Movie Review: X-Men: First Class

Title: X-Men: First Class
Director: Matthew Vaughn (Produced Snatch, Lock Stock, Directed Kick-Ass)
Starring:  James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon

A midnight showing of a comic book movie can be fun.  I will admit I enjoyed the movie overall, but there were good things and bad things about the film.

First, they start off a bit slow, using a bit too much footage from the original movie (Magneto as a child, concentration camp scenes).  It led into some fairly good development behind why Magneto hates people in general.

The Cast – A 3-person job?

I listed only three actors above because they basically carried the movie in my eyes.  The supporting actors were just fine, but every scene is stolen by one of these three, if they were as much as in the periphery.

Kevin Bacon is almost unrecognizable in the beginning of the movie.  He is very convincing as a quiet, ruthless Nazi type.  He goes on to use several different identities, all of them with subtle differences.  He actually pulls off a convincing approximation of what it would be like to go through decades of time, adapting to whatever group serves his purposes.

Michael Fassbender plays Magneto, and gives us a powerful performance of a man tormented and obsessed.  The early part of the film where he is running around getting revenge on the Nazi a-holes is quite good, well done, and doesn’t overdo his mutant powers.  The rest of the film, his acting holds strong.

James McAvoy seems to be great in any role, and this is no exception.  Very good, really held my attention in his scenes.  Pulled off a young Charles Xavier with flying colors.

The Downhill Slide

The rest of the movie is where the film starts falling apart though.  The rest of the actors are alright, but many of them were obviously cast because they are gorgeous.  That’s not a bad thing, but I think some of their characters got too much screen time.  I’ll admit that Zoë Kravitz is ridiculously beautiful, her power is flying around on bug wings.  They show her WAY too much for how little she’s actually moving the story forward.  Overall, several of the mutant powers were stupid, and it used up a bunch of time needlessly.  Penny-Arcade kind of summed that part up perfectly.

The story was decent.  The director, who’s work I loved in Kick-Ass, seemed to suffer a bit from not cutting out enough extraneous scenes.

Ugh – the makeup

The worst part of the movie would be the constant immersion-breaking that seemed to keep happening.  An action scene is going on, and I could only think about how dumb Beast’s makeup is.  I mean, it was REALLY bad.

First, some perspective.  I was impressed how well Kelsey Grammer pulled off Beast in the earlier films:

He pulls it off big time.  Not so for poor Nicholas Hoult:

Granted, the kid that plays Beast in X-Men: First Class is the kid from About a Boy, so he doesn’t have the facial structure to pull off a beastly image without a huge amount of makeup.  He did a great job when he looked normal, his acting is actually quite good:

When he “talks” in blue-form it looks EXACTLY like a kid with a rubber face and blue makeup.  It’s incredibly distracting.

All in all, a rough movie that could have used some more polish.  I enjoyed it, because I’m a fan of X-Men, but they could have made better choices at nearly every turn from casting to more scenes on the cutting room floor.  Not sure who is to blame, a director can only control so much.  Maybe the studio fired his makeup crew halfway through the movie due to budget cuts or something.  If the director or lighting buy did Beast’s makeup, then alright, fair enough.

My score: B- (Would have been a mid-C without the strength of the lead actors)

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