SFX Blogger Matt Risley hasn’t been lucky enough to see one of the First Class press previews, but he’s more willing to side with the critics than the internet doommongers
If you (a) have access to the internet and are (b) a geek (and we’re going to assume you’re in denial of at least one of those things if you’re shaking your head while you read this), then it’s unlikely you’ve avoided the fanboy ire surrounding the production and marketing of X-Men: First Class (if not, have a quick Google around it – there’s crazy aplenty).
Sure, the franchise’s continuity’s all over the place, the ’60s setting would make Havok about 62 if he was ever re-introduced as Cyclops’ brother in a future sequel, and pretty much every poster released so far looks like it’s had about as much creative and professional input as a pre-schooler finger painting. Who was drunk at the time.
But with so much else going for it, surely the hardcore fanbase will be able to see past such quibbling irrelevancies. Either way I’m going to attempt to use my own mutant power of “Awesomely Persuasive Scribbling” to convert you to the cause.
Literary geek and mentally manipulative – I’m like the lovechild of Professor Xavier and Charlaine Harris.
And who could say no to that?
With the franchise now officially stuck in a continuity-bound rut thanks to the cast obliterating fun of X-Men: The Last Stand and the Deadpool-as-post-op-transgender-mute joy of Wolverine , the decision to throw the whole story back to its origins is a clever one.
Unshackled by the increasingly laboured plot threads of its predecessors, First Class looks to boast some seriously stylish era trappings – from the Mad Men sex appeal of the clothes-averse Emma Frost to the bold choice of positioning the Cuban Missile Crisis front and centre in not only the social commentary, but the action too.
The X-Men always work well when the old “sworn to protect those who hate and fear us” family motto is actually substantiated and used within a relatable context, and the paranoia and troubling tensions of the ’60s seems as perfect a backdrop as any.
Plus, you know, it gives everyone an excuse to roll around in snazzy sports cars and groove along to (we’re hoping) a brilliant soundtrack.
Show us a more impressive ensemble cast this summer and we’ll eat our Magneto Helmet Magnetic Paperclip Holder (yes, that’ a thing – http://www.amazon.com/X-men-Desktop-Magneto-Magnetic-Paperclip/dp/B000ORHAIY ).
Appropriately enough, it’s a veritable Who’s Who of Hollywood’s leading collection of young, rising stars (First Class indeed), with almost all involved proving they can handle introspective character pieces as easily as they can commercial romp (Fassbender with Hunger and 300 , McAvoy with The Last King of Scotland and Narnia , Hoult with A Single Man and Clash of the Titans ), a number of intriguing castings that instinctively seem to fit (Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique), and the odd curveball that guarantees a surprise either way (Kevin Bacon as the Hellfire Club’s traditionally bemulleted, lecherous lothario Sebastian Shaw).
I’ve seen fanboys whining that a 30-something is playing Emma Frost in the ’60s.
Is it me or do they not have eyes? It’s January Jones. In a skimpy outfit. Beating people up.
I don’t care if she’s playing a geriatric Xavier, that’s an easy win either way.
There are a few names slapped on the front of the screenplay, but the most important is Jane Goldman. The flame/pink/Ramona Flowers-haired wonderscribe has justifiably emerged from the tabloid label of “Wossy’s Wife” (although technically I’m not helping the cause with the allusion there), with witty, zingy and incredibly fleshed-out characters appearing in all of her well-plotted and sensibly placed collaborations with Matthew Vaughn so far. In Goldman we trust.
Admittedly, when confronted with the pressure of handling such a massive franchise once before (Vaughn was going to direct The Last Stand ) he walked away; but then look how his replacement turned out.
With the increasingly accomplished successes of Kick-Ass and Stardust behind him, Vaughn has proven he knows the genre (even when he’s mercilessly mocking it), he’s learnt how to handle an ensemble cast peppered with A-Listers, and that – most importantly – now he genuinely feels like he’s ready for taking on an X-Project.
Confidence, talent and an ability to turn even the most staid of genres into something fresh and exciting – what more do we need?
IT'S IN 2D
Prepare yourself. This summer there is going to be at least one big budget blockbuster that isn't pimping its price-inflating 3D wares. While Thor and Green Lantern have succumbed to the dreaded, irrelevant “3D conversion”, Vaughn and co look set to produce a movie that can sell its action sequences, visuals and sheer in-your-faceness through the simple and increasingly old-fashioned medium of 2D cinema alone.
Considering our collective Blogger team (who are all obviously as knowledgeable as they are beautiful) wholeheartedly rejected 3D for the sake of it, I for one am looking forward to a cinematic experience that won’t require a post-movie Anadin.