For Your Consideration: X-Men: First Class
6. X-Men: First Class (PG-13) - 132 minutes
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Matthew Vaughn is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors. I loved Kick-Ass from 2010 and he previously directed Stardust, so it comes as no surprise that I absolutely loved X-Men. It's a rare feat for a studio to take this big of a risk on rebooting a solid franchise, but Fox decided to go ahead and it paid off beautifully. It's a great starting point for a new series of movies and the cast is absolutely brilliant, except for one sore spot, which I will get to later on.
First Class tells the tale of the original X-Men and how Charles Xavier and Eric Lehnsherr became Professor X and Magneto, respectively. It's a great origins tale that also has a lot of heavy-handed metaphors flying around. But despite this thick layer of allegory, the movie is endlessly entertaining and smart. The backdrop of the 60s and the Cold War are perfect for the relationship between these two giants of comic book lore. The movie also does a good job of highlighting other mutants without overloading the audience with too many characters (X-Men: The Last Stand crossed the line of introducing way too many characters). There's a boat load of interesting characters to mine in this universe and I appreciated them sticking to a handful of them. In fact, I loved the other big relationship/love triangle between the Beast, Magneto and Mystique. The movie brings up a lot of different questions about morality and equality and they're handled with grace. I find it refreshing to see a superhero movie tackle these issues.
The cast is really, really superb. I have loved James McAvoy since his leading role in Wanted and he's really close to becoming a break out star, which has already happened to his rival, Michael Fassbender. They're both really good actors and they have good chemistry, balancing that delicate line of mutual respect but deep-seated disagreement on their own worldview. The rest of the crew is great - Jennifer Lawrence already proved herself in Winter's Bone and here she plays a different kind of woman, someone who doesn't know who she really is or what she really wants. Nicholas Hoult is great as the Beast, I just wish he had more screen time. And Kevin Bacon as the villain was a great stroke of genius. The only weak spot? January Jones. Uggghh, she has this dead-behind-the-eyes vacant stare that gets really annoying after awhile. It's great that she's the villain because you really hope that she gets offed every time she's on screen.
A lot of people complain about superhero movies and how that's all Hollywood wants to churn out nowadays, but last year had some pretty solid hits with Thor and Captain America and X-Men. If they keep up this quality, I won't complain. I know Vaughn is interested in doing a sequel and I know I'll be thoroughly excited to see what adventures they'll have cooked up for this new (but old!) generation of X-Men!