Top 40 Reasons I Love X-Men: First Class

Happy Sunday, folks, hope you’ve had a pleasant weekend!

I’ve been wanting to do this post for quite a while as I haven’t got a chance to actually review this movie for myself (but Paula G did here). But as I said in my weekend roundup last week, it’s my top favorite movie of the Summer. After seeing it again for a second time last night, I wholeheartedly stand by that decision, in fact, it renews my appreciation of the X-Men franchise.

Yes, so I’m still not crazy about January Jones’ acting, or lack thereof, but I guess she’s supposed to be this icy queen, so in that sense she did what she was hired to do. Btw, instead of a straight on review, I’m inspired to do a similar post like what Stevee of Cinematic Paradox, listing 52 reasons why she loved Inception, but I’m doing a Top 40 instead (y’know, like Rick Dees’ Weekly Top 40 for those of you growing up in that era, but in reverse order).

Btw, there are SPOILERS ABOUND in this post, so consider yourself warned:

1. Michael Fassbender Ian McKellen left a huge shoes to fill as Erik Lehnsherr but Fassbender manages to make the role his own.

2. James McAvoy – Who says the good guy has to be boring? McAvoy not only makes Charles Xavier a compelling character, but someone worth rooting for.

3. Matthew Vaughn’s stylish direction – even with so many characters, Vaughn keeps the movie moving at the right pace and keep the focus on the two most compelling characters.

4. Smart script and sharp dialog from Vaughn’s longtime collaborator Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass) and the guys who penned Thor, Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz

5. The splendid dynamic between Xavier and Lehnsherr, the best ‘frienemies’ of the superhero universe I’ve ever seen …

6. The retro 60s vibe – the cars, the clothes, down to the JFK news footage during Cuban Missile Crisis era

7. Living up to Vaughn’s promise of Cold War setting + a Bond flick + Frankenheimer political thriller… all in one movie!

8. The awesome soundtrack – done by Henry Jackman (who also worked on The Dark Knight’s soundtrack). The music has an epic feel to it as well as a 60s vibe that perfectly captures the mood of the film. I LOVE the score used in the trailer, I even play it over and over again just to hear it. But this one used when Magneto lifts the submarine is downright epic:

9. The Wolverine cameo… short and bad-ass. I had no idea he was going to show up the first time around so it was an awesome surprise, but it’s still clap-worthy even on second viewing.

10. Kevin Bacon as a larger-than-life Bondian baddie… an explosive one at that…

11. That whole scene at the beach…especially the part when a bullet hits Xavier’s lower back… I teared up both times.

I can’t feel my legs.

12. Magneto’s heartbreaking back story… right from the tragic opening scene at the Polish Nazi camp and at the hand of German-speaking Kevin Bacon as a Nazi officer

13. Oliver Platt as one of the first ‘Man in Black’ is one of the most fun roles I’ve seen him do in a long while

14. The cool looking black and yellow x-men uniform

15. The name Sebastian Shaw… seems destined for a powerful bad dude

16. Jennifer Lawrence’s affecting portrayal as Mystique …

17. The contrasting ideology of Xavier and Magneto … and how each came to such a viewpoint…

Erik Lehnsherr: After tomorrow, they are gonna turn on us but you are blinded because you believe they are all like Moira.
Professor Charles Xavier: And you believe they are all like Shaw.

18. The global feel – with the various filming locations and language spoken (German, Russia, France, etc.)

19. Michael Fassbender’s Bond-like moves, especially the scene in the Argentinian Alps

20. The often funny X-Men training at Xavier’s mansion… especially Banshee learning how to fly with his sonic-producing ability

21. The scene where Charles accesses Erik’s childhood memory with his mother, and both men cry

22. The complicated relationship between Xavier and Raven – who somehow grow up together like siblings

23. Seeing Xavier’s playful and flirty side in college – using his mutant thesis as a pick up line even!

24. The dazzling scene when Magneto lifts the submarine high above water …

25. Darwin’s awesome adaptability powers – it’d have been nice if he stayed around longer though

26. A wonderful metaphor for all the outsiders and outcasts amongst us.

27. Rose Byrne’s outfit as Moira… especially the classic trench she wore to attend Xavier’s presentation …

28. Magneto’s fascinating relationship with Raven/Mystique

29. All the close-ups of Fassbender, whether he’s in rage, sorrow or both

30. The moment Erik kills Shaw with the same coin he once gave him… most memorable villain’s death ever

31. Hank McCoy’s humorous introduction at the lab – I love Nicholas Hoult’s heartfelt yet cerebral portrayal …

32. The devastating moment when Charles and Erik realize they have to finally part ways and each mutant must then choose a side

