X-Men: First Class (2011)

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Cast of X-Men

Considering I went on a movie marathon of Marvel titles last year, it seemed only logical that I’d eventually get around to seeing these and begin what was sure to be an… interesting journey into the world of mutants.
Knowing what it can feel like to be unlike others, a young British boy always knew there were others like him - people whose DNA was genetically altered, but never knew who they were until a special girl came along. Across the world in the cold and war-torn Russia, another boy becomes a human experiment of a man whose primary goal is to someday rule the world.

Some twelve years later, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is an intelligent 24-year-old college graduate with high honors. Then there is Moira. An agent of the CIA, Moira MacTaggert (Rose Bryne) finds herself witnessing plans for the beginnings of a war between Russia and the U.S. The man orchestrating this is Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) who along with his associate Emma Frost (January Jones) has been on the CIA’s watch list for years. What’s more, MacTaggert witnesses telepathic behavior, sending her to report to her boss who refuses take her word alone. This leads her to Charles whose thesis was on the subject of human mutations. Along with his “adopted” sister, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), Charles believes Moria’s story because of his  own ability to read minds.  
Along the way, Charles recruits Eric (Michael Fassbender) who has held a grudge against Shaw for over a decade after he murdered his mother. Each day that passes strengthens Shaw’s superhuman powers, what he didn’t count on was the CIA recruiting Charles and his own band of superhuman soldiers to protect the integrity of America. What Charles doesn’t realize is that Eric has a darker purpose in mind.  

FILM REVIEW | X-Men, Days of Future Past (2014)
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier

As much as I adore super hero flicks and now sci-fi, never in a million years did this series appeal to me. When I was a young teen, basically anything resembling this sort of movie was ignored. Given that I knew next-to-nothing about the series, it was an unfair assumption. My impressions were that this couldn’t possibly be taken seriously like its Marvel counterparts – how silly that notion was! My first reaction on finishing this was that this was absolutely, positively brilliant. Everything about it seemed above and beyond the standard of normal Marvel movies and no matter how enjoyable they’ve been, this film has probably taken over the “top spot” of my rankings. The script is intelligent (mind-bending, heart-stopping and even sorrowful when it needs to be) and the cast is a fabulous fresh crop of young talent that continuously impressed me with their respective characters – and even disappointed the expectations I had of them.  

With the exception of Charles, all of the characters let me down at some point. Raven being the most distressing of all. Given that this is the “origins” of X-Men and I haven’t yet experienced the time-frame in which the majority of these films take place, I don’t know how everything shakes out but let me just say, her behavior is the biggest let-down of the bunch, or as Charles would say, I expected more of her. Though I suspect it falls in line of being exactly her attitude through the franchise. Then there is the heartbreak of Eric and Charles’ differences; these guys would have been so much better as common allies then they will be as enemies (little does Eric realize that Charles is the only one really helping him) yet knowing how engrossing this was, it will be interesting for me to watch it all play out. Seriously, when the credits rolled on this, I wanted to be able to immediately run out and see the sequel, unlucky for me, that won’t come for another year. Good thing I’ll be able to pacify myself with the “future” X-Men until then.   

Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult in X-Men
Seeing so much talent crammed into a single movie let alone one frame was enough to make any movie-goer go bonkers over its cast. The leads are carried well with McAvoy and Fassbender (Jane Eyre) plus seeing Jennifer Lawrence in a different role was a delight. That is saying nothing about the cool special effects. And, they were cool. Everything from a submarine suspended above the water to the epic destruction of the safe house, these stunts are terrific. Building this up is the phenomenal score which compliments every mood as does the title sequence in the final credits. Some of the humor is really sweet including unexpected bits of wit between Raven and Charles (and then one scene that could have been quite humorous is ruined by a piece of foul dialogue). The one common flaw in scripts is the shifting of emotions in characters and yet in ‘First Class,’ it’s rationalized remarkably well. At the cusp of the story, this is a character driven piece of fiction that is impressive. It may not have always pleased me to watch how things resolved but I cannot argue how believable each one was. Bittersweet as it was, thumbs up to the writer’s for achieving this and I must admit that again, I am obsessed with another of Marvel’s creations.  

(Parental review: In mutant form, there’s a frontal shot of a woman naked and an implication of sex [she is seen lying in a man’s bed, they kiss and the camera cuts away]. One scene shows a man fondling a woman [in an imagination scenario]; there are a few scantily clad women early on and another girl is a prostitute. The body count is high; men are evaporated, shot, stabbed and cut in half. Rather than being overly graphic, it’s more of an “emotional impact.” Later, another character is killed when a coin slices through the brain. One use of the f-word crops up, some abuse of deity [GD] plus some commonplace profanities. The movie rates PG13.)



