If you’ve given up on the X-men movie franchise following the lousy X-men : The Last Stand and X-men : Origins Wolverine, I wouldn’t blame you. Frankly, I had no interest at all in seeing this movie. I didn’t even understand why they were making it. So I was shocked and amazed to discover that this is easily the best X-men movie ever, better than any of the other 4. I know a lot of commericals like to say that the newest movie in a franchise is the best, but here it actually is. This movie is on a different level from the other films. This is most likely a result of a new Director and a new cast. This isn’t just a great Superhero movie, it’s a great movie period.
X-men : First Class is a prequel to the other X-men films. It takes place mostly in 1962. At first I thought that this was just a gimmick, but the element is worked into the story so well, that I have to salute the filmmakers. They didn’t overdo the 60s fashion and atmosphere and the way the story integrates the Cuban missle crisis is both inspired and seamless. In some ways, it even feels like an old James Bond movie, not only because of set design and the villain’s weapons and high tech and luxurious environments but in the very cinematic style as well.
Of course the most important aspect of any movie, regardless of subject matter or genre is the story, acting, energy and emotion. This movie delivers that in spades. It is rare that I see a movie that has such raw emotion and energy. There are great performances all around. With some stand-out acting from James McAvoy (Wanted, The Last King of Scotland) as Charles Xavier and Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw. But the actor who really steals the show is Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) playing Erik, who will later become Magneto. He really makes a complete character out of him and you understand his motives and why he becomes Magneto. The best villains aren’t the stupid greedy shallow ones. The best villains are the smart ones who have a real philosophy and case to back up their motives. The ones who make you question your own attitudes and understanding of situations. The director, Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) has a great hand at both action scenes and dramatic ones and even throws in some humor. One of the really nice techniques he uses is to bring out the complete performance of an actor by simply having the camera hug the actor’s faces at important moments where the actor can say more with a look than words could ever achieve.
The story is on one hand easy to follow and on the other ties together many characters and storylines in a satisfying way that makes a complete movie that doesn’t need a sequel. Of all the movies I have seen recently, this is one where I would really like to see sequels. It is a much better foundation than the last X-men trilogy had. After the movie was over, I couldn’t help but wonder how good that the Star Wars prequels could have been had they been even a fraction as good as this movie. Sure you know the outcomes for some of these characters but unlike the Star Wars prequels, X-men : First Class has plenty of new characters that you have no idea what their fate may be. That gives this movie mystery and suspense. And even with the characters that have pre-determined fates, the acting, dialogue, emotion and energy level had me completely engrossed and interested in what was going to happen next. Unlike the Star Wars prequels whose only purpose was to lead up to Episode IV, this X-men movie has its own story that really matters and is worth caring about. Another miraculous feat this film accomplishes is that Erik and Charles have to meet, form a strong believeable friendship and then part ways based on philosophical differences by the end of the movie. That is no easy task, but this movie does it and does a great job.
The movie also has a beautiful musical score by Henry Jackman. And the cinematography has great style : excellent composition and amazing to look at, dynamic during the action scenes, and clearly lays out what is going on in each scene so it is very easy to understand what is happening. On top of being a great movie, this is a dynamic audio and visual experience. I am definitely going to see this movie again. In a summer of sequels, prequels, reboots etc. this movie stands above the rest with no qualifications. Do not miss this movie.
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