Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Just Awesome Cinema: X-men: First Class(Including Spoilers!)

One of the most appealing scenes in X-men: First Class to me is Raven Darkholme(played by Kentucky-born Jennifer Lawrence, with much more heart than her predecessor)in a robe, brushing her teeth in the bathroom mirror and pining over her azure scaly skin. This simple application of human element to a superhuman character, one in a myriad of other examples, is what sets this wonderful movie lightyears above its previous installments, filled with license-spotlight stealer Wolverine gobbling up much needed myth-building time for the forty year franchise.

X-men: First Class is a prequel to 20th Century Fox's X-men franchise, which begun in 2000 with the first installment. Instead of series regular Bryan Singer or his later successors Brett Ratner and Gavin Hood(of the Wolverine film),Matthew Vaughn, he of Kick-Ass and Layer Cake, stepped into the role of helming Marvel's mutant cinematic exploits...and he does not disappoint. In fact, similar to Nolan's interpretation of Batman, Vaughn's celluloid vision is strong on atmosphere, story, and character, so strong that I pray that this film becomes the reboot of the whole franchise, as opposed to just a prequel.

And there is many examples that seem to lend it towards being a reboot, as continuity from the previous films seemed to ignored almost wholeheartedly. For example, Charles Xavier(James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr(Micheal Fassbender) approach a certain famous Canuck to join their fledgling team of mutant operatives. From my understanding, Xavier did not know about his existence until decades later, in the first X-film. The same can be said for the existence of Havok(Lucas Till), who, in regular comic continuity, is the younger brother of Cyclops. But I'm not to much of a stickler for these details; one, movie continuity, which is essentially the boiled down "meat" of 40-years of comic continuity, won't exactly be the same as the comic, and two, this movie is so great that to linger over such details would ruin such an awesome experience.

The film itself takes place in the 1960s, and basically traces the origins of Magneto, Charles Xavier, and the origins of the X-men team in the shadows of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The major conflict is between Erik, Xavier, and the Hellfire Club, led by Sebastian Shaw(Kevin freakin' Bacon) and his second-in-command, the splendidly beautiful Emma Frost(January Jones). Other members include Azazel(Nightcrawler's freaking dad in comics in the worst storyline ever, The Draco, played by Jason Flemyng) and the silent Riptide(Alex Gonzalez). With the help of Moira Mactaggert(Rose Byrne) and her connection to the CIA, Xavier and Lehnsherr begin recruiting their own team, including Hank McCoy(Nicholas Hoult), Angel(Zoe Kravitz), the mentioned Havok, Darwin(Edi Gathegi), Raven, and Banshee(Caleb Jones). In between this, beautiful characterization is displayed, sides shift, and roles are taken in the conflict for the sake of both humanity and mutantkind. In a word...this film is a wonderful superhero film that strives for spectacular storytelling...unlike Thor, which, while very entertaining, nevertheless seemed somewhat your typical stock Marvel film.

The film also has a 60s' spy aesthetic to it, which is something I truly loved about it; I love it when a film has its own flavor(Thor has the same thing, more or is the stock final battle that brings it down a notch for me). Although not an expert in cinematic techniques, I think Vaughn seemed to made the film with other 60s film techniques as well.

I am praying for a sequel/reboot!

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