Matthew's Review of X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class(2011)
Before he was Professor X, he was Charles. Before he was Magneto, he was Erik. Their friendship was something that was only vaguely mentioned a few times in the original X-Men trilogy, but now we finally get to see what happened between them.
The hard part about writing this review is that there's so much plot, I don't even know where to begin and end. So I'm kind of forced to skimp on some details.
Charles is young Oxford graduate that lives a privileged life. Erik is a pissed off Holocaust survivor looking to punish those who tortured him as a child, one in particular named Sabastian Shaw. The two meet when Charles is assisting the CIA to capture Shaw. They fail at getting to Shaw, but Charles recruits Erik to assist the CIA in capturing Shaw knowing full well that Erik intends to kill him. Soon they decide to start recruiting more mutants to assist them. The kids are young and don't realize the full extent of their powers, so it was a treat to see the birth of the Xavier school in which the first class train in.
Some fans of the source material might be upset by the decisions in mutants that they decided to use for the film, but I'm not familiar enough with the original source material to count it as a flaw or really care for that matter. I highly doubt that Charles and Raven (who becomes Mystique) were childhood friends in the original comic, but hey, it worked for the movie, so I can't complain. Hell, this movie contradicts certain occurrences of the original trilogy, but hey, it worked for the movie, so again not complaining.
It was an interesting to choice to set this movie in the background of the Cuban Missile Crisis it was a good decision to make Shaw's character the catalyst of that incident. Though, outside of Charles using the word "foxy" on two occasions and a presidential address given by JFK, the movie doesn't really have the strongest 60s vibe going for it.
This isn't the most action packed movie, but given all the effort we see these kids and even Erik himself put into effectively using their powers makes you appreciate the final battle so much more. I mean, we already saw magneto lift a submarine out of the ocean in the trailer, but in full context (the movie's score + the words Charles says to him right beforehand + and knowing what's on his mind as he's doing it + the fact that he's doing it with a single hand) makes it one of the best parts of the movie.
Vaughn does try to have his cake and eat it too by trying to balance the trifecta of developing characters, having a strong plot, and showcasing topnotch actions scenes, but with a movie that's just over 2 hours, its hard to fully develop so many characters, but he does his best to balance those three areas and does it well enough.
Most surprisingly the film is accompanied by a fantastic score that I'm listening to as I type this. Well done Henry Jackman.
This is the kind of movie that summer movies should model themselves after, it gives a nice story, has likable characters that'll you'll actually care about, it throws in a few jokes some of which reference past films (including 2 hilarious cameos), and the whole cast gives great performances. I was actually able to take Kevin Bacon seriously as a villain.
To quote Robbie Collin "This X is on fire". <- That should be the definitive quote used in the advertisements for the movie.