Review – X-Men: First Class

The reboot has become Hollywood’s favourite safety net, filmmakers must attack new projects with the mantra in their head, ‘if we stuff this up, we can just reboot a few years later.’ The X-Men franchise seemed to be on the right path under the guiding hand of director Bryan Singer until he suddenly dropped out of directing ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ and Brett Ratner sunk the franchise quicker than a pair of adamantium claws through steel. And to make matters worse ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ or as it’s known in my house ‘the film that should not be named’. Luckily the X-Men franchise has been resurrected in the form of ‘X-Men: First Class’ which takes place in 1963 where a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) & Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) develop a friendship after they discover each other’s mutant powers. Working together they seek out other mutants in order to take down a secret society known as The Hellfire Club led by the villainous Sebastain Shaw (Kevin Bacon). ‘X-Men: First Class’ is a sophisticated superhero flick that that is grand in scale and concept thanks to strong lead performances, great direction, a solid script and art direction only let down by shabby special effects.

‘X-Men: First Class’ is spearheaded by two very good performances by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender in the lead roles. Both actors bring new life to their characters and don’t just impersonate the actors that have played the characters before (Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen). McAvoy is very good but Fassbender steals the show with a raw performance that will put the guys name on every major casting list as well as fuelling James Bond rumours until Daniel Craig waves a white flag in surrender. An honourable mention must go to Kevin Bacon who manages to bring a lot of class and intellect to the evil Sebastian Shaw while the rest of the cast work well together.

Director Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, Stardust) guides the film with razor precision and manages to let all the characters develop properly while building great tension and putting together nice action set pieces. You can tell a lot of time and effort was put into the script and it shows in the way the film builds slowly up to a gripping finale. Kudos must go to Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, Zack Stentz, Ashley Miller as well as Sheldon Turner and Bryan Singer for the story, the way it comes full circle while setting up a new franchise is an amazing effort. Some hardcore fans may be disappointed by the changes made to X-Men universe but when the film comes together you can forgive the changes as they serve a decent purpose.

Adding to the authentic feel of the 1960’s is inspired art direction, from the set design to the costuming, everything fits in with the setting and looks damn cool, expect Italian boots and leather jackets to come back into fashion in a big way. Not all the visuals are perfect in ‘X-Men: First Class’ it features some of the worst special effects on the big screen in a long time. All the effects shots look unfinished and the makeup work on ‘The Beast’ character looks like they dyed ‘Teen Wolf’ blue.

‘X-Men: First Class’ is a fine tuned superhero reboot that reinvigorates the X-Men franchise in a big way kicking open the door for more films. Hopefully Matthew Vaughn and his team of scriptwriters can keep pushing forward with all the cast in tow. Don’t stuff this up Fox; you’re onto a good thing.


The Popcorn Junkie