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X-Men: First Class

For those of you that have visited “My Life at the Movies” before you’ve come to expect a consistently positive outlook on every film I cover. Today I could continue in that vein by focusing on movie merits such as ‘casting’ and ‘set design.’ However, this will be a departure from my regularly scheduled adoration.

Since starting this series I’ve only submitted defeat once before. That white flag waved in the past was swayed with similar emotions, none more prevalent than disappointment. You see I tend to take movies personally. So much so that certain selections are viewed as aggrandized adaptations of my life.  In my last entry I side-stepped my dark tirade to celebrate the escape films provide. And not only films, but comic books as well.

Of the many titles I’ve collected since my youth there is none more extensive and beloved than the X-Men. So there was no question I was excited for First Class. From the moment I saw the teaser trailer I was elated to know that the Children of the Atom would be returning to the silver screen. However, as my intro eluded, I left the theater filled with sorrow instead of covered in smiles.

A tad melodramatic I know, so let me start by crediting Vaughn and crew with a few glimmers of mutant mastery. Midway through the film you will return to an abode familiar to fans of the series. Those brief moments had at Westchester Mansion brought to light the philosophies central to the X-Men’s existence. The X-Men are traditionally a group of youngsters who “protect the world that hates and fears them.” A rag tag band of mutated teens diverse in spirit but united in nature. Powerful kids led by two brilliant but conflicting minds, and all of these essential seeds were present for some montage minutes… and that was about it.

Otherwise it was a narrative so far from the original that it was offsetting to say the least. Vaughn collects characters from so many different decades and storylines that he’s created something completely new. Now normally I’m open to the innovative, but he not only f*cked with a perfectly fine formula, he also f*cked it up!

In the world of comics there has never been a tale as unique as the X-Men’s. First Class though attempting to mimic this uncommon brilliance does nothing more than create a glossy shell with a soulless center. The villains pose no real threat, and the heroes never find any honest comradery. Just some special effects played out by some great actors. Heartless.

It wasn’t a bad movie, but it also wasn’t a movie I enjoyed. In my heart I believe there will never be a great X-Men movie until they finally focus on the star that’s been there every step of this near fifty year narrative, Cyclops. Scott Summers, the greatest mutant of them all.

Truth provided by me and my life at the movies.

Comments

  • Chris Elliott

    Although this was a negative review, I think it was one of your best. The reason I take that stance, is because you really seeded out the things that made this movie forgettable for you. I really like the way you analyzed multiple angles of its failure all while being fair and reasonable. Great write up. 

  • Anonymous

    I’m going to have to watch this myself as to me it looked amazing.  I’m not sure just because they didnt follow the tried and true comic book versions it should count against the film.  But that said, thos are some of the reasons I dont like certain movies because they get away from their source material IE Novels.  Its a slippery slope.

    • Anonymous

      I do agree you should watch it… but I’m highly doubting you’ll like it considering how much X-Men you have now read. It’s difficult to digest the lifeless and unimaginable character relationships. As I said, great sets and casting… but the issue isn’t that they don’t follow the traditional comic. The issue is that it was more experimental with the entire culture than the Ultimate Universe. It’s a TOTAL re-write departing from both the films and the comics completely. Yes it is pretty decent on the eyes. However, it’s more PG than anything Marvel has ever done… and not as well written as the trailer would lead the average viewer to believe. 

