Wednesday, June 15, 2011

X-Men: Baby Edition

Film Grade: C+/B-

With X-Men movies, I admit, I’m no expert. I think I’ve seen one? Maybe? There were several references to the previous movies I didn’t get, since I’m not a die-hard fan.  I kept thinking, “I don’t recognize that hero, and aren’t they missing a couple?” Maybe I should see the others. But I do know movies, and X-Men: First Class was thoroughly entertaining. 

This movie's story is how they started. Professor X began as Charles Xavier, who discovers blue-skinned Raven/Mystique, and adopts her as his sister. When the CIA discovers the pair, they are recruited into a defense team, where they meet Hank/Beast. They later recruit Darwin, Banshee, Havok, and Angel, who all have their own unique powers.

Also fascinating was Michael Fassbender as Magneto. In this movie, we learn of his upbringing; originally, he and his parents were Jewish, but when the Nazis discovered his magnetic powers, Sebastian Shaw/Klaus Schmidt, played by Kevin Bacon, recruited him. Obviously, since he was dealing with Nazis, he was left psychologically and emotionally scarred. Upon finding Professor X, he learns to control his powers, finding the “fine line between rage and serenity”.

Of course, the heroes are trained by Professor X. Magneto, despite his respect for the professor, still loses himself in his obsession with avenging his mother's death at Sebastian Shaw's hands. Once Shaw was dead, he decided to turn against the humans who would never understand them. Professor X did not join, and the heroes that remained with him became "X-Men". 

Fassbender played Magneto well, tapping into the deep chasms of his raw emotions. Kevin Bacon, as always, was a brilliant bad guy with no emotion, contrasting Fassbender well. James McAvoy was also well-cast; every captivating word he uttered from his British lips was spoken with poise. He truly lost himself in his role. Though shorter in stature compared to the rest of the heroes, he had enough presence to command and control them. 

There were several scenes in the movie that were “raunchy”: a few shots of strip clubs, pole dancing, lingerie-wearing Vegas girls, and cleavage-bearing costumes. Girls are objectified by the bad guys, but not so with Professor X, thankfully. In an ironic contrast to the girls' costumes, there was a touching theme of embracing the person you are, and that you are beautiful the way you were made. 

Another good theme that ran through the story was to treat people with gentleness and respect. Professor X showed this especially in the way he treated the “mutants” as well as the humans who didn’t understand them. He believed that vengeance “would not bring peace”. And most importantly, that the key to possessing your true potential was to embrace who you are, paired with self-control. Themes like these are rare, so it was refreshing to see.

In conclusion...I need to go watch the rest of them.

Magneto, Banshee, Professor X, future Mrs. X, Mystique and Havok

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