Thursday, January 12, 2012
X-MEN FIRST CLASS
This installment in the X-Men series takes us back to 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis and shows us how the group of mutant super-heroes was formed. But first there's a prologue in 1944 in which Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), apparently posing as a Nazi named Schmidt, induces young Eric Lensherr to unleash his magnetic powers by murdering his mother in front of his eyes. [It makes no sense that the boy would then kill the guards but leave Shaw alive aside from the fact that the plot seems to require this.] Years later Eric (Michael Fassbender), soon to be known as mutant terrorist Magneto, is an ally of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), both of whom are working against Shaw and his sinister aides Emma Frost (the unfortunately named January Jones), and Azazel (Jason Flemying). Other X-characters include a pre-furry Hank McCoy AKA the Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Mystique AKA Raven (Beth Goddard), mutant researcher Moria MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), and a female Angel (Zoe Kravitz), whose being a former lap dancer seems to ensure that she'll go over to the dark side (yawn). Aside from some slips, X-Men First Class intelligently transfers and slightly transforms the mutant universe from comic book page to theater screen, and it does so with great dramatic flair and some excellent acting. Sensitive McAvoy and an intense Fassbinder are as splendid as Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen playing their older counterparts in the earlier films, Bacon is superb, and Jones displays just the right amount of confidence and attitude as Frost; other cast members are also on the money. Some very exciting and adroitly directed action sequences as well. Let's hope we see more X-action on the screen. Previous films were X-Men, X 2, X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Excellent score by Henry Jackman.
Verdict: First class indeed! ***1/2.