33. The name Raven… which carries the same mystique as the character who possesses it

34. The whimsical tones throughout the movie, adding mutant-related humor that enhances the plot instead of simply being used as filler …

35. Magneto’s stopping dozens of missiles mid air…whilst look dashingly cool doing it

36. The mutant recruiting sequence, especially when Angel showed Erik and Charles what she’s capable of…

37. Eye-popping special effects throughout, especially in the third act of the film in the final sea battle scene

38. The scene when Charles first meets Erik under water

Erik: I thought I was alone.

Charles: You’re not alone, Erik. You’re not alone.

39. Xavier’s heart-wrenching wail when he realized Erik is defying orders not to kill Shaw

40. It’s the kind of superhero movie I like… the one with thrilling action coupled with tough moral dilemmas. In other words, it’s what a fun comic-book movie should be… bombastic, but with heart.

Beneath the spectacle, there are themes of ‘prejudice, fear of the unknown, being outcast, trying to find a place in the world’ – universal themes we can all identify with. I posted a countdown to this movie back in May, hoping it would be a return to form for the X-Men franchise, well suffice to say, Vaughn (and Bryan Singer as its producer) did not disappoint!

4.5 out of 5 reels


Well, do you love this movie/franchise as much as I do? Feel free to share what you think of it and add your own favorite part/scene from the movie.

Guest Post – ‘X-Men: First Class’ Review

[WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS]

Despite my high expectations and fear of being disappointed, I really liked X-Men: First Class. Director Matthew Vaughn did serve up the Bond movie/political thriller cocktail that he promised, and, contrary to his own statement, there is no sappy love song to gum up the works [rtm’s note: see comment in this post if you’re curious what this is about].

In case you don’t already know the basic premise: Charles Xavier (James McEvoy) and Eric Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) team up with a young bunch of their fellow mutants (Jennifer Lawrence, Zoë Kravitz, Nicholas Hoult, Lucas Till) to stop Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon, making “Six Degrees” even easier to play) and Emma Frost (January Jones) from starting World War III by playing the USA and USSR against each other.

For a first half crammed with exposition, this is a film that moves at a good clip but isn’t too fast-paced to follow. We see Eric’s and Charles’ deeply different childhoods. Later, as Eric smoothly liquidates truly evil ex-Nazis, always looking fine and sometimes in a three-piece suit, the Bond references fly fast and fierce. We are in Cold Wartime as well, so CIA agents and shady Russians abound. When the two founding fathers seek out their fellow mutants, the film gets really funny — probably my favorite sequence in the picture. With the team assembled, they begin their training and the latent conflict begins to develop: the future Magneto runs on anger and defiance; Professor X’s MO is peace and collaboration.

Before I saw the movie, I thought the casting was excellent and it proved to be so. As Xavier, McAvoy has the reserve and steadiness which contrasts perfectly with the restless energy Fassbender gives Lensherr. Jennifer Lawrence has a sadness that is perfect for Raven/Mystique, the girl caught between the two paths. (One of her scenes with Fassbender is a definite homage to the Bond series.) Although the childhoods of the younger X-Men aren’t explored, I thought they all did well with roles that are necessarily supporting. Even January Jones’ cool blank quality works well for Emma Frost.  There are a couple of well-placed cameos but you’ll have to see those for yourself.

The film is really about the conflict between Magneto and Professor X, and the larger question of whether it’s better to fight discrimination with violence or with reason. Possibly this would be overkill for anyone who’s really into the actual comic books. Even as they team up to stop a nuclear war, these two are on different trajectories and we see why and how their split is inevitable. Fassbender and McAvoy have a lot of chemistry and I found myself wanting them to stay together for a whole series of movies, though it was a foregone conclusion that they wouldn’t.

The carefully planned structure of the film falls apart a bit near the end. i don’t want to throw any (more) spoilers out there but the denouement seems a little rushed, though there are some satisfying shocks. I give it 4 out of 5 stars and suggest that if you are at all interested, that you see it on the big screen.

4 out of 5 reels

[rtm’s note: My review will be up later this week, but I’d agree with Paula on the rating.]

So did you see it this past weekend? What did you think of the movie?