Arguably the biggest wildcard of the 2011 Summer Movie Season is X-Men: First Class, FOX's X-Men prequel directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Layer Cake). The film combines both elements of the X-Men comics and elements of the X-Men movie world built by Bryan Singer - and yet, with First Class, the filmmakers are endeavoring to establish a base from which to launch a whole new take on the X-Men movie franchise.
If that all sounds confusing, a lot of fans would agree - and many have voiced their low hopes and unhappiness with this project ever since its inception. Today the first reviews of X-Men: First Class are hitting the Web, so what's the general consesus about this risky new interpretation of the X-Men universe?
In a word: great.
It seems that despite the "bastardized" interpretation of X-Men lore, the dangerously rushed production schedule of the film, the atrocious promotional poster campaign, and all the rest of the doomsday predictions, X-Men: First Class is not only NOT a disaster, but is quite possibly the best X-Men movie since X2, one of the best superhero movies to date, one of smarter summer blockbusters in a long time, and is, all around, a good movie.
...That is if you believe a word that any of the following reviewers from any of the following websites are saying. (Look for our own Screen Rant official review next week ;-).)
NOTE: Click the name of any website to read a full breakdown of their early impressions:
[This] feel like a more significant story than the average comic book movie...In fact, there's nothing that I would really call "average" about this. It uses your expectations about the genre to set you up one way, then time and again, reaches for something a little bit more perverse or a little bit more eccentric or a little bit more heartfelt. "X-Men: First Class" is almost desperately sincere, and I mean that in a good way. Everyone in the film plays it like they're holding nothing back...The way relationships evolve in this film is particularly heartbreaking, because it makes later configurations of people resonate in different ways. You look at who's hanging out with who in Singer's "X-Men" films now, and it hurts...I like the way history folds into the movie and it is clever without being annoying. It all makes nice thematic sense, and I think it's well utilized. I was afraid it was going to be very "Forrest Gump," but it's actually pretty simple and direct.
[A] prequel/reboot in the same style of what JJ Abrams did for the Star Trek franchise...It fits right in with Bryan Singer’s first two X-Men films and is probably the second best film in the series next to X-Men United. And I say that with a certain bit of nostalgia for the sequel, as it came out at a time when comic book adaptations didn’t strive to be anything more than popcorn fun. But the more and more I think about it, the more and more I think Vaughn’s film might have surpassed it. (You can watch /Film's video early review HERE.)
[If] the supporting cast seem at all weak, thinly-drawn or unfamiliar, then that merely primes the stage for the chess-game between Charles and Erik. This conflict, the result of which is certain from the start, is developed and executed without a hitch, evoking the Star Wars prequels not only in its narrative inevitability, but in how it triumphs where Lucas failed.
I don’t really know how true the film is to the comics, if I’m being honest. There’s an awful lot of comics, and they seem to contradict themselves an awful lot. There’s some interesting work done in making sense of bits of disparate comics continuity within this one new framework, and a lot of “grounding” of things that might go unexplained on the page. The jumpsuits everybody wears are completely sensible, for example, and there’s even a range of reasons that explain why Emma Frost is always dressed the way she is. Fun details that will make for some nice, chewy debates
In our own post about the best superhero movie of summer 2011 X-Men: First Class was the winner in both the characters and story department. Judging from the reviews above, we made the right call.
Some people may still insist that departing from continuity and canon is sin, but as pointed out in one review, X-Men comic (and movie) continuity has never been all that logical to begin with. Faith in Matthew Vaughn - and particularly James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender - has always kept us believing in this project. Hopefully, with more reviews like these and some strong word of mouth, even the most unaware or unwilling movie goers will be convinced to give this film a chance. So far, it sounds like there is plenty of reason to do so.
X-Men: First Class will be in theaters on June 3rd in the U.S. and June 1st in the UK.
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