X-Men First Class comes from what might be the most successful film studio in recent years but I have to admit that most of Marvel’s giant-sized productions have left me cold.
Sure, I really like Iron Man, but the likes of X-Men slip in and out of my consciousness, scarcely stopping to say hello. I know I watched the last X-Men movie because I remember Mrs W and I commenting that we had quite liked it.
The fact is that if anyone asked me now what it had been about, I wouldn’t be able to tell them. And I suspect in a few months time I may say the same of X-Men first class. Not that it’s bad – it isn’t. And it is held together by one of my favourite actors – Michael Fassbender. But, unsurprisingly, its explosions and special effects completely submerged any pretence of a plot.
This is the prequel of the X-Men story, showing how the mutants first met.
Magneto, it transpires, is of Jewish background. His powers first came to light when the Nazis snatched away his parents. This was, of course, the same time that Charles Xavier was walking and had just discovered Raven in the kitchen of his parent’s mansion. They are all brought together by the activities of Magneto’s nemesis – the man who shot his mother dead in a concentration camp.
Kevin Bacon plays the bad guy – but from the first moment he hits the screen he fails to menace. To be honest I was inwardly giggling too much at his dismal attempt to sound German.
Yes, X-Men is a polyglot’s paradise. Subtitles are used in German, Spanish, French and Russian. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if some of those speaking the lingo were not so obviously uncomfortable doing so. Why the filmmakers didn’t get a top German actor to take the Sebastian Shaw role I’m not at all sure. Equally, how Bacon transforms from an ageing mad German scientist to being a middle-aged American 18 years later is a bit beyond me.
Fassbender not only impresses with his accents but his all-round screen presence. He is a wonderful Chameleon, settling into every role with the same passion. As Magneto he is excellent. Which I’m struggling to say for James McAvoy who just hasn’t got Patrick Stewart’s authority in the Xavier role. He actually comes across as rather wet. Meanwhile, Rose Byrne popped up for the second time in 24 hours. Only last night I saw her in Bridesmaids and now she’s a CIA operative. Nothing wrong with either performance but her best this year was in Insidious.
So, if you want enormous metal structures to be moved by a furrowed brow, a beautiful blonde lass to keep turning into a blue alien and Marcus from About A Boy to be a big furry monkey then X-Men First Class is for you. Actually, that probably applies if you just want your brain to switch off for two hours and see some big, big cinema.
X-Men First Class does everything it says on the tin. I’d, therefore, give it 7/10.
PS What was Hugh Jackman‘s cameo all about?
Check out: everyfilmin2011.blogspot.com
Running time: 132 minutes
Released: June 1st 2011
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Producers: Gregory Goodman, Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner and Bryan Singer
Screenplay: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn
Music: Henry Jackman
Charles Xavier: James McAvoy
Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto: Michael Fassbender
Sebastian Shaw: Kevin Bacon
Moira MacTaggert: Rose Byrne
Raven/Mystique: Jennifer Lawrence
Mrs. Xavier: Beth Goddard
Man In Black Suit: Oliver Platt
Janos Quested/Riptide: Álex González
Azazel: Jason Flemyng
Angel Salvadore: Zoë Kravitz
Emma Frost: January Jones
Hank McCoy/Beast: Nicholas Hoult