Friday, 3 June 2011

REVIEW: X-Men: First Class

And here we go again.

Outside of Batman, I think the X-Men is the most movie-suited comic book property there is. The ensemble nature of it means there are more stories to be told, and there's enough legitimately iconic characters in and amongst the material to be recognizable. There's even in-built political allegory. And yet. We've had five movies now and only one I think you can call outright successful. X2 worked perhaps because it was focused on what is the dramatic weight here is, mutants versus humans, and it remains the only film to have a human as the bad guy or a human as a major character in any respect. The crux of every film is humans reacting to what's different with fear, yet outside of X2 they're never given a chance to speak, just some terrified collective we're told about. Its always mutant vs mutant because darn its just more fun to have a mutant as the bad guy. It may look cooler, but every movie tries to exploit this conflict for gravitas without, you know, earning it. Anyways.

First Class probably hits the middle rank of X-Men movies, much better than Wolverine and better then X-Men 3, but not as strong as the first one nor its superior sequel. Its actually a big overblown mess of a film, with too many characters and way too much meandering. Another problem with the X-Men films is that people seem to cro-bar story about what mutants they want in the thing, which means always you get at least one character that's here for no reason at all. Here's there's probably about 5. If it were me I probably would have done away with the whole 'first class' entirely and just had the film be about James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, playing a young Charles Xavier and Magneto respectively. Because its then when the movie has something about it, when one of these two terrific actors is on screen. Fassbender in particular has the kind of commanding presence you can't buy, even more so then Hugh Jackman did in the early films. Early scenes where he's nazi hunting (don't ask) are pretty awesome and I'd watch an entire movie about that gladly.

But no, we've got to get Banshee and Havoc and Azazel and Emma Frost and Beast and of course Mystique in there to, none of which add very much to proceedings. I'd say Jennifer Lawrence is much better then Rebecca Romijn-Stamos if that weren't an entirely needless thing to say, and I did sort of dig Kevin Bacon as a bad guy who wants to destroy the world (seriously? He wants to destroy the world? Lazy.) But there's simply too much dead weight for it to ever really get going, and I'll just take the time to say that January Jones is so embarrassingly flat and wooden here its unreal. What a terrible actress. A movie you can enjoy whenever Fassbender or McAvoy is on screen, and perhaps if you REALLY enjoy superhero movies. Personally I found the action a little flat and disengaging, but whatever floats you're boat. Amazingly I think there are three superhero movies yet to come this summer, and it already feels like we've had a thousand. A long summer is sure ahead.

Rating: 6/10

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