June 3, 2011

X-Men: First Class - 2011

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, & Matthew Vaughn
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, January Jones, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz

"We have it in us to be the better men. Now's the time to prove it." After Charles Xavier (McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Fassbender) meet, they recruit a young team of misfits to stop the evil Sebastian Shaw (Bacon) from unleashing World War III by pushing Cold War brinksmanship to its breaking point.

OH MY GOD YOU GUYS THIS MOVIE. If you've been following the X-franchise from its beginning 11 years ago, you know that the last two films faltered a bit; while X-Men and X2: X-men United both scored in the 80s on RottenTomatoes, whereas X-Men: the Last Stand dropped to 57% and the series bottomed out at 37% with X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Thankfully, however (at least with Vaughn at the helm), the days of being ashamed of the greatest mutant team are long gone. In fact, I'd go as far as to say this film is the best of the franchise, and on par with (if not better than) The Dark Knight. Blasphemy, I know, but it's the truth in my eyes. Sure, it won't please the purists (but what film can?), and even I as a semi-knowledgeable comic book geek had one major continuity issue, but it was wholly satisfying otherwise. We get to delve into backstory of mutants we already know, get introduced to a great deal more (all but one of whom get lines), and explore great psychological themes and the historical rammifications of how normal folk first learned about the existence of the "mutant menace." There's a lot of nice nods to the other films and the comics, as well as a great lampshading of how the codenames arise, and Fassbender and McAvoy do a great job filling the shoes left by McKellen and Stewart without doing impersonations. The action pieces are perfect, in the sense that you feel real concern for the fate of characters that you know will survive thanks to the existing trilogy, and the effects are great. They even manage to explain away Emma Frost's routinely skimpy outfits in an entirely believeable manner, which is a feat all by itself. Oh, and while Stan Lee's usual cameo is strangely absent from this film, there's an even better one, so look forward to that. A+

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