Movie Review — X-Men: First Class

by Ryan on June 5, 2011

in Nostalgia,Pop Culture

The X-Men movie franchise had squeezed itself to the brink.  Three movies and a Wolverine spin-off had just about everyone moving to bigger and better things.  However, if there’s one thing that Uncle George taught us it’s that fan interest in a subject may open up “prequel” potential.  So it was with the latest installment of the X-Men series, X-Men: First Class.

For fans, they will enjoy the best X-Men movie since X 2, which was a sound, solid movie all-around.  This new prequel takes us to the origins of Erik/Magneto, a tormented Holocaust survivor, and the brilliant Professor Xavier.  To the uninitiated, their approaches to mutant/human relationships are like this:  for Magneto think Malcolm X’s separatism, for Xavier think MLK;  Plymouth Rock vs. I Have a Dream.

Needless to say the special effects are amazing and the Cuban Missile Crisis setting is a lot of fun, but more importantly the acting is superb and the character development is the best of the series.  You care about what happens to them.  For the unwashed, this movie is well worth the money and will be in the A range — it’s gotten 88% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, a daunting task for this genre.

Read below only if you’ve seen the film or never plan on seeing it because I have a serious issue with this film.  [SPOILERS BELOW]

I loved 95% of this movie and hated 5%… and when that 5% is in the last ten minutes, one leaves the theater with a pissed off feeling that the otherwise incredible film could have been so much better had they not fallen into the classic prequel trap:  forcing things into the film which the audience is supposed to pick up from the other ones which take place in the future.

In the Star Wars prequels, I needed to see three things — Anakin as Darth Vader before the suit, R2 D2 not having his mind wiped at the end, and how Leia ended up on Alderaan.  I did NOT need to see Chewbacca, the Millenium Falcon, or finding an excuse to put C3P0 into the story as Anakin’s childhood robot.  They were all unnecessarily forced into the film.

In X-Men: First Class they set up the story brilliantly until Magneto gets his revenge against Shaw (Kevin Bacon as a former Nazi scientist trying to force the superpowers into an apocalypse — it’s wild!).  Here’s where I got pissed off:

1.  Charles Xavier didn’t need to get handicapped in this film at all.

2.  Magneto’s hat was apparently very novel to Charles in the original X-Men movie, but somehow he obtained and kept it in 1962 right in front of Charles.

3.  Raven/Mystique was brought up like Charles’ sister, but dumps him rather quickly as he’s bleeding from a gunshot wound and goes off with Magneto a minute later.  F^@&ed up, man, and not necessary.

4.  Xavier gets his school set-up by the end of the film.  Cool.  But if he’s going to be handicapped in this film, does he really need his 21st Century wheelchair with an “X” as the spokes.  I’d think they look more, well, 1960s.

5.  Charles and Erik are seen recruiting a young Jean Grey together in the 1980s in the third film.  Magneto has no hat in that one either.  When making a prequel, one should do the courtesy of actually watching the originals.

All of these became manifest in the last ten minutes of the film.  NONE of which needed to be there.  We’ve seen the other films — we know these things will happen, but do we need to have them all squeezed together at the end of an already well-written/acted/produced/directed movie when they aren’t necessary?  No.

If this movie was a reboot, then that should have been made much clearer.  Plus why all the homage to the originals in other ways?  The film’s director doesn’t help the “reboot” confusion either. I think the simplest conclusion is that they played to the least common denominator or merely got sloppy with continuity.

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