**Before I begin, there are spoilers in this here review.**
My husband has been dying to see X-Men: First Class. Ever since we saw the first trailer months back, that is all he talked about. However, I had my doubts. Anyone remember X-Men Origins: Wolverine? That movie had so much potential to dive deep into the history and psyche of Wolverine. What did it offer? Continuity problems, random character introductions that had nothing to do with the plot, oh, and really bad claws.
So when I heard that First Class was being made, I was uneasy about it. Then my husband told me that he heard that First Class was going to be a trilogy I decided it wasn’t worth seeing. Why can’t there just be one movie? Why does there have to be a series?
But yesterday, we packed up and took my nephews, six and ten years old, to see this origin story. The movie begins with the re-introduction of Erik Lehnsherr in a Nazi concentration camp in 1944, screaming for his parents when they are separated and this tragedy causing him to bend the metal fence. Then we are introduced to a very young Charles Xavier waking up to the sound of someone in his kitchen, the shape-shifter named Raven, later to be forever known as Mystique. The movie goes back and forth: Eric meeting with Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) who forces his metal manipulation abilities by murdering his mother in front of him, to Charles and Raven in a pub in England, where Charles uses his telepathy to pick up the ladies at the bar, to Erik, older and angrier, hunting Nazis. By this time it’s 1962 and American is on shaky ground with the Soviet Union. Then, we are formally introduced to Sebastian Shaw, a mutant with the ability to absorb kinetic energy which not only makes him strong but also keeps him looks young. He surrounds himself with other mutants with very useful abilities, such as Emma Frost (White Queen), Azazel and Riptide (who had no speaking lines. Easy job for that guy). Come to find out, it is Shaw who is behind the driving force of the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis. He plots against both sides to have a world for mutants. Charles Xavier is recruited by the CIA to develop a special covert mutant team to battle Shaw and protect the American people. At this point a lot of stuff happens kind of at once. We meet a handful of mutants, who are weakly developed, (example: Introduce the character of Darwin and then 10-15 minutes later have Shaw kills him), we see them train, we see them battle the forces of Shaw and win, we see Erik turn his back on Charles and (in the words of River Song “Spoliers!”) kill Shaw, and then Charles ends up being shot in the back which of course leaves him paralyzed. The movie ends up Erik busting out Emma Frost, who has been in CIA custody for the last 20 minutes of the movie, who tells her to call him Magneto.And end credits.
I have to say. I was pleasantly surprised. Not by James McAvoy or Michael Fassbender (both did an amazing job), but by Kevin Bacon. Holy crap was Kevin Bacon awesome in this movie. Most movies Kevin Bacon is playing, well, Kevin Bacon. But in First Class, he is Sebastian Shaw, leader of the Hell Fire Club and all around smooth talking evil guy. He speaks German and Russian in the movie and it sounds absolutely natural. And what the best part: Bacon made you want to like Shaw. For all of the bad things he does to Erik in the camps, to how he annihilates a CIA building and the people inside, you can’t help but think, “If I were a mutant, I’d side with this guy.” That is the making of an awesome villain. Someone who you know you should not like because of this things he does, but can’t help but agree with why he is doing the things he does. I enjoyed the storyline and for the most part how the plot continued to move forward. However, the rush of introducing the other mutants was a disappointment. The cameo by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine was entertaining but him and his F-Bomb dropping was unnecessary. I found Raven to be whiney and out of place with McAvoy’s Xavier and Fassbender’s Magento. Also, the friendship between these two characters felt forced to me. They were thrown together by circumstance. It felt more like an unstable alliance rather than friendship. But my major problem is the ending. It felt a little Scooby-Doo for me in that while Magneto is talking to Emma Frost, there stands Mystique and the rest of the gang in the door way like “yah! Join us! It will be wacky fun!” Oh! And whoever was in charge of making sure customs, did a crappy job on Fassbender. It was like they just found some random purple suit that was two sizes too big for him and tailored it with safety pins. The helmet wasn’t bad, minus the weird pointy things, which I’m told is in comic cannon. Also, what was the deal with McAvoy placing his index finger on his temples to use his telepathy? Don’t get me wrong, I get it, but it really did look a little goofy him running around looking like he was thinking really hard about something. Another problem was that it was obvious that the writers, producers and director paid no attention to the storyline that was put in the previous X-Men movies. Example: in X-Men III, Xavier was walking around at the beginning of the movie. At the end of First Class, he’s shot in the back and is paralyzed. And the biggest plunder: killing Shaw. Yes. Killing. Sebastian Shaw. What a huge mistake! Kevin Bacon did such an amazing job that they could have continued with movies dealing with the Hell Fire Club. But no. They have to go against reason and logic and kill off an amazing character. That’s Hollywood for you.But for the flaws that I have pointed out, I have to say, I enjoyed this movie. It was a more adult and mature look at the X-Men. And even though I enjoyed the villains more than the heroes, I enjoyed the tragic story of Erik Lehnserr and he’s journey for vengeance.
And right now, I’m going to introduce a rating system for my blog. Since I’m obsessed with Pirates, it’s going to be the “Arrgh! Rating System” So this movie get’s 4 “Arrghs!” and that just because Kevin Bacon was such an amazing bad guy.