Friday, June 10, 2011

X-Men: First Class

Anyone who has seen this needs to tell people who haven't seen it. Because it doesn't look good, the last two were not good and yet it is very, very good.

This movie is an apology for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a film nearly everyone involved considers bad. The fact that First Class contradicts that one is more a testament to how far afield Wolverine went.

Matthew Vaughan manages to capture the world of the early 60's through the prism of "Mad Men" and James Bond. Lots of sharp suits, brushed metal and nightclubs with secret passages. He also manages to keep you involved with a handful of characters that would never sell a comic series on their own. Charles Xavier is more interesting, complex and fun than he's ever been. James McAvoy channels Patrick Stewart the way Ewan Macgregor did Alec Guinness. Just enough reference to tie it in and just enough room to make it his own. And Kevin Bacon makes a surprisingly effective villain.

It doesn't line up with the comic series much. The "First Class" combines only one of the original five (Beast), a later Neal Adams era character (Havok), a Giant-Size one (Banshee) and even a Grant Morrison New X-Men version (Angel). But it lines up seamlessly with the trilogy adding weight that pushes Singer's films up to greatness level and almost makes The Last Stand decent.

Yes, there are some holes and some obvious missteps (I'm now considering every non-comic accurate mutant to be a red shirt) but the movie actually turns the whole franchise around. It should be doing much better than it is. The fact that there are some amazing cameos that were never spoiled (and I won't) shows how little people are talking about it.

Marvel doesn't seem to have a lot of faith in this film. When I saw the trailer I said that FOX had turned the X-Men franchise into "Smallville". It's a pleasure to eat those words.

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