Friday, January 13, 2012

X-Men: First Class (2011) - Review

Michael Fassbender as Magneto in X-Men: First Class

Erik Lehnsherr AKA Magneto happens to be my most Marvel character of all time and Michael Fassbender makes a great Erik/Magneto. Both these factors combined makes this my all time favorite X-Men movie.

After X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), there were reports of 2 separate movies in development: one based on Wolverine and the other focused on the Master of Magnetism.

I was quite interested in the latter and while the resulting movie is called X-Men: First Class, it is quite obvious that the movie was originally intended to focus only on Magneto.

The movie starts with the first scene of X-Men (2000) featuring a young Erik being separated from his parents in a concentration camp in the 1940s. The officer-in-charge notices the young Erik's mutant powers on display and decides to exploit the same. The officer kills Erik's mother to force the boy to display his mutant powers and succeeds in permanently scarring the boy's psyche with vengeance and hatred towards mankind.

In upstate NY, young Charles Xavier takes in fellow mutant Raven Darkholme AKA Mystique into his manor and they grow up together.

The movie picks up later with a grown up Erik tracking down his mother's killer, who now calls himself Sebastian Shaw. Played by Kevin Bacon in the vein of a 60s Bond movie villain, Shaw oozes pure evil. His mutant power is to absorb energy and use it to increase his own physical attributes to finally overpower his opponent. He is assisted by Emma Frost, Azazel and Riptide.

Erik joins forces with Xavier and his band of fellow mutants (Beast, Darwin, Havoc, Banshee and Mystique), as they counter Shaw’s plans to start a nuclear war.

Competently directed by Matthew Vaughn, the movie erases the bad taste left  in the mouth by X-Men: The Last Stand. The presence of Bryan Singer as producer no doubt helped.

Nicholas Hoult and Jennifer Lawrence are great as Beast and Mystique respectively. Other mutants with the possible exception of Banshee and Havoc leave no impression, mainly due to the lack of character development.

James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender share great chemistry as Professor Xavier and Magneto

James McAvoy is a great foil as Xavier. He is a suave ladies man and does not mind using his formidable mutant powers to make an impression. McAvoy radiates the calm demeanor and wisdom that will eventually make him the mentor for X-Men. He makes for a believable younger version of Patrick Stewart’s Prof X. McAvoy and Fassbender share a great chemistry as the two men who will eventually part ways, as their ideologies differ radically about the peaceful co-existence of mutants and non-mutants.

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Ian McKellen is one of the most accomplished actors and always excels in his work, whether he plays Gandalf the Grey/White or the Master of Magnetism. It is a great tribute to Michael Fassbender that he puts his own stamp as Magneto, despite the inevitable comparisons to McKellen.

Fassbender has a very magnetic screen presence (no pun intended) and exudes immense on-screen charisma as he puts his mutant powers to display, especially in the climax. The scene with Prof X where he learns to control his rage is a textbook example of Fassbender's thespian skills.

Michael Fassbender as Magneto

Fassbender single-handedly makes this movie a must-watch for Magneto Fans and/or X-men fans.

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Image Sources: MPGTodayBeyond Hollywood

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