This X marks the spot.
Going into this movie, I had high expectations. The trailer of the movie was great, the casting looked good and with Matthew Vaughn at the helm, I was confident that the movie would be praise-worthy. Despite a not so great performance at the box-office, Vaughn’s previous comic book adaptation, Kick-Ass, was a well crafted movie that respected the source material. That being said, I was expecting to be wowed, and boy, oh boy, I was not disappointed. This particular X-Men adaptation hit all the right places for me, that the previous three X-movies was not able to.
Storywise, First Class was engaging. Being set in the 1960’s was a nice touch as it gave the movie a touch of uniqueness. Add the setting of the historic Cuban Missile Crisis to the mix and the story gets epic and grounded with human interest at the same time. Every time a fictional story is integrated into a real life event, that stir up an added curiosity to the viewer on how it’s going to affect, integrate, or matter to the story. Here it was done right and evoked just the right outcome that affected the protagonists. The setting melded seamlessly into the narrative as it was used to introduce the characters together and their portrayal of the characters were excellent. Erik Lehnsherr, portrayed by Michael Fassbender was a revelation. Fassbender played the man who will one day be called Magneto with intensity, filled with rage and yet has a tinge of composure at the same time. James McAvoy, who played Charles Xavier, was no slouch either. McAvoy managed to add a dimension to Xavier which we haven’t seen from the character while still retaining the Professor X we all have come to know and love. The other cast members were good as well, particularly Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, who was just menacing even in a calm demeanor.
Elements of the X-Men are introduced in a manner that just seemed natural when points from the source material are factored in. Having Hank McCoy as the inventor of the Blackbird, Cerebro, and the suits of the X-men was not at all far-fetched,as he is a genius-level intellect in the comic books. The introduction of Magneto’s famed helmet, was also crafty, which then again goes back to the seamless integration of the story to the period it was set in. The explanation of how the powers of these mutants worked was also a nice touch. The same explanations were handy as a narrative tool throughout the action scenes.
Speaking of the action scenes, the portrayal of the different powers made for some stunning visuals. The way they fleshed out what Xavier can do with his telepathy was just dazzling that it will make you think “yeah, I guess he can do that with telepathy”. Lehnsherr’s show of ability is nothing less of spectacular. Who won’t get amazed at the sight of dozens of fired missiles being controlled on a whim? That doesn’t make the things he can do with a coin any less dramatic. I’m telling you, a coin in the hands of a man with power over magnetism is like a gun. The things that the two main protagonist can do, however, is trumped by the ability of Sebastian Shaw when it comes to the visuals, in my opinion. Shaw looked both as an unstopabble force and an immovable object.
The story was engaging all the way through with characters that are compelling. Although a serious movie, there are some funny moments that follows the template of success employed by Iron Man. One such funny moment came from one of two cameos that caught me off guard. The addition of not so well-known characters were also a welcome change. Azazel, in particular was nice ploy and a fantastic stand-in for Nightcrawler, who stole the show in X2. The selection of the characters were just right to serve the purpose of the story. Although the story was a bit far from the source material, it respected it enough by retaining its core and essentials. As we are made to discover who these characters were, and where would their stories lead, I’m left to think, this should have been the first X-Men movie adaptation ever made. It was well done on both the story and visuals. This may not exactly be the X-Men you’ve come to recognize in the comic books, but this is an X-Men i would like to know. It’s as close to perfect an X-Men movie can get.
This X definitely marked the spot on my enjoyment.