Thursday, May 22, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—X-Men: First Class (2011) ***

PG-13, 132 min.
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Sheldon Turner, Bryan Singer
Starring: James McAvoy, Matthew Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Nicholas Hoult, Caleb Landry Jones, Lucas Till, Álex Gonzáles, Jason Flemyng, Zoë Kravitz, Edi Gathegi, Oliver Platt, Matt Craven, Don Creech, Glenn Morshower, James Remar, Rade Serbedzija, Michael Ironside

So, watching this movie with a history major produces a lot of guttural reactions. Anyway, I did really like this movie, but I’m not as enamored with it as many. To me it lacked a little excitement. It is certainly the most interesting of the X-Men franchise, but there is a fine line between clever development and exciting entertainment. Oh, a liked it all right. But a movie of this nature needs a heavy helping of the entertainment side to be as engaging as it can be.

That being said, “First Class” is a most excellent rebooting, prequel, whatever it is to the franchise. The character dynamics are better than they’ve ever been. Of course, the contextualizing with actual history is clever and enlightening to the thematic foundation of the X-Men universe. It’s almost hard not to side with Magneto when all is said and done here, especially considering how well the filmmakers make the case for Mystique’s choice at the end.

An interesting note: Although the story makes an effort to keep most of the context of the previous films in place, by excluding Wolverine (who still delivers the film’s best line), approximating the proper ages of Professor X and Magneto, explaining Mystique’s much slower aging process, building upon Beast’s struggle with finding a “cure”; it makes a few sweeping rewrites. We last saw Moira MacTaggart in the final credit cookie shot of “Last Stand”. She was obviously not as old as Professor X and she was a doctor. Now, she’s a CIA agent and the same age, if not older than Xavier. Also, why’d they cast such an old William Stryker. They’d worked very hard at Stryker’s continuity between the events of “X2” and “Wolverine”, which took place before the former film and after this one chronologically. Why throw that out the window? The guy in this movie didn’t need to be Stryker. He could’ve been anyone representing the military establishment that would later produce Stryker. Stryker could’ve just been some officer in the background somewhere.

Anyway, I had more to say in my original review, which can be read here.

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