We all know the parable X-Men purveys and it’s a solid, important and intransient one. But the cinema is a tough place for comic books, even if the box office tells us otherwise.
This prequel to the X-Men film trilogy starts off quite strongly – with the youths of Charles Xavier and Magneto in stark contrast as they are poised to become men with very different ethics and methodologies in the future. McAvoy and Fassbender are top-notch actors: very convincing as their characters grow up, become friends, and learn to deal with a world that fears and hates them. Their friendship and comradery are about as endearing as it comes.
But much too soon, farce and camp take over, starting with the introduction of Kevin Bacon as a Nazi doctor. Bacon is given an opportunity to let his German shine, but it’s a bad choice, sucking all the severity out of a scene that should be taken very seriously. From this moment on, X-Men: First Class is a world of 1960s kitsch, color-coordinated villain hideouts and ridiculous outfits that would be more suited to Joel Schumacher’s Batman than to what X-Men is supposed to be about.
On top of the fluff, the film’s budget must have been severely cut – its CGI effects look like they were taken directly from World of Warcraft.
The result is reasonably entertaining, but hopefully in the future (there will be one), the X-Men will fight for an audience that can fear and hate them.
X-MEN. FIRST CLASS I Directed by Matthew Vaughn with James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence (USA 2011). Opens June 9