This weeks Movie Monday is on the 2011 film X-Men: First Class from director Matthew Vaughn.
X-Men: First Class tells the story of how Professor Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lensherr (Magneto) become the people we see in the later movies.
We move from their youth when their powers are beginning to come to the surface, for Xavier it is a scene where he discovers A shapeshifting mutant(Mystique) stealing food from his home whereas Magneto’s introduction is much more brutal. Along with his family he is put into a death camp by the Nazis and his power comes out in an intense moment when he is separated from his parents. he is then forced to try to move a coin by a German scientist by the name of Dr. Klaus Schmidt, played amazingly by Kevin Bacon). Because the young lad cannot move the coin Schmidt shoots his mother, this results in the child having a huge emotional reaction which affects every metal object around him.
We then move to 1962 where Xavier is trying his luck in a pub in Oxford where he is studying and Lensherr is tracking down Schmidt. By this time Schmidt has changed his name to Sebastian Shaw. As Shaw, Schmidt is manipulating people like a chess game to start the World War III between the United States and the Soviet Union. As this is happening Xavier and Lensherr are, along with the help of the C.I.A, recruiting mutants to help track and take down Schmidt/Shaw. Throughout this time Lensherr and Xavier are revealed to have different philosophies on how they should mature as a species with Xavier believing that humans will be happy to live with mutants and Lensherr believing that humanity will inprison mutants.
The climax of the movie comes with an American fleet and a Soviet Fleet standing off against each other as a Soviet Cargo ship is trying to deliver nuclear weapons to Cuba, The Cuban Missile crises. Lines are drawn here and friendships destroyed.
This is an incredibly well put together movie. I adore the first two X-Men movies and felt a little let down by the third and the Wolverine spin-off was not the movie I thought it was going to be so I was a little worried about this movie, but those worries were erased when I learnt that Bryan Singer was working on the script and was on board as a producer. Singer directed the first two movies which are beautifully sculpted films so that put me at ease a bit. I like Matthew Vaughn’s movies as well. The cast excited me too. Kevin Bacon for me is one of the best, and underrated actors of his generation. I cannot think of a film where he does not put in a solid performance.
I knew of James McAvoy and thought he would be a good choice for Xavier. At the time I was unaware of Michael Fassbender, I had seen him in Inglorious Bastards but I would not have been able to name him. Another actor I was keen to see in the movie was Nicolas Hoult who plays Beast. Hoult along with Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique have a good little sub-plot going between them. January Jones plays Emma Frost, Shaw’s right hand mutant and Rose Bryne plays a C.I.A liasion officer called Moira MacTaggert.
There is also a very good support cast to these main characters which includes Oliver Platt and Jason Flemyng. There are also the young mutants that make up the early X-Men.
This could be looked at as a Re-Boot but I don’t think it is. I look at it as a rejuvenation of the franchise. It is not doing the same thing over like the recent Spiderman movie and it’s not a remake. It does contradict the odd little bit in the later movies but nothing of real consequence.
The Strength of this movie lays in the quality of the storyline, of the actors, of the direction. There is nothing in this movie that feels out-of-place and I’m looking forward to next years sequel.
I would just like to note quickly that the two lead characters Xavier and Magneto are excellently played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender respectively. McAvoy is a smart actor and I am yet to see anything in Michael Fassbender that makes me think he will be thought of anything less than one of the greatest actors of his generation. Watch out for both of these actors, especially in X-Men: Days Of Future Past, which I believe is due to hit our cinema’s next year.