'X-Men: First Class' Review By ZanyZap

Marvel's reply to The Dark Knight
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Visuals
Director: Matthew Vaughn

Writer(s): Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn

Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Kevin Bacon

X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn is not a newcomer to badass or to comic books (he directed the 2010 smash hit Kick Ass). With a bigger budget and on a much bigger scale, Vaughn outdoes himself with X-Men: First Class, the latest Marvel installment; and he and a cerebral group of young, topnotch actors do so with style and-forgive me-with class.

The prequel (or as it will become, the reboot) to Bryan Singer's X-Men begins very much like the first film, with young Erik Lehnsherr being ripped away from his parents by Nazi guards at a concentration camp. What Singer did not show us was Erik's tie to Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), Nazi scientist and soon-to-be baddie. Cut to a brief scene with a young Charles Xavier meeting Raven, also known as Mystique, the sexy blue and naked creature who can shift shapes, and then flash forward once more to 1963 where we meet an older, charming Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) with hair and a spring in his step, and also the now vengeful Erik (Inglourious Basterds actor Michael Fassbender).

The still young and ever evil Shaw (he has powers too, duh!) and his Hellfire Club, a few mutants hell-bent on suppressing the inferior race, you and I, the humans, begin the usual bad-guy "let's take over the world scheme. But wait! There's a twist: Unlike other films the plot is smoothly integrated with the story's Übermensch Nazi background. High five Vaughn!

You can guess what happens next. Xavior and Erik, with the help of Dr. Henry "Hank" McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), and a smart and very sexy CIA covert agent (Rose Byrne)-her introduction was drool-worthy-recruit a group of mutants to aid them on a two-front war: one against Shaw and the other against Americans and the Russians. Did I forget to mention the period? It's set in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis-although an excellent storyteller, Vaughn makes for a poor historian. We forgive him.

Props go to McAvoy and Fassbender for helping the story evolve. Amidst the backdrop of stylized action, humor and fun, Vaughn paints a dramatic, almost wrenching relationship between Xavier and Lehnsherr. We sympathize with their struggle-Xavier believes in humans; Erik knows their nature-mostly because we've foreseen (or already seen rather) the outcome, but also because we recognize how human the two mutants are. Vaughn tells the story, McAvoy and Fassbender sell it.

The rest of the cast matches McAvoy's and Fassbender's abilities. Jennifer Lawrence backs her Oscar nomination (best supporting actress in last year's Winter's Bone) as Mystique; she reveals that there's a lot more beneath the skin, blue skin that is. McCoy, or the Beast or the big guy with even bigger feet, played almost poignantly by Hoult is endearing, as are the other X-Men.

My only complaint is that the character development for the rest of the team was tepid when compared to other members. Make no mistake: They are still fun to watch in their blue and yellow vintage garb. A cameo of a certain character had the audience buckled over, so strain to hear the humorous, one-sided exchange of dialogue, which will only make you laugh harder.

Vaughn throws in a few gags-Xavier jokes about going bald-, clips from the period, such as a presidential address from JFK, and the nostalgia, or pre-nostalgia, runs high. I lost count of how many times my film companion poked me in the rips pointing out the numerous connections to the later films and to general X-Men lore. Also, the resemblance between Fassbender, when in full Magneto costume, and Sir Ian McKellen (Magneto) is not just uncanny, it's legit. Feel free to geek out now.

Nothing needs to be said about the effects except that they were awesome, Inception style: meaning that they will blow your mind. If the climax and last line of the film do not give you chills (think: "I am Iron Man"), check your pulse.

Forget the barrage of lackluster summer blockbusters and even most superhero flicks (yes, I mean the ones where they kill Cyclops and butcher Deadpool). Marvel has found its Dark Knight in the group of extraordinary humans on and behind the scenes of X-Men: First Class.

X-Men: First Class? More like X-Men: Badass!

Aside: There's nothing at the end of the credits, but it's encouraged to stay and observe the men behind the X, even if it's like reading the phonebook.

An Average Joe (ZanyZap) production

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Comments (34)

  1. Jakn

    ...for some reason right now I'm thinking of what the remake would have been like if it were directed by Chrisopher Nolan. Just now thought of him while talking about the 'Halloween' remake. lol. Hey mind writing a review of the 'Halloween' remake? Wouldn't mind seeing your thoughts bout it and why u didn't like it.

    4 years agoby @jaknFlag

  2. Jakn

    @zanyzap Yeah. Don't bother seeing 'Halloween 2'. The first I thought was so necesscery because it showed Michael Myer's childhood. It answered so many questions that we've always asked about some of the horror icons we know today (such as Freddy Kruger or Jason Voohrees). Nobody even told a killer's story with their childhood, and the way Zombie showed us with Michael Myers is the reason why I find it the most necessacry remake out there. I know that's he's not a very good director and all, but still.

    4 years agoby @jaknFlag

  3. Jakn

    @zanyzap Just forget what I said about the 'Halloween' thing. I wasn't thinking quite right. lol

    4 years agoby @jaknFlag

  4. ZanyZap

    @jakn: Oh, I watched it in the theaters, and the only positive aspect of the movie was that it confirmed to me how big of a hack Rob Zombie is. Don't get me started on Halloween 2.

