X-Men: First Class (2011)
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Ashley Miller & Zack Stentz and Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
I was really excited for this movie when it came out but I walked out the theatre a little disappointed. It got great reviews but something about the movie just felt off to me. It felt too corny and that even at over two hours it was cut too quickly, there was no room for a scene to breathe. Well I gave it another chance and I think I definitely enjoyed it more this time. Maybe my expectations were now different but watching it a second time, along with the Blu Ray bonus features definitely made me appreciate more what they were going for and what was accomplished.
I love that this is a period film. The whole 60s aesthetic is embraced in all ways without feeling like it is a goof. The Horrible X-Men Origins: Wolverine was set in the 1970s but you wouldn’t get that from any of the visuals in the movie. I guess it is a prequel considering they have Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in it but they didn’t really worry about trying to fit everything all neatly together with the original series.There are definitely connections but they seemed more concerned with making a good movie and starting a new series and I appreciate that. I normally hate prequels just because they seem unnecessary. We know where everyone ends up so what is the point besides over explaining everything. Besides that we know the real reason is so that they can hire younger and cheaper actors to play roles.
Speaking of the actors, besides the setting of the story, the cast is fantastic. Michael Fassbender is so good I wish that the whole movie had just been the Magneto storyline. He out acts and out classes everyone else in the film. His scenes you almost forget for a second the type of movie you are actually watching. McAvoy plays Professor X like a pussy hound and it is really fun seeing him this way after three films of Patrick Stewart. Kevin Bacon is like Hefner if he was a super villain.
So I get to this point and wonder what I didn’t like about it when I saw it the first time? Well January Jones is pretty horrible but certainly not enough to sink the film. There is just something about the way the movie flows that just doesn’t feel right to me. There are great set pieces, I enjoy the score, the performances, the costumes, but the movie feels like a race. Every scene just goes as fast as it can and I think it just left me a little breathless. Watching it a second time though I think knowing that going in I just accepted it and appreciated the dozens of other things I did like about it.
Overall I am really glad I gave this one another look. Matthew Vaughn has proven himself to be a really great genre director. He has great taste in terms of visuals and casting and in just telling an interesting and fun story in a new way. We have seen four semi serious takes on these characters and this universe and it is fun seeing a newer fresher take, even if it is set 45 years ago.