Wednesday, 20 February 2013

FILM: X-Men: First Class (8/10)

Why did I watch it?
I'm a superhero geek (just without the comics). I thought the original X-Men films were a mixed bunch but the concept of a prequel as an origin story was definitely a good idea to refresh the franchise.

What's it all about?

First Class introduces young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) and explains how, through assembling a team of mutants to assist the CIA in stopping Nazi Klaus Schmidt, their relationship develops and ultimately breaks down, leading to the formation of Professor X's X-Men and Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants.   

Should you watch it?

First Class is one of the strongest, if not the most enjoyable, members of the X-men film franchise. It's plot is perhaps overly congested, dealing with a range of characters going through the self-doubt and insecurities of being 'different' on top of the relationship between Charles and Erik in addition to stopping Schmidt from causing the Cuban Missile Crisis from going from military stand-off to full blown war. As usual with X-Men, too many characters are included purely for bodies in the fight scenes. Step forward Angel, Banshee, Havok, Darwin, Azazel and Riptide. Avengers leads the way in accommodating a group of major superheroes without shoehorning wafer-thin characters for cannon fodder. Special mentions for January Jones, who gives the flattest, monotone performance I can remember as the Schmidt's female sidekick, Emma Frost and Kevin Bacon, for performing scenes in German and Russian!

On to the positives......Michael Fassbender. It is not often you associate a superhero movie with powerhouse performances, but Fassbender's intense, brooding portrayal of Erik, hinting at the flaws that ultimately come to the surface as Magneto, is just that, and is a joy to watch. Only a few leagues below (and given Fassbender's performance this is still high praise) is James McAvoy's performance as Charles Xavier.

All things said and done, First Class is an enjoyable action film, benefiting from some excellent actors and the curiosity attached to seeing younger versions of familiar characters.

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