Sunday, June 5, 2011

X-Men: First Class

A funny thing has just happened. I’ve just now, not but two hours ago, finished watching X-Men: First Class, and I haven’t the faintest idea what happened during any of it.

Let me clarify.  The movie wasn’t confusing, nor was its narrative structure convoluted or elaborate.  So why can’t I remember damn near anything about it?  I wasn’t inebriated it any way, unless, of course, you consider boredom a drug, in which case I was wasted. 

So there it is, X-Men: First Class, like the majority of this summer’s blockbuster counterparts, is boring.  As all hell.  You’ll check the time, you’ll shuffle your feet, you’ll reposition yourself in your seat, and you’ll leave the theatre asking yourself why you bothered in the first place.

Here’s what I can recall: Kevin Bacon as a mutant Nazi, James McAvoy as a charming, walking, fully haired Professor X, Michael Fassbender as an angry, youthful Magneto, Lenny Kravitz’s kid with butterfly wings, Jennifer Lawrence cashing in on her post-Oscar nomination glory, January Jones as Betty Draper with sparkly skin.  There’s some talking, some shooting, some Fassbender foreboding, some mutant training, a lot more talking, and a final phoned-in battle which basically asserts that, if it were not for mutants, Russia and America would’ve blown each other to hell via nuclear missiles.

What’s with all these contemporary action franchises making the order of their films more confusing than the actual films themselves?  X-Men: First Class follows X-Men Origins: Wolverine which was a prequel to X-Men 3: The Last Stand which was a sequel to X-Men 2, but X-Men: First Class takes place before X-Men Origins: Wolverine… I think.  So, what does it all mean?  Who the hell knows, and more significantly, who the hell cares?

When I’m on the fence of apathy – a strong cocktail of equal parts boredom and indifference – my go-to grade is a C-, which, in my mind, is being kind here.  X-Men: First Class is worthy for two reasons, one more prominent than the other. Since The Last King of Scotland, James McAvoy has proved that, unlike the majority of American actors his age, he deserves to be taken seriously.  Likewise Michael Fassbender, who after a scene stealing performance in Inglourious Basterds and a game-changing performance in Hunger, is slowly taking the reigns as the most underrated actor of his generation.  If there is a sequel to X-Men: First Class, which there undoubtedly will be, then I’ll see it because of those two.  Until then, I’ll be busy trying to find a mutant power that combats boredom. 


  1. I agree with everything you said, I just want to help you with the chronology.

    This takes place way before Wolverine Origins.

    If you remember Xmen origins, or the first Xmen film. Wolverine was always looking for William Stryker, the person who operated on him.
    There's a scene with McAvoy in the CIA office here he tells Agent Stryker that all he's been thinknig about is his son William.

  2. Oh gee, what a sneaky line of dialogue! I suppose it's hard for me to keep track of due to Wolverine's whole ageless thing.

  3. Yeah, there are a lot of in-jokes to people who know the comics.
    I really liked Xmen as a kid so i know a good deal of what's going on. But I can imagine how it'd be confusing for people who didn't.

  4. The X-Men comics were the only comics I read growing up, which makes these films that much more disappointing.

  5. I still like the first and second films, at least.
    I still don't really understand why this film's first class wasn't actually Professor X's first class of Jean, cyclops, beast, angel, iceman.
    Guess they've done these other characters before and wanted to use different ones.

  6. I LOVED X2, one of the only superhero flicks I actually like. The first one has its moments, but I mostly remember it for stuff like... "You know what happens to a toad when it gets struck by lightning?..."

  7. I disagree with most of what you said about First Class. It may of been slow to start, but it picked up very quickly. I can't really call this movie boring, when the action was pretty much non stop and the story was very compelling. If you are a fan of the original X-Men movies, I don't see how this wouldn't please you. Yes, the actors were different, younger and the big stars weren't as present like the previous installments, but that's not what the X-Men flicks are all about. One thing I will agree with you about is the standout performances from McAvoy and Fassbender, especially Michael. Hopefully this will help bring him into the spotlight even more, because he is a very talented actor. I thought the cast was great, and the cameos from Wolverine and Mystique were perfect. I don't know if all the positive reviews had your expectations too high, maybe that's what made you give it such a low rating. I can't go any lower than a B+ for X-Men - First Class.

  8. Hey, fair enough, you saw a thrilling action film, I saw a lame flick with never-ending exposition dialogue and (mostly) dime-story special effects.

    It’s interesting, my favorite film critic, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, LOVED "First Class." But, for the record, I don’t read or even glance at other reviews before I see a film. So I wasn’t at all swayed by the mostly positive assessments "First Class" received.

    I’m glad we agree on McAvoy and Fassbender, but I can’t really call Jennifer Lawrence’s performance a cameo. Mystique (or Raven, or whatever you want to call her) was one of the main characters. And I thought the Hugh Jackman thing was obvious in a yay-we-got-to-use-the-F-word way.

    Again, glad you enjoyed it, seems that most people did. Just wasn’t for me. Maybe I still have a bad taste in my mouth from "Wolverine" and "The Last Stand"?

  9. Ya I was referring to Rebecca Romijn's litte appearance in the bed, not Jennifer's. Didn't mind her in the previous X flicks as an older Mystique. Keep the reviews coming, guy.

  10. Ahh ok, I got you. Actually, that was kind of cool.

    Just curious, what's your favorite of the series?

    Also, what do you think is next? A "Magneto: Origins"? Or a sequel to "First Class"?