in Review

Sex Men: First Ass

X-Men: First Class

(Spoilers Ahead)
You see what I did there with the title? Eh, you like that? Just like a porno huh? So how exactly does a Joe Pinchpenny like myself end up seeing a movie called X-Men: First Class anyways? Well for starters, I love the X-Men. It’s the first comic series I ever really fell in love with (mostly the early 80s series/Kitty Pryde years) so they certainly have a place very close to my heart. Secondly, I’ve already seen just about every other Marvel Movie ever made so why stop now?

I’m not really sure how your average non-comic book reading moviegoer would respond to the X-Men film series as whole, but for myself it’s been a complete canonical/chronological nightmare. I mean I like the first two, hell I even liked the overblown third installment, but now with all these prequels thrown into the mix this series has more or less become a big middle finger to the canon of the comic series. Even if there wasn’t a comic series and it was just these movies, they’re simply getting harder and harder to connect as a continuos franchise. Though before I jump into a nerdy nitpicking rage, let me tell you that from a casual filmgoing mindset, this is a mindless but entertaining summer romp. As an adaptation of a legendary comic series, this movie is a complete mess.

So it all starts off with a flashback to a 1940s war-torn Poland where we once again see a young Erik “Magneto” Lensherr being separated from his parents by nazi soliders. I say once again because this is exactly how the first film started. Yes even down to Magneto bending the gates, seriously? I mean they couldn’t think of anything else? They all ready fucking did that! Meanwhile we see a much better off Charles Xavier as he meets a young Mystique after she’s broken into his childhood mansion. So Charles and Mystique met as kids by a complete coincidence? Since when was Mystique the same age as Charles? They explain later that her power makes her age slower, but I think that’s just a bunch of shit they pulled out of their ass. Face it, they just needed as many recognizable characters as they could think of. Later we cut back to a young Magneto being tormented by Nazi Kevin Bacon to show off his mutant abilities with little success, this leads to the unfortunate execution of Magneto’s mum, damn you Kevin Bacon! Not only is he guilty of being a jerk but he really hams it up… Did I just say Kevin “Bacon”, “Hams” it up? Is anyone getting hungry?

Skipping ahead to the film’s modern setting of 1962, we are introduced to CIA agent Moira McTaggert (Rose Byrne) investigating the mysterious Hellfire Club in Vegas. Though if my memory serves me right Moira MacTaggert was not only NOT a CIA agent in the comics but in fact a Scottish scientist who studied genetic mutation to aid mutants. So she infiltrates the club to not only discover the Hellfire Club (led by Kevin Bacon under the name of Sebastian Shaw) are organizing a devious plan with those pesky Russkies, but that the Hellfire Club are also mutants which most people are unaware of at this time.

“Wait a minute, my nerd sense is tingling?” I’m fairly familiar with Sebastian Shaw and the Hellfire Club in the comics and I don’t recall Shaw ever being a former Nazi who could control his own aging. Maybe you can justify the aging thing seeing that Shaw could control energy, but a Nazi? And the Hellfire Club were really more of a cultish secret society than a a group of Bond villain wannabes. Their shtick was more geared towards dressing up like Victorian douchebags and using their elite connections to influence the world around them. Not to mention this movie only managed to get two actual Hellfire club members right in Shaw and the White Queen (January Jones). I mean I wasn’t expecting to see Mastermind (even though he’s arguably their most interesting member) as they already had a similar character in X2, remember Stryker’s son? That guy was more or less based off of Mastermind. So instead we get Shaw, White Queen aka Emma Frost, some guy who creates tornados who I’m not familiar with, and Nightcrawler’s dad? That’s the best they could come up with? Have they ever actually read an X-Men comic?

So to better understand these “mutants” MacTaggert is sent to Oxford to meet Charles Xavier: the leading expert in mutation… Even though he’s just graduated from College. Not long after they meet, MacTaggert discovers that Charles and Mystique (who’s been bumming around England with Charles) are in fact also mutants, so they all decide to work together to stop the Hellfire Club. Meanwhile Magneto has been killing old nazi dudes until his path eventually crosses with Charles in the middle of a scuffle between the Hellfire club and the CIA (naturally Magneto is seeking revenge on Shaw.) Charles invites Magneto to join him and after he reluctantly accepts they start putting together a squad. So they use Cerebro, ya know, that giant computer thing in the other X-Men movies (except now it’s been built by a pre-blue haired Hank “Beast” McCoy and Agent Oliver Platt) to track down other mutants. This leads to an across the globe mutant finding montage that even includes a cameo from Hugh “Wolverine” Jackman where he drops the F-bomb… Easily the best scene in the whole movie, I love Hugh Jackman.

