Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Pretty Kickass First Class

     Plenty of good things are inside the 131 minute run time of X-Men: First Class, director Matthew Vaughn's second major studio film after Kickass. However, there are two great things: Michael Fassbender's wonderful acting, which is at times over-the-top (in a good way) but is always powerful, and Betty Draper's (January Jones) luscious--with a size that I never would have imagined--tits. It's safe to say that January Jones is a wooden actress, who is generally bad at showing emotion (which is why her bitch character on Mad Men works so well), and it's also safe to say that there is a reason why most of her scenes are in bras or bikini tops that seem two sizes too small: her acting may be wooden, but that won't change the fact that most of the male audience will be wooden in a different way. As in they will have wood. (Boners.) But I digress: First Class is a fun movie with a 60's feel, it has many interesting and exciting performances from great talent, and although it may not be the best comic-based film to be released this year, it's still a fun time with new takes on old characters.
     Speaking of that 1960's feel, the film's plot puts the tensions of the timeline into good use; its major catastrophe deals with the missile crisis. As anyone who has seen the trailer should know, First Class takes place before the decades of all of the X-Men films that have been released to theaters. It's an origin story for certain characters, taking a look at the beginnings of two of the old-as-we've-seen-them main characters: Magneto and Professor X. We see Magneto (Fassbender) as a child, as he learns to move metals with his mind. In a different part of the world, Oxford, we meet Professor X (James McAvoy), who is a genius when it comes to genetic mutations and creatively uses this knowledge to try and pick up attractive girls at bars. Once the two characters meet, they realize they have a common (and ruthless enemy): a man by the name of Sebastian Shaw, in a role that Kevin Bacon looks like he is having fun with. With the way Shaw acts, shooting unarmed women and using his genetic mutation to absorb energy around him to powerful effect, it's no wonder that the CIA finds him to be an essential threat. So when the CIA recruits Xavier and the mutants that he has found to help stop Shaw (along with Magneto), high-tech gadgetry, violence, and humor ensue on a backdrop dealing with a potential world-ending event.
     Much of First Class deals with a young high-school to college age group of mutants that X. and Magneto recruit to train and let them know that they are not alone in the world--they can use their amazing powers for good causes.  Unfortunately, this is also where the film falters: yes, some of these young freaks have cool powers that are used in the great climax action sequence in the film, but overall, I was wishing that I was watching Fassbender ham it up as Magneto. The young glances of love and the immature nature of the childish characters was more like watching X-Men: Twilight instead of a badass summer comic book movie. Maybe I'm overreacting a little bit, and maybe it's just a testament to Fassbender's screen presence: after his heart-breaking turn in Hunger, his small but brilliant role in Inglorious Basterds, and his charming yet frightening characterization in Fish Tank, I wonder how many times I will have to mention him before people realize that he is one of the most exciting actors to watch and will be for a long time to come.
     As I stated before, director Matthew Vaughn's previous film was last year's Kick-Ass, which was my 6th favorite movie of 2010. First Class isn't nearly as good as that film, but it is still packed with action, explosions and witty humor--just of the PG-13 variety. It's a serviceable comic-book action movie with flashes of brilliance, mainly due to the two lead actors and their respective acting prowess. But it also has moments of eye-rolling, with some of the interactions between the younger characters, the stupidity of the government portrayal, and the acting of January Jones coming to mind. But with a scandal breaking that director Matthew Vaughn had an affair with and impregnated Ms. Jones during filming, it sort of makes sense: who needs acting when you have a pair of tits like that?     (B)

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