The whole time, while watching this movie, I had this question in my mind. Why does this movie function so much better than the first FOUR! movies? It’s actually pretty astonishing. None of the previous films managed to get it as right as X-Men First Class did. X-Men (2000) gets close though. By getting it ‘right’ I mean my personal feeling of watching a good, entertaining movie.
‘First Class’ shows us how all the X-Men thing (according to the story) started in the 1960s. While Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is still studying to become professor, Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) is seeking revenge for the happenings in a concentration camp during World War 2. Especially on a person that didn’t really do good things to him, when he was in the camp. It later turns out, that the person Erik is looking for, is a Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Who is a mutant as well and planning to overthrow human society, to make place for mutants… to rule the world!
We see Eriks efforts to find Shaw and he eventually meets up with Charles. Charles, in the mean time, got hired by the CIA to find more mutants. Their plans are to create a special mutant department, to make use of their special abilities. And that’s how Charles and Erik find each other. They find out what Shaw is planning and, of course, try to cross his plans.
We pretty early see that Charles and Erik follow different directions and motivations. McAvoy and Fassbender deliver great performances with their characters. Maybe it’s these two actors who make the first three X-Men movies a little more plausible now. I never really got into the Magneto motivation until now. Yeah, I know what he’s trying to do. But without all the backstory we now got with ‘First Class’, all previous movies felt empty in certain areas. At least to me. On the other hand all previous four movies were pretty much ‘Wolverine’ movies, if you ask me. So maybe it’s because of the fact that in ‘First Class’ we see a much broader picture… why this movie works so much better than the rest?
Since the story of the movie is set in the 1960s, it’s of course important to get the mood and tone right. And they did it fine. Even if the X-Men were always super fancy hi-tec people… we now see that they started out from scratch too. There are also some musical choices, in certain scenes that deliver some nice vibes, from the 1960s times. Especially in that one scene where these newly recruited mutant kids party around a little. I liked the scene where the kids showed off their powers. That was fun to watch. And then there was this one short scene, where Charles and Erik come into a bar, and it’s Wolverine sitting there, telling them to fu** off, before they even said a word. That was a nice laugh, I admit it!
Sebastian Shaw’s plan takes shape and he gets everything set into position. And that includes russians placing nuclear warheads on Cuba. What leads the whole X-Men story to a fascinating history twist. So Charles, Erik and the gang are eventually out to stop Shaw and the ‘missle crisis’ that’s about to happen.
What I missed a little is more information about Sebastian Shaw. Maybe I was deaf and really missed it. But… who is this guy? So he worked for the germans. Is he a german? Did they hire him to, I don’t know, follow their idiotic plans to create a super race? Shaw mentioned something about his power to absorb energy and we see it in action numerous times. Does this power keep him young as well? How old is he? It seems like he’s just ‘there’ to be a bad guy. Kevin Bacon’s performance was cool though. Would be nice in general to see some more work from him again. Then there is January Jones as Emma Frost. I just saw her in Unknown Identity and found her way of acting pretty cold. And I had the same impression here. As if she didn’t care much about her character. At least she gives some nice views for the men, when she’s in the picture.
The visual effects left a mixed impression. There are nicely executed scenes. When Shaw is entering that CIA building to get the mutant kids for example. He blows up quite some stuff there. Then there is the scene where Magneto is guiding missles back to their ships. Now when the missles exploded, it looked great. But the missles themselfes looked far far far too clean. That stole a lot of credibility. And that mixed impression went throughout the whole movie.
It’s a good film with some nice acting and action. It manages to leave an impression… and both McAvoy and Fassbender play a big role in that. Their motivations and actions are understandable, and we now know where it’s really coming from. Especially with Magneto who, in the end, becomes very much that what he tried to kill in Sebastian Shaw. A guy with a narrow vision, only looking out for his own kind. That was missing in the other films from my point of view. So this movie gives a little more meaning to all the other X-Men films.
Check it out! It’s a fun one!