Dave’s 3-Word Review:
What a treat.
Now when it comes to the best film in a franchise, you have to first consider if one film is really considered part of the original franchise. Some series, it’s easier to decide, like Raimi’s Spider-Man versus The Amazing Spider-Man, Christopher Reeves vs. Henry Cavill’s Superman, and even the original vs. Christopher Nolan’s Batman. Sometimes though, it can be tricky, like with X-Men. There are some similarities, and even solid reasons to believe X-Men: First Class belongs with the original series. Heck, every one of the movies can be considered canon with plenty of reasonable arguments to support either side. In any case, I consider this film to be the best X-Men film by a huge margin.
Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is a bright young student from Oxford University that has a unique vision on evolution and mutation. Little does anyone really know, he is one himself, and his “sister” Raven is Mystique. He is quickly tracked down by the CIA for his expertise. Apparently, an ex-Nazi, Dr. Klaus Schmidt (Kevin Bacon) is planning World War III and getting connections with the Cubans and their nuclear missiles. Xavier recruits revenge-filled Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) to aid in the recruitment of other special youngsters to fight the Nazi. The first X-Men spend time training their abilities as they will soon meet their match…and more.
My other reviews had a pretty big focus on the themes of these films as well as their connection with the overall plot. The original trilogy had a lot of focus on acceptance, which was also an allegory to the civil rights movement. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, on the other hand had a very unfocused plot and a giant lack in theme. This film, on the other hand, had one of the most focused plots and themes out of all of them. From what I could tell the major focused on themes here were self-realization, self and societal acceptance, racism, genocide, and overall – friendship. The plot wasn’t an allegory this time around, it was blatantly about the Cuban Missile Crisis. They didn’t even try to hide that. For the time period, it was relevant, and it was absolutely astonishing to see that even back then, the X-Men were there to help.
Now. I know a lot of people who were a fan of the First Class comic books would be upset to learn how much had changed, i.e. – the X-Men weren’t the same. Well here’s the thing, as I’ve said in plenty of other reviews, I don’t care about changes from the original source as long as it’s done in good taste. Creative freedom is a huge plus for me, and I was glad that they were able to introduce us to some heroes that we’ve never heard of, and made us love them just as much as some other classic heroes. So the change didn’t sway me.
I will say though, that the plot can be very misunderstood. There is a lot going on in this film, like the last two installments, so people might (reasonably) think it’s cluttered. Well let me at least put in my two cents and say that’s not the case. Everything works hand-in-hand with each other, and everything ends as if it’s a perfect feeling of coming full circle. For me, this film is an example of exemplary storytelling and writing. I can’t wait to see the sequel, even though this one came full circle.
Here’s where my minor complaints come in. This film does come full circle, meaning all questions are answered…except a few. By now, most people know that a good portion of Bryan Singer’s original cast will be making a comeback for the sequel whilst the cast of First Class will also be back. Nevermind the fact that that sounds both brilliant and confusing at the same time. That very fact makes this film in fact part of the original series, which may complicate a few things. One…when he’s bald and older, Xavier can still walk in the original series – sometime before the events of the first film. Two. He’s still friends with Magneto a lot further in life, as they go in to meet with Jean Grey’s family. Three – in the original series, Professor X and Magneto build Cerebro while the Beast built it in this. We have some problems that will need to be addressed in the sequel. I, for one, have no idea how they are going to pull that off, but I’m always willing to see. The only other problem I had with this film was that there were so many languages spoken in this film. That wouldn’t be bad, but they did the worst possible thing – kept switching forth between the language and English within the same conversation – major pet peeve. Other than that, this film is golden.
X-Men: First Class is such a well put-together flick, and you will enjoy it every time you watch it. It’s really a blast, and the messages within the flick are remarkable. Check it out. Nay, buy it.