Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Movie Review: X-Men First Class

Saw X-Men First Class and, boy, do I like it better than those other three X-Men movies... actually, let's forget all about those and pretend they never existed. For all intents and purposes this will vastly improve your quality of life, I promise. It still has its flaws and stuff, but this movie actually manages to feel more like the comics, which is good. It wouldn't be impressive, only to expect, if it weren't for those three non-existing movies that you've forgotten that had directors that knew nothing about the comics. Possibly the first one is watchable, if it existed. So in the shadow of things that do not exist, this movie is impressive. On its own, it's merely a good action movie, that I enjoyed watching. Also because the actors don't suck and actually fit their respective characters, as opposed to... okay I'll stop talking about things you're trying to forget.

I was hesitant at first. Through the first 20-30 minutes I was basically holding my breath, watching the movie do a delicate balance act without safety net where I expected it to fall off and land on its face, and saw its feet trembling. What kept it standing was Kevin Bacon and the Angel of Hope. Then it stabilizes, pretty much as soon as Charles and Eric meet. The two of them balance out like the long stick rope walkers have. Suddenly you have cool X-Men with cool powers that they actually use in sensible and intuitive ways (such as Eric using his body and magnetic powers to press Charles against the floor of the plane when it goes down), as well as character depth (the big one of course being the clash of experience, upbringing, nature and idealism between Charles and Eric - something both actors manage to convey with feeling). And even humor, that doesn't feel milked out of a cow's ass. Woo. Since everything is new and raw to the characters as well it's a lot easier to take in and understand than Magneto and Professor X shouting "you never understood anything" at each other forty years into the future.

A part of my approval might lay with the choices of mutants to appear. Banshee, Havok, Angel (the wasp girl not the bird guy), Emma Frost... they're all cool people, who opposed to people like Phoenix and Wolverine carry a little less iconic baggage which makes them easier to portray and let people focus on who they are rather than who they think they should be. The one thing I dislike about the casting is that they do the good old "only the black guy dies" thing, which feels very old by now, and especially since the black guy in question is a fairly obscure character - taken in only to have a black guy? Being also a noble character with interesting powers, I believe Darwin deserved a better cinematic fate. Rather do what you want and forget about token people. As an Asian, I can just as well go "where's my token Asian person?". Eventually people like that would control your movie. Considering this is set in the '60s, it'd be neither offensive nor unrealistic to have an all-caucasian cast.

This movie could also be called:
Kevin Bacon and the Mildly Annoying Good Guys - but stealing the show is very in character for Sebastian Shaw; it's pretty much been his character weakness all along :D
How Magneto Got His Silly Helmet - and just to be sure he sillifies the reasonably unsilly helmet as soon as he gets it.
But what I really want to call this movie is:

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