By Cali Tamayo
In X-Men: First Class, you will get what you paid for: a first class trip down prequel lane with enough bells and whistles to ensure you not just a safe landing, but a big return.
¡Si SenÑor!!! This franchise installment delivers and how! In this very human storytelling of the origins of the mutant crew, Director Matthew Vaughn has rescued a franchise from absolute absurdity and boredom and turned in into a crown jewel. And luckily for Vaughn (and us!) he had a lot to work with. First and foremost is the perfect chemistry between the leads, both of whom are (if you disagree you must be blind and deaf) two of the best that Europe has produced in recent times: James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. I totally see these two blokes downing some pints of Stella at the local pub. They are that effortless. And as Professor X (the dreamy McAvoy) and Magneto (the irresistibly magnetic Fassbender), these two actors deliver some of the finest acting around…because let’s face it…playing a mutant without the makeup and outfit is not only unfair…but pretty hard to pull off. And man, do these boys take action-hero acting to a whole new level!!!
Our evolved, creepy and young and younger villain Shaw has a fancy trick up his sleeve that allows him to absorb all forms of energy. If we would all be this lucky we would not look a day past 30. While Bacon makes a dapper villain worthy of all the attention, casting the no-talent and emanciated January Jones as his sidekick mutant Emma Frost, is like asking us to believe that Inertia can be a mutant superpower. Pleezzz…this girl needs coffee and a few burritos to come alive…but seeing her up there is a powerful reminder that plus ca change in Hollywood…the more it stays the same…knowing the right people is the best antidote to no talent.
But back to the mero mero of the story! In this much needed prequel, we get straight to the key of many a life: childhood and the events that shape a life. Before he became the spiteful angry villain, Magneto was Erik Lehnsherr, a happy boy living with mom and dad until the Nazis took them away to a concentration camp which led him right into the arms of the creepy Doctor Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), who figured out the most disastrous way to unlock Erik’s impressive abilities. Meanwhile, in a happier place, Charles Xavier is growing up rich and smart and is already a surrogate brother to another mutant, Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). Man, who knew that back in the day Professor X had a swagger to complement his full head of hair and a soft bragaddocio (being telepathic does not hurt) that worked magic on the girls…fun stuff!
While all this is happening, a resourceful CIA agent, Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) is busy in Las Vegas spying on soviets (how cool is that?!?) …which besides being a pretty neat assignment, made her the first and possibly only true believer in the need for mutants. She tracks down Xavier at Oxford (or is it Cambridge???) and next thing we know, mutants are at Langley. Although their fist collaborative mission is a failure, it does bring Xavier in touch with another mutant, Erik, who is hell bent on seeking revenge for his tormented childhood. As a team, they will be working together to battle the soviet regime and save the world during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Traveling fast between locales including Germany, Switzerland, Nevada, D.C., Argentina and Moscow, mutants are located and successfully enlisted in what would ideally be a mutant army. Look for the brief but hilarious cameo during this recruiting section. This mutant army is young and inexperienced which is part of the fun behind this prequel. These young mutants are totally amusing as a bunch of kids looking for a mission, picking silly names and learning who they are…not any different that the process you and I went through growing up (some of us less successful than others…). Just remember that the true force can be found somewhere between rage and serenity. Shot and edited for maximum speed and efficiency, this movie benefits from an acting ensemble that populates the screen while never making it too crowded.
My last two cents: If you’re into the x-men, this is a great reboot of the franchise, and if you’re not this may just be the one to pull you in – like a magnet.
MPAA rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity, and language) Directed by Matthew Vaughn; written by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn;. A Twentieth Century Fox release. Running time: 2:11.