After watching “X-Men: First Class,” I saw a TV spot for the movie where one critic called it the “best comic book movie ever.” Now, I don’t do drugs, but I would love some of whatever this guy was on, because it must’ve been some good shit. [Pass that, please. -JD]
“First Class” is easily one of the worst comic book movies in existence. Some reviewers are comparing it to “The Dark Knight” when they should be comparing it to “Batman & Robin.” What follows was supposed to be a review of “X-Men: First Class,” but as I write this I’m pretty sure it’ll just deteriorate into a list (and a long list, at that) of all the things that are wrong with this movie.
DISCLAIMER: Some mild spoilers may appear.
I’m going to try to be a little positive and give credit where credit is due, so I’ll tell you what was good about this movie. Michael Fassbender as Magneto. That’s it. This guy single-handedly held this movie up and helped it limp along to the end. Had it not been for the few bright spots he provided, I would’ve walked out of the theater halfway through this farce. [I thought McAvoy was good too. –JD] The rest of the cast was completely devoid of any actual acting skill, making the rest of the characters hollow, one-dimensional, and not the slightest bit believable. At best, the characters on screen were emotionless. At worst, they were overly angsty at the complete wrong moment.
Case in point: The Beast. Nicholas Hoult shows just how horribly emo he can be as Hank McCoy early on, only to end up sleepwalking through what should have been THE huge turning point for the character. No matter how many times the X-Men’s stories are retold, McCoy’s physical transformation into the big blue furball we all know is one of the most emotionally hard-hitting moments ever depicted in a comic book. Anyone who reads the various X-Men comics now knows that it’s still something McCoy struggles with, as his bestial form continues to change and evolve. Yet Hoult just can’t muster any believable response.
[PROTIP: Nicholar Hoult’s pre-Beast scenes are much better if you imagine Simple Plan’s Untitled playing in the background. -JD]
The rest of the cast was no better. Jennifer Lawrence plays a whiny, annoying Mystique, while the rest of the cast was downright boring. [Jennifer looked pretty groovy in those 60’s miniskirts though. –JD] Kevin Bacon in particular damn near put me to sleep every time he was on screen. The only member of the newly formed X-Men team with any personality is Darwin and he’s taken out of the fight pretty damn early. And while we’re on the subject, did anyone else notice the racist overtones? **SPOILER ALERT** I mean, there were only two brown people on the team to begin with, and in one scene they are both effectively erased. Darwin is murdered by Sebastian Shaw, and Angel Salvadore defects from the X-Men to join him. Not only that, but the in the movie Magneto and Prof X find Angel (the only brown woman in the movie) in a strip club dancing for dollars, when this was never part of the character’s origin story. [Well, this was set in the 60’s. I’m surprised Cerebro even picked them up. -JD]
And that brings me to the main reason why I hate “X-Men: First Class.” I realize that in making a movie adaptation of a comic book, novel or anything else, it’s nearly impossible to follow the original material word for word. Liberties have to be taken, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay true to the source material. I’ve been a huge comic fan for years, yet this movie manages to take characters that should be familiar and twist them so as to make them unrecognizable. Let’s start off with Dr. Moira MacTaggert. In the source material, she’s a Scottish-born geneticist, a former lover to Professor X and a constant ally not just to the X-Men but to the Marvel superhero community in general. In the movie, she’s an American-born CIA agent. [Aaand somehow, she’s a scientist again by X-Men: Last Stand –Me Again] Next up is Alex Summers, AKA Havok. In the comics, he is younger brother to Scott Summers/Cyclops and has the ability to throw concussive blasts of energy similar to his brother’s eye beams, only for Havoc it’s from his hands. These blasts have been depicted as beams or on occasion as waves of energy. Never in the history of Marvel has Havoc’s power been to throw glowing red hula hoops. Yes, you read right. Hula hoops. Darwin’s power is to adapt to any given situation by generating new powers. For example, growing gills when submerged in water. In Darwin’s last comic appearance, he manifested the powers of a god in order to battle death herself. [And another time, his mutant power gave him the only ability he could use to survive the threat of fighting an enraged Hulk – teleportation. –Guess Who!] Yet in the movie Sebastian Shaw kills him easily. The list of other idiotic and unnecessary changes to the various characters is too long for me to bother listing here, but there are enough of them to piss off anyone with the slightest bit of prior knowledge about the X-Men. In addition, “First Class” is supposed to be a prequel to the existing X-Men films, but it adds several large continuity errors to the film franchise that should’ve been pretty hard for the writers to overlook. [It is possible that somewhere after this movie Xavier both regains the use of his legs and makes amends with Erik, in time for them to recruit Jean Grey in the opening to X-Men: The Last Stand -Who Do You Think?]
I could go on for another few pages listing everything wrong with this movie, but I doubt you’d want to read any more of my ranting, so I’m gonna wrap it up here. Bottom line, the movie is shit. A big, smelly, steaming pile of blue-and-yellow-spandex-wearing shit. The few scenes focusing on Magneto show us that the potential for greatness was there, but the rest of the cast fails to match Michael Fassbender’s stellar performance. [Don’t forget McAvoy!! X( -Who Knows?] If you feel the need for further proof of Magneto’s bad-assness, try finding the Magneto-only scenes on YouTube in a few weeks. [Or pick up the Marvel Knights title, X-Men: Magneto Testament. –Who Cares?] Otherwise, do yourself a favor and stay far away from “X-Men: First Class.”