Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Monday, June 27, 2011

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class

I don't usually do reviews of movies like X-Men First Class.  Not to say I don't enjoy typical summer popcorn entertainment as much as the next guy but if I'm honest, I had figured I would catch this installment of the X-Men franchise on DVD when it came out. 

But Tammy and I were watching the BBC news before church on Sunday morning and a movie review and interview with James McAvoy, who plays the mutant leader Charles Xavier, came on.  I hadn't realized that the new movie was a period piece set in 1960's Cold War America and that McAvoy would be assuming the younger version of the role Patrick Stewart played in the original 3 movies of the franchise.

Now, I'm a sucker for movies set in the '60's.  Besides the fact that it was the decade that brought yours truly into the world, the style of the time mixed with the US-Soviet paranoia makes for a fantastic film backdrop. No cell phones, internet, or Facebook.  Just good old fashioned CIA-KGB espionage with guys wearing cool horn rimmed glasses. 

Anyhow, the reason I'm doing a short post on the movie is because it so surpassed my expectations.  The four of us (yes Ethan was there) caught the 3:00 showing at Elements Mall and half way through I leaned over to Gabriel & Tammy and said, "This one is much better than the first movies."  To which they both nodded.

I'm not going to go into all the details but James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender's versions of a young Charles Xavier and Erick Lensherr (Magneto) surpassed even those of their more distinguished predecessors, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen respectively.  Watching the blossoming friendship between the two knowing that they will end up becoming mortal enemies is one of my favorite plot devices.  Smallville used it so successfully when it built up the Lex Luthor / Clark Kent feeling of brotherhood only to feel, as the viewer, the internal turmoil personally when you see it disintegrate.  X-Men First Class surpasses expectations because it's focus is on these two and their love / hate relationship.  Super powered fights and special effects were secondary to the feeling of a Shakespearean tragedy that was unfolding on screen before your very eyes.

And again, the 60's motif was another key element.  What could be more '60's than having Xavier & Magneto playing a game of chess in an English mansion next to a roaring fire while sipping martinis in their turtleneck sweaters?  They even segwayed the story into the Cuban Missle Crisis.  Superb!

Oh, and I can't finish this post without mentioning Kevin Bacon. When is this guy going to get an Oscar?  I mean, no he won't get one for X-Men First Class, but the guy brings his A-game to every film he's in.

Anyhow, get out to see X-Men: First Class...its well worth it!


Andrew said...
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Andrew said...

Yep, the rest of the summer movies are going to have to work hard to overcome this one. This movie worked on so many levels. I particularly liked the 60s feel... it felt Bond at times. It could have been so corny, but they made it work. And yeah, Bacon was awesome.

Steve H. said...

Yeah Andy, enjoyed it much more than "Thor" which was "OK". I'm looking forward now to "Cowboys and Aliens"

Bob said...

Steve, I have not seen any of the X-Men movies but your review enticed me. Do I need to see the others before this one?

You said you like films set in the 60s. Me too. And after hearing about the cable TV show "Mad Men," I went to the library and rented Season 1, then Season 2, and I am half-way through Season 3. I am pacing myself, though, because once I'm through Season 4 I am done. Have you watched any of this? Oh my gosh, I LOVE it! Funny, poignant, quirky and some great writing and acting.

Is there a trip back to the States on the horizon for you guys? I know your family must be anxious to meet your latest addition.

Steve H. said...

Bob: You sold me on Mad Men! Tammy and the kids are leaving for the States on Monday and I'll need something to watch while they are gone. (I will follow up two weeks later.)

I don't think I'm going to be able to make Tenessee though. I'm going to be in New Orleans for a week and then Denver for a week. I won't even be getting to my home town of Detroit. :(

Bob said...

Safe travels, all of you. Let me know how you like Mad Men!

X-Men First Class Movie said...

I like X-Men first class as it has 60’s feel. Its complete entertainment package with all the elements required for a movie to be successful. I like screenplay and direction of the movie. You can clearly see the efforts in this movie. Good movie to watch.