X-men: Third class

Published: June 12, 2011
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It seems impossibly difficult to make a movie based on existing material that isn’t a book. Comics, video games, toys all make for bad script, cardboard acting and clichéd emotions. Or at least, that’s what Transformers, Bloodrayne, Prince of Persia and now X-men: First Class lead one to believe.

Plot: Directed by Matthew Vaughn(of Kick-Ass fame) the movie finds us in prequel mode. The setting is the 60s, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, with a brief glimpse of World War 2. Primarily the movie focuses around two characters, Charles Xavier and Eric Lenshher/Magneto and how the world initially comes to grips with the existence of mutants among regular humans with looming international crisis points in the background. The movie takes a few liberties with both the source material and history.

Cast: An all-new cast is led by James McAvoy as the young Charles Xavier(formerly played by Patrick Stewart) and Michael Fassbender as Magneto (formerly played by Sir Ian McKellan). McAvoy and Fassbender are both accomplished actors. Their chemistry in the movie is superb. Many have drawn comparisons between McAvoy’s Xavier and Fassbender’s Magneto to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. The other charecters -Mystique, Beast, Banshee, Havoc, Angel Salvadore, Azazel, Emma Frost, Sebastian Shaw, Darwin and Riptide – however, are just sad. Many have just a couple of lines at most and those too of “So what’s your power?” variety.

Costumes & CGI: In a word, bad. Havoc’s plasma beams are like red hula hoops around him. Mystique is ugly and Beast is a cheap stuffed toy. People were actually chuckling when Beast first showed up. Riptide’s whirlwinds are two Tasmanian Devils from the Looney Toons gang.  Azazel’s face is a Halloween mask. All of which is confusing because the budget was around $150 million and they got these things right in the previous movies.

What was somewhat laudable was how the film used the period setting to its advantage. Since the events shown are set in the 1960s, there’s a lot of beehive-hairdo action, gratuitous dropping of the word “groovy”, old-school cars and even decade-appropriate furniture.

Adaptation: As an X-Men fan, I understand there were bound to be changes. It isn’t possible to incorporate the exact storyline and even when that is done the result isn’t necessarily good cinema, example: Watchmen.

However unnecessary changes just made X-Men: First Class cheesy. Particularly ridiculous were additions like crazy scientific explanations to justify super powers and cliched training montages (in which Xavier helps his associates develop control over their powers through one week of magic pep-talks). If not for McAvoy and Fassbender’s screen presence and the genuine depth to their characters, the movie would be a total write-off. As it stands now, it came across as just somewhat better than the horrible X-Men (3): The Last Stand. X2 remains the best of the series.

Verdict:

If you’re a fan of the comics and cartoon series, 6.5/10.

If you’re a newbie or only watch the movies, 7.5/10.

Watch only if you genuinely loved the movies and have already seen Kungfu Panda 2.

ali.abbasi

Ali Hassan Abbasi

An accountant at Ernst and Young, Ali is based in Abu Dhabi. He plays bass guitar and tweets as @themaholupper

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Saqib

    Its by far the best X-Men movie, ever made. U r really got it wrong when u put it to the level of Kung Fu Panda. The movie shows the beginning of the whole story and how it all started. Most importantly, how magneto came into being. U cant just discard it just cause maybe u didnt like it. Even IMDB gave it an 8.2. Who the hell r u?Recommend

  • Fooz

    This movie was amazing… this review is third classss…Recommend

  • Alex

    I found this film both entertaining and disappointing! Its hard to seperate what makes a good film and what I personally expected to see, but I felt there was little substance to Magento and Xavier’s conflict. They had one argument at the end and suddenly are enemies for life?? The film is very enjoyable and I left the cinema giving a 8/10 but the more I think about it there are more things that were bad compared to the things that were good. The casting was terrible and all the young mutants are weak, both with unimpressive powers and little screentime to impress (some get slightly better during the end battle but by then you don’t care about them). Mystique is terrible and her motivation for joining Magneto is badly portayed as she suddenly abandones a paralysed Xavier. Ah yes didn’t Patrick Stewart turn up in Wolverine walking??? (bad continuity although Sabretooth was also in that and Xmen 1 as different actors, plus Brian Cox wasn’t recast as Col Striker so clearly there’s a problem with the continuity!)

