Every so often I become aware of a gaping whole in my cinematic knowledge. After seeing X-Men: First Class tonight I am asking myself Why have the X-Men not entered my life until now?
No spoilers afoot, I promise.
I love to have fun when I go to the movies. More often than not, I choose to see serious, intense, re-examine-your-life movies in theaters and save the shoot-em-up, blow-em-up action movies for DVD, but for some reason the X-Men movies seem to have completely passed me by.
First Class is the fifth in the series and it tells the origin story of the X-Men. I was able to follow the story, but clearly it would have been more fun to see it knowing who these young mutants grow to be.
The movie opens during World War II and begins with a few short scenes of the X-Men (and X-Women) as children and then catapults forward into the 60's during the Cold War. I was so impressed by the choice to set the movie during the Cold War because it gives the story real weight. When it's done well, I love it when fictional stories are set against dramatic backdrops. For example, the first Narnia movie is set during WWII and although almost the whole movie is set in the fantastical world of Narnia, the fact that the children are fighting the White Witch while their father is fighting the Nazis adds an interesting layer to the film.
The cast of X-Men: First Class stellar. There are the acting veterans: James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon, Michael Fassbender and Oliver Platt. There are few actors who do smug and creepy quite as well as Kevin Bacon. It's so much fun to watch an actor and think He/She clearly had SO much fun playing this role. It's so evident on screen that Kevin Bacon just had a blast playing this part.
Then are the fresh, young newcomers. Jennifer Lawrence (Raven/ Mystique) is quickly becoming the newest bad-ass in Hollywood. If you haven't seen Winter's Bone you MUST. The Academy doesn't give a first-time actress an Oscar nomination just because she's a pretty face. She recently landed the coveted role of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, which she is filming now.
I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that Lucas Till (Alex Summers/ Havok) actually can act. I'm sorry, but being the stud in The Hannah Montana Movie and Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" music video don't exactly constitute as acting jobs in my opinion, but thankfully he's broken free from those roles.
Having starred with Hugh Grant and, more recently, Colin Firth, I wouldn't exactly call Nicholas Hoult (Hank McCoy/ Beast) a newcomer, but he's still a great young talent.
All in all I had a fantastic time seeing this movie. It's action-packed fun from start to finish. In case my recommendation isn't enough for you, I should point out that X-Men: First Class currently has 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is wicked good given the amount of action-packed disasters that are released during summer blockbuster season.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go add the 4 prior X-Men movies to my Netflix queue.