    4 years agoby @zanyzapFlag

  5. Jakn

    @zanyzap Seriously dude? You didn't bother watching the 'Halloween' remake? That's like the most necessacry remake out there. Maybe wha tI said earlier didn't quite get out right.

    4 years agoby @jaknFlag

  6. ZanyZap

    @dan1: Ye.

    4 years agoby @zanyzapFlag

  7. ZanyZap

    @jakn: I don't know what you mean. Yes, I purchased the Halloween remake, but only so that I could smash it with a baseball bat, Office Space style. :P I meant it's Marvel's best film to date, with The Dark Knight obviously being the best DC film.

    Thanks, all.

    4 years agoby @zanyzapFlag

  8. Dan

    @jakn ?? lol

    4 years agoby @dan1Flag

  9. Corey W.

    @zanyzap Hey, great one man! Interesting read! Look forward to more reviews from you, sir.

    4 years agoby @coreyFlag

  10. Jakn

    @zanyzap for a second review this is great. I wouldn't compare this movie to 'The Dark Knight' though, but I enojyed this movie very much. Just to tell you what I thought, I call 'X-Men: First Class' the 'Halloween' remake ofsuperhero/comic-book movies. If you know what I mean.

    4 years agoby @jaknFlag

  11. Wichy

    @zanyzap Awesome review. I am so psyched that this has turned out to be such a good movie. Can't wait to see it myself.

    4 years agoby @wichitagalzlFlag

  12. Chris

    @zanyzap Great review

    4 years agoby @unknown21Flag

  13. ZanyZap

    Yes. You do it! But seriously, thanks for the comments, @ejk1. You're a good guy... and a good writer, which even if I did hate you (which I don't), would bring us back to neutral. :P Just saw the film again, btw!

    4 years agoby @zanyzapFlag

  14. ejk1

    @zanyzap Fine, I'll mark my "callendar," whatever the hell that is :P

    4 years agoby @ejk1Flag

  15. ZanyZap

    @ejk1: So you never thought Zany was cool. You douche. I hate you now, before it was unofficial hatred; now I officially hate you. Mark your callendar, bitch. :P

    4 years agoby @zanyzapFlag

  16. ejk1

    @zanyzap I'm just messin' with ya, dude. The name's cool.

    4 years agoby @ejk1Flag

  17. ZanyZap

    @narrator: I hate cliches and avoid "unoriginal" sayings, but "great minds think a lot." Nice pun with marvel, by the way; I'm glad we can match each others wit.
    @ejk1: When I am a famous filmmaker, my production logo will be ZanyZap. Average Joe will be specifically for comedy sketches. I'm sure you understand. :P I may revert back though, given the mixed reviews.

    Thanks, @forrestgump1, @mattbierwagen, @kguy, @bawnian-dexeus, @thedude-abides. A critic always appreciates two thumbs up. :)

    4 years agoby @zanyzapFlag

  18. moviegeek

    Nice review "newzap"!

    4 years agoby @moviegeekFlag

  19. the Narrator

    MARVELous review, friend. Lol. You have a witty way about you; always have, and always will, I hope. Glad to see you writing yet another solid, and educating review. Glad we saw eye to eye on this. So far, me, you, and @ejk1 have given the film a solid 4.5 rating. Good one @zanyzap.

    4 years agoby @narratorFlag

  20. ejk1

    @zanyzap Okay a few things. One, great review. Two, I'm glad that you've decided to finally write more. Your review of The Social Network showed how talented a writer you are, and this cements that fact. And three, Average Joe? Why stop being Zany? That was an awesome name.

    4 years agoby @ejk1Flag

  21. Forrestgump1

    Great Review SEEING this Tonight IM very Excited! Nice work...!

    4 years agoby @forrestgump1Flag

  22. Worth5Bucks

    @zanyzap nice man! i feel this is getting too worked up for me, but ill see it tonight regardless

    4 years agoby @mattbierwagenFlag

  23. K.Guy

    Glad to see this movie getting some positive reviews. Nice one.

    4 years agoby @kguyFlag

  24. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    @zanyzap Great review, expect mine also today :)

    4 years agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag

  25. thedude-abides

    @zanyzap Great review, friend. Can't wait to see Fassbender as Magneto.

    4 years agoby @thedude-abidesFlag

  26. ZanyZap

    @dan1: Fixed. You're a doll. I hope no one ever drops you.

    4 years agoby @zanyzapFlag

  27. ZanyZap

    Ah, thanks. It was early. I was still hungover from the awesomeness that was the movie. Good catch, my main man Dan (original, eh?).

    4 years agoby @zanyzapFlag

  28. Dan

    @zanyzap Just making me more excited, man. Thanks :)

    Note though: Isn't it Sebastion Shaw, not Sean?

    4 years agoby @dan1Flag

  29. ZanyZap

    @moviemaniac66: Thanks bro. It's well worth it.

    4 years agoby @zanyzapFlag

  30. MovieManiac

    Great Review man. I am stoked to see this movie.

    4 years agoby @moviemaniac66Flag