Friday, June 17, 2011

X-Men: First Class

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Produced by: Gregory Goodman; Simon Kinberg; Lauren Shuler Donner; Bryan Singer
Screenplay by: Ashley Edward Miller; Zack Stentz; Jane Goldman; Matthew Vaughn
Story by: Sheldon Turner; Bryan Singer
Based on Characters by: Stan Lee; Jack Kirby; Chris Claremont
Starring: James McAvoy; Michael Fassbender; Rose Byrne; January Jones; Jennifer Lawrence; Oliver Platt; Kevin Bacon
Music by: Henry Jackman
Cinematography: John Mathieson
Release date(s): June 1, 2011
Running time: 132 minutes
Country: United States; United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: $140–160 million

The best scene in the new X-Men film comes at the beginning of the climatic face-off when a submarine slowly emerges out of the water and begins to float in the air as the America and the USSR army watch in disbelieve. Of course, it’s the handiwork of Erik Lensherr, the young and revengeful mutant who can manipulate metals, and who would later become Megneto, the archvillain of the X-Men universe. The shot, which runs for a few seconds, in a sense defines the film and its plot — it defies logic, and it’s absolutely mesmerising to behold.

I saw the film in theatre, which you must, if you are a fan of the X-Men, and I’m a fan, the films, more than the Uncanny X-Men comics, and especially Magneto, as played by Ian McKellen in the first three films of the series. And that why you applaud when Wolverine makes a split second appearance, smoking his trademark cigar. You know these characters, and First Class gives you a chance to see them what they were like when they were young.

Is the end result satisfactory? I don’t know. If you like something, you always want more. But Michael Fassbender as young Magneto is a perfect cast. You identify with his anger, and his need to seek revenge on Sebastian Shaw, played malevolently by Kevin Bacon; he looks especially nasty in a moustache in the early scenes.

But, when you think objectively, the film looks like a pilot of a television series; we are introduced to a host of characters, and before you get to know them and they each other, we are thick into the Cuban missile crisis and the inevitable face-off. The Cuban missile crisis situation is an ingenious plot point where the fictional world collides with the real world with credibility. But why must CIA be involved in anything and everything?

Much has been talked about the friendship between Magneto and Professor X, who eventually choose to walk different ways. However, this friendship never blooms to its full potential on screen; same is the case with the development of Mystique/ Raven characters (played with blue makeup by Jennifer Lawrence of Winter’s Bone, for which she received an Oscar nomination. Imagine!). So, when at the end she leaves with Erik, it doesn’t look credible.

The film ends with Michael Fassbender filling the screen with the trademark robe and headgear, and saying, “They call me Magneto.” And you know, there are more Magneto adventure in the anvil.

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