    Also Magneto’s accent changes during the film! Bad montage for the training sequences which make the end battle ridiculous considering they have had a weeks training although its well shot and pretty explosive.

    As I said there are enough things wrong with the film to moan for hours but I genuienly enjoyed it and as an Xmen fan you always let a lot slide, allowing for some artistic license! Suffice to say a critic could pick away at it succesfully but your average Joe Public viewer could love it if they don’t concentrate too much on the characters motivations across the entire franchise. As a two hour movie its pretty enjoyable but I sense many true Xmen fans gritting their teeth at some of the errors!!

    7/10Recommend

  • Gul

    Fantastic Movie….The best in all X Men movies.just amazing.8/10.
    This review looks third class really.0/10.Recommend

  • andrew

    Hey, the word “groovy” was used TWICE in the whole movie, and the 2nd time was supposed to show Charles re-hashing a pickup line anyway. Definitely gratuitous huh? Recommend

  • http://Mumbai Blunt!

    @Author –

    Don’t mind, but your taste sucks!Recommend

  • Ali Hasan

    It’s great that you guys liked it but I sadly didn’t. Maybe it’s because I’m too attached to the comics to separate myself from the material but really, this was disappointing for me. I did give it 7.5 out of 10 for non-comic fans which is clearly above average. I still feel Bryan Singer’s attempts were much better in their execution.

    [[SPOILER ALERT. Minor plot points follow.]]

    Other areas I found completely lame.

    1) The black guy dies. In about 5 minutes. Also, when somebody says “enslaved” the camera immediately pans to him. Because he’s black and hence an expert on the matter?

    2) Emma Frost was horrible. Just. Bad. In the comics she is incredibly vivacious and witty, able to reduce people to tears with her words. Here, she was a mannequin that could talk a little.

    So, lol. Don’t take any of this personally people. If you guys liked it, more power to you. How you reconcile the weaknesses in costume, acting and script is up to you :)

    Saqib and Gul; 8 and 8.2 aren’t really that far away from 7.5 now, are they?Recommend

  • BlueLantern

    Yes, the movie had some cheap qualities to it but it was still better than the dreadful x-men 3 the last stand. Beast, Azazel, and even Mystique looked fake and lame. Yeah that part about Havoc’s beams did look like hula hoops at times, and it was kind of stupid and funny. I don’t understand how they can approve bringing in new young mutants that we never heard of before like that firefly girl, and that guy who can adapt but ends up dying. They should have at least consulted with higher authority in Marvel and fans to bring more realism and creativity to the characters. And when is Mr. Sinister and Apocalypse coming to the big screen? We need Cable, Bishop, and diehard characters if they want real success! Recommend

  • leonidis

    aah critics…..always criticizing everything….nothing is ever good enough……nobody cares what u think….go back to your nerd hole…………Recommend

  • Saad

    This movie was awesome! And is it obligatory for all the critics at ET to degrade every movie that they review from every angle possible?Recommend

  • Well guys…you witnessed short comings in this movies…may be i didn’t..REASON…Michael Fassbender…my blind love for him :) This man rules.future James Bond i would say.

    @ Ali Hassan,

    7.5/10 aren’t bad either :)Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    What a Third Class Review, ET how could you let this excuse of a review in the blog section get published, what a waste of blog space, insult to the movie which has been widely applauded by critics and movie goers, and worst of all, the movie just came out, so this guy is apparently ruining it for would be watchers, people have booked tickets days in advance to see this. Recommend

  • Hussam

    Terrible review. But that’s to be expected from someone who thought X-men: Last Stand was a good movie. Roger Ebert would probably commit suicide if he read this poor excuse for a ‘review’.

