X-Men: First Class – A Flickcharter’s Review
Summary (from Fox): Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-MEN.
Matthew Vaughn surprises (me at least) with a fun, if a little cheesy and convenient, summer superhero movie.
- Fantastic story. It’s an origin story that doesn’t dick around or betray any of its characters underlying awesomeness. I’m coming in with ZERO experience with the comics but everything here just feels right to me.
- The ensemble of actors come together very well. This is definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are compelling anchors and despite being at odds with one another give this version of X-Men the most complete sense of team over the whole franchise.
- Kevin Bacon makes a great villain.
- The return of the Blue/Yellow uniforms. They look amazing and the wardrobe crew did a great job making the mutants look bad-ass.
- Matthew Vaughn (more on him below)
- Some fantastic cameos and genre-favorites in supporting roles. Not going to spoil anything but I was very pleasantly surprised when they all popped up.
- My biggest complaint is Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique. I’d compare her to Halle Berry in the first set of movies. Like Berry, she can be a fine, charismatic actress (and obviously stunning to look at on the big screen) but for some reason or another, the material just doesn’t fit her. It also doesn’t help that she gets the most awkward big speech in the movie and her storyline is something from a straight-to-Disney Channel movie.
- The whole movie had a bit too much Teen angst in it for these mid-20s eyes/ears to handle.
- There were times where it reached Rocky III levels of cheesiness. Jennifer Lawrence and her “I don’t like how I look” storyline was the biggest culprit but McAvoy and Fassbender had me on the edge of my seat waiting for a “You Got Me Curious” line during the last half of the movie.
- Things are a little too convenient at times but it’s not like they could make certain well-known character traits/aspects not eventually happen.
- Seeing beautiful women in ugly, unflattering 60’s-era lingerie is a damn shame.
How Does it Compare to Other X-Men Movies?
I watched the first X-Men a couple nights ago and immediately dropped it down in my rankings a couple hundred spots. It’s a solid movie but the “limited” budget seems to hinder it and Bryan Singer and the cast appear tentative to really let loose and make something great the first time out. I remember really liking X2 but it’s been far too long since I saw it last and honestly can’t remember anything about it that stands out aside from the obvious parallels to coming out of the closet.
Let’s skip Last Stand and Wolverine, they’re completely watchable on a rainy Sunday afternoon but I’m not going to go out of my way to see them again.
X-Men: First Class got a few favorable Flickchart match-ups as I added it but I think it’s in the right spot at the top of the Franchise. It features the strongest chemistry amongst the cast and is put together amazingly well. Pop it before Singer’s movies and it would fit right in.
How Does it Compare to Other Matthew Vaughn Movies?
I don’t think it’s possible to make four above-average movies in a row without having a great deal of skill and considering the variety of genres Mr. Vaughn has worked in, it’s safe to say he’s a talented guy. I’m warming up to Kick-Ass after my initial distaste with its violence (getting old plays weird tricks on your head) and Stardust is one of the best Fantasy movies made in the post LOTR world. Overall, X-Men: First Class is his best work to date and I’m very excited to see what he’s got in store for us next. That said, there’s a little too much camera spinning going on but it’s a minor quibble.
I went in with zero expectations and came out pleasantly surprised. Give Jennifer Lawrence a more fleshed out and less clichéd role and you have a near perfect summer movie. I currently have X-Men: First Class ranked at #383 out of 1966 movies watched.
A review like this is probably only useful if you have a better idea of who I am. My five favorite Superhero/Comic Book movies are:
- In: Movie Reviews
- Tags: 1960s, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Kick-Ass, Matthew Vaughn, Michael Fassbender, Rocky III, Stardust, Wolverine, X-Men, X-Men: Last Stand, X2