IAR Screens 'X-Men: First Class'

Saturday, 21 May 2011 16:03 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR Screens 'X-Men: First Class'

If the world does end today that would be just fine with me because ... I just saw X-Men: First Class!

This morning I had the rare opportunity, along with a select group of fellow journalists, to attend an advanced screening of the highly anticipated prequel on the Fox lot. While I don’t want to spoil the movie for you and say too much, I can tell you that I really enjoyed it and think it could be one of the best films in the series. Fans of the X-Men comics and film franchise will be pleased because it is a faithful adaptation that pays respect to what’s come before it in both mediums. All of the actors are great in their respective roles and bring a fresh perspective to familiar characters.

The film tells the story of how Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) first met and eventually created the X-Men. Both actors are great in their roles but Fassbender is especially badass as the future Magneto. There is a segment in the movie that almost plays out like a Magneto revenge-film and Fassbender really shines in those scenes. Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) definitely stood out as a young Mystique and brought a lot of depth to the role. Director Matthew Vaughn did an exceptional job of setting the tone for the film. In stead of trying to make the elements from the comic books fit the real world, like the first few films did, I felt like Vaughn made the real world fit the comic books with this installment. It was fun seeing a young Professor X before he was in a wheel chair and McAvoy kind of played him like a womanizing drunk.

The movie makes an attempt to connect to the previous films, which is nice to see but really X-Men: First Class is so good it almost doesn’t need it. I know it’s supposed to be a prequel but I’d rather think of it as a re-boot because I think it’s different and in some ways better than the others. I was really impressed with how much of the film is a character study. You really get a chance to know the main characters, Magneto, Xavier, Mystique, and Dr. Hank “Beast” McCoy (Nicholas Hoult). Kevin Bacon (Footloose) plays the villain Sebastian Shaw and is very convincing in the part. He’s almost a precursor to what Magneto becomes in the other films. January Jones (Mad Men) plays Emma Frost and I just wish she could have been in more of the film. She’s a great character and they did a fantastic job with her mutant effects.

In fact, all the visual effects were great and looked really believable. The costumes and look of the production design was perfect and definitely reflected the comics. I loved that the movie was set against the Cuban missile crisis and used real world events to shadow the war between the mutants. The look of the ‘60s really worked well in the world of the X-Men movies and it gave more of a comic book appearance while still believable. It almost had a Mad Men feel to it. The best part of X-Men: First Class is we get to see how everything came together and they pull it off really well. We find out where Magneto’s helmet came from, how Xavier got in the wheel chair, how the team first formed and where the mansion came from. The whole film is filled with Easter Eggs for fans, more so than any of the previous films and they all work. They don’t feel like they were forced into the story. It all feels very organic.

There are two completely unexpected and brilliantly executed cameos in the film that I will not spoil for you but I thought they were very nicely done. The score is the same classic X-Men film theme and fits in the ‘60s setting well. I was just really impressed with this movie. The film touches on relatable issues that anyone can follow while keeping it fun and action-packed. I was actually surprised how much action there was, and it all looked really good. In the end, I can’t imagine that this movie won’t be a huge hit and spawn a whole new franchise. The story by original X-Men director Bryan Singer, who also produced the film, was a great concept for this new chapter in the series. This movie made me really interested in these characters and invested in them, more so than any of the other films. The movie definitely ends in a way that makes me feel very hopeful for a sequel and I look forward to seeing these actors in these great roles once again. I thought X-Men: First Class was cool, stylish, fun and extremely entertaining. This is one movie that is sure to please long time comic book fans and mainstream audiences alike. 

X-Men: First Class opens in theaters on June 3rd. 

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