Sunday, June 5, 2011
X Men: First Class
The X Men Series was essentially the beginning of the mad craze to make as many super hero movies as possible and the first 2 very good films were directed by Brian Singer of Usual Suspects fame. For whatever retarded reason ("Creative Differences") the series was handed off to morons after that and sort of crashed and burned with the third film. The fourth, yet another telling of Wolverine's silliness, wasn't quite as terrible as people like to call it but isn't exactly anything special. So it pleases me to tell you that this film brings back Brian Singer, this time as the producer, and succeeds rather magnificently. I'd still say X-2 is slightly better solely for Brian Cox's performance as Stryker and Spiderman 2 is on par but aside from the Christopher Nolan Batman movies this is absolutely top of the line.
The film begins with a scene from the first movie wherein we see a young Magneto amidst the holocaust being taken away from his family. This time Kevin Bacon (in this scene he looks quite like himself in this commercial) observes as he bends the fence in anger. He quickly snatches up Magneto and attempts to get him to utilize his power via threatening to kill his mother in his presence. Magneto fails and Bacon shoots and the shit hits the fan naturally. Then a wondrous chorus plays alongside images of Kevin Bacon, who is clearly loving this shit. His absurd laughter in this scene sort of sets the tone for odd humor in visceral situations that permeate the film.
We then hop forward to the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis, all the random crap you've seen in previews. Magneto, played excellently by Michael Fassbender, decides to turn into James Bond with super powers in a hunt for Sebastian Shaw, Kevin Bacon's new name. The film captures that 1960's espionage feel quite well in the first 45 minutes or so, though unfortunately it doesn't really hold up (albeit the final act is still superb). A lot of people from Mad Men show up in this film including the stupendous January Jones who still can't act worth shit.
Between the two major action scenes that the film has is about a solid hour of exposition and character development. Fortunately most of these scenes work quite well. I'm positive the first X Men was used as a template for introducing characters and making the audience feel connected to them prior to the primary action scenes. I don't really think it needed quite as much time spent on this portion of the plot as was given, but it still works okay. Unfortunately the villains are all pretty underdeveloped including the Bacon man himself. But at least we care when interesting things happen to the protagonists.
For what action there is in the film it is excellent and easy to follow, with one exception. There are several minor heroes and villains in this film that get far too much screen time for no particular reason, the minor villains say little or nothing (unless they're trying to reinforce how monotonous January Jones is) and the minor heroes blab on like kids. They are basically what the film would have consisted entirely of had a lesser director and producer had their hands on it. Fortunately if you just ignore them entirely the rest of the plot is pretty good, Professor X is reasonably well done and Magneto is perfect. Kevin Bacon is awesome in that first scene and at least mildly terrifying in one other notable scene.
All in all this is the best non-Nolan superhero movie since Spiderman 2, and while it might not pull in much due to consecutive terrible sequels preceding it I still highly recommend it. This summer didn't look to be so stellar at first glance but both Thor and X Men have turned out to be solid and excellent respectively.
Note: I've decided to change rating systems for movies at least. I seem to have a much better feel for up-to-Four Star ratings than I do for an out of 10 system. For instance a 2 star film is probably not that bad, not great but you could be reasonably entertained. However a 5/10 is a relatively terrible movie by comparison. I'm pretty poor at ratings out of 10 in general but presumably I won't be doing many more game reviews so /shrug
They Sucked His Brains Out