Monday, June 06, 2011

JayRo Watches: X-Men First Class

X-Men First Class is definitely a Bryan Singer movie, even if he did not direct it. It follows through on X-Men 1 and 2, and ties up a lot of the loose ends. As well, it carries on the tradition of the first two movies to concentrate on characters and acting performances over action.

That isn't to say that there are no spectacular fight scenes. In particular, Magneto has quite a few scenes where he looked like the greatest assassin ever created. But what drives the movie are the performances of the actors.

James McAvoy plays Charles Xavier, and carries a lot of the heavy load in the first half of the movie. McAvoy brings a lot of Xavier's gravitas and mysterious ability to push and challenge his students. He also supplies the wisdom that you expect from Professor X. But in the second half of the movie, he hands over the movie to the true star, Michael Fassbender.

Fassbender plays Magneto with aplomb, taking what is initially a character who is driven solely by revenge, and helping to transform him into the complex character who desires to take mutant kind to rule the world. He takes us along with his own change into this character, letting us understand his motives while not necessarily tipping his hand as to where the character is going to go. It was a breakout performance for Fassbender; not necessarily an Oscar worthy performance, but on that should make Hollywood pay notice and get Fassbender many more starring roles.

I should also take a moment to commend Kevin Bacon on his performance; more often than not Bacon is treated as a bit of a joke, thanks to the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. But his performance as Sebastian Shaw was a strong performance for somebody who normally isn't cast as a main villain.

I recommend seeing this movie, especially if you enjoed the first two X-Men movies. The acting carries the movie, though the story and action were not lacking either.

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