to think of Professor X as a very sensitive man, but yeah, that's easy when you can also read minds. Here we see that there is one person whose mind he has promised never to read . . . and he's not very sensitive toward her, is he? Very interesting!

    Given good enough writers, I think we will eventually be able to find Mystique's actions in the first movie plausible. And as much as I like her character here, I'd be fascinated to see how they accomplish that. Now that we've seen Magneto's descent into villainy, I'd really like to see hers.

    And yes, more Beast time, please! =D

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