X-Men: First Class Review

by talkbackty on Jun 4, 2011

Don't bury the lead: it fell flat.

I was optimistic about the latest X-men movie. The casting got me a little excited. And then the trailers came out.

Those were awesome.

Alas, once again the Hollywood system has betrayed my excitement. Toyed with my geek emotions like a puppeteer. Of course, they do this quite often. But it hits especially close to home when they do it with one of my favorite franchises.

Let me say this. I enjoyed the movie. Watching it wasn't terrible. There were even a couple of moments (that I won't spoil) that truly made me smile. Overall though, the film was exactly what I said: flat.

The most compelling character and storyline, Erik (Magneto), played by 
Michael Fassbender; and his creator Sebastian Shaw, played by Kevin Bacon,  is only used as a reference point. The team involved instead tries to fill the movie with philosophical arguments and weak sub-story lines, involving children we don't actually care about.

The next misstep I felt was the writing in general but especially that for Charles Xavier, played by James McAvoy. I think McAvoy is a great actor. I don't know who on the Vaughn team felt that it was a necessary move for Xavier to touch his temple every time he did something remotely mutant-y, but it became incredibly annoying as the movie dragged on.

Next? I don't understand the direction Hollywood decides to take these movies. If you are going to do a reboot then I think you should either A.) ignore everything that has ever been done before and create for yourself or B.) realize that you are creating an introduction to movies, characters, and stories that already exist.

This movie seems to do a little of both...badly. If we consider "A" The movie fails completely. It exists purely as a check list movie. Describe how Xavier loses his legs; check. Describe how Magneto and Xavier grew apart; check. Describe how Mystique joins Magneto; check. It clearly tries to exist within the stories already laid out and not create everything from scratch.

Aside for comic book readers. Whenever a movie is made from comic books, especially ones spanning multiple decades, I just assume that the movie isn't following anything honestly. That's just me. It helps me get by.

So the movie is clearly trying to exist within "B" world. And yet it completely mangles numerous storylines. And not little side characters, like Beast and Mystique knowing one another, but major ones. In X-Men 3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a clearly bald and much older Charles Xavier is shown walking.

So to me this movie fails on two fronts. As a true reboot that ignores everything and creates its own story arc, it fails. To be fair it doesn't try to be that. And that's okay.  What it does try to be is an introduction to the original X-Men movies. In that respects it confuses a lot of established work.  And that's not okay.

Overall: B-

Characters and stories that fall flat. A confused sense of identity that doesn't live up to hardcore fanboys or even casual observers of the original trilogy. But the visuals and action scenes alone make for an enjoyable, and sometimes captivating, viewing experience.