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?

Counting down to X-Men: First Class – 5 reasons I’m seeing this on opening night

In about 72 hours, the wait will finally be over! As you know I’ve been excited to see this movie for some time now. I love the X-Men franchise, I even enjoyed the third one to an extent, despite all the flaws and Brett Ratner’s direction. I just re-watched the trailer of the first one and recalled how much I was so intrigued by the story and particularly the dynamic between Magneto and Xavier. Bryan Singer made a superhero film unlike anything I had ever seen, it was a complex and intelligent thriller that wasn’t all about the ‘Kapow!’ action and special effects, but one that was rooted in a compelling story and heavy on character development. It’s a classic good vs. evil we’ve seen so many times before, but rarely perfected.

Here are just five reasons why I’ll be seeing this on opening night:

1. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy
Two of the brightest British imports working today are perfectly cast to follow the footsteps of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. From the reviews I’ve heard (which currently still stands at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes with 35 reviews), both aren’t simply imitating the two acting greats but they’ve made the roles their own. In an interview on the Den Of Geek site, director Matthew Vaughn said he’s aiming for a Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid type of chemistry. Having just seen that classic film, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing that same fun banters between the two. I really enjoy both actors’ work, so seeing both of them squaring off against each other on screen will be such a treat. And the fact that both look so darn handsome in their retro outfit can’t hurt, either 😀

2. The compelling back-story
An origins story always have a certain appeal to me, especially when you’ve got such an interesting pair of characters like Xavier and Magneto. The X-Men universe is ripe with endless possibilities to explore, but I’m glad Vaughn and producer Bryan Singer go back to basics and focus on the story that really matter, that is why the two BFFs become arch enemies and how each mutant chooses to be heroes or villains that we’ve come to know.

3. The retro 1960s vibe
I’m really digging the look of the movie so far, the costumes and set pieces really take us back in time. With the backdrop of the Cold War, the filmmaker mixes history with fiction by inserting factual news items during the Kennedy era. My hubby got this iPad fake magazine promo of the movie, check out the spread below and the photo of Xavier with JFK at the White House:


4. The cool special effects and bombastic action sequences

This movie’s got everything you want in a Summer blockbuster, and then some! I have to admit, I love superhero movies for the fun action and logic-defying effects, I mean it’s the ultimate escapism right? Seeing a big submarine being lifted from under the ocean and Magneto dodging all of those missiles whilst still looking as dashing as ever, these are the stuff we go to the movies for! I also enjoy seeing each mutant discover and learn to control their power, which I’m sure will be in abundant display here. The music used so far in the promos sound awesome as well, which should be the perfect companion for all the fanfare.

5. A Cold War setting + a Bond flick + Frankenheimer political thriller… all in one movie!
This came from the mouth of Matthew Vaughn himself in the interview mentioned above:

I think [this movie is] primarily it’s about the relationship between Magneto and X, but set against a backdrop of political espionage and the Cold War. I always wanted to do a Cold War movie, and I’ve been desperate to do a Bond film, always have been. And here I got my cake and ate it, managed to do an X-Men movie, and a Bond thing, and a [John] Frankenheimer political thriller at the same time. But this process has been nuts.

As you know, I love Bond movies! I grew up watching them and that’s one franchise I’ll always have appetite for. So I take it as good news that almost every review I glance through have mentioned the Bond comparison… one reviewer even said that it could pass for a Connery-era 007 spy thriller. I think Fassbender is unofficially the frontrunner for the next Bond, even Vaughn himself mentioned that in the same interview (note: he’s directed Daniel Craig in Layer Cake). Having seen Stardust and Kick-Ass, I have faith in the British director’s ability to deliver on this promise. With Singer’s backing, I expect to see a return to form of this franchise.


Btw, have you seen this inventive (and expensive!) marketing promos FOX is doing lately? FirstShowing reported this yesterday that the studio has hired planes to fly around and make giant X-Men logos in Southern California to generate the buzz. Apparently it worked as now people have been posting photos of them like the one below on Facebook and there’s even a YouTube video of it. Pretty cool stuff!


So who’s with me? Anybody else seeing this one on Friday?

