Sunday, December 18, 2011
The Next Evolution in Rehashing
I don't know why X-Men doesn't explore its potential for S&M stories more often. Here in Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class, the possibilities between Emma Frost and Magneto are suggested but not really explored. The movie is a bit more satisfying when it comes to exploring the characters, though it stops far too short. Mostly it's only a reasonably entertaining comic book film.
Michael Fassbender as Magneto is the single best part of the movie. This is only the second movie I've seen him in, after Inglourious Basterds, where he played an Englishman who speaks German with a noticeable accent. Here he plays a German speaking English with a barely noticeable accent. He carries both roles off very well--one can also see Ian McKellan's take on the character in there. A man who harbours an unflinching resentment for the world that he sees as fundamentally intent on keeping him down. The movie provides ample motivation for him, as we see him experimented on as a boy by a Nazi scientist played by Kevin Bacon.
James McAvoy is established somewhat less effectively as Xavier, lacking an equally interesting story about his motives, but he does look remarkably like he could be a young Patrick Stewart.
The gang of young mutants making up the "class" itself are considerably less interesting, their dynamics coming off as more like a mediocre teen drama. There are a couple of interesting moments, like a dialogue between Beast and Mystique about how they ought to feel about their natural appearances, but of course it covers ground trodden past the bedrock by other X-Men media. Angel, who's a stripper before she's recruited by Xavier and Magneto, has an interesting line about how she'd rather take her clothes off for guys than be subjected to the insults of people calling her a freak for being a mutant. But actress Zoe Kravitz quite flubs the line, putting weird emphasis on the taking her clothes off part and you come away thinking the actress thought the line was about how much Angel liked getting naked in public.
There's actually a lot of terrible dialogue not at all the fault of the actors, though. When the characters first go to Xavier's mansion as a group, Magneto dryly observes, "Honestly, Charles, I don't know how you survived, living in such hardship."
Mystique, who in this version of the story grew up with Xavier as an adopted sister, says, "Well, it was a hardship softened by me."
Yeesh. What? First off, it's weird if it's supposed to be taken as sexual. Either way, it's really . . . lame. I picture Mystique lying on the ground while Xavier plans to jump down from a window above.
There's some decent action, almost all of which involves Magneto. It's great watching him finding new ways to use metal. My favourite was when he threw a knife at a guy then caused the knife to snap right back to his hand.
Anyway, it's a decent little two hour and six minute movie.