Quick Hit: The restart to the franchise gets off on the right foot.
The X-Men movies of the early 2000s were some truly entertaining movies. Even in the much maligned X-Men: United (rightly so), there are moments of extreme, gloriously geeky entertainment. But they had fallen off from the original, because the luster was starting to fade on all that leather. The world was really a bit in its X-men faith after the disastrous X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Matthew Vaughn came into the franchise like a breath of fresh air with X-Men: First Class, the first X movie not to explicitly star Hugh Jackman (though he does make one of the best cameos I’ve ever seen).
The movie is essentially a soft reboot to the franchise, and it does so by casting really charismatic actors as the leads. It brings Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto/Eric (Michael Fassbender) back to being the main characters, and places Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) between them. The plot is fairly simple – it’s almost like any origin story. But the work that all the cast, particularly the aforementioned leads put into their roles is what brings this story up. Contrast that with an extremely hammy and enjoyable Kevin Bacon, and what you end up with is a pretty entertaining movie.
I think what is most impressive with the film is that it allows moments of the normal things we expect from the X movies while still allowing time to see something new. We have the normal moments of adolescent insecurity, angst, along with the parallels of puberty, but we also have moments where the new X-gang actually act like they are enjoying themselves. Before Kevin Bacon shows up, the scene where each of the mutants are showing their powers to each other is pretty fun, and would be one of the highlights of the movie if not for the terrific training montage scene.
Which brings me to I think the star of the show, which is Matthew Vaughn’s direction and the fantastic, frenzied editing style. I love that montage scene, and I, for the most part, think training montage scenes should be left to the Rocky franchise. But the split screens and the snappy dialogue throughout it truly sells the point of the heroes coming together.
Are the villains generic? Yes. Is January Jones entirely too stoic for a character that she plays? Yes. But is the movie franchise rebooted successfully, longing you for more of Eric and Charles together again? Yes. I’m giving all that a “B+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"