Friday, November 18, 2011

Man on Film: X-Men First Class

Yes, this came out months ago. There were extenuating circumstances with the delay on this one. I suppose there must be a DVD coming out soon. (I just checked and it comes out next week.) Regardless...

Well, at least it wasn't X-Men: The Last Stand. That's not saying much, of course, as X3 may as well have garnered Brett Ratner the designation of war criminal by an international tribunal. While X3 was the most ignominious of the X-Men films, the rest of the films in the series don't exactly do the comics justice. Where the X-Books were perhaps the most interesting of the Marvel universe, the series (including X-Men Origins: Wolverine) has featured only one film deserving of inclusion in the larger mythology, X2. Aside from X2, the films range from godawful (X3) to severely underwhelming (X-Men).
If measuring against those standards, I suppose X-Men First Class wasn't awful. As had been the case in earlier films, First Class was saddled with some shockingly inadequate performances. Where Halle Berry and Anna Paquin had torpedoed prior films, January Jones is startlingly cold and not in the intended way.  She is bad enough that it sticks out months later. Other actors' talents are underutilized. Whether the ability is there or not, Zoe Kravitz, Nicholas Hoult, and Rose Byrne are not given any opportunity to showcase their talents* with meatless roles.

*Well, the fetching Rose Byrne does have a scantily clad scene in The Hellfire Club...

Really, this film concerns itself almost entirely with the origins of Professor Xavier and Magneto. In this area, the film does work. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are both rock solid and make the most of their opportunities.

In the X-Men film spectrum, this film finds itself somewhere in the general vicinity of the first film, putting it firmly in the middle of the pack. Given what has followed X2, I guess this has to be seen as encouraging. Matthew Vaughn can put that in his pipe and smoke it, I suppose.

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