  • Anonymous

    Alright now that my thoughts are sufficiently gathered I can present them in a somewhat orderly manner.
    *** MILD SPOILERS AHEAD *** I loved the film, and for me it’s between this and X2 for best X-Men film (I’ll have to rewatch them both to decide). Things they nailed: The relationship between Charles and Erik felt extremely genuine and played out well. The movie made their eventual split seem inevitable but I still found myself hoping that it could go the other way, which is exactly what a good prequel should do. The characters of both Charles and Eric were also really well written and acted, Erik as a Nazi hunter was done to perfection and Charles as a womanizing scientist likewise. Based on the comics Charles was always a pimp in his younger years so that was pretty faithful. What I think was my favourite part however, was the most non-canon thing of them all: The relationship between Charles and Raven/Mystique. It was the most refreshing part of the movie for me and I wanted more of those two together. From the way their relationship began as kids to how it fell apart because of Charles’ blind idealism and obliviousness was perfectly tragic. Those three things are the reasons why I have to completely disagree with your assessment of the film being soulless at its center. Those relationships are the film’s soul.This is where I get to another one of your main complaints, which is the complete non-canoninity (new word) of the movie. I went in knowing that the movie would follow canon very loosely so that didn’t really upset me at all. They really didn’t have much choice because of how the previous movies set things up, which is something that they mostly wanted to follow. But I think that this actually helped make the film as good as it was. It is also refreshing that the movie didn’t get bogged down with trying to follow every detail of the original films. Some of the stuff in this film contradicts the others, but it is mostly minor things and so I find it acceptable.My main problems with the film are the fact that the kids (with the exception of Raven) were underdeveloped. But this isn’t really a movie about them. It’s about Charles’ and Erik’s friendship first and foremost. Also the casting of January Jones as Emma Frost was a misstep in my opinion. She just didn’t really have the right demeanor for it. I do disagree that the villains weren’t threatening. I thought they were pretty damn threatening. The thing is, like so many of Marvel’s origin movies, at the end of the day the film isn’t really about the villains. They’re just plot devices for the growth of the relationship between Charles and Erik and the two sides of their philosophy. I do take your points about the lack of development of the relationships between the kids and I felt that as well. So I hope the next movie will have more of that, if they do make a sequel to this, since it would probably follow the opening days of the school. Hopefully they can bring in the younger versions of Cyclops, Storm and Jean as well (screw the continuity of Wolverine: Origins lol) along with bringing back the kids from this film. And more Jennifer Lawrence!Last thing I’ll add is that Banshee was badass! After all these years of reading comics I finally understand how him and his daughter can fly. And for that, First Class, I thank you.

    Edit: Wow I had this spaced out all nicely but Disqus screwed up the formatting. So wall of text it is lol

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Hancock/510667721 Ryan Hancock

      I completely agree with Sadiki. The movie, in my opinion, was fantastic and easily the best X-Men film yet. Close with X-2, but better nonetheless. The movie is about the relationship between Erik and Charles and that was done to perfection. I too read the X-Men comics and I was not disappointed with how the movie portrayed it. Of course, not everything is going to be accurate, but what can you do. A couple of great cameos made the movie even better and there was even that sense of nostalgia throughout the film. So for the first time, I gotta disagree with you Godfrey. You got it wrong this time, in my opinion.

      • Anonymous

        I did enjoy the Hugh Jackman cameo. Definitely amusing. I am also glad you liked the film. I just can’t digest that it as anything other than s**t. I obviously agree what the plot was trying to portray, and the actors that played the lead were great, its just that the attempted plot was not. That missile scene to me was silly in the upmost. Nevertheless, as in all things opinions vary. Thank you for sharing yours. 

    • Anonymous

      “Very loosely” I still believe is a considerable understatement. I believe more so, not at all, especially considering the sibling relationship between Charles and Raven. I love Jennifer Lawerence, but they made her character nothing more than a slut willing to sleep with almost everyone. Furthermore, it makes no sense for the new movies. That said, I am glad someone liked it, and I know many more did as well. Alas, I am one of those who did not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500156332 Micah Holden

    ah bro, it breaks my heart that the movie didn’t provide you with justice, the sorrow in your words resonates deep, a shame, a shame.  Very much enjoyed the break down, and I hope one day you will see your wish hit the big screen.

    Cheers bro.
    ( I think I’ll still go see it in theater though :P )

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the love as always. Thank you as well for expressing some Scott Summers concern. It just isn’t the X-Men without him. It never has been nor do I believe it ever will be. However, that was far from this films only issue in my mind. 

      Good thing I saw Midnight in Paris the day after… that was an unexpectedly AMAZING movie. 

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  • Anonymous

    I have not managed to see this one, and after reading this I think I’ll wait until the dvd release. I just have to say it’s actually awesome to read a negative review from you! I don’t have a problem with you being always positive all the time as I tend to look for the good things about movies, too, but it’s a nice change of pace. Too bad it had to come with something like X-Men though.

    • Anonymous

      It was kind of inevitable in a way that it would be the X-Men. They are my fav aspect of all things nerd, primarily because of Scott Summers. I just don’t see the interpretations of the groups that others have seen save for X-2. Ah well, there will be more movies :)

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