X-Men: First Class (2011)
X-Men: First Class
May 20, 2011
Eastwood City Walk 2,
Remember how social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter can be so cool yet so embarrassing at times? X-Men: First Class is just like that. Just like any other prequel-type of movie instalments, this latest addition to the behemoth of blockbusters from Marvel (or shall we say, Disney?) explores and showcases that awkward stage in one’s life when one seems to be in that transition period with all those horror pictures from years or decades ago with the awful hair and even worse fashion sense. As the official movie trailer goes (well, at least here in the Philippines), before he became Professor X, he was Charles (Xavier); and, before he was Magneto, he was Erik (Lehnsherr.)
Now, before I proceed with my supposed
movie critique review movie-watching narrative which might contain some specifics (read as spoiler alert!), a little disclaimer would deem fit. I am an avid X-Men fanatic. When I tweeted last night how excited I was that I was about to hang out with Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, I got a lot of instant reactions about how lame it was. And some even released certain spoilers without any utmost consideration. (You know who you guys are. Can you feel me making your brains writhe as I write this post?)
But the thing is this: the X-Men are a part of my childhood along Batman and Thundercats. No, not just that, it was a part of the happy days of my childhood. Thus, no matter what others would say to besmirch the potential fun of watching superheroes fight and show their abilities, I know I am gonna enjoy it since this movie connects to the kid in me, which, most people may attest, takes up a large percentage of my whole self.
And so, without further ado, even with a very lame and shallow storyline wherein a young Professor X will just have a constipated look for a good 30 minutes, a young Magneto would have an emo attack for another 30, and a young Mystique would do some tumbling and shapeshifting in-between, I would still say it’s worth the money I paid for (hotdog, fries, and Pepsi included.) In fact, although Eastwood City had the nerve to add P20 more to the already exorbitant ticket prices since the movie is qualified as a “blockbuster” hence the price would be inelastic and, in fact, reversely propotional; I even had the time to joke about it with the cashier slash ticket girl because, yes, people, I was excited. I hardly make any chitchat. This time around, I did. That’s how excited I was. And oh, it helps that I got a very good seat in an otherwise full-packed last full show. Woot! Woot!
I’m not a Purist, so even if a lot would say the movie deviated from the comics, or the cartoons, or some kid’s fan fantasy (read as my interpretation), I really don’t give a shit. Art is an expression. Creativity is for creativity’s sake. Who dare we to say that film (that is not in black-in-white, or in recent cases, out of an independent studio house) as a medium does not hold more water than comic books? Of course, seniority reigns supreme in most cases, but I’d like to give Matthew Vaughn and Bryan Singer the benefit of a doubt and the creative license to tinker with this and that. Not that I’ve read a lot of comic books though. The only ones I read are Archie, Dilbert, Calvin & Hobbes, and Pugad Baboy. And, oh, a lot of fiction novels. This is X-Men people, not that lousy Thor!
What I love most about this movie is how it intertwines history with fiction. If you know me quite well or have read some of my previous posts, you might have an idea that I am a spy-thriller and Nazi buff (not in a good or “pro” way though, but I like how great Hitler and his henchmen lend their historical value into pseudo-fictional antagonistic roles). I
would like to believe that I am also quite conversational in Deutsche (that is German, mein freund, oder, meine freundin?) thanks to Linguaphone. That’s why although my grammar with that particular language is the same as kinders, I can still easily understand the conversations in the German tongue even without the subtitles. Alles gute, ja?
As such, having this movie set during the Holocaust all the way to the chilling Cold War highlighted by the Cuban Missile Crisis really had me going. It felt so believable yet so out-of-this-world at the same time. In short, good luck to “Transformers 3: The Dark Side of the Moon” and that entire Space Race conspiracy angle. The last Transformers movie, after all, never really appealed to me.
As for the acting, well, given the late Heath Ledger already made a benchmark of what is critically-acceptable superhero- or nemesis- acting, we can all agree no amount of Julia Roberts campaigning for James McAvoy or Michael Fassbender will make any difference. But, still, the acting was good enough for this type of adrenaline and special-effects rush. I would like to commend Kevin Bacon though who portrayed Sebastian Shaw. He was really menacing in my honest opinion. Jumping to the ending, the way he was ultimately killed by Erik was so melodramatic that even though it felt like The Matrix, the unintentional or unintentional similarities (yes, Erik has magnetism!) was so forgivable. Kudos as well to Oliver Platt and the rest of the suits who I always see portray the same roles in TV series and films of similar genre. Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert was also great with her role although I still expected more from her coming from Damages and Wicker Park.
The other mutants were just A-OK although I must say I feel pretty concerned about Nicholas Hoult who never seem to register in the Hollywood Scene. I first saw this kid in the UK version of Skins (which MTV is currently massacring). Clash of the Titans never made him famous. Him being Hank McCoy/Beast for this movie will never add to much really especially with the very awkward transformation which reminded people of another potentially good movie to watch real soon called Rise of the Apes, the trailer of which was first shown before the actual movie. For me, the Beast make-up was quite a turn-off, but easily dismissible. So now that we all have a good laugh about it, shall we move on, really?
Another thing I really found interesting were the quick appearances of Kimberly Hefner (aka Rebecca Romijn–Stamos) and Hugh Jackman, who potrayed the roles of Mystique and Wolverine, respectively, in the supposed latter years. I really appreciate big movie stars who don’t act out and play primadonna in playing uberminor roles. But then again, a good contract with these Hollywood hotshots might have been the key to their very memorable participation. Jodie Foster (for
Silence of the Lambs Hannibal), Katie Holmes (for The Dark Knight), and Lisa Edelstein who portrays portrayed the role of Dr. Cuddy in House MD comes to mind. Jeez.
Now, I really love that scene wherein the mutants were in that Cuban island, watching the impending overkill of an air strike from the ground. It reminds me of a lot of other identical scenes such as the death of Jet Li’s character in Hero with a rain of arrows. Obviously, Erik has his powers so he was able to thwart the attack and reverse the course of the warheads to a certain degree. However, what really touched me in a way were the almost-parting words of the Russian and American Navy Captains to their crew. I always have a soft spot for people in uniform who serve their country well. The way they showed grace and courage (or is it bravery?) in what could have been the last minutes of their lives was just heartbreaking in my own judgement. And yes, I know, it’s just an X-Men movie. So no need to shed a tear, even at that time a bullet pierced through Charles Xavier’s spine. You could almost hear everyone muttering, “Oh, so that’s why [he’s crippled.]” I can hear some purists cringing in the cinema.
I can still say without any doubt that my most favourite prequels to date would be as follows in descending order: The Dark Knight, Casino Royale (I’ve read the Ian Fleming novel, by the way!), and, Batman Begins. Only time would tell if X-Men: First Class would be a part of that class soon enough. But as I recall all the cool, cooler, and coolest action sequences plus the witty, wittier, and wittiest lines, I must say, chances are, this movie’s chances of becoming a part of that list is as high as Charles Xavier, or myself, getting totally bald.