Friday, June 3, 2011

Box Office Review - X-Men: First Class

In the decade since the original X-Men film, there have been many comic books turned into movies. Some have been good, some bad, and that is just referring to the X-Men franchise. X:Men: First Class is the fifth X-Men film to be released and like the previous film Wolverine, it sets itself apart from the original trilogy.

The most obvious difference between this and the rest of the X-Men series is the setting of the film, which takes place in the 1960s. This is the best thing the film has going for it, as making this film a period piece provides a somewhat fresh take on the comic book film. The film starts by introducing the characters Xavier, Erik, Raven, and Sebastian Shaw. These are the main characters that the film is built around. The film then jumps ahead in time to the Cuban Missile Crisis which in this Universe is also the first time Mutants are joining together.

The gathering of mutants is the most enjoyable thing about First Class, as we get a montage of Erik and Xavier recruiting young mutants as well as a training montage. Even though the film doesn't spend much time developing characters, the parts of the film spent watching the characters interact are the most fun. The best scene in the whole film is when the mutant recruits give each other nicknames and show off their powers. This is a small scene, but it goes a long way in making the audience connect to characters that they barely get to know.

The reason for this is because First Class is a bloated film. There are many forgettable scenes, especially in the first half that could have been trimmed without any affect to the film. It is not as if the storyline is complicated. Sebastian Shaw is a bad guy who wants to destroy humanity by fueling the cold war. Xavier has decided that mutants are special and need to help humanity. Xavier and his crew move to prevent Sebastian from completing his diabolical plans. That is about it. The film spends most of the first act meandering around the world introducing characters, and while this gives the film a fun 60s spy film vibe, it doesn't do much to drive the story forward.

This problem could have been solved by simply cutting characters. The X-Men universe is chock full of mutants and First Class can't resist throwing in many of them. Unless you have prior knowledge of the universe, it becomes hard to remember who the characters are, and what their powers do. This is particularly evident with Sebastian Shaw's cronies. I could not tell you the names of any of them aside from Emma Frost, and would be unable to recount what their powers are. Of all Shaw's Goons, Emma Frost is the one who gets developed the most, never mind that she is the worst character in the film. January Jones plays Frost basically as Betty Draper, except for the fact that she can turn her skin into diamond. This effect looked horrible and combined with the soulless performance did nothing for the movie.

The first X-Men film signaled the beginning of the comic book film craze and First Class shows how far we have come. Comic book films have become a main stay at the box office and it takes some originality to be more than just another comic book movie. The 1960s setting of First Class is enough to make it a fun and interesting film, but it still feels like ever other comic book adaptation that we have seen.

A Good Banana

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