2011-06-03

X-Men: First Class – The Best X-Men Yet?

by Yo Snyder

Reboot is a popular word in Hollywood these days. So is prequel
(which often used when you want to do a sequel, but cant use the same
cast or for other reasons just cant do an actual sequel). However,
despite the popularity of these words and their increasingly common
application, its fairly rare that reboot or prequel, and especially a
combination of the two, is actually any good. X-Men: First Class bucks that trend and successfully breathes new life into the ailing X-Men
film franchise and delivers one of the more enjoyable summer films
released so far. Regardless of where it will rank among all the big
movies released this year, it is certainly the best film in the X-Men franchise.

The
core of the film centers on the early relationship of Charles and Eric
(destined to become Professor X and Magneto, respectively). Their
friendship forms the heart and soul of the film, and that moment that we
all know is coming when their relationship crumbles and they realize
they are destined to walk very different paths is every bit as epic as I
was hoping it would be. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender shine in
their respective roles as Charles and Eric and are a big part of why the
movie is so enjoyable. Of course any good comic book movie needs a good
villain, and Kevin Bacon delivers that in spades with Sebastian Shaw.
Hes very reminiscent of the classic Bond villains of the 1960s films,
which is appropriate because this movie feels very much like one of
those classic adventures with all thats implied with that. January
Jones fills out (quite literally) the role of Emma Frost very well and
with very little left to the imagination. There is plenty of suggestive
material in this movie, far more than previous X-films. Just thought you
might want to know.

As is befitting the X-Men franchise, First Class does a good
job of balancing the explosions with the exploration of bigger ideas.
Despite being over two hours long, it never feels too long. Its well
paced, although it should have ended a bit earlier (more for emotional
resonance than just to keep things shorter; it also would have avoided
an embarrassing Revenge of the Sith moment of cheesiness right
at the very end). But getting back to my point, Im glad this movie was
willing to get back to some of the philosophical musings that often
comes with X-Men territory. I especially enjoyed the
conversations between Hank (soon to be Beast) and Raven (who becomes
Mystique). Their struggle with wanting to look normal, to fit in,
provides a fascinating sub-plot. Raven eventually realizes something
very important: they shouldnt aspire to be like the society around
them; rather, everyone else should aspire to be more like them.

That statement perfectly encapsulates a divisive struggle taking place in the Church today.
I hear the words relevant and relatable and seeker friendly so
much theyve practically lost all meaning. In a desperate attempt to
engage the culture, the Church is becoming more and more like the
culture. Theyre trying hard to be seen as normal,and they aspire to
be like the world around them. I dont know what your take on Church is,
but Ive always felt that it should be different. What good is a church
that is just like everything else? If people are looking for answers in
a world thats creating so many questions, how could they ever find
them in a Church that looks just like the world? Jesus Christ stood out
from the crowd. He was different and he called people to aspire to a
different kind of normal, a better kind. Has the Church lost sight of
that in its desire to be relevant? Is the Church scared of being
different? All I can say is, it seems some of the philosophical musings
of the X-Men should be seriously considered in todays Church if it
really does want to make a difference in this world.

As for the film that inspired that particular rant, X-Men: First Class
does have a few issues holding it back from true greatness. I already
mentioned the unfortunate ending. There are a few moments where the FX
dont work quite as well as they should. Theres some of the inevitable
comic-book cheesiness that comes from taking what works on the page and
trying to put it on screen. And one other thing that kind of bugged me
was how names were just tossed out and accepted. You should be this or
How about we call it that? or Youre not g-men, youre x-men.
Seriously, some of that sounded a little silly in the context it was
shared, but no one batted an eye and just instantly accepted it: Okay,
sounds good to me. It just felt a bit forced at time to help complete
the set-up aspect of this prequel.

Still, X-Men: First Class is another fun summer film. In a
summer thats shaping up to be loaded with good movies, this one looks
like it could rank as one of the better ones in the pack. Its well
made, well paced, has great characters and solid performances, some
really cool moments, and its just a whole lot fun. X-fans will find
plenty to enjoy, and anyone looking for a good time at the movies should
have plenty of fun as well. Is this a class worth signing up for? For
my money, yes; yes it is.

Guide Rating: 5/7