    Hands down, it's my favorite comic book franchise (and my favorite film within that franchise) and the only one I'm really all that interested in keeping up with in the coming years. I started with X-Men, so I'm going into it with all the "future history" of the characters... Magneto/Charles' friendship/opposition to one another, Raven's eventual fate, and so on and so forth. This is the best movie in the franchise (although, people disagree with me on that), but... watch the original series anyway, if only for the story of Wolverine. (Best. Cameo. Ever.)

    Magneto is... one of my favorite comic book characters ever. Fassbender did a great job of building on what Ian McKellen started.

    1. So did I, Charity! (Basically it RULES the Marvel flicks!)

      Ironically, I rented a couple of movies and this was the second I watched. I was so caught up in it, and then the darn disc stalled approx. 50 minutes in and refused to play - needless to say, I was disappointed. I'd made up my mind that I'd just buy it (it was worth adding to my Marvel collection) but then a couple of nights later, I had a light bulb moment and watched the rest on my laptop. It was SO good - and SO worth finishing on the tiny screen. :)

      Given I've not seen the others yet, I cannot say which are faves. Since I do "know" the general idea of the Hugh Jackman series, I am really glad to have seen this first. (My next debate is deciding whether or not to watch the X-Men movies in "order" or to jump around and see Logan's "origins" movie first.) Charles and Eric were so good as allies that it makes me sad to have seen them part ways. Hopefully, I'll be so caught up in the Wolverine/Logan story that I won't mind. Too much. I cannot wait to see the rest so hopefully in the next couple of weeks, I'll get to it - and I look forward to seeing how well Fassbender did picking up McKellen's persona. :)

      Oh, yes! I loved seeing Jackman's cameo though I wouldn't be honest if I said I liked that it involved the F-word.

    2. I hate it when that happens. I'm glad you were able to get it to work, though, long enough to finish it! I thought this was the best in the franchise, so it's disappointing that so many fans disliked it as much as they do. (I've run into some confusion when it comes to news about the sequel to this film -- some are saying it continues this story, and others claim it's going back to the original franchise, and won't involve any of the "younger" versions of the characters anymore. That would disappoint me greatly, so I hope it really IS just a sequel, and not a "reboot" of the older series.)

      Logan's movie is terrible, so I wouldn't recommend it at all, but I guess if you want the full nine yards of the series, you should watch it (maybe first, so you won't compare it to the rest like I did). The first movie ("X-Men") I think is the weakest but it also introduces Rogue, which is a great character (though Professor Xavier and Magneto are my favorites); the second is probably my favorite in the "originals" series, and I really, really love the third even though almost everyone hates it. (Where it takes Raven and Magneto breaks my heart, even though there's a terrific moment right at the end.)

      Eric and Charles have a lot in common, but their different value systems tore them apart. Eric couldn't overcome his experience in the concentration camp, and in doing so, becomes as evil as those who imprisoned him. Charles meanwhile tries again and again to redeem him. It's... a fascinating relationship, which is probably why I like it so much: it's unorthodox, unexpected, and leaves you a lot to think about.

      I'd have appreciated the lack of an f-word, but it's so... LOGAN that it works. I love the fact that Charles and Eric give one another this LOOK like "Lost cause... let's go." =D

    3. Oh, me too! Fortunately, I was willing to watch it on the little 17" screen as opposed to a 27". Never did try it on the other players either, so it was partly my fault but it all worked out fine in the end. :)

      Well, I thought this was superb. It's funny how different everyone can be? Loved everything about this prequel and am interested to see what I think of the Wolverine saga. My understanding is that the sequel of 'First Class' is going to involve both past and future characters (hello, awesome!) thus the subtitle 'Days of Future Past.' It'd be a shame not to reunite this awesome cast 'cause they were fabulous.

      Thanks for the advice on Logan's movie. I'll be sure to take that into consideration. Just because I am planning on watching the entire series, I'll likely see it - and will maybe get it "out of the way" first. That way, I won't feel let down. :) Yeah, I had a feeling that Raven and Magneto would be doomed (I didn't like her leaving Charles! Despite his flaws, he did love her deeply as a sister despite everything.) She is better than that. Or she was.

      I understand Eric's scars (but cannot even begin to imagine the pain of them) though unlike he would want to admit, I also know that Charles is the one who was helping Eric. He was a good friend to Eric and he hadn't begun to recognize just how much that meant. It's sad, really. Good for Charles to persist in helping his friend. That would leave one with lots to consider.

