Movie Review - X-Men: First Class

Movie Review – X-Men: First Class

Went to see this movie Saturday night (had a busy weekend and needed the time), and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  Great, not REALLY SUPER great, but one of the better comic book movies.  Lightyears beyond what Brett Ratner could do, that’s for sure.

Now, to reiterate something – I am not a comic fanboy to the extent where I’m going to be upset that the continuity gets messed up, or characters have somewhat arbitrary changes.  Movies have to be different, and there is a balance the filmmakers have to strike between faithfulness to the source material, and making a good movie.  I will be talking about possible spoilers, so read on after the jump.

Early in the movie, we see something very familiar – Erik Lensherr being separated from his parents, the bending of the gate at the concentration camp, the rifle butt to the face.  The difference is we see what happens after.  Sebastian Shaw torments Erik, killing his mother when he can’t move a coin on command (he has no control over the power, only able to activate it when angry).  This is contrasted with a scene from Charles Xavier’s childhood, with him discovering a girl in his mansion stealing food, who turns out to be Raven (Mystique).  Somehow she ends up as a foster sister, which is odd because Xavier is 12 and not exactly in charge of things.

Anyway, we next see Charles and Erik in their early 20s.  Charles graduates from Oxford, and Lensherr is hunting the Nazis from the camp he was at, trying to find Shaw.  Xavier gets recruited to help the CIA do the same thing after an agent (Moira McTaggart) witnesses the Hellfire Club using their mutant powers.

The movie truly begins then, with Xavier and Lensherr recruiting mutants to their team, found by using a crude first draft of Cerebro (reel to reel tape!  line printers!).  Beast was already there (human looking other than his feet), Havok joins out of prison (this bothers the comic fanboys, as in the comics, he’s Scott’s (Cyclops) younger brother), Banshee, Mystique and others are all present.  They wear blue and yellow suits reminiscent of the earlier X-Men costumes.

The X-Men and the Hellfire Club take part in the Cuban Missile Crisis, with Sebastian Shaw trying to start a nuclear war to clear the world of ‘normal’ humans and leaving behind only their kind, the mutants, the ‘Children of the Atom’.  You know what has to happen at the end – Xavier and Lensherr split, the bad guy stopped, and Charles in a wheelchair.

A few of my issues with the movie (still spoilers):  Why does Xavier let Mystique go at the end?  At least try to reason with her.  And honestly the whole ‘Xavier is uncomfortable with Raven’s natural appearance’ thing seemed odd.  Also, Charles must be one HELL of an idealist to live in the 60s and think mutants will ever be accepted.  At this point Moira was still getting shit from her superiors at the CIA for being a woman, at one point one of them saying something along the lines of putting her back in the typing pool.  These people are going to accept Mystique, Beast or Nightcrawler?

I enjoyed the story very much on it’s own, despite the retcons and timeline quirks it brings up.  I highly recommend it.