Critics are calling it the best X-Men movie ever made, fans are calling it one of the best comic book movies ever made, but does Matthew Vaughn’s mutant prequel really live up to the hype?
When I first heard the idea behind X-Men: First Class, I was skeptical but optimistic. Whilst I couldn’t see why Fox simply didn’t go back to basics with a full reboot, I thought making the film a prequel could add some much needed depth to the franchise, whilst separating it from other generic comic book movies. I’m happy to say First Class delivers spectacularly, giving us the mutant extravaganza we’ve all been waiting for.
I won’t spoil the plot for any one who hasn’t watched the film, but the basis is the film follows a young Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr before they took their names Professor X and Magneto. Whilst working together to help mutant kind develop, they encounter an enemy who faces human kind with annihilation.
Vaughn makes First Class work brilliantly as a period movie. Setting the film in the 1960′s adds some great nostalgia, but doesn’t hold the film back in any way. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had watching an X-Men movie so far. It’s easy to see why critics are comparing this to a 007 film. It really does feel like a Sean Connery Bond movie. That’s mainly because of the films leading roles. Make no mistake this is more of a Charles and Erik movie than an X-Men movie. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are amazing whenever they’re on screen. Their chemistry is fantastic and they make their characters ooze with charisma. Something Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen failed to do. The first half of the movie is really what stands out, as watching Erik hunt down Nazi’s whilst Xavier party’s in London creates a great contrast between the two.
The movie also succeeds in the drama department by highlighting the struggles mutants face within society. This adds some real gravitas to proceedings and makes the film the most dramatic X-Men movie to date. The main villain Sebastian Shaw (played by Kevin Bacon) works well as a bad guy, but you sometimes struggle to see his motivations in the second act of the movie. It’s the films beginning where you get to see what a bastard he really is. The team dynamic is also evident for the first time in an X-Men movie. Rather than split up on solo adventures like in previous movies, Vaughn creates some great teamwork action set pieces. There are also some great mutant cameos, which I won’t spoil, that are bound to please fans of the original trilogy.
Most of the supporting cast impress whenever they’re on screen. Jenifer Lawrence adds some depth to her character Mystique, whilst Nicholas Hoult makes for a great young Hank McCoy struggling with his mutation. Havok (Lucas Till) and Bansee (Caleb Jones) are fun whenever they’re on screen, but little screen times leaves you wanting more from them. That’s where First Class carries the same mistake as its predecessors. With so many sub-plots going on, at such a quick time, some of the characters aren’t given enough development and are left on the sidelines. This particularly affects January Jones as Emma Frost, as little development meant her character came off quite dull and cold. Other characters like Angel Salvadore, Darwin and Riptude could have been left out, as they added nothing special to the film. Also, those wanting to see the conception of Nightcrawler will have to wait a little longer as his father, (I assume to be) Azazel, is nothing more than a story device for action sequences.