Saturday, June 4, 2011

X-Men First Class....Actually Awesome

Original X-Men art by Josh Siegel
So a few months ago I mentioned how underwhelmed I was by this film. As a fanboy, I stand by that initial assessment -- some of the character selections by Matt Vaughan and co. are way too random. But about a month ago, the early reviews started rolling in, and they were almost all positive. Now after seeing it, I understand the randomness of the cast, which needed a couple of unknowns for a major plot point about halfway into the film. (Without getting too spoilery, you couldn't have, say, Bobby Drake and Warren Worthington perform the same functions as Darwin and Angel/Pixie and not piss off half your audience. So I get it now.) So while there are also some plot points and character backstories that don't jive with the previous films -- like Raven growing up with Charles -- it doesn't really matter, because as a standalone film, I couldn't have asked for a better X-Men story.

The film itself is fantastic. And I can only say that about four other previous Marvel/DC films. It doesn't make sense in the grander X-Men story, which is fine because the film franchise badly needed a reboot. Some of the characters weren't fleshed out well, but that's okay too because they weren't the focus. This was a story about Erik and Charles, and Fassbender and McAvoy are brilliant in their respective roles. The action scenes are mostly understated, in a way that wasn't in Brett Ratner's vocabulary, and that tend to focus on the characters and not on the CGI. You can tell that everyone on screen is having fun, because they're playing comic book characters AND acting in a film that doesn't suck, which is a rare thing these days. And the story-editing is very crisp, at little jarring at first, but once you get used to it moves the action right along. The training montage alone, straight out of a 70s film editing course, is worth the price of admission.

All in all, a fantastic action film, that only overreaches at the end. But still manages to pull it all together by the credits. It's gotten me and a whole bunch of others excited about this franchise again, I'm sure to the utter delight of Marvel and 20th Century Fox, who more than likely plan on using this cast for a second trilogy if at all possible.

My one big complaint -- no stinger after the credits. Hasn't Vaughan seen a Marvel movie before?

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