X-men is First Class
The new X-men film, "X-Men: First Class", is far greater than the original X-Men trilogy. At first glance, it seems to be yet another unintentional reboot amidst the ongoing trend of comic book blockbusters. I use the word "reboot" loosely since the film is considered a prequel; since the timelines are different between "X-Men: The Last Stand" and "First Class" it would be easier to call it both a reboot and prequel.
The new X-men film, “X-Men: First Class”, is far greater than the original X-Men trilogy. At first glance, it seems to be yet another unintentional reboot amidst the ongoing trend of comic book blockbusters. I use the word “reboot” loosely since the film is considered a prequel; since the timelines are different between “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “First Class” it would be easier to call it both a reboot and prequel. (For example, Xavier and Magneto visit Jean Grey in “Last Stand” together, whereas “First Class” has their separation occur long before either of them meets Jean). The elements that make the new film awesome are specific if not overly obvious. All the X-Men films have been good, but what exactly makes “First Class” the best?
In the first film (”X-Men”), viewers were given a quick glance into Erik Lehnsherr’s (Magneto) personal history. Auschwitz was the scene that’s most remembered, with the separation of Magneto from his parents and the subsequent scene of bars bending under the magnetic pull. The history of the moment automatically gave the audience (comic book fans and nonfans alike) a sense of the character within the first moments of the film. “First Class” is a perfect extension of that scene, giving a backstory that leads perfectly into the events of Cuban Missile Crisis. Subsequent backstories of Beast, Havoc (Cyclops’ father), and Mystique are rightfully comprehensive. All plot lines lead back into the main storyline at the end, from the separation of Xavier and Magneto to the Professor being paralyzed.
There are three keys to the film’s success. One, as I said before, is the history that leads into the character development. Magneto’s time at Auschwitz is enough to give you an idea of his character without anything more. Secondly, it is the actors. Michael Fassbender (Magneto) exudes a presence that is unmatched even by Ian McClellan. James McAvoy (Xavier) takes the character to a whole new level, both in wit and humor as well as sensitivity. The third and final element is the fact that the entire movie takes place in the realm of historical fiction (well-written historical fiction). Viewers can relate to the events in the story because the events actually happened. There are no alien worlds, no extra-dimensional landscapes, and nothing more out of the ordinary than the simple mutants finding themselves in need of comprehensive medical insurance since they are living in a human world (subplot). All works out for the continuation of the story-line.
Unlike many of the modern superhero movies, “X-Men First Class” took the time to develop the characters to the point where we actually care what happens to them. This in in contrast to “Thor”, which vomited out a story-line while wowing us with special effects to the point we didn’t care and excused the shoddy workmanship. “Care” is the key word. After all, how much more should anyone “care” about a fictional race of super-beings who are being persecuted? Don’t we have enough problems of our own?
Rating: Four Stars