    This movie along with Source Code are the best movies of the year so far.Recommend

  • Agha

    Stylish movie…James McAvoy (professor X ) and Michael Fassbender ( Magneto ) were just superb.great actors.Recommend

  • http://www.deadpanthoughts.com F.K

    Really bad movie…as a purist and xmen comics reader and fan i was very disappointed. I do not understand all this prequel mania as well…there are so many xmen adventures but they keep going back…uggh. Recommend

  • Rizwan Liaqat

    @Alex:
    Magneto and Xavier did not just become enemies at the end, they simply saw their paths were different and parted company with each other. The end just set the foundation for them pursuing their different ways.Recommend

  • Asif

    Wow. The only third class thing here is this review. I mean, if it were based upon concrete reasons like a bad plot etc, I’d understand. When, however, you dismiss a character as being ugly and therefore bad, you really lose all legitimacy. Especially since,you know the moral of her story was the whole “beauty on the inside” thing.

    I thought this movie was brilliant. The beach scene was bone-chilling. Michael Fassbender was, as always, brilliant as was McAvoy. Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique was the heart of the movie and is stunning despite what this reviewer (for lack of a better word) might say. Kevin Bacon stood out in a role which could’ve resembled his previous characters with the potential sleaze factor. However, he delivered a villain so menacing, so frightening and yet, more understated than any we’ve seen in recent films. His deputy, Emma Frost, was played to icy perfection by January Jones. (I think we can all agree that the scene with her in the Russian general’s room was one of the most hilarious in the film). Yes, some of the other mutants weren’t so fleshed out, but that shouldn’t matter. They’re there for their powers and it’s not necessary we know too much about them other than that. Angel and Havok were underwhelming, but really, how much do they drive the story other than serving as a plot device?

    Matthew Vaughn did a brilliant job with this movie.Recommend

  • Cakeboy

    The only thing third class here is this review. X-Men First Class is the best X-men movie to date. The characters were great, the plot was more meaningful than many movies I have seen and the way everything fit in to match other movies was doen very well.

    Tribune should really take reviews from people who are more reliable than choosing the oddballs who take pleasure in going against the general view. Such teenage rebellion should be avoided.Recommend

  • J

    IMDB gave it 8.2 based on user reviews, Rotten Tomatoes gave it 87% freshness and here is our dude who thinks its third class.Recommend

  • Ali Hasan

    Challenge Accepted:

    Metacritic = 65/100 (this is where IMDB gets their stats from too)

    Rotten Tomatoes critics = 71/100

    Sorry people. Critics world over are on my side, most movie-goers are not comic-book fans. Recommend

  • Burhan

    The comments written here aren’t that first class either lacking any constructive criticisms regarding why the movie should get a better score. Secondly after reading Asif’s comment even I cant stomach the character portrayals given. Given the fact that Mystique is considered one of the most manipulative women due to her powers and skill at deception, It shows that neither the writers, director or any of the actors bothered to even pick up a comic. So buddy, that beauty from within point is one of the reason why people who KNOW the source material (nerds as one of the brilliant commentors called us) think this movie is only good for jocks and wannabes who just want to jump onto the superhero bandwagonRecommend

  • 71/100, even then how come it is Third Class?Recommend

  • http://Leginca siddiqui

    third class review actually…
    if you are so hooked up on the comic then don’t see it…
    the movie is made for a wider audience and we loved it… Recommend

  • Boo Hoo

    Your taste is the only third class thing that comes out of this post Mr. Ali…Comparing it with Kung Fu (which i did see before this) is just pathetic. I haven’t seen a more satisfactory movie since Avatar.
    You are clearly not an X-Men fan so stop generalizing your unproffesional and naive views.Recommend

  • Ali Hasan

    @Boo Hoo:

    Avatar? You mean the special effects experiment that was basically Pocahontas in space? Please tell me you’re being sarcastic. If you aren’t, I hope for your sake you get to see better movies and soon :)

    Lol @ “Clearly not an X-Men fan”. You are clearly not a reader, hence your meager understanding of my X-Men references. Recommend

  • TheLastBaron

    This is one of those articles that you write out and read once. After that you crumple up the piece of paper and set it on fire so that you can’t recreate anything like it ever again.
    This author got it pretty much all wrong starting from the first line, I can understand him being a purist but his ratings are unbelievely harsh on what was an exceptionally well done movie. I’d give it an 8.5/10 anyday !Recommend