Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon
Screenplay: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz , Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
132 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language.
Now this is how you do a prequel! How, after X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a major disappointment. I mean major. I didn’t have high hopes for X-Men: First Class. First of all, we are talking about a film with no returning stars that I was aware of. I enjoyed director Matthew Vaughn’s previous work on Kick-Ass, but I just couldn’t guarantee success. Not after the saddening The Last Stand and the worse Origins.
I’m happy to see that Vaughn was able to right the ship and give this franchise exactly what it needed: a fun action romp, with enough interesting new characters to pull you in and keep you in.
So, First Class is all about the humble beginnings of Professor X (James McAvoy, Wanted, Muppets Most Wanted), Magneto (Michael Fassbender, Inglourious Basterds, The Counselor), and the rest of the group known as the X-Men, who take on a dangerous new mutant named Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon, TV’s The Following, Apollo 13) and his Hellfire Club. McAvoy, Fassbender, Bacon and Jennifer Lawrence, who dons the blue as Raven, the mutant Mystique, are all examples of what has been referred to as the Superhero Renaissance that started up a few years back. These are all incredible, Oscar-worthy performers helping to make these unrealistic characters into flawed, detailed, and tragic heroes who don’t have it all that good. All four of them are incredible performances, and are what make this prequel more grounded in X-Men mythos. They make this a part of the series, helped along by this year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past as well.
Let’s talk cinematography. Vaughn’s is a sweeping filmmaker, his camera always has a well-thought out place and takes part in the film. It does not sit idly by to record the goings-on. The film feels much slower even though it covers a ton of time and info. The music plays like 1960’s James Bond score. Plenty of intrigue, plenty of fear.
It is important to note that the film is a bit campy. That was not an insult. It takes what could be silliness and really uses it. This is a lesson that could’ve been another Origins disaster, but it plays with its seriousness, and you can really tell that these people are having fun making this movie. It definitely is a great popcorn flick. There are genuine laughable moments, and there are genuine gasp-worthy moments, but through it all Matthew Vaughn keeps moving. This is easily one of the best Superhero films ever made, and it is a pretty damn good film in general.
-Kyle A. Goethe
For my review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, click here.