Monday, June 06, 2011

Spotlight: X-Men: First Class

Truth be told, I’m not really a hardcore fan of the "X-Men" series although as a child I watched the 90s X-Men animated series when it was aired every Friday night here in the Philippines but after watching "X-Men: First Class" it made me want to revisit the series. This prequel (and a reboot) did a solid job with resetting the story to a fresh and interesting start.

The movie opens with a flashback in the 1940s with a glimpse of the early lives of future “Magneto” Erik Lensher and future “Professor X” Charles Xavier, one had a tragic experience while the other lived a privileged life. The movie then moved on to the story’s present time in the 1960s where we see an adult Erik (Michael Fassbender) hunting down Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) to seek revenge for making his life miserable while an adult Charles (James McAvoy) graduated in Oxford and is publishing his thesis on mutation. His foster sister Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), the future Mystique, lives with him.

Meanwhile, CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) discovers Shaw’s plan to manipulate the US and Russian forces to go into war and upon knowing that Shaw and his team are mutants, she then seeks the help of Charles to stop them. On their quest to find Shaw they encountered Erik who tried to kill Shaw earlier on. Charles and Erik eventually teamed up and brought together a team of young mutants to help stop Shaw’s plan.

The movie wouldn’t that be that effective if they got the wrong actors for the roles of Charles and Erik since they are the ones who carried the movie. With that said, McAvoy and Fassbender were simply perfect for the characters, they gave exceptional portrayals of Charles and Eric because they didn’t only perfectly captured the characters but they've also given them a more dynamic edge. And they have a strong chemistry that holds the movie together. The same thing can be said with MacAvoy and Lawrence, they played off the sibling affection of Charles and Raven quite well that when Raven had to make an important decision that affected his relationship with his foster brother it was heartbreaking. The supporting characters did fine although January Jones as Emma Frost was disappointing because Jones lacked the charisma to effectively play the role.

The script was cohesive and engaging. If you can pass by with the story inconsistencies with the earlier movies and the comics you may appreciate that setting up this movie from the very start has allowed them to remarkably intertwine an alternate history that complements real-world events in way that was organic which made the mutants’ role in the world such an important one. You will care about their plight and will make you think about the society’s overall prejudice to people who are different. The story is definitely more of a character study than an action-driven fare but the actions scenes they had in the movie’s climax were outstanding.

The box office results for the first weekend of "X-Men: First Class" while solid is a disappointment compared to the previous installments. It could be because the series' most popular character, Wolverine, is not a part of this movie or maybe it’s just a case of franchise fatigue because the last two movies (X-Men 3 and Wolverine) had overall disappointing feedback but I really hope word of mouth could help this film attract more (and win back previous) moviegoers because I would like to see the story that "X-Men: First Class" developed to continue as it really has the potential to be something even greater.



Thank you to Nuffnang and Hapee for the special screening of this movie last Friday at Greenbelt 3.

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