Missiles and Mutants

Posted: June 7, 2011 in Comics, Movies

A true origin tale

Holy shit, this movie was great!

OK, before I get into that little phrase up there and tell you all what I thought of this film, let me explain something…

When this film was announced, I was already on the band wagon of haters that thought doing this prequel was a horrific idea.  WHY in the WORLD would you take a franchise who’s last couple of films where terrible, horrendous bombs and run my precious X-Men into the ground further then they already where.  I saw the casting choice (Kevin Bacon?  Really?!), and the setting and my faith was stolen from me.  How in the world was this movie going to be any good?

I mean….Kevin Bacon?

But, as I stated before, holy shit!  I was completely wrong about this movie!

I was in no way interested in this film until I saw the first trailer.  It’s pacing was good and the acting looked solid, not to mention it did, from what I saw, a good job of capturing the time line the film was set in.  After having watched it multiple times, I decided I was going to give this film a chance.

A small chance, but a chance none the less.

As the weeks came closer to release, more and more trailers and featurette started to leak online.  I would watch each one with growing interest and, I have to say, it was starting to get harder and harder to stay away from wanting to see this film day one.  Still, X-Men 3 and Origins left me with such a bad taste in my mouth that I was still worried.

Then, two days before the move premiered, I happened to check it’s fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes…and it was 98% after fifty critics reviewed the film!

I was blown away!  How could this happen?  People where saying that it was THE movie to beat this summer…that it was the BEST movie this year!

What?  X-Men?!?  How about you pass me what you’re smoking cause that just can’t be right…


Well, to test my theory, I left to see it on the Friday it premiered with a friend of mine.  The theater was pretty empty, but to be fair it was early afternoon, so we had time before the real Friday night movie groups came in.  This gave me enough leeway to sit down and dissect what I was watching.  I couldn’t have asked for a better situation.

The lights dimmed, the sound system kicked in, and I was off.

………..And I was treated to two hours of amazing storytelling, effects, acting, and pacing.

Once again we have an amazing cast, but this time we have the story to back it up!

I really mean it.  This movie is f*&king amazing.

Now, as you guys know, I’m a huge comic nerd, and I will say that, going in with comic nerd eyes, I saw ALL kinds of problems with it’s portrayal of my favorite mutants.  However, the best part is that I could of given two shits because the movie really stands all on it’s own!

X-Men:First Class honestly needs no help from it’s comic book origins, in my opinion, and the reason for that is because the writing is so damn SHARP!  The guys who wrote the script where just on the BALL!  Each moment was cut seamlessly, each take was JUST long enough without overstaying each mutants welcome.  We see JUST enough of their powers to say “aw cool!” before moving to the next story arc.  This film is truly an origin tale in every sense of the word.

Erik Lensherr looking eerily familiar...

Personally, I think what really makes this film work, aside from the amazing cast (And yes, here we go again with a summer blockbuster that once more has AMAZING actors doing an incredible job, but this time the script is there to back up the talent, unlike SOME films I have seen thus far…) is the setting….

1962, America and Russia are both threatening nuclear war and we see the beginning of what will become the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Amidst the rising tide of fear and distrust that resides in the states, we see our young group of heroes making there way towards destiny.  Eric Lensherr (Michael Fassbender), the man who would later be known as Magneto, is seen at the very beginning, watching as his parents are locked away in a concentration camp, the stress of this event unlocking his natural mutant ability to control metal.  Our films main antagonist, back then going under the name Dr. Schmidt and who we will later know as Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), sees this amazing event and proceeds to try and force the boy to use his powers again.  Seeing that, at this time, he couldn’t manifest it unless he was under great stress, Dr. Schmidt forces his mother to come into the room, gives him to the count of three to move a metal coin, and then shockingly fires and kills her before his very eyes, causing his powers to go crazy and destroying everything in the room.  Now that the doctor knows how to force his powers to work, he takes the young Eric and tortures him until the boy can control it at will.  A couple of decades later and we see Eric, now a grown man, hunting down every single living person involved with his incarceration at the camp, either killing them outright or letting them live so long as he gets information on his true target, Sebastian Shaw.

Astoundingly, Kevin Bacon is stellar as the films main villain, Sebastian Shaw

It’s this beginning  arc that leads us to the rest of the film, showing a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) growing up together, learning about there own mutations and finding out how wide spread it is, all the while finding out that Sebastian and the Hellfire Club had been spearheading the conflict between the United States and Russia in an attempt to start World War Three and force future generations, though the nuclear fallout, into being born mutants.  We can see that, through this man, Eric’s future idealism is born, but getting to that point is what makes this film fascinating.

This film, in it’s two hour and eleven minute  run, packs in one great idea and story arc after the next, showing us the origins of almost everything!  We see the creation of an early Cerebro, the formation of Charles School for Gifted Youngsters, the creation and first designs of the X-Men’s future jet, the Blackbird, and even the origin of Magneto’s telepath blocking helmet.  Granted, there are some continuity errors when matching this up with the original trilogy, but I find that most of that comes from the failed third film and the Wolverine movie (I.E. Charles and Eric, a bit older, walking together to enlist Jean Grey to the school and Moria MacTaggert (played in this film by Rose Byrne) being turned from a Scottish scientist to an American CIA agent, not to mention a short, yet awesome cameo by Hugh Jackman as Logan in a time when he shouldn’t be active or in the states for that matter…), which tells me that the consensus is that these two films are out of continuity, as they should be (seriously, both of those films where TERRIBLE!).

This film only proves to me what sharp writing and a great cast can do for a movie.  Director Matthew Vaughn took what was already a dead series and truly brought it back from the grave!  I’m not sure if I’m down for making this into a new trilogy, as they keep saying, but if they left this one as part one, then X-Men and X2, I would be happy.  All three of those films where great and this movie only makes them feel more epic.  In my humble opinion, this movie stands out as a testament of what a great story and director can to together to make something with substance.  It’s so, so, SO easy to screw up a super hero film, but when the material is treated with respect and dignity, you could literally take something that everyone considers shitty and make it shine brighter than anything set before it.

It was inevitable, really...

I still have two more super hero films to catch this summer (Green Lantern and Captain America), but I have a feeling I have seen the best of the bunch….possibly the best movie of the summer!  If you have the ability, funds, and time, go see this film while it is still in theaters!  It needs as much help as it can get (from what I understand, even though it was the number one movie in the box office on it’s opening weekend, it was still being panned as a failure in terms of making it’s money back.  They wanted “more Wolverine” apparently to sell more tickets…and that’s simply ignorant…)!  Even if you can’t catch it now, do yourself a favor and watch it in any capacity you can: DVD, Blu-Ray, Netflix, Redbox, hell…Blockbuster!  Just give it an honest chance.  I promise you that it will be worth your time!

  1. wintermuted says:

    Exactly. Rarely can one out-direct a script. And this one with as many hands that were on it, still worked.

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