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    June 3, 2011

    MOVIE REVIEW: X-MEN FIRST CLASS

    X-MEN FIRST CLASS (PG13)

    Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama/Science Fiction
    Release Date: 2 June 2011
    Running Time: 133 minutes
    Distributor: 20th Century Fox
    Director: Matthew Vaughn
    Screenplay: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaugh, story by Sheldon Turner and Bryan Singer, based on characters by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Chris Claremont
    Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon

    Plot: "X-Men: First Class" charts the epic beginning of the X-Men saga, which parallels the history of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s. Before mutants had revealed themselves to the world, and before Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Not archenemies, they were instead at first the closest of friends, working together with other Mutants to stop Armageddon. Through the process, a rift begins, which initiates the eternal war between Magneto's Brotherhood and Professor X's X-Men.

    Review: In the time when Hollywood goes back revisiting a movie franchise for a sequel, reboot, remake or prequel; it is important that it seldom ends up been a property that one will truly fall in love. Over the last few years, I thought that only Christopher Nolan's Batman reboot seems notably famous for a mention or two as one of those that defies the nature of Hollywood mistreatment on movie franchise. Probably and certainly, 20th Century Fox's attempt to run a prequel on the much tiring franchise of Marvel's X-Men may seems risky. Forget about the 'bad prequel' label that you probably want to slap at this movie, because it does not worth that label in the first place. Justice served and X-Men: First Class is one of the best we have seen.


    In X-Men: First Class, the movie opens in 1944 somewhere in Poland. A young Jewish boy, Erik Lensherr sees his parents taken from him but his anger somehow enables him to bend the metal gates of the concentration camp. Sebastian Shaw sees his act and later asks him to do the same by asking him to move the coin on the desk. When he cannot moves it, Shaw shoots his mother and kills her. His rage boils up and causing his magnetic manipulation to manifest. Meanwhile, somewhere in the United States, the young Charles Xavier meets Raven Darkholme. They become friends while realizing that both of them are unique with their own mutant abilities.

    The movie then switches to 1962. Lensherr (Michael Fassbender), now a grown-up man with dark pasts and full avenges on his shoulder, decided to hunt down all the ex-Nazi officers who have made him into what he is today. He finds that Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) is now in Florida. Meanwhile, Xavier (James McAvoy) publishes his thesis on genetic mutation and is given a professorship. His expertise in genetic mutation attracts CIA Agent Moira MacTaggart's (Rose Byrne) attention to help her to investigate the possible national security threats as the result of nuclear missiles confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. Realizing that the humanity is in danger, Xavier must assemble a team of mutants to tackle the crisis and to embark on a journey of friendship and alliance with Lensherr.


    Surprisingly, X-Men: First Class is the best movie I have watched in its franchise, bettering the first movie by quite a margin. To be honest, my love for X-Men franchise has never been that strong. It feels all the way crazy how 20th Century Fox manages to make this one essentially correct. In its storyline department, X-Men: First Class presents the audience with a first class well-executed storyline to begin with. The excellent screenplay from the team of brilliant writers, with some story devising from Sheldon Turner and Bryan Singer could not have received lesser applauds than any other brilliant movies we have seen this year. The new recipes this movie throws in are simply to put forward an easily digestible, strong and smart plot; while making the first half of the movie feels revitalizing, refreshing and distinctive to set itself apart from any other Marvel superhero movies or even on other instalments in this tiring franchise.


    For the characterization, Director Matthew Vaughn blends in four totally different and uniquely detailed events to converge into a uniform struggle between the dilemma sets in the world of the mutants. These angles are examined exquisitely from the exploration of the platonic relationship between Charles and Raven, Erik and his solo 18 years revenge, CIA’s interrogation on the political and motivational behind the Cuban Missiles Crisis as well as a brief behind the gang of the Hellfire Club. Strangely enough, Charles and Raven have never been mentioned to have known each other since young, nor do they have any known affections. Also, probably you will realize that Magneto was actually born as Max Eisenhardt, not Erik Lensherr which he takes in his later life as a cover identity.

    So to say, most of the fans may not find it easy to accept some of the alterations that this movie has imposed on its several character back-story. It may not be pleasant but the movie is not merely made to hold any realistic approach to faithfully adopt the source materials. Despite the tweaks, these alterations do not dampen the spirit of the movie at all, rather it strengthens the character development in which X-Men: First Class manages to explore a lot, save for two characters – Azazel and Riptide whom have no introduction at all. James McAvoy’s performance as Charles Xavier deserves something because he is spot on with the role. The equally stunning Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr also gives in a lot of chill and again another dead spot on role. Some top critics is comparing his performances to reminiscent the same persona as to James Bond, indeed they are right. Putting such element into the correct settings of the 60’s brings a whole lot memory about Sean Connery, after all!


    These stand alone point of view stories bring us then to the middle stint of the movie, drawing instead on our attention on the mutant training, thus back into the familiar zone of been another Marvel movie. Charles Xavier is the maestro that brings in the perfect balance between the thinkable and unthinkable; having at some moment been able to tame the wild and raging heart of Erik Lensherr and becoming a good teacher to help the young mutants in controlling their abilities. The final part of the movie may not be as engaging or intensifying as certain action movies’ standard to go by, but still amasses enough piece of amazing action sequences to bring a satisfying end to the well-paced 133 minutes movie.

    The movie plays a great tribute to the 1960s atmosphere is one of the most important elements in the movie, allowing the audience to experience the heightened of the intense moment during the Cold War and its significant that will change the life of the mutants forever. The other element is on how much the story reconnects the early days of the mutants to override the spectre of racism, social equality and social acceptance on that era. What is more important is that X-Men: First Class has everything from the drama side, the humor side, the dark side, as well as the action side playing into the movie all the time.


    Unlike any other Marvel superhero movies, the special effects in X-Men: First Class appears to be the weakest link of all. I could not hide my discontent when I am looking at how cheesy certain effects appear to be. It seems that the rushed production may have taken the FX department into the toll. Certain effects look bizarre, though still believable! Just look at the point when the young Erik Lensherr first controlling the magnetism in Shaw’s room. Or worst, some may have a slight complaint on how cheesy Beast’s make up may have been. Out of all the characters, Beast is the one that does not look good at all. Despite been the weakest link, the special effects still manage to creep the essential feels and excitements on watching the movie, while the special effects are not all that bad after all, just could have been much better! Don't get me wrong, it is still an amazing job done.


    In the end of the day, X-Men: First Class is undeniably an excellent prequel to one of the most talked about Marvel properties. The prequel holds a lot of potential in story expansion to fill the gap and void between this one and the recent modern trilogy. The prequel serves an amazing plot, believable character with true chemistry and something that you really cared about. Indeed, the best movie I have seen this year!

    THE RATING:
    Story: 4.5
    Casts: 4.5
    Cinematography: 4.0
    Effects: 4.0
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 17.6
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