REVIEW: X-Men: First Class

The idea of not the first prequel in the X-Men franchise but the second raised suspicions and X-Men: First Classwas one of those films that was either going to be absolutely fantastic or a huge disappointment; like X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This second prequel, we go a tad bit further back in time: back to when Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr were discovering their powers and the birth of mutation, and being a fan of the X-Men trilogy, there was bound to be something great about this one. However, despite the expectations for the film was mixed, it turned out to be an absolutely magnificent film and it really surprised me!

X-Men: First Class truly becomes one of the very few prequels that wasn’t your typical Hollywood film that you would normally see nowadays. Even in some of the effects, especially on Hank McCoy/Beast, it really did look like it was set in the 1960s. To be able to achieve the reality of a prequel set in an older generation, especially when the originals were successful, is a very difficult task that only a genius is able to pull off. So, huge congratulations are in order to Matthew Vaughn, the screenwriters and the rest of the crew for making this. This hasn’t only revived the X-Men franchise as a reboot. Those who found X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine bad films will probably think of X-Men: First Class as a reboot as well as a prequel (that’s what I personally think as well).

Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr 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.

The entire cast was totally different from the previous films in the series and this could become the dawning of a new era so to speak. The first impression of James McAvoy as Charles Xavier were that it truly seemed like one of the worst decisions at casting an actor to play a certain character. After seeing the kind of characters McAvoy has played in the past and seeing as they are all very different, it really did seem like he was going to kill the character. However, after watching the film, James McAvoy blew me away and truly delivers one of the most surprisingly sensational performances in a very long time! McAvoy as Xavier worked incredibly well as a whole, but where it worked the best was that McAvoy shows his tenderness and support towards other mutants. He fits the character almost perfectly, like Patrick Stewart did so even when McAvoy’s appearance was underestimated to start off with, he proves that only he could have pulled off playing young Charles Xavier. As for the other protagonist (but antagonist in previous trilogy) in X-Men: First Class – Erik Lehnsherr who was previously portrayed by Sir Ian McKellen who gave a perfect performance as Lehnsherr. Michael Fassbender, who hasn’t really received any Hollywood recognition at all despite appearing in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, proved that he, as well as McAvoy, couldn’t have played a certain character younger after its previous portrayers gave fantastic performances as well! Watching McAvoy and Fassbender together on-screen was like seeing Stewart and McKellen all over again! The bond was so powerful and it became a very moving film to watch at times. Out of the two, Fassbender’s performance is more of a breakthrough and if the Academy weren’t so biased towards Hollywood blockbusters, I would say that Michael Fassbender’s performance could be close to worthy of an Oscar nomination.

Nicholas Hoult, an underrated child actor who was in About A Boy portrays Hank McCoy who becomes Beast and he, like McAvoy and Fassbender, provide a very strong character that honours the actor’s (Kelsey Grammer) previous performance. Jennifer Lawrence honours Rebecca Romijn’s performance as Raven Darkholme/Mystique. Both January Jones and Zoë Kravitz as Angel Salvadore added a lot of spice into the film as well. As for the main antagonist of the film: Sebastian Shaw, Kevin Bacon portrayed him so brilliantly; perhaps as sensational as Michael Fassbender. Bacon perfectly expresses what villains really are about and how psychotic they really are. In fact, I’d describe Sebastian Shaw as a perfect character that one would call a ”slime ball”. The character development was so strong and the acting was just superb! As far as acting is concerned, the X-Men franchise wins over the Spider-Man franchise but not overall.

Matthew Vaughn already received strong critical acclaim after being the director and co-writer of Kick-Ass, but didn’t receive very much credit for his previous directorial films Stardust or Layer Cake. Knowing Vaughn’s style of filming and the films that he makes aren’t really typical Hollywood films, deep down there were thoughts that Vaughn will make X-Men: First Class a reboot of the series as well as a prequel. In fact, I think he has rebooted MARVEL film adaptations (just like Kenneth Branagh did with Thor). It wasn’t all about effects and action with X-Men: First Class, it was the character development and strong dialogue that made it a huge success. Vaughn was going to direct The Last Stand which would’ve been great. However, if he did that, he might not have directed First Class and it might not have been as awesome as it really is. Vaughn collaborates for a fourth time with Jane Goodman as screenwriter. Together, they were the screenwriters of Stardust, Kick-Ass, The Debt (which Vaughn didn’t direct) and, of course, X-Men: First Class and they make a fantastic partnership, just like a lot of actors and directors do. Their script was very un-Hollywood and they bought something new to the screen again. Their next collaboration should be something to look forward to.

Overall, X-Men: First Class is an absolutely fantastic prequel that rightly deserves to be one of the best films of 2011 and one of MARVEL’s best creations. In some ways, I think X-Men: First Class is a possible reboot as well as a prequel seeing as it could be the birth of something new. X-Men: First Class is exactly what Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace should have been. Will The Amazing Spider-Man be like this? It could be. Finally, ever since X-Men 2 in 2003, the X-Men franchise has been revived and this is the birth of something huge!

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~ by SJMJ91 on 18/05/2012.

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