      That cameo was funny. I just wish it could have been funnier. ;D

    4. I completely understand why Raven chose to go with Eric. Throughout the story, Charles wanted her to "hide" who she really was; he felt uncomfortable accepting her as her true self. Then, Eric came along -- and he not only liked who she really was, but thought she was far more beautiful in her blue state than her "false" state. Though it hurts to see her go with Eric rather than stay with a crippled Charles... I do get why she did it.

      In the original film trilogy, neither Raven nor Magneto die. But what happens to them in the third installment is gut-wrenching.

      I actually am torn between writing about Charles/Eric and Spock/Kirk/Bones for the Best Friends issue of Femnista. Both have an interesting kick to them, as sci-fi, and as classic "friendships" (in the case of one, gone wrong). Charles continues to reach out to Eric as the series progresses, even when Eric completely betrays him at times.

      Sigh. You make me want to watch them all over again. Ain't nobody got time for that! =D

    5. Ironic you should mention the summer issue of Femnista as all of our talk about this series has made me wonder if you'd be writing about Charles/Eric. I liked Spock/Kirk/Bones yet I think this one may be more... interesting. Just because, as you say, Charles tries to redeem Eric SO many times. Why not write both and maybe have one for your blog or save for another occasion? Whichever you decide on will be fabulous! :)

      Either way, Raven disappoints me. I expected more from her. Sadly, it makes it harder since I didn't buy that Eric "loved" her in this version. He did accept her, yes (that I totally got) but love? That didn't work for me. Nevertheless, I don't really mind since there are a great number of "good" character's that I fully do get behind and support.

      Girl! All this talk is making me all the more anxious to see the rest of these! I cannot wait. Methinks you simply must re-watch these soon as you do have some time. :D

    6. Wait, wait... you LIKED Spock/Kirk/Bones? Have you seen the movie and not told me?!

      I will probably write about both, and then choose at the last minute -- or run them both. As the editor, I'm da boss. Heh.

      Eric and Raven are very complicated as a couple. She genuinely loves him; he finds her extremely useful. Eric is pretty much your typical "evil" INTJ: a master manipulator who uses people to his advantage, and then when they no longer are useful in his diabolical plans, he throws them over.

      Oh, I'll rewatch them. And it's all your fault, too! ;)

    7. Good for you! You should totally write both. Hey, you totally should have some perks as the boss! :)

      Agreed. Eric and Raven are complicated, and you've basically summed up what I felt Eric's feelings for her were. Or that was my impression in this movie. Didn't care for that hence another reason why I do disliked her decision.

      Oh, dear. It's my fault!? I don't see that as fair. LOL! Just kidding. I hope you enjoy them. I know I am looking forward to seeing more of this world. :)

      Yep, saw the movie Star Trek and thought I'd mentioned it...? Hmmm... maybe not. It's one I need to write up yet but haven't gotten too. *Sigh* There goes my organization skills. Or lack of. ;D

    8. Well, considering Raven is Magneto's second in command in the original series -- she kind of had to abandon Charles and choose Eric in this film. And... now I remembering the epic moments between them, like in the third movie when he takes out several cop cars and a big truck just to get her out of jail.

      "Evasive," that is Rissi's middle name. Did you LIKE it, at least? =P

    9. How true. I knew this was a prequel but given how I don't like to go back in time when I know what the future holds, it was wise to see this one first. :)

      Moi!? Evasive? I think not. ;) Honestly, I'm still mulling over the movie, Star Trek. I liked it - a lot, yet there is something about it that muddled it for me. Hopefully all my thoughts will be in order by next week so I can post something on it. :)

    10. You've always been evasive. I don't know if it's because you're so private (my brother is the same way) or because you don't want to stir the waters. Being evasive, as I'm sure you've noticed, has never been one of my traits. ;)

      Star Trek for me is a blend of the new reboot and the old originals. The two are similar in some ways yet very different in others. =D

    11. When it comes to Star Trek, I've not talked much about it because I'm still thinking about it. No conclusion has really been reached although the more I think about it, the cooler it was! In so many elements, it was awesome but some of it was less so. (This is on me though not the movie.) Glad it lived up to the originals. That is always a plus. :)

      I don't see myself as evasive - most of the time (though I do see that in certain scenarios ;D) - so much as having been cautious about my on-line footprint. If I do come across as evasive, I do apologize (in the case of this movie, I thought I'd mentioned it before). Many times, I'm just teasing and when I am actually "evasive," it's because I prefer to be more private than open about something. :) Either way, evasive or not, it's all good! I'll deal with whichever. :D And, as for you: Selfishly, it's a trait I've come to appreciate. It is one of the things I love about you. :)

    12. I'm like my dad. He says, "I have opinions. Ask me anything, I'll tell you my opinion. If I don't know anything about whatever you're talking about, I'll have an opinion anyway." ;)

    13. LOL! I like that. :)

  2. I've seen X-men & X2 and I want to see this one and the other...two? :P Sounds good though :) Quick question...was Havok in it? I saw on imdb he was and wondered how that would work out?!?!? Sierra
    Keep growing beautiful!

