OK, so I am really behind on my X-Men lore. In fact, I know almost nothing about them. I didn’t even know this was the 4th (or 5th if you count Wolverine) of the series. I even missed the joke when the Wolverine tells Prof. X to fuck off. Anyway, the Nerd SciFi Cinema Club de Paris (NSFCCDP) outing for June was a bit limited in possible choices of SciFi or nerd movies. Fellow member m.poulet was quite motivated – a true X-Men fan who had seen the entire series – for this one, so away we went.
Apparently, each movie in the series opens with Magneto’s youth in a concentration camp before being spotted and dissected by the Bad Guy, Dr. Schiller/Sebastian Shaw. Fairly classic depiction of the parents separated from the child by nazis with the superhero twist. In parallel, we see the discovery of Raven by the future Professor X. The film starts rolling with these 3 primary characters and we learn a bit later that the evil-looking Kevin Bacon (who plays the bad guy alongside Frost (the attractive January Jones from Mad Men and more recently Unknown with Liam Neeson)) is a youthful version of Magneto’s nazi torturer. We don’t actually meet the “First Class” of mutant recruits until about 1/3 into the film and they don’t actually get trained (at which time we discover their real potential) until very late in the film – just before the nuclear showdown. Yes, nuclear showdown. Come on, this is a superhero-scifi flick – how else do you want it to end? With a few bisous and hugs?
In terms of aesthetics, the film’s effects and lighting were very good. There was obviously a deep war chest at Marvel to produce this film and it certainly works FAR more than Iron Man 2 which was so bad that I couldn’t stoop to giving it a review. The one really, really annoying thing was the music. The same awful theme with a synthetic orchestra, driving minor chords – hollywood/scifi/horror standard fare I suppose – was repeated over and over again. Especially disappointing because as m.poulet pointed out at the pub afterwards, with the action taking place in the 60’s, they could have had a FAR better soundtrack. Beyond that, there were things for which I could not suspend my disbelief – the sub at the end rolls on the beach and ends up lying on its side. However when Magneto goes for the final showdown with his mentor/father-figure/arch-enemy Shaw, the sub is mysteriously right-side up. And Shaw is still standing stiff as a rod at the nuclear reactor as if it was Sunday morning and he was just getting juiced for church or something. OK, so I digress but my point is that the contradiction was hard to reconcile. It is also disappointing that as usually happens in these scenarios, the two black characters, Darwin and Angel, are both killed off. People note: Curiously, I didn’t know that actress Zoë Kravitz who plays Angel is the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet (Angel Heart).
Overall, I’d give this one 3 out of 5. The casting was great, the scenario not really all that contrived, the action relatively well-maintained throughout, and the costumes and scenery not bad. However, it developed the “First Class” too late into the film and lacked a decent soundtrack and some consistency. Also, the gestures of Prof. X and Magneto for performing their superpowers were almost comical – Prof X looked like he was trying to remember where he left his keys and Magneto looked like he was constipated and reaching for the last piece of toilet paper.
Next up will either Transformers 3 or Captain America or Cowboys and Aliens…