MOVIE REVIEW: X-Men: First Class
Matthew Vaughn gives us a kick-ass prequel
There were 27 movie sequels this year, more than any other year in movie history. This also includes the most amount of second, third, and fourth sequels ever. X-Men: First Class falls into the category fifth sequels; one of five movies this year that has a fifth (the weirdest sequel belongs to Harry Potter, because Deathly Hallows Part Two is a sequel of a sequel of a...). We now see sequels that are prequels, which makes a bit of sense; these are characters that viewers are already interested in, but shown when they were younger.
X-Men: First Class was directed by Matthew Vaughn. Disliked his Kick-Ass, but he's been involved in lots of movies I did like: Harry Brown, Layer Cake, Snatch, and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The fresh blood and script, which he co-wrote with four others, makes X-Men: First Class a lot of fun. Aside from the cars and colors making you think you’re watching a ‘60s movie at times, X-Men: First Class does multiple split screens, as seen in the the original Thomas Crown Affair, and Airport.
This prequel has the mutants (super heroes/villains) being discovered/created in a Nazi Germany concentration camp. I never mind when a movie takes fictional characters, and puts them in realistic historic events. And in the scene when we see the young Magneto, it's all very powerful, just as the opening scene of Inglourious Basterds was. The scenes of Magneto traveling to a bar in Argentina to look for a few of his Nazi tormentors is also reminiscent of something from Inglourious Basterds.
Since the movie later blends the real life Cubin Missile Crisis into the story, we see clips of JFK on TV. The set designs perfectly capture the early ‘60s. That could be lamps in a living room, a CIA lab, or a casino/strip club.
Jennifer Lawrence, who impressed in Winter's Bone and not so much in The Beaver, is perfect as Mystique. She can be flirtatious in one scene, and self-conscious about her blue skin and scales the next.
Nicholas Hoult is interesting as Hank when he’s got the bear feet. Later in the movie when he becomes Beast, he ends up looking like a blue muppet. It's this one time that the costume designers should've gone back to the drawing board.
January Jones of Mad Men, was well cast. Her hairstyle and look give her the perfect 60s vibe. Her wooden acting in Unknown bothered me, but she’s just right for this.
I always like seeing Oliver Platt, and he’s good as a CIA man in black.
James McAvoy, as the young Charles Xavier, has the perfect touch of caring, humor, and great hair (the older, bald character is played by Patrick Stewart in the later timeline films).
Lenny’s daughter Zoe Kravitz, didn’t impress me in Twelve. She was better in It's Kind of a Funny Story, and she’s wonderfully cast as Angel.
The main villain in this is played by Kevin Bacon. He’s shown he can do villains well – in films like A River Wild & Hollow Man. It was more fun seeing Bacon speak Russian, than Kevin Kline speaking French in Queen to Play.
When the teenage mutants get together and show off their various powers – I thought of the part of all James Bond films, when Q shows Bond the various weapons. There’s a lot more of the movie that will remind others of Bond pictures - a good thing. There were also nice touches of humor in X-Men: First Class, and in a story that could’ve gotten cheesy, I was happy it all worked.