Some of you may have noticed I've been conspicuously quiet concerning a film that came out last weekend that I had a little prediction on in a previous post.
Well, I saw it last weekend, but didn't feel like writing about it until I had seen it again. The flick to which I'm referring is of course X-Men: First Class, and upon its first viewing, I walked away with decidedly mixed feelings.
Without going into plot-specific spoilers (for those of you that haven't seen it), I was torn about certain things. For one, upon first viewing, I thought the period aspect of the piece worked… and didn't work at the same time. There seemed to be a thin venire of 60's camp that seemed to lay over the top of a very strong dramatic core that carried the film. As I understand it, there were quite a few actors from various big and small screen properties of the 1960's that made their way into the movie (and I was aware of this by 3 people sitting directly behind me, who insisted on laughing loudly whenever one of these generation-specific easter eggs appeared).
Sorry guys, it was lost on me, wrong generation.
However, the previously mentioned things did throw me for a loop the first time I watched it. In fact, in many ways, the first viewing was a victim of overblown expectations. Whenever I watch anything pertaining to a film beforehand that pushes my buttons, whether it be a trailer, filmmaker interview, ect., and I know the director or actors attached warrant a high level of expectation in and of themselves, I tend to almost always be disappointed when I first watch a film.
In anything, one's imagination is often the most powerful force in play. When I imagine how amazing a film will be (especially if it concerns characters/stories I'm familiar with), many times the actual product just can't compete. Disappointment follows, but if you allow yourself to watch the piece again, often-times your expectation have now flown the coop, and you can just take in the film on its own merits.
Those were the things I had to come around to, the things that I loved from the get-go on this film was the two main characters, and their story told. Eric and Charles (Prof. X and Magneto, respectively), were a fantastic case of two characters with infinitely different backgrounds, upbringings, and life experiences that somehow came together to form a bond as friends and pillars of their cause. I loved that Charles feels Eric's pain, you can see it in his eyes, red-rimmed and drowned in sadness, which were a mirror of Eric's as he stared into the void of what Eric went through ie. Nazi concentration camps, and a life fueled by revenge. I loved that when Eric refuses to go along with the government in finding more mutants with their help, Charles backs him up. It may not be exactly what Charles would of done if he was acting alone, but in this case, he went to bat for his friend. It makes their eventual break in philosophy that much more heartbreaking.
On the first viewing, I was actually of the opinion that having the addition of the other team members (Banshee, Havok, Beast, Darwin, ect) actually brought the film down a little bit, as attention is shifted from the heart of the film, which was the story of Charles and Eric. On second viewing I admit I was a little wrong, as they are for the most part woven in rather well, but in the finale I couldn't help but be taken out of it when they cut away from Magneto facing down Shaw. I kept screaming in my head, "alright already, back to the good stuff"! That's not to say I didn't like the ancillary characters, I did, especially Beast, Banshee, and Mystique. Their stories carried an emotional weight (well, maybe not Banshee's - he was played for laughs), but by the end, when certain characters go their separate ways, it hurts a little.
This was a good movie, and another notch in Matthew Vaughn's belt after Kick-Ass. Did I think it was the best X-flick yet? Arguably, but I will say Sunday night after watching First Class I re-watched X2, and but damn if that still isn't a great movie years later. Its probably still my favorite superhero movie, but this comes close. I did love how if anything, Vaughn ignores X-Men 3 and Wolverine, and include bits from both of Singer's movies, which make them all feel connected and important to this installment. Smart, considering the steam the X-Franchise had going after Singer made his two movies, steam that had been rapidly let out until this one came along.
Personally, I'm hoping for some Sam Guthrie (Cannonball) action.
Now, back to that prediction - will this turn out to the best Marvel movie of the summer? Well, right now, it has the edge over Thor (which I really liked, but felt came in below this), and only after Joe Johnson's Captain America we'll know for sure, but I do know this - Cap better be really good to beat this out.
Oh, and the Greatjon. Can't forget the Greatjon.
I'm definitely getting more comfortable with the show now that the stakes have been raised and we're nearing the conclusion, and for those of you not on board yet… well, I hope a DVD box set of this season is in your future.