Sunday, July 10, 2011

X-Men: First Class. A-

In this new X-Men movie, the idea to go back, as the trailers say, "before he was Professor X, before he was Magneto," proves to be a great one indeed. Wolverine's a pretty fun hero, but there's no question that the greatest and most interesting characters in the X-Men universe are Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr. They're the ones who sort of represent what makes X-Men unique, what adds that philosophical spin that most superhero movies are devoid of. And really, just hearing them call each other "old friend" piques the viewer's interest. What really did happen? X-Men: First Class tells us just that, but that's not really what makes it such a good movie. Really this is just a lean, well-built machine that understands storytelling, the craft of developing characters without feeling obvious, and that good acting is just as vital in a superhero film as it is in a dramatic piece. Any history geek with the slightest interest in comic books will swoon over the story that Bryan Singer and Sheldon Turner have come up with. It attempts to show how mutants were heavily involved with the Cuban Missile Crisis. The villain, Sebastian Shaw, has plans for world war III in his hopes to destroy the human race and let mutants rule. Charles Xavier is of course for trying to make mutants compatible with humans, and at his side is Erik, who will eventually adopt Shaw's disposition. I found the movie to be deeply involving, a step above what constitutes summer entertainment. Perhaps it strays a bit too far into the idea of an outcast, depicted through mutants, accepting themselves, and maybe January Jones' acting abilities don't earn her the amount of screen time she gets as Emma Frost. But it's hard to find too much the movie does wrong, and when you put them up to the ample areas where it succeeds, they don't really mean a thing.

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