Monday, June 13, 2011

X-Men: First Class

Five writers are credited with the screenplay and however they collaborated, they got it right. Director Matthew Vaughn takes a great script and translates it into a truly first class film in every respect.

The X-Men have always been sort of the "Anti-Avengers", much more serious in their own corner of the Marvel universe. This is a smart script that takes itself seriously and reboots the "X-Men" franchise. All the comic book mythos is there but the film works even if you are a casual fan or even unfamiliar with the other films. Of course if you are new to this franchise, you will miss the pleasure of two great cameos.

Coupled with a strong story, Mr. Vaughn brings a deft hand to the action sequences and molding the story to the real life Cuban missile crisis of the '60's brings plenty of gravitas to a film that could have gone in a completely different direction. He makes you believe that mutants forced the Russian's hand and almost set off World War III.

The casting is first class as well with James McAvoy as the young Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Michael Fassbender as the young Erik Lensherr (Magneto). Mr. Fassbender, in particular, is outstanding as the mutant balancing good and evil mixed in with a strong revenge motive. Rose Byrne has fun with her CIA operative role, as does Oliver Platt. Jennifer Lawrence moves on from "Winter's Bone" and takes on the role of a young Raven/Mystique. January Jones is perfectly cast as yet another "ice queen", playing Emma Frost (an important figure in X-Men lore) and rounding out the major cast is Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, the central villain of the film.

With so many superhero sequels constantly bombarding us, it's refreshing to have the original idea of a "prequel" that really jumpstarts the franchise. Smart, action packed and fun from start to finish.

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