The team is eventually assembled and our new X-Men are!!! (Drum Roll) Banshee, except he’s no longer Irish even though that was basically the most important thing about his character in the comics. I mean where do Banshees even come from? Irish mythology!!! God damn it, what does this movie have against Celtic culture? Then they have Havok who was Cyclops’ little brother in the comics, so I’m not even going to attempt to comprehend that mess. There’s Beast, probably the only decision that makes sense; Charles, Magneto, Mystique and then two other bullshit characters I’ve never heard of; evolving black guy and bug lady. I have little to no interest in learning about any post 90s X-Men characters.

So the characters all mingle and despite the fact that practically none of them should be in the same movie together, they’re all fairly likable and ably performed by their respective actors. This is also probably the first time I’ve ever liked James Macavoy and Michael Fassbender certainly has a powerful screen presence, though this Magneto is a total, unlikable, prick. Remember Ian McKellen’s Magneto? There was a charmer with some class, I simply cannot believe this brutish prick becomes that classy Shakespearian supervillian. Back to the Hellfire Club we’ve discovered that Shaw has created a helmet so that Charles can no longer read his mind. Yes, this is the helmet Magneto will later don, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Shaw that created it but what, now I’m talking about the origin of a helmet? Anyways, he takes his club along with his fancy new helmet and heads down to CIA headquarters to start a little mischief.

The new or first X-Men squad is still hanging out around the CIA when the Hellfire club attacks and attack they do! Shaw, Tornado guy, and Nightcrawler’s dad basically kill every single agent at the CIA (Oliver Platt included) in an attempt to reach the X-Men and hopefully recruit them. When they finally reach them they actually manage to convince bug lady (also Lenny Kravitz daughter) to join them and then kill evolving black guy. I was like “Hell yeah!” cause they just managed to limit the screen time of the two least legitimate X-Men characters in just once scene, but poor X-men cause they’re all sad now.

With tensions rising in the US and the Russians/Hellfire Club’s nuclear attack imminent (The Hellfire club wants everybody dead so only the mutants will survive by the way) Charles decides to get his shit in order and train the team at his boyhood mansion. What follows is a fancy shmancy training montage intercut with an advancing romance between Beast and Mystique. You see Beast likes Mystique but thinks they’d both be better off if they tried this experimental serum to change their physical appearances. Beast is all sad because he has big, hairy, monkey feet but is it really that big a deal? The CIA didn’t even know Beast was a mutant until Charles outed him, it’s not like his mutation is even that noticeable, but because you knew it was gonna happen he takes the serum. What happens? He turns into a big, blue, furry cat person. Nice job dipshit, I thought you were a genius? Though with so many other plot threads going on this is just kind of brushed aside, he’s like “It sucks but I’ll deal with it.”

So they all get their shit together and head out to do battle over sea against the Hellfire Club and right between a bunch of Russian and American warships. For the most part, this battle is pretty darn cool. The effects are fantastic and I never get tired of watching Nightcrawler’s dad teleporting while fighting, maybe his inclusion wasn’t so bad anyways. Nothing particularly surprising happens until a conflict between Charles and Magneto quickly develops. You see Magneto deflects all the mutants from being hit by like a hundred missiles, but instead of sending them away he tries to shoot them right back at the humans. Charles is most definitely not about this and they start to fight. At this point Magneot has stolen Shaw’s helmet so Charles cannot read his mind, so Moira MacTaggert then comes up and tries to distract Magneto by shooting him. This ultimately fails when one of the deflected bullets hits Charles in the spine…. Wait a minute, he’s paralyzed in this movie now? I saw the opening to X-Men: Last Stand and I clearly recall that movie starting with a younger Charles and Magneto and Charles could most definitely walk, plus they were still friends. These movies are now officially impossible to connect with each other, I mean did they even care to watch the others? So the movie ends on a sour note as the mutants have now been split between two factions.

Overall it’s a strange sensation, as a moviegoer I’m like “Yeah that wasn’t bad, it was entertaining enough.” but as a comic book fan I”m like “What a bunch of fucking bullshit!” Though seeing that I believe all movies should be viewed subjectively, regardless of whether or not it’s an adaptation, I’m giving this a mild pass. If I’d never heard of the X-Men before going into this movie, I’d probably have few if any problems with it. It’s just summer fluff and everyone likes some fluff from time to time, but you don’t want to eat too much, cause it’s a good way to get a stomach ache.

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