Note to George Lucas; go see ‘X-Men: First Class’ to see how to properly reboot a geeked out movie franchise! I caught a screening of the X-Men prequel last night, and without a doubt it’s a wonderfully done prequel that rights the X-Men movie ship after the less than stellar ‘X-Men: Last Stand’. It’s just a great comic book movie from beginning to end with many bits of fan service that should satiate even the most die hard X-Men comic book fans of the world. I’m sure there were some liberties taken with each mutant’s story in this film, but as a comic book n00b I found the film to be more than entertaining, and it made me want to jump out of my seat and yell, “F*ck yeah!” on a few occasions (Or that could have been the few beers I had before watching it). For me, two aspects of this film really stuck out as being top notch. The first is without a doubt James McAvoy’s performance as Prof. Charles Xavier, and the second is the 3 cameos in this film that made my inner geek all warm and gooey inside (Not to mention oodles of fan service such as how the X-Men moniker was first suggested, and how Hank McCoy became the beat we know and love).
Let me begin with Mr. McAvoy’s performance, which, in my opinion, stole the show. This guy pulled off a young Charles Xavier brilliantly, and he really is the star of the film. He perfectly executed the character bringing both the elderly statesman side of the older Xavier, as well as the benevolent leader aspect of Professor X to this prequel film. I totally believed in the younger Charles as a character due to James McAvoy’s brilliant portrayal of the eventual head of the X-Men. He really sold the scenes between him and Magneto to establish their once tight bond with each other before a division in their philosophies drove them apart. I also enjoyed his interactions with Raven (Mystique), most of which I never knew existed. I don’t know if how they met in the movie is legit, but it helped to sell the pain that is felt by the Professor towards the end of the movie when Raven has to make a huge decision on her future doings as a mutant.
McAvoy’s Xavier is ‘X-Men: First Class’
McAvoy is without a doubt the star of this movie, but the supporting cast pulled off their roles as well. I enjoyed the way Michael Fassbender portrayed the younger Magneto. You could see that the damage done to him as a young mutant would never fade away, and that it was only a matter of time before he became the Magneto we’ve come to know in the comics and movies. I totally appreciated his interactions with Charles, and Michael’s acting helped to sell their friendship. I enjoyed finding out that Xavier is the one responsible for fully unlocking Magneto’s potential, which was first tapped by Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw.
Two of the Most Powerful Mutants Were Once Best Buds but Their Opposing Philosophies Drive Them Apart
Speaking of Mr. Six Degrees, he also played his role well, helping to setup the main mutant internal struggle of working with regular humans, or flexing their mutant powers to wipe them off the face of the Earth. Shaw more or less sets up the entire basis of the X-Men franchise, and Bacon did a fine job pulling it off (He also provides Magneto with one of his greatest tools, albeit indirectly). I’m curious to know if Shaw ever existed in the comics, so if you have any details please lay them on us by using the comment section below. By the way, January Jones did a great job of playing Shaw’s sexy partner in crime Emma Frost. She isn’t in the movie for many long scenes, but the ones she is in she definitely commands your attention with her sultry performance. Overall, the cast was perfect and truly helped to sell this X-Men reboot.
Bacon and Jones as Shaw and Frost
Outside of the excellent cast my most memorable parts of ‘X-Men: First Class’ are three cameos that just oozed fan service. I’m glad that I no longer spoil movies for myself like I used to do back in the day, because I don’t think the 3 cameos in this film would’ve had as much of a “Oh Sh*t!” factor as they did if I knew that they were coming. I’m not going to spoil them for you, but I’ll give you some clues to help you spot them in the movie if you haven’t done so already. The first cameo comes moments after Xavier straps his dome into Cerebro for the first time. If you blink you’ll miss it, but one of the very first mutants you see him telepathically connect with will come to play a major part in the X-Men organization.
The second cameo is so obvious that if you miss it you’re either more dense than the Redwood Forest, or you are a complete X-Men n00b. Just in case you fill those descriptions, the cameo I’m talking about happens during the part where Erik and Charles are scouring the World for other mutants. Lets just say that they have a scene with a very popular mutant that one could argue steals the entire show! I felt like I was 10 years-old when I watched this particular scene, and if I knew that I wouldn’t get the crap kick out of me for doing it, I would’ve jumped out of my seat and yelled, “America, F*ck Yeah!!”
The final cameo is again obvious if you’ve watched the other X-Men movies, so make sure to pay attention to a scene between Magneto and a young Mystique. Once again my inner geek could only smile at what I was seeing on screen. It’s a lovely scene that helps to build the early foundation of Magneto and Mystique’s partnership together, and it helps to setup the bond we see between the two of them in the 3 previous X-Men flicks.
The Original Gangsters
I’m sure there may be other cameos, or references to the comics that only the most die hard fans will pick up on, but I felt like the 3 I mentioned really helped to tie this prequel to the rest of the films. They also helped to setup a guaranteed prequel-sequel if you know what I mean? By all means if you spotted more Easter eggs than I pointed out please share them with us in the comment section below. I’m telling you, it’s the little things like these that can really make a prequel special, and I feel like that’s exactly what they did for ‘X-Men: First Class’. Geeks are passionate about their hobbies, so when a big budget movie plays to these passions I can only applaud them for giving fans what they want. See George, if you would’ve just focused on what makes your fans happy, and not all of your new expensive tools to make movies, maybe your prequels wouldn’t have let down your loyal fan base harder than a swift kick in the nuts!
Without a doubt, ‘X-Men: First Class’ is a prequel done right. Geeks of all shapes and sizes take their favorite forms of geekery very seriously, and at times personally (i.e. Star Wars prequels), but they have nothing to fear with this prequel. There’s no CGI babbling fool, or hoards of cardboard like characters fleshing out the universe. ‘X-Men: First Class’ is just simply well done. From the brilliant performance of James McAvoy to the massive amounts of fan service, XMFC gets high marks on all levels. It weaves a believable tale of how mutants first came to be known by the public that fears them, as well as establishing the fissure in the mutant ranks which spawns Magneto’s brand of mutants, as well as Professor X’s X-Men.
I give it a whopping EB 4.5 out of 5 stars! The only reason I shaved half a point is because I still want these movies to be a little more violent than they are, but I’m just demented, so it’s not really a true critique. Without a doubt I would recommend this movie to anyone looking to escape from the doldrums of life for a few hours, not just the usual geeks. It’s another great flick in this amazing lineup of Summer movies for our kind. Go see it today! You’ve been thinking that the Summer of 2011 could be the most excellent Summer of movies in your entire life…
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