johnkmccubbin91's X-Men: First Class review

Children of the Atom

After recently seeing The Wolverine at the cinemas the other day I decided to go through the X-Men film collection, but this time in chronological order (though I accidentally watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine first thinking it was set earlier), continuing with this.

Plot

SPOILER FREE

In 1962 mutants are starting to emerge with Charles Xavier, and Magneto finding new mutants to take on the evil Sebastian Shaw, and his Hellfire Club who plan on starting World War III.

Review

This was a terrific film, and although it wasn't outstandingly good, it was probably the best way of showing how Xavier, and Magneto met (all be it different than the comics), and how the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters started. It also was a very balanced film, being fun at certain points, whilst also knowing when to be serious, and dramatic, which gave a lot of depth to the films storytelling. It also had some cool scenes, as well as some amazing action. It also had a brilliant director in the form of Mathew Vaughn, who also directed the comic book film Kick-Ass, and he has been the best director to feature on a X-Men film since Bryan Singer did the first two. He showed perfect storytelling, as well as showing the character depth, and development that is needed, and overall is amazing at what he does.

When I first heard about the cast members who were chosen for this film I was slightly sceptical, as although I knew that some of these actors were amazing, I wasn't sure whether they'd suit their respective roles. One of these cast members that I was sceptical about was James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, as I didn't think he could match what Patrick Stewart did in the other films, and although he wasn't as good as Stewart he did a mighty good job of the young Xavier (though I would've been nice if he was bald). A cast member that I wasn't worried about however was Michael Fassbender, who's a brilliant actor, and in my did an even better job as Magneto than the great Ian McKellen did, really showing his emotions, as well as that hint of malice. Another couple of actors that I was sceptical of was Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, and Nicholas Hoult as Beast, as I wasn't sure if the actor from About a Boy, and Skins would fit the role of Beast, and Bacon has been in some bad roles in the last few years. They both however did an amazing job, with Hoult really standing out being perfect as a younger Beast. The rest of the cast was also great, but especially Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, and January Jones as Emma Frost.

Becoming the Master of Magnetism

One of the key developments throughout this film was off Magneto's character, as it shows him growing up in a concentration camp during World War II, as well as hid drive to get revenge on Shaw. Now one of the things I loved about this was that it in a way gave us the X-Men Origins: Magneto film that was in development, which was nice, as I always wanted to see that, but feared that it wouldn't work. This way however it does, as it has another great story along with it, leaving less room for error. Besides this I loved Magneto in this film, and like most of Fassbender's performances in films this was what stole the show for me, as he showed the emotional scarring of this character perfectly, as well as his drive for inner peace, and revenge. I also liked the look for Magneto, though was a little upset that this film showed that he in fact didn't create his iconic helmet, and that it was invented for Shaw, as although it suits the story of the film perfectly, it still annoyed me a bit (though I can easily over look it).

Besides this we also get to see Xavier from the earliest interesting moment, showing him finding Mystique as a young child, and growing up to become the leader we know him as. It was also interesting to see a different side to Xavier, as early in the film, we see this young Xavier having fun, in a way you wouldn't expect from his portrayal in the comics. The best thing about Xavier in this film in my opinion was his relationship with Mystique, and how she feels left out at times. I liked this as it added depth, as well as emotion to both character's, showing that despite growing up together they still have different desires, and aspirations. I also loved the relationship that was formed between Xavier, and Magneto in this film, as although they are known as bitter enemies in the comics, they were also once the best of friends, which this film showed perfectly.

Young X-Men

One of the things that I liked about this film was the formation of Xavier, and Magneto's group, and their search for young mutants. Now I would have probably loved if it was the proper first X-Men class having the younger Cyclops, Jean Grey, Angel, Beast, and Iceman. I do however also understand that what I wanted wouldn't fit with the continuity with Iceman, and Angel being young in the original X-Men films. I also liked the change, as we got to see some character's that haven't appeared before like Havok, Banshee, and Darwin, as well as Angel Salvadore, and on Shaw's side, Azazel, and Riptide. The only choice out of these that I would change is Angel Salvadore to Pixie, as both are similar looking character's, and I've always wanted to see Pixie in a film. In saying that the rest of the choices were brilliant, and I especially loved seeing Banshee, Havock, and Azazel.

The villain in this film was Sebastian Shaw, leader of the Hellfire Club, also being companied well known Hellfire Club member, Emma Frost. Now Emma Frost has briefly appeared in another X-Men film, having a very small role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but this is her first proper role, and it would appear that they're forgetting her appearance in that as she's a lot older in this film, with it being set before Origins. This film would however be the first time that Shaw would feature in a live action film, and I was very happy about this, seeing him as the perfect villain for this film. Now I could go on saying that he was far from perfect, which he was, but it's hard to get perfection in films, and Kevin Bacon did a surprisingly amazing job, showing that he can still be a great actor in the right role. The visual effects that were used to show Shaw's powers were also amazing, and I loved how they had multiple arms and heads whilst absorbing the energy, as it shows an expansion in mass without looking too ridiculous, or cartoon like.

"Go F**k Yourself"

This film would also see a cameo from the main X-Man to be used throughout the films, Wolverine, as whilst Xavier, and Magneto go looking for mutants they stumble upon him, and after just introducing themselves get told to, "go f**k yourself." Now I know that this is a very short part of the film, but just to see Hugh Jackman as Wolverine sitting at a bar smoking was brilliant, and the line was my favourite of the entire film being very funny. I do however at the same time question why they just accepted that without a fight, though I accept that they're trying to keep the scene as short as possible, with it featuring in a montage scene.

Now I usually don't mention the musical scores of films, but there is the odd occasion when I must, and this is on of those occasions. The music in this film was simply phenomenal, and the best music score that I've heard in any of the X-Men films, and even amongst other comic book films. What I loved was it's simplicity, as most of the themes were very simple, yet so effective, adding the right mood to each scene. My favourite theme however was Magneto's theme, which was so dramatic, and after watching the extras on the Blu-ray I also have to give the director credit for this, as the composer, Henry Jackman felt that a base line wasn't enough, whereas it was.

Final Verdict

Although not the best X-Men film, this was an amazing film, and following two slightly disappointing films it was needed, and has since given real life to the franchise, by giving hope to the future. It was a really interesting, and fun way of showing the origins of both Magneto, and Xavier, as well as showing how the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters started. It also had an amazing musical score, as well as some amazing action when necessary. Due to all this I'd highly recommend this film to anyone, as it's well worth the watch.

Rating: 4/5

2 Comments
Posted by lykopis

Outside of January Jones depiction of Emma, I really enjoyed this film. Oh -- and not too happy with Banshee being American (plus the whole, Havok being older than Cyclops) but I was prepared to enjoy the film on its own merits and I did.

Nice review.

Edited by johnkmccubbin91

@lykopis: Yeah I wasn't overly fond on who they picked as Emma, though it could have been worse. I also felt confused over Havok being older, but wasn't too bothered about the Banshee change, as it'd probably annoy non comic book fans.

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