Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, January Jones and Jennifer Lawrence. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. 132 minutes. PG
I’m not big on comics, but I’m big on comic-based films. Is that wrong? At first I thought so. I mean, I used to watch the old cartoon on TV, but besides that, most of my knowledge of X-Men is based on the film franchise, which sounds bad, right? But when the film turns out to be as good as First Class, a solely film franchise fan base is more than justifiable. (And before you judge, don’t even pretend that you knew Rambo was based on a book.)
Five films into the franchise, you probably get the gist: a race of mutants is trying to make it in the human world. This film is set before the original trilogy, filling in both the blanks you noticed and the blanks you never knew needed to be filled. The story revolves around the two we now recognise as enemies: Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender). But this was way back when they were on the same team.
Although dealing with the same array of characters, being set back a few decades, this film deals with a(n almost) completely new, very refreshing cast. While I respect Hugh Jackman, it gets tiring when nearly a whole franchise revolves around him.
By far the cast stand out was Fassbender as the extremely volatile Magneto. His extreme emotions and radical views keep you nervously on edge throughout. And it should, considering we know how his relationship with Professor X (who by the way was also played impresively by McAvoy). Kevin Bacon did expectingly well as enemy Sebastian Shaw, as did Rose Byrne as CIA agent Dr. Moira MacTaggert (especially considering she’s been covering pretty much every genre lately). I only wish Jennifer Lawrence didn’t fall fault to cliché lines and had a better chance at bringing out a darker side in Mystique.
While the story was so tense on its own (budding rivalry amid a world war), the score completely amped it. So dramatic, so sharp, it made each scene that much more intense.
Also holding the story intact was great pacing. Sometimes with superhero flicks, the action gets too heavy and detracts from the actual narrative. In First Class, the plot weaves in and out of story and action, keeping both in check without delving too far into one at a time.
If it isn’t clear by now, First Class was (IMO) the best addition to the franchise yet. Not to mention, it’s also done well with the real comic fans too (at least the ones I know). Though one thing about this film that makes me sad: there’s no teaser after the credits. And I want so bad to know what’s going to happen next. A