Sunday 28 April 2013

A to Z - X Men: First Class

X was never going to be a difficult choice, and while I have four to choose from, I've opted for the most recent X-Men film, First Class. Released in 2011, the film took us back to the early days of the mutants, when Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) were still on the same side. After a short prelude in the 1940s, to demonstrate the stark differences in the backgrounds of the two main mutants, we move into 1962. The Cold War is escalating, helped along by the interference of Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), a mutant with the ability to manipulate energy. Xavier and long term friend Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) are recruited by a special government initiative, and after an encounter with Magneto, they begin recruiting more mutants to the cause to help face down a mutant that the humans just can't tackle. But will the humans appreciate the help?

I think the main draw, for me, was obviously Fassbender, and the man rocks the 1960s look like no other. If they ever decide to make another Avengers movie (as in the TV series), then Fassbender should be a shoe-in for John Steed. He'd also make a decent 1960s-era James Bond. Yes, his English accent waxes and wanes, growing ever more Irish as the film progresses, but I love him anyway. He makes Magneto plausible, and after suffering segregation and experimentation at the hands of the Nazis, you can see why he wouldn't trust humans not to do the same to mutants. McAvoy plays Xavier as slightly cheeky, almost a lovable rogue who's forced to grow up and accept the enormity of his task in educating mutants. I always enjoyed the relationship between the pair when played by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan in the original trilogy, and it's nice to see McAvoy and Fassbender maintain that level of distrust/mutual respect.

One of the other things I liked was the inclusion of characters we rarely see. True, Wolverine pops up for a short scene (with Hugh Jackman putting in a cameo) but there's no Storm, Rogue, Cyclops or Jean Grey. Instead, director Matthew Vaughn and writer Jane Goldman pick their mutants from a different stable, so we get to meet Havok (Lucas Till), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Darwin (Edi Gathegi), and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) on Xavier's side, and Azazel (Jason Flemyng), Emma Frost (January Jones), Riptide (Álex González) and Angel (Zoe Kravitz) on Shaw's team. Obviously Emma Frost and Beast have been fan favourites for a while but the inclusion of Azazel means they have some interesting story arcs to choose from for future films (especially if they pursue his relationship with Mystique).

Yes, there are plot holes, and Jennifer Lawrence annoys me no end as Mystique (unlike Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, who was brilliant in the role), but it's a fun watch, if only for Fassbender being awesome at pretty much every turn. It's also nice to see Nicholas Hoult take on another large role, and it'll be interesting to see which way Beast is developed if these films turn into a series. I'm curious to see how they're going to work in the cast of First Class with the cast of the original films for the sequel, Days of Future Past - it has the potential to be one of those films that's so full of characters there's no room to develop any of them, and ensemble films are difficult enough to manage as it is. We'll see how it works out next year, but in the mean time, he's an introduction to some of the team...


Bevimus said...

I agree, Fassbender made this movie for me. That one scene in the pub in Argentina specifically had me jumping out of my chair. And the interactions between him and Bacon are priceless.
As a big fan of the X-Men movies in general I was blown away by how well this one performed- I'd put it on par with the first installment.

Tony Noland said...

I used to read the X-Men comics from way back when, so it was nice to see some of the JV mutants get a turn in the spotlight.

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