Matthew Vaughn stylishly handles the vague subject of
FOR a 130-minute-long movie to be first rate, it has to be really enthralling and X-Men: First Class surely isnít. Full marks for its technical brilliance with those mutants vanishing and reappearing at will, igniting fires and dousing them with equal aplomb, you name it and itís done, but the plot is unduly stretched and somehow the whole fare lacks soul.
Also, going for a prequel when youíre already four films (and not the best entertainers) down isnít quite a bright idea. Yet, one has to give credit to director Matthew Vaughn for his stylish handling of this rather vague subject.
It begins with Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) bullying young Erik in a Nazi camp by shooting his mother to ignite his rage (too, too much). The boy grows up to become Magneto (Michael Fassbender), who later on meets Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), a telepath who collects other "freaks" with superpowers.
The army fights the nuclear-absorbent Shaw bent on starting World War III and for that he chooses a historical incident, the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 during US President John F. Kennedyís rule and does well to show both the Americans and Russians in combat formation. The clash between Magneto and Xavier is well charted, also delving in their psychological past as it tackles the good versus evil theme. It also tilts between artistic licence and the direct homage to the Marvel comics.
Xavier has an assortment
of freaks, the most notable being the blue-skinned Raven/ Mystique
(Jennifer Lawrence), who could change form at will but always had a
complex because of the complexion of her skin. Then, thereís January
Jones as Shawís sidekick, whose only job is to look good, which she
manages with ease. James McAvoy has an arresting screen presence but
the same cannot be said of Kevin Bacon, who in the first place is
miscast. The cameos help but if only its duration was reduced by at
least 30 minutes.