IT’S official. Matthew Vaughn’s much hullabaloo-ed, long-awaited X-Men: First Class is far, far better than 2009’s Wolverine. But, it must be said that this rousing and full-throttle prequel does not quite reach the same dizzying heights of the Bryan-Singer helmed X-Men and X2. Still, props for effort.
It’s an origins story, which means this re-entry into the phenomenally popular and money-making superhero franchise about those misunderstood mutants has a massive tale to tell. And many a fanboy to please.
Fortunately, it does just that, even without everyone’s favourite broody adamantium-clawed, grunting beefcake headlining. Who would have thought?
Purists may be uncomfortable with not having even a whiff of the authentic Stan Lee and Jack Kirby line-up of Cyclops, Iceman and Jean Grey as director Vaughn is all in with the new.
He re-energises the franchise with shades of Sean Connery’s James Bond and a dose of Mad Men cool, infused with some Austin Powers wackiness neatly wrapped up in his now signature slick Kick-Ass package.
This is the story of how former BFFs Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr become arch enemies Professor X and Magneto.
James McAvoy is perfect as the young telepath Xavier. All boyish twinkle and comely charm, it is his very dynamite and indelible chemistry with Michael Fassbender’s spot-on Erik that is the super ingredient which drives the film.
Their top class performances and depth of characterisation let you forgive the otherwise loop-holed script that sporadically loses grip on its sub-plots.
McAvoy and Fassbender’s bromance is the undeniable emotional centre, providing those much appreciated goosebump moments that make you actually believe their friendship will crumble into Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen’s fierce rivalry.
The main niggling weakness though is how it whips along at too choppy a pace, rushing through scenes and events to arrive at a somewhat contrived end.
Also, for all its introductions to the other mutants, it would have been nice to see more fleshed-out characterisations of the insecure Raven turned Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (a stand-out Nicholas Hoult) and the villianeous Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon bringing his A-Game with a menancing performance).
That said, for all its shortcomings, there’s just enough to love in First Class. It this is exactly what the franchise needed: An entertaining popcorn movie full of fun and wit, filled with people who seem to simply embrace just how much fun it is to be a superhero.
Welcome back, mutants. You’ve been missed.
Written by: Horaki Kashiwa