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Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Epic Beginning -- X-Men: First Class Movie Review

Potato On-the-Go:

Finally, after the long wait, 20th Century Fox has finally released the much awaited prequel of the X-Men saga "X-Men: First Class". Special thanks of course to  20th Century Fox Philippines for the invitation to the film's press preview in SM Mall of Asia. 

Directed by Matthew Vaughn, X-Men First Class tells the story of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender), who before they took the names of Professors X and Magneto, were two young men discovering their powers for the first amidst issues of racial discrimination, burden of nations at war and threat of rise of nuclear power as weapons of mass destruction.  Before they became archenemies, they were the closest friends working together with other mutants to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known.  But in the process, their differences opened a rift between them, which unleashed the eternal war between Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants and Professor X's X-Men.

True to its title, X-Men: First Class is first class in a lot of ways.  After a long time, finally another movie, put me into a great awe and blew me away. 

X-Men: First Class, like its first and original versions in different mediums, is a great story worth telling.  Yes, it's a superhero flick, a special effects movie and a popcorn film but it's plot and theme is far more meaningful and relevant than its contemporaries.  It narrates the story of the evolution of mutants, and how their existence is threatened and exploited by the dominant majority.  The film has been talking about the ordeals of people with extreme mutation conditions but it simply tells us how people who are different from many suffer from the discrimination of the common majority but in a way prove themselves of their worth, which may be way exceptional than the rest.  Screenplay was able to dissect the rich story content of the X-Men saga.  It was narrated on a straight yet slowly revealing and entertaining way. 

The characters featured in the film are superb!  I was particularly awed by Magneto's immense magnetic prowess, Emma Frost's (January Jones) advanced telepathic skills and ability to cover herself with diamond skin, Havok's (Lucas Till) powerful nuclear blasts, Banshee's (Caleb Landry Jones) entertaining self discovery and amusing sonar scream and flight, Sebastian Shaw's (Kevin Bacon) deadly energy consumption, Beast's (Nicholas Hault) transformation, Mystique's (Jennifer Lawrence) lovely beginnings and Professor X's admirable intelligence, leadership, compassion and growing psychic powers.  X-Men: First Class helped me understand how Magneto turned into the character that he is right now and admire Charles Xavier's vision for mutants (and eventually the X-Men).

The stunts are undeniably monumental and colossal.  The scene where Magneto lifts a submarine through his magnetic power particularly put me into silence with my mouth wide opened.  I was like a kid amused with a spectacular circus act.  There are tons of scenes which made me speechless but I would rather let you guys witness them yourselves.

The film's sound and music ignited the intensity of every scene while editing drumbeat the excitement of audience in the movie.  I was particularly amused and entertained in the comics like transition of scenes during the training of the newly recruited mutants by Charles and Erik.  Cinematography framed well the important sequences of the event, may it be a heart breaking scene or a jaw dropping stunt. 

Another noteworthy to mention are the outstanding performances of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.  As they emit magnetic fields and telepathic waves, Both James and Michael conveyed emotions that effectively showed the human side of their characters.

The only builds I would like to share is about the screenplay and how characters are maximized in the story.  First I would have loved to see Mystique display her impressive power and skills like in the past X-Men movies.  X-Men: First Class focused heavily on Mystique's personal and social ordeals, letting me remember how Rogue is played up and wasted in X-Men 1 to 3.  Her story here, however, helped me understand and embrace her character.

I also would have wanted to see more exhibition by Havok as his possessed enormous power is really interesting and visually appealing.

Then I also noticed a few inconsistencies if we connect this film with the rest of X-Men movies.  Emma Frost in particular was a teenager who was captured and rescued alongside Cyclops in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  And Professor X appeared in that movie as an adult who already started the Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.  How come then that Emma here is a grown up criminal and is older than Charles Xavier?

If I'm not mistaken, the film also gave us a glimpse of Storm and Jean Grey in their younger years, while Magneto and Professor X are on their young adulthood.  But in X-Men: The Last Stand, Professor X is already old and crippled when he and Magneto recruited Jean to join Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.  

Lastly, I was surprised how USA and USSR have instantly changed their minds, ended their rift and went against another enemy  (instantly means in a matter of minutes I  guess?).  I think the film should have shown that it took a while for the two governments to realign alliances before they joined forces.

Nevertheless, without the minor inconsistencies and lack of build up scenes, X-Men First Class is truly exceptional and monumental for its genre.  Of the X-Men movies, this may be one of the bests alongside with if not better than X2 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  It has the right blend of awesome superheroes, gigantic stunts, powerful special effects, intriguing conflict, socially relevant plot, and golden lessons in life.  

From a scale of 1 to 10 claps, I'm giving X-Men a mutant and proud 8 1/2 with sonar and nuclear blasts!

By the way, you don't have to stay in the theater until the end of the CBB (closing billboard), the surprise and bonus scene is at the middle of the film.   Don't blink your eye throughout the film as a prominent X-Men character will surprise you.  =)

Produced by 20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios, and distributed by Warner Bros., X-Men: First Class opens in theaters on June 02.  See you in theater as I will definitely watch this again! =)

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