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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"X-Men: First Class", mutants go pop

X-Men: First Class

Although not a die-hard fan, I remember myself reading several superhero comics. Among them, of course, the X-Men. So despite the excessive and generally mediocre (with very few exceptions) amount of superhero movies Hollywood is offering us lately, I had some interest in seeing the latest X-Men, specially because the film was raised as a reboot/prequel, explaining the origin of Marvel's most famous group. 

To start the review, I admit I enjoyed the film quite a lot. "X-Men: First Class" is entertaining, carefree, with rhythm and a pop, 60's-70's aesthetic. It is not a masterpiece, far from it, but that is not the intention of his director, Matthew Vaughn. It doesn't pretend to be the definitive superhero movie. Just an engaging and fun film to watch.

But saying that I'm also pointing out there are several underachievements. Not taking a film very seriously can be refreshing in one hand, but also impedes to go further than the mere entertainment. "First Class" doesn't develops all its potential. Something to regret considering the possibilities.

Main example is the relation between Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr, soon to become Professor X and Magneto, that had a lot to offer. Thanks to the great acting of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, who revitalise with remarkable assurance their well-known and difficult roles, they become the main pillars of the movie. Their scenes together are the stand-outs of "First Class". Unfortunately, their friendship and differences are wildly mutilated, so we don't really see their evolution together. Although is something partially understandable in order to give rhythm to the film, these excessive cutting feeling is permanent during the film. Director's Matthew Vaughn wants to give a concrete flow and style, but he sacrifices the storytelling.

So, while at least we can say Professor X and Magneto are able to survive in the editing process, the supporting cast has been stripped down to just a couple of scenes to show their superpower or to look cool. The supervillain Mr.Schmidt, played by Kevin Bacon, has a monster plan with an interesting nazi parallelism... that we have to guess, because without knowing his motivations, on screen looks a bit ridiculous (a nuclear holocaust would also destroy his dreamed mutant-ruled world). Is even gross with the feminine characters, like Emma Frost (January Jones) or Angel, that seems to be there just for the sake of showing someone "hot". Or Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), whose "moral evolution" is absolutely unbelievable.

The same complaint is valid regarding the world threat the mutants face. The mixture with real, historical facts about the nuclear terror, is funny on a first approach, and makes the mutant look like secret agents or very special spies (the "Bond vibe" some critics highlight is true) but is arbitrarily done and turns into some ridiculous action scenes, brilliantly done and entertaining to watch, but silly if you think about it. The timeline and continuity of the film is seriously weak.

I'm unsure an extended cut of "X-Men: First Class" would solve the problem, because I have the feeling the director did this "highlights collection" film absolutely on purpose, so probably its better to accept what this movie is. Just a well done, pleasant entertainment.

SCORE: 6/10

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