Review: X-Men First Class

Among my pathological conditions, I am compelled to watch every comic-based movie that is ever made. Despite the best attempts of James Dale Robinson with his adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, there appears to be no cure.

So tonight I went to see X-Men First Class. If you didn’t know, it’s an X-Men prequel, set in the ’60s. The trailer’s all “before he was Professor X, he was macking on chicks in London bars”. You know the one.

Overall, the casting of First Class was pretty great, especially McAvoy as Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, and Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw. Things were let down a little by January Jones as Emma Frost. Frost is supposed to be a ridiculously in-control manipulative femme fatale. Jones apparently decided to play her as a Bond girl who can’t move her face because she’s concentrating so hard on remembering lines in a foreign language. I’d say that was the director’s fault, but if you’ve seen her in Unknown with Liam Neeson, it’s the same all over again.

(Definitely see Unknown, by the way. It’s hilariously bad.)

First Class takes a bit of creative licence with the characters. I managed to refrain from yelling out things like, “Emma Frost can’t turn to diamond until her secondary mutation kicks in YEARS from now!” You might not think it, but that kind of thing pisses off fellow movie-goers.

The effects and fights and general tone of the film were good and fun. The training montage lacked the obligatory upbeat song, and instead consisted of a comic-panelish framing and the impression that Xavier’s real mutant power is to be constantly standing next to people telling them that if they can believe in themselves, they can know how to ride a bike.

Cameos by stars of the X-Men trilogy were executed perfectly and kind of cemented continuity with the story’s future.

For a comic geek like myself, most of the movie is spent waiting for things you just know are going to happen. The scriptwriters had a checklist of things that had to happen. They managed to fit in so many of them that I was left kind of waiting for scenes where Charles starts drawing exaggerated eyebrows on his face with a permanent marker. Or Azazel to BAMF into Raven’s bed, seduce her and then declare, “I vill be wery unhappy if ve have a little baby, and by the vay, I like ‘Kurt’ for a name if it’s a boy.”

Or Moira announcing she’s moving to Scotland, and Sean Cassidy tagging along to move to Ireland. So they can get the accents they’re SUPPOSED TO FUCKING HAVE. Seriously, casting a redhead to play Banshee is a pretty token concession to the character’s Irishocity.

But all in all, great cast, great script, nice and stylish, and suffered only from the very intimidating prospect of having to fit so much stuff in that some characters were forced to be a bit two-dimensional.

Two-dimensional. Like comics. Get it?

2 Comments Review: X-Men First Class

  1. Robyn

    WTF, Ryan. Why didn’t you mention the incredible sexual chemistry between Magneto and Professor X? Where you too busy ticking off the plot points to notice the fire of desire smouldering between those two, threatening to erupt into a big gay inferno at any point? Yes, I think you were.


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