    1. Let's see... I think there is four "original" X-Men movies then this one. There is also a sequel to 'First Class' in the works for next year (CANNOT WAIT) that will combine "future" and "past" characters - now that sounds awesome! :)

      Yes, Havok is a character in this version. I don't know how they managed to write him in because I've yet to watch the "future" movies or any TV series. Having said that, I liked the character A LOT! He stood by Charles which made me ridiculously happy though his back-story as a character is virtually untouched - we get the feeling that he has a "troubled" past.

      Hope you can see this one, Sierra! I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to seeing the others in this series! :)

    2. That is what I thought. The Origins & X3. Oooh merging of the future & past sounds like something I MUST get in on that *grins*

      In most...well all actually, of the cartoons and comics etc. that I've seen/read Havok (Alex Summers) is Scott's younger brother. (Scott=Cyclops) So I definitely need to watch the movie now and find out what is going on with that! Sierra
      Keep growing beautiful!

    3. You had it right, Sierra. :) I know, right!? Seeing the future and past merge would be totally awesome!

      Hmm... I've got to meet Scott yet so I'll have to try and figure that out right along with you. Hope you are able to see 'First Class' soon - I'd love to know what you think of it! :)

  3. I've been a fan of X-Men ever since the Wolverine movie came out in '09. I really enjoyed this one and also found it neat to see Jennifer in a different role. :-)

    Keep me posted once you've seen the rest of the X movies, okay? ;D

    1. So did I, Rosie! It was SO good. Almost didn't get to finish it because the darn rental disc stalled on my DVD player. Fortunately, a couple of nights later, I was able to in the laptop. This was one SO worth finishing, small screen or not. :)

      Everyone is saying Jennifer can do "anything." Don't know about that, but I think she's one to watch.

      Oh, I sure will! Hopefully within the next couple of weeks I'll be able to see at least one of the Wolverine flicks. So excited! :)

  4. I've been a fan of the XMen since I read a few of their comics when I was a teen, with Wolverine being my #1 favorite superhero ever ever ever :-) Like Charity said, Best. Cameo. Ever.

    Anyway, I'm so excited you're seeing these! I liked this one okay -- Fassbender is brilliant, best part of the whole thing IMHO. I'm eager to see what you think of the trilogy and then Wolverine. IMHO, X2 is the first truly great superhero movie, only surpassed eventually by The Avengers in terms of sheer story, character, and filming perfection.

    Man, I want to rewatch these now. Been too long!

    1. Yay! This is so great to know, Hamlette! I appreciate you sharing all your thoughts on this series.

      Seeing the "original" series is high on my priority list of movies to watch. For some reason, they never appealed to me then I realized they were Marvel (which meant, I *had* to see them!) plus my cousin (and friends) was recently recommending them. Needless to say, I finally got around to renting one and am delighted to have discovered this world. :)

      Oh! The Avengers was spectacular! Everything about that movie is epic.

      Enjoy re-watching "X-Men."

  5. I've seen all the other X-movies...but not this one:P YET! My bro saw it, though, and really liked it.
    Sounds like a superb cast!! I need to see it soon.

    Thank you for such a good review...as always;)


    1. You should remedy this, Raquel. :) If you liked the others, you should enjoy this one. For me, I chose to go with 'First Class' prior to the "future" movies just because I don't always like it when I come to love certain character's and then am asked to go into the past to see them as "different" or like in this scenario, to find that Charles and Eric were once friends. Now, they aren't. Hope you enjoy it - and yes, this cast is FANTASTIC.

      Thank you for reading! I really appreciate your feedback and reading your thoughts. :)

  6. I love this movie so much! :) Glad you enjoyed it!

    1. As was I, Ruth! Now I CANNOT wait to see the rest in this "series." :)

  7. "this is a character driven piece of fiction"
    I think that was the problem for me. I loved the x-men movies because the action AND characters. Movies driven by the characters alone don't really grab me. Does that make sense? So I'm glad I decided to wait until it came out on Sky movies. :3

    Lovely review, Rissi!

    1. This one balanced it okay from my perspective but I am definitely like you, Renu! I like an action-packed good time. If there can be both combined - character-driven and action - that's all the better! :) I totally get what you are saying.

      Thanks for reading, Renu - appreciate it!


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