I’m gonna start this review with a little disclaimer. I am a die hard X-Men fan. I’ve read X-Men: First Class. I was all set to NOT see this movie based purely on the fact that it was supposed to based on that graphic novel. As the opening date came closer and closer, I decided to just go see it with zero expectations whatsoever.
Now, let’s begin and I warn you, there will be spoilers.
(BTW, Youtube the Rise of the Planet of the Apes trailer!)
The movie began with a somber tale of a young Jew and a young privileged young man in the year 1944. One was put through emotional trauma and scarred for life, one was fortunate to have anything he could have needed. I was enraptured by the early tale of Magneto’s beginnings having absorbed his origin tale (graphic novel Magneto: Testament) due to my odd, intense love for Holocaust related stories. I won’t lie, I shed a tear for Magneto (okay, I shed several). On another continent, Charles came across a young, hungry Mystique and ecstatic at not being the only one with powers, he welcomes her into his home. As we see the machinations of Sebastian Shaw, a wonderfully cast, chocolate eating Kevin Bacon, young Erik Lensherr taps into his power. While screaming what I thought was NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEIN! at the turn his life had taken at the hands of Shaw, I quietly giggled at the exaggerated gestures to show his magnetic mutation. These gestures were echoed throughout the movie by James McAvoy as he demonstrated his telepathy each and every time.
As we see more and more of Xavier’s and Lensherr’s lives, it was no fucking wonder Magneto is the person he came to be. He is the people’s hero and the every man who becomes what he needs to be in order to survive everything he’s been through. His ideals and goals were valid based on everything he’s experienced and I must say, I was ready to take the hand extended to ensure Homo Superior prevailed.
About 20 minutes into the movie and straight into what was my favorite scene of the entire movie, Michael Fassbender quickly became the newest object of my desire. He was absolutely delicious to watch as he spoke fluent French, German, Russian AND donned a wet suit. He guzzled beer, threw knives with lightning fast ease and when he boarded a boat in a later scene, I half believed I was watching a James Bond movie.
Lensherr. Erik Lensherr.
Each scene change, I caught my breath and stopped blowing Fassbender with my eyes long enough to notice Charles Xavier was apparently quite the ladies man. Not one to think the bald, crippled Xavier could get some no matter the pick up line, I was quite surprised to be charmed by McAvoy as he ployed the Oxford co-eds with mutation pick-up lines.
Amongst the plethora of characters introduced the movie, I was severely disappointedwith January Jones as Emma Frost. Her wooden acting and lack of ass contributed nothing to the character so I am of the belief she had to have blown SOMEBODY to have gotten this role. Early rumors had Alice Eve cast as Emma Frost and I sorely wish she had gotten the part. I didn’t even think January could fill out the costumes she was given so yeah, by far, I didn’t like Emma Frost.
Azazel was another character that I was excited to see and I thought worked quite well. His associated Riptide was unfortunately superfluous and should have been left on the cutting room floor. Same went for Angel, (who I thought was PIXIE the whole time) who flew around with one leg bent. Her absence from the entire movie would not have been missed by anyone. But I digress. As the movie progressed, I found myself put off by McAvoy’s portrayal of Xavier more and more, be it because of his exhausting hand to temple gesture, or because he came off arrogant. I truly tried to stay unbiased but Fassbender shone in every scene he had. When Xavier first tells Erik he is not alone, the visible, physical impact it has on him is shown in every crease on Magneto’s face.
We begin to see Dr. Hank McCoy’s inventions, which included an early prototype of Cerebro (that’s Spanish for brain, Dr. McCoy tells us). Xavier puts on the helmet and we’re pulled through hundreds of people as Cerebro begins locating mutants. We’re treated to several cameos as Charles and Erik begin recruiting. I think this was the only time I ever heard any cheering for poor ole’ Havok and I won’t ruin them for you here, as they’re truly enjoyable, but one drops the only “fuck” we hear in this movie and it’s brilliantly said. Once recruiting has been completed and they’ve rounded up the least loved Summers brother, we’re treated to a chess game between the two in front of the Lincoln Memorial. By mid movie, everything has been pretty well established. The storyline has been even, the action scenes excellent and it becomes time to kill off somebody.
As always, it’s the minority kid and the death shakes the newly recruited X-Men. Lines are drawn and alliances are formed and it led me to think that if someone had just paid attention to poor Mystique and told her it’s okay to be different, things would have turned out MUCH differently. The second someone showed her some affection and accepted her for who she was (*cough*Magneto*cough) she made up her mind and embraced her blue skin and his mantra.
Oh yeah, during all of this, there’s a missile crisis being manipulated into play by Sebastian Shaw but that’s by and large unimportant. The X-Men are rallied to stave off this nuclear threat and don their trademark yellow and black uniforms. I felt like the missile thing was just an excuse to lead to the outfits. Havok’s has a weird speaker like contraction on it that looks nothing like what we’ve seen in the comics and Beast’s transformation into the furry guy we’re used to reminded me more of the Cowardly Lion than Beast. Sebastian Shaw pulls out a distinctive helmet that he’s taken from the Russians and guards himself from the telepathic assaults of Charles Xavier while Erik struggles to pull a Submarine out of the ocean. Fassbender fully OWNS these scenes and the soundtrack finally makes itself known during the climax.
The final showdown begins and McAvoy apparently becomes confused and forgets he’s using telepathy and not a telephone. Multiple “ARE YOU THERE?!”s made the audience laugh as did the unavoidable monologue from Sebastian. I grew occupied with watching Kevin Bacon’s lazy eye but I knew Erik would reign supreme and he didn’t disappoint in letting us know that revenge is sweet.
All in all, X-Men: First Class is an origin story all its own. If you do choose to see it, approach with an open mind. It’s enjoyable. The actors are excellent. You’ll hopefully not be disappointed. And you’ll definitely, definitely enjoy Michael Fassbender <3