17 jun. 2011

My Review: X-Men: First Class (8/10)

¨We have it in us to be the better man.¨

I will be honest with you guys: I didn`t think this movie would work without Wolverine, after all he was the heart and soul of the previous X-Men films. Hugh Jackman was the reason why I had enjoyed the other movies so much and I thought this film would suffer without this main character (it would be like a Pirates of the Caribbean movie without Jack Sparrow). I was wrong! X-Men: First Class works really well as a prequel/reboot to the franchise for one main reason: The casting of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy as the two lead characters: friends turned archenemies Magneto and Professor X. The relationship between these two characters and the two outstanding performances these talented actors give are what make X-Men: First Class the best superhero film since The Dark Knight. I know we have been bombarded with superhero films lately, and they are actually all pretty decent thanks to the strong background and depth these characters have been given in the comics, but this one is really worth your time. I loved the direction that Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Stardust, and Snatch) took with this film by letting the center of the plot revolve around the relationship between Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto) and Charles Xavier (Professor X). We really come to care for these two friends who we know will become enemies in the future, but can´t help but root for them to get along in some way. Fassbender and McAvoy really deliver outstanding leading performances and the scenes between them are the heart of the movie. X-Men fans won’t be disappointed.

The movie begins during World War II as the Nazis are trying to separate young Erik from his parents. While they are taken away Erik begins to bend the metal fences with his mind until a soldier knocks him out. One of the Nazi officials named Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) questions Erik before killing his mother in front of him since he is unable to move a metal coin. Later Sebastian discovers that Erik`s powers only work when he is angry and therefore begins to train his prisoner. The movie then jumps to the present: it is 1962 and the world is at verge of another World War. Tension between the United States and Russia is high; the Cold War is at its boiling point. Sebastian is trying to take advantage of the situation and wants a nuclear war to begin. By his side he has some mutant friends: Emma Frost (January Jones) and Azazel (Jason Flemyng). On the meantime Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) is after Sebastian and wants revenge. Erik isn’t the only one after Shaw, an FBI agent, named Moira (Rose Byrne) discovers that he is trying to start a nuclear war and sees the mutants therefore she decides to investigate and discovers that a young student has done some extensive research on human mutation, his name is Charles Xavier (James McAvoy). Charles knows that there are many mutants with special powers like his in the world. He even adopted one and began to teach her how to deal with her power: Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), alias Mystique. Charles begins working with Moira in order to stop Shaw. He also befriends Erik and together they begin to round up other young mutants with special powers: Angel (Zoe Kravitz), Havok (Lucas Till), Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), Banshee (Caleb Jones), and Darwin (Edi Gathegi).

It was very interesting to see how the X-Men story began. The scenes where Erik and Charles teach the young mutants how to deal with their powers and master them remind us that these two guys are in a way very similar to each other. They both have great respect for one another; they are both excellent teachers and want to help their fellow mutants, but Erik never was able to deal with the pain of losing his parents and has grown resentful towards humans. This is what separates the two: one is motivated by hate, the other by grace. The same happens with the young mutants and there is no denying the fact that some will go along Erik`s path, while others will follow Charles`s. We all know that Magneto`s brotherhood will be in constant battle with Professor Xavier`s X-Men, but what we didn`t know (at least film wise) was how the two groups went their separate ways. It is this friendship between the two main characters that we know will end, what builds the tension for a very satisfying finale. On a side note I really didn’t care for the rest of the mutants. They were just that: secondary characters. What made the movie work entirely were these great scenes between McAvoy and Fassbender. The rest was just unremarkable in my opinion. Jennifer Lawrence and Kevin Bacon gave good performances, but the truth is that the movie really revolved around Erick and Charles, and these two actors did a great job to make up for a somewhat mediocre script. I really enjoyed this reboot/prequel and it has taken the franchise to a whole new level.

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