THIS JUST IN! X-Men: First Class trailer is finally here!

I’ve had the X-Men Facebook page up all day long but it’s been a hectic day filled w/ meetings. But when I hit refresh a few minutes ago, voila!! You already know how much I’ve been anticipating this and was hoping this was released during the Superbowl. But now it’s finally here! I don’t want to keep you a moment longer, so behold…

Looks like they’ve also released the official logo, which is the same as the one I posted with the still photos I posted earlier this month.

The Plot:

X-MEN FIRST CLASS charts the epic beginning of the X-Men saga, and reveals a secret history of famous global events. Before mutants had revealed themselves to the world, and before Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Not archenemies, they were instead at first the closest of friends, working together with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to prevent nuclear Armageddon. In the process, a grave rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.

My initial reaction is OMG! Holy goosebumps!!! I’m really digging the tone that Matthew Vaughn’s done for this film, this certainly promises greatness that Bryan Singer brought with the first ever X-Men film 11 years ago (boy, time flies doesn’t it?) It’s perfect casting to have James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Professor X and Magneto. I’m glad the film is focusing on the dynamics between the two and how the most bitter enemies sometimes start out as friends. The rest of the cast is pretty good, too: Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence  (one of this year’s Best Actress nominees for Winter’s Bone), Rose Byrne, Kevin Bacon and January Jones.

I absolutely CAN’T WAIT to see this one. Now, what do you all think?

X-Men: First Class – The prequel I’m actually excited about!

In a world where there seems to be no cure for Hollywood’s sequelitis and remakitis, there is one prequel I’m hugely excited about! It’s definitely the one to beat in the box office come next Summer 2011 (June 3rd, 2011 to be exact, according to SuperHeroHype). I know perhaps it’s too soon to predict such a thing, but judging from the never-ending popularity of comic-book adaptation and the kind of buzz this one’s been getting, it’s not that far off.

I love the first and second installment of the movie (until Brett Ratner screwed it up), so I’m naturally drawn to this project and the idea of making a young version of the franchise is definitely appealing. But what gets me leaping out of my seat yesterday was learning about Michael Fassbender joining the cast as Magneto, the former BFF-turned-powerful-foe of Professor X and the X-Men. Earlier this month, it was widely reported that he was to choose between the powerful mutant and a yet-to-be-named villain role in the Spider-man reboot. Glad to see he has chosen wisely.

The casting of James McAvoy as Professor X instantly adds some considerable cred to this project. The 31-year-old Scot has proven his acting chops time and time again in The Last King of Scotland, Atonement, and The Last Station. But he’s also got his feet wet in full-throttle actioner like Wanted alongside Angelina Jolie, so this isn’t his first foray in comic-book adaptations. Patrick Stewart is a tough act to follow as the wise and cultured founder of the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (Xavier Institute) and leader of the pack, but I have faith that McAvoy will do well in that role. The SuperheroHype site offered a clue into the plot of this prequel on the auction info page that offers an exclusive tour of the set:

Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-MEN.

I can’t think of a more talented and winsome actors facing off each other, exploring their initial friendship and the unfortunate incidents that lead to them choosing opposite paths. So far, the other cast members that have been announced include Rosamund Pike (Pride & Prejudice), Amber Heard (Pineapple Express), Benjamin Walker (who’s currently starring in the play Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson in his debut film role), and Kick Ass‘ Aaron Johnson rumored to play Cyclops.

I just re-watched the trailer of the first X-Men movie with my hubby and he recalled how excited we were to see it. Remember, this was back in 2000, before a throng of superhero movies popping up faster than you actually have time to watch them. The only comic-book movies were the circus-y and farcical Batman movies, topped by the abominable that was Batman & Robin [shakes head]. So to see a comic adaptation with real actors with gravitas such as Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen and treat it like a serious action drama was a welcome change.

Bryan Singer isn’t returning to direct but will act as producer to X-Men: First Class. The directorial duty will fall on London-born producer/director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust), fresh out of his pretty decent success with Kick-Ass. According to IMDb, he was set to direct X-Men: The Last Stand but dropped out due to family conflicts. Pity, that might’ve turned out to be a much better movie.