Thursday, August 8, 2013

5th X-Men Movie is First Class

In the summer of 2011 yet another prequel was added to the X-Men film franchise, X-Men: First Class. With the disappointment of the previous two movies, I had little hope for this one ... that is, until I saw this trailer.

The trailer gave me goosebumps! I was officially on board with this movie, and was rather excited to see it once it came out. And thankfully, it didn't disappoint.
Taking place in 1962, First Class focuses on Prof. Xavier and Magneto before they were enemies. Back when they were just Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik (Michael Fassbender), two buddies who happened to be mutants.
And happened to have a bromance. No homo.
It begins in England, where a young (and non-bald paraplegic) Charles has recently become a professor of genetics. Instead of the wise teacher we know and love, this 24 year-old Charles has an alcoholic beverage in his hand at all times and hits on women talking like Austin Powers with better teeth and no frilly shirts.
Charles is brought to the U.S. to help the CIA, because they believe a communist, Sebastian Shaw (played by Kevin "Hickory Smoked" Bacon), is using mutants to help move along his plans to start World War III with the Russians. It turns out that Erik is also looking for Shaw, a man (called "Schmidt" at the time) working with Nazis who tortured Erik as a boy to force him to use his magnetic powers. So, Erik goes on a worldwide manhunt to find Shaw, killing old Nazis along the way.
When the CIA finally tracks down Shaw and is ready to catch him, Erik shows up and his attempt at revenge fails and he almost dies. Shaw indeed does have other mutants working with him who help him escape in his submarine. So, Charles saves Erik and gets him to help him with the CIA and after using a prototype of Cerebro to find other mutants, the two roam around the country to find more superpowered individuals to help them.
Once they have their team of first X-Men together, the mutant teenagers need to strengthen their powers which is done in one of the best montage sequences I have ever seen in any movie (the link is crappy, sorry). It's probably my favorite part of the entire film.
Towards the end, the newly formed X-Men team goes to stop Shaw from causing nuclear war and end up resolving the Cuban Missle Crisis. Erik decides that humans are worthless and dedicates his powers and goals to the advancement of mutantkind and the extermination of humankind. Charles becomes paralyzed and decides that his role in life is to teach mutants how to control their powers and to develop peaceful relations between muties and us regular folk. Oh, and using teenagers to stop Erik's (now Magento) plans at every possible opportunity.
They still play chess, though.
It brings back memories.
First Class was directed by Matthew Vaughn. It also marked Bryan Singer's return to the franchise, but this time around as a producer. Funny to note that while he was away the two worst movies in the series were made and the result of his return was the best movie. Parallels between America's treatment toward communists in the 1960's and certain characters' reactions toward mutants are clear to see and cannot be accidental. It helps the movie seem more real.
The casting for X-Men: First Class is great. McAvoy and Fassbender are fantastic as Charles and Erik, their chemistry is easily seen throughout the movie. And a pre-Hunger Games Jennifer Lawrence isn't that bad at being the shape-shifting Mystique. Plus, Kevin Bacon plays a Nazi and a communist! It's awesome!
While I absolutely love this movie, I believe it to be the best in the franchise thus far, it has its problems. Mainly, it creates a lot of continuity errors for the X-Men series. Emma Frost (January Jones) is one of the antagonists in the movie, yet she appeared as a teenager in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Alex Summers, or Havoc, is a teenager in First Class, yet is supposed to be the brother of Scott Summers, or Cyclops, who is about 30 in the year 2000. In the flashback sequence from X-Men: The Last Stand Xavier can walk, yet at the end of this film he becomes paralyzed from the waist down. And the list goes on. I do enjoy this movie despite these inconsistencies, however I do hope that next summer's addition to the franchise fixes these problems.
But more on that later.

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