X-Men: First Class. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t expecting much. I wasn’t expecting anything at all. For a few reasons:
- The trailers left me underwhelmed.
- Those latest promos gave me the feeling that every line of dialogues was written so that it could be contradicted a moment later. (“This is yours.” “No, this is ours.” Sigh).
- I was really afraid that January Jones’s awful line readings were peppered throughout the film.
- Though I enjoyed Kick-Ass I haven’t yet made up my mind about Michael Vaughn as a director.
So yes, not expecting much.
Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to discover that X-Men: First Class was a lot of fun. It felt like watching an old Bond film, a good old-fashioned adventure with people of means doing battle with other people of means (in this case that means money and superpowers, back then it meant money and weapons).
The period setting is well rendered. The hairstyles, the clothes, the colour palette of the movie, all add up to a nice little retro-futuristic package confident in itself to avoid calling unnecessary attention to its cleverness. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are a treat to watch while Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult turn in nice supporting performances. This will be the film that confirms that Michael Fassbender is a bona fide movie star (and should probably get some of the parts they keep announcing with Sam Worthington at the helm, what is up with that any way?). Of course the man must take care to avoid being typecast – as a key figure in movies that offer a revisionist view of history. It was also very enjoyable to watch McAvoy offering up a less-serious-than-usual performance. Treating the early years of Charles Xavier as a bit of fun was definitely the right move.
The film rolls along at quite a rapid pace and even though it is longer than your average Hollywood summer extravaganza one doesn’t feel the length too much. The movie does have a problem with an extended final stretch but I can see how all those movements were needed to connect it all up to existing X-Men canon.
Before the screening, one of the movie critics asked another if this was meant as a reboot to the franchise and the answer was, “this is not a reboot, this is a prequel.” My opinion is that this movie will also do very nicely as a brand new origin story.
Where they take it from here…ah therein lies the rub.