Considering I went on a movie marathon of Marvel titles last year, it seemed only logical that I’d eventually get around to seeing these and begin what was sure to be an… interesting journey into the world of mutants.
Knowing what it can feel like to be unlike others, a young British boy always knew there were others like him - people whose DNA was genetically altered, but never knew who they were until a special girl came along. Across the world in the cold and war-torn Russia, another boy becomes a human experiment to a man whose primary goal is to someday rule the world. Some twelve years later, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is an intelligent 24-year-old college graduate with high honors. Then there is Moira. As an agent for the CIA, Moira MacTaggert (Rose Bryne) finds herself witnessing plans for the beginnings of a war between Russia and the U.S. The man orchestrating this is Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) who along with his associate Emma Frost (January Jones) has been on the CIA’s watchlist for years. What’s more, MacTaggert witnesses telepathic behavior, sending her to report to her boss who refuses take her word alone. This leads her to Charles whose thesis was on the subject of human mutations. Along with his “adopted” sister, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), Charles can believe Moria’s story because of his ability to read minds.
Along the way, Charles recruits Eric (Michael Fassbender) who has held a grudge against Shaw for over a decade after he murdered his mother. Each day that passes strengthens Shaw’s superhuman powers, what he didn’t count on was the CIA recruiting Charles and his own band of superhuman soldiers to protect the integrity of America. What Charles doesn’t realize is that Eric has a darker purpose in mind.
As much as I adore super hero flicks and now sci-fi, never in a million years did this series appeal to me. When I was a young teen, basically anything resembling this sort of movie was ignored. Given that I knew next-to-nothing about the series, it was an unfair assumption. My impressions were that this couldn’t possibly be taken seriously like its Marvel counterparts – how silly that notion was! My first reaction on finishing this was that this was absolutely, positively brilliant. Everything about it seemed above and beyond the standard of normal Marvel movies and no matter how enjoyable they’ve been, this film has probably taken over the “top spot” of my rankings. The script is intelligent (mind-bending, heart-stopping and even sorrowful when it needs to be) and the cast is a fabulous fresh crop of young talent that continuously impressed me with their respective characters – and even disappointed the expectations I had of them.
With the exception of Charles, all of the characters let me down at some point. Raven being the most distressing of all. Given that this is the “origins” of X-Men and I haven’t yet experienced the time-frame in which the majority of these films take place, I don’t know how everything shakes out but let me just say, her behavior is the biggest let-down of the bunch, or as Charles would say, I expected more of her. Though I suspect it falls in line of being exactly her attitude through the franchise. Then there is the heartbreak of Eric and Charles’ differences; these guys would have been so much better as common allies then they will be as enemies (little does Eric realize that Charles is the only one really helping him) yet knowing how engrossing this was, it will be interesting for me to watch it all play out. Seriously, when the credits rolled on this, I wanted to be able to immediately run out and see the sequel, unlucky for me, that won’t come for another year. Good thing I’ll be able to pacify myself with the “future” X-Men until then.
Seeing so much talent crammed into a single movie let alone one frame was enough to make any movie-goer go bonkers over its cast. The leads are carried well with McAvoy and Fassbender (Jane Eyre) plus seeing Jennifer Lawrence in a different role was a delight. That is saying nothing about the cool special effects. And, they were cool. Everything from a submarine suspended above the water to the epic destruction of the safe house, these stunts are terrific. Building this up is the phenomenal score which compliments every mood as does the title sequence in the final credits. Some of the humor is really sweet including unexpected bits of wit between Raven and Charles (and then one scene that could have been quite humorous is ruined by a piece of foul dialogue). The one common flaw in scripts is the shifting of emotions in characters and yet in ‘First Class,’ it’s rationalized remarkably well. At the cusp of the story, this is a character driven piece of fiction that is impressive. It may not have always pleased me to watch how things resolved but I cannot argue how believable each one was. Bittersweet as it was, thumbs up to the writer’s for achieving this and I must admit that again, I am obsessed with another of Marvel’s creations.
(What to know: In mutant form, there’s a frontal shot of a woman naked and an implication of sex [she is seen lying in a man’s bed, they kiss and the camera cuts away]. One scene shows a man fondling a woman [in an imagination scenario]; there are a few scantily clad women early on and another girl is a prostitute. The body count is high; men are evaporated, shot, stabbed and cut in half. Rather than being overly graphic, it’s more of an “emotional impact.” Later, another character is killed when a coin slices through the brain. One use of the f-word crops up, some abuse of deity [GD] plus some commonplace profanities. The movie rates PG13.)