X-Men: First Class review

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X men the Last stand (2006), an anticipated sequel turned out to be a huge disappointment for the fans as 3 beloved characters were killed off. The movie which followed it, X men origins: Wolverine (2009) turned out to be a bigger disappointment due to the quality in terms of direction and acting. It seemed as if X men’s popularity is deteriorating, to make things even more complicated the films were continuously compared with the cartoon series which had better depth and storytelling. In 2011, Mathew Vaughn with his team of writers made a film with stellar cast and even better storytelling, thus opening the gate for a newer and better X men franchise which is comparable with Brian Singer’s version. But it had its own faults and therefore could not be considered a great movie. In this film, we are introduced to the younger versions of Prof Charles X Xavier (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) along with new characters. Magneto is a survivor of the holocaust who yearns revenge against his captor Klaus Schmidt (Kevin Bacon) who killed Magneto’s mother while challenging him to a daunting task which could unleash his power. Charles meets Raven, who is an orphan, at a very young age and Charles takes her in. Years later, fate brings them together and they set off to find more mutants to help them fight an impending nuclear war catalyzed by Schmidt.

Unlike its predecessors which focused mainly on the action component, X men first class introduced better story arc that has you in it. Instead of viewing Magneto as a cold-hearted villain, humane side of his shown more, we feel sorry for him and empathize with his plights after the holocaust & his need for revenge, though we identify and agree with Prof X more. Michael Fassbender is fantastic in his role, so there’s hope for the character’s survival even in the absence of maestro Ian McKellen. Fassbender introduced a version of Magneto that is in a way better than McKellen’s as he had better depth, more style and an intriguing appearance. We will feel like applauding in the scene where Magneto extracts revenge against ex-Nazis in the bar where he introduced himself as the Frankenstein’s “monster”. I was surprised to find James McAvoy in the poster amidst the X men. Before this movie I watched atonement where he delivered a heartbreaking performance as Robbie Turner. He had a great potential in romance, drama and classics, but I felt that he lacked the charisma to become an action hero. Personally I thought that he might not suit the role. But I was wrong, McAvoy dominated the film with his depiction of Prof X. A guy who need not show off his muscles and super human strength is owning a film with his intelligence, witty nature, compassion and honest nature. What makes Charles even better is the fact that he has great moral values where he sees humans attacking them as innocent people who are just forced to do their jobs. The way Charles was able to bring people together and form a team was great to watch.

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McAvoy and Fassbender have great chemistry on-screen and their acting skills make the screen lively, notable scene is the one where they connect psychically by viewing a memory of Magneto with his mother. This is the first movie of Jennifer Lawrence I have watched. In spite of being less important, she was so vivacious that I knew that she is a great actress in the works, I was absolutely right.

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She voice control and mannerisms are perfect. She is a perfect counterpart for McAvoy and Fassbender. Nicholas Hoult depicted an awkward yet adorable version of the beast. Kevin Bacon was…errrr…. just good. He is another villain with no depth except for Magneto’s development. January Jones is like a doll in terms of performance quality but she was a perfect choice as a good looking seductress with an enchanting voice and gestures. Rose Byrne is a potential actress who is underused a lot. Her awestruck looks and expressions suited her character as far the circumstances around her is concerned. It was nice to Rebecca Romijin Stamos briefly during this film and of course Hugh Jackman, without whom X men films are incomplete.

Henry Jackman composed haunting and thrilling soundtrack, best among the X men series. I wish the soundtrack from this movie was used for the sequels as well. Mathew Vaughn’s direction is poignant backed by the intense performances. But even then, the movie had its own flaws. The ending is the most disappointing aspect. It was too abrupt and above all, seemed tragic in a way but thanks to the sequels it is ok. Mystique, the most unique character in the series, is underused in the movie. Her presence is limited to being Prof X’s weakness and Magneto’s ruse, and she is worried about how she looks. About the plotholes; Prof X can read and manipulate minds, then surely he must be able to influence the way people think, why didn’t just try to convince the humans who think that mutants are threats? And Schmidt is just another typical villain who is just merciless in his approach. Villains are usually like that, but then it makes one crave for something innovative. Technically the film is marvelous. The cinematography is stupendous, especially the scenes where Banshee is shown flying. The combination of CGI and camera worked there. Editing created apt pacing along with the visuals. They have added split screens, dissolves during the training sequences. And we get to feel the ’70s thank to the texture, settings and lifestyle.

Vaughn took great effort to create visuals of high standard.It just could have been better, especially the structure and development of characters. It is a re-watchable entertainer.

3/5

Featured image: rockerville.com

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