The movie begins with a recreation of Bryan Singer’s X-Men (2000) opening scene involving young Magneto a.k.a Erik Lensherr bending a metal gate at a German concentration camp.
No doubt that the original intro was way more emotional (and epic) but I gotta give props to Matthew Vaughn, director of X-Men: First Class, for imitating this part of the motion picture with such precision. It was a Déjà vu moment for most of us in the audience as we were brought back to our childhood period.
X-Men: First Class is set during the dark ages of Cuba, a time when the world came closest to nuclear warfare. Although the movie does set its focus on (secret) historical events, the gist of the story always goes back to Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender). Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), also going under the alias Dr. Schmidt, is the so-called founder and co-creator of Erik’s alter-ego that is Magneto.
After witnessing his mother being shot by Shaw, little Erik (Bill Milner) unleashes the mutant in him by wrecking a lab full of metallic objects. The movie proceeds to the present day of 1962 where Erik seeks Shaw to administer revenge. As his mission progresses, Erik meets Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and as predicted, they become the best of friends.
The new found bromance, together with Charles’ oldest friend Raven a.k.a Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and mutant affairs expert Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), recruit a few other mutants to join their efforts in saving the world, namely Angel (Zoe Kravitz), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Darwin (Edi Gathegi), Hank McCoy a.k.a Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Cyclops’ older brother Havoc (Lucas Till).
Erik’s agenda however, stretches out far beyond than just saving the world and having his revenge on Shaw plus his Hellfire Club, consisting of sassy diamond-skinned Emma Frost (January Jones), Riptide (Alex Gonzalez) and Nightcrawler’s biological father named Azazel (Jason Flemyng).
The main attraction of the cast narrows down to mainly Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy and of course, Michael Fassbender.
Seeing how extraordinary Rebecca Romijn portrayed Raven/Mystique all this while, I was very much afraid that they might go wrong with the new casting of this character. Gladly, Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) makes no mistakes in her performance as Raven/Mystique. Her solid acting and strong physical beauty are a breath of fresh air.
James McAvoy (Wanted) sure makes one really cool telepath. His lightheartedness and optimism is that indicative of Professor Charles Xavier. He complements Fassbender really well as he represents a watered down version of Fassbender’s heavily-suave character.
And now, onto the main event. Michael Fassbender (300) as a young Magneto is absolutely brilliant. This German-Irish actor exudes volcanic amounts of charm, class and suaveness. (Even Mr Ravenous was raving about how hot and handsome he is) Fassbender’s strong emotions are perfectly displayed with his powerful acting and robust attitude.
The costumes and wardrobe, designed by costume designer Sammy Sheldon, are extremely chic. Director Matthew Vaughn wanted to pay homage to the classic X-Men comics in the sixties. When he hired Sammy, he specifically told her not to include any tight-fitted spandex, leather biking suits or the black outfits which everyone was going to expect. He wanted to stay faithful to the original blue and yellow ballistic nylon concept.
Vaughn also wanted the ladies to wear something less constrictive and more free. For Mystique, her wardrobe consists of figure-hugging clothes to flatter her hour-glass silhouette.
Erik and Charles’ wardrobe are lovely as well. The suits are very polished and neat, like those exhibited in The Thomas Crown Affair (1999).
The tailored suits which Fassbender adorns for this film highlights his masculine and classy presence, significant in Magneto’s persona.
The character Emma Frost, famous for being scantily-clad in the comic books, bears some impressive outfits. Sexy starlet January Jones (Unknown) fills up her apparel quite nicely with her attractive figure. Too bad her anatomy does not make up for the fact that her face can’t seem to move a muscle throughout the movie.
Besides the awesome soundtrack (Above: Take That’s Love Love) played during the credits, X-Men: First Class is overall a great hit.
Seeing that Matthew Vaughn has directed two other marvelous films namely, Layer Cake (2004) and Kick-Ass (2010), it is to no surprise that this prequel stands out from the rest of the X-Men installations. What I like about this film is the entire atmosphere encircling it. I am particularly fond of films set back in war periods or the 1960-80s, just like Zack Snyder’s Watchmen.
I was really impressed with how excellent the cinematography and editing are, staying closely grounded to Vaughn’s feel of the ’60s era. With split screen entrances and gratifying close-up shots, the movie sets itself apart from the all the previous X-Men movies, which often take themselves too seriously.
The X-Men references in the movie are humorous and very tongue-in-cheek as well. Any X-Men fan will be delighted to bask in the knowledge of this popular mutant culture. There is even a scene (after Charles Xavier becomes paralysed) where James McAvoy recites “I suppose I am a professor now. Pretty soon I’ll be going bald.”
Be sure to keep a lookout for cameo appearances by two of X-Men’s sexiest mutants. Popspoken’s photographer strongly approves the first cameo and judging by the gasps/squeals in the cinema, we’re sure many others do too.