X Men A Go Go

Oh my dear, Ms. Lawrence, why so blue?

Hollywood loves to rewrite history – not only their recent movie history, but actual history history.  Here in the context of some mutant hybrid of a prequel and a reboot — a preboot? a requel? — Hollywood has decided to (almost completely – but not without some fan boy in-jokes and cameos) erase the history of the X-Men franchise (and quite honestly, who can blame them after the Wolverine train wreck?) while simultaneously providing us with a shocking Inglourious Basterds style revision of history.  Who knew that mutants were behind the Cuban Missile Crisis?  Thanks, Hollywood!  Knowledge is power!

But the real reason to provide a backdrop like the Cuban Missile Crisis is to create an excuse to go totally a go-go and deck smokin’ hot babes in short skirts and high boots and give uber-villains cool pads with all kinds of Ikea-inspired furniture.  You won’t find me complaining here – the film (and the ladies and the set pieces and the special effects) look fantastic.  At some points this thing was so groovy I half expected Dr. Evil to waltz through the door and ask the mutants if they were enjoying their quasi-futuristic clothes. 

Matthew Vaughn (of Kick-Ass fame) is just the right type of hipster director to pull this style off with panache.  And the screenwriters provide oodles of back-story, relationship building and political maneuvering for the parade of zany characters, both human and mutant alike, and all eagerly sucked into the kinetic energy and all-for-fun (but not without a little maudlin excess) feel of X-Men: First Class.  Sure, there’s plenty of cheesy dialogue (the “Mutant and Proud!” line is overused) and one too many montages, but really, who cares about that stuff?

Rounding up a world-class cast of up-and-coming talent helps the proceedings immensely.  As the future Professor X, James McAvoy, in his post Atonement career, seems to be making a case to become the most awkward action star of his generation (remember Wanted?).  Meanwhile, Michael Fassbender is fast rising up to the A-list with his versatile choices from Inglourious Basterds to Jane Eyre to this.  As the mutant who would become Magneto, he’s hella-good.  Then there’s Jennifer Lawrence snatched fresh from her Oscar-nominated turn in Winter’s Bone to play the young Mystique.  There’s no doubt here – she’s a star, baby.  Don’t forget a perfectly cast January Jones stepping confidently from her role as “Ice Queen” Betty Draper on TV’s Mad Men to villainous Emma Frost in X-Men.  Lastly, good ol’ boy Kevin Bacon hams it up to great effect as the lunatic trying to start World War III.

Amidst Vaughn’s 1960’s spy flick inspired imagery, there’s inter-spliced newsreels of Kennedy’s speeches, Russian and American ships facing off outside Cuba, broken-hearted mutants (really this is as much a love story between Professor X and Magneto as anything else), a bumbling CIA, and a go-go dancer with insect wings who spits fire.  As much as I enjoyed this, after the credits rolled I wondered not about Matthew Vaughn’s continuation of this saga, but instead pondered…when is Matthew Vaughn going to direct a James Bond movie?



  1. Sounds like good fun but probably not much food for thought. I’ll skip this one though. But good witty review (“…hybrid of a prequel and a reboot — a preboot? a requel? —”), that was good 😉

    Prakash – after I thought I was oh-so-clever I saw other people using the word preboot in their reviews. Ugh. –DHS

  2. So do I see X-men or Super 8? Don’t make fun of James McAvoy. Loved him in The Last Station, Becoming Jane, Atomement, The Last King of Scotland, and the Chronicles of Narnia. Loved him “bestest” in Atonement.

    Dianne – why not see both? It’s a good week to be a moviegoer. I plan on catching The Tree of Life and Super 8. –DHS

  3. Dave, even though I haven’t seen the movie yet, this was a good read. I’ve been a longtime X-Men fan and have a good bit of interest in this, even if I’m not as enthusiastic about seeing it as I was the others. I guess this was because “Origins: Wolverine” was so awful (I mean, really, Wolverine has such an awesome back story and yet they pooched it!) and Matthew Vaughn directed “Kick Ass,” what I considered to be 2010’s worst movie by far. But I love that it’s set in the 60’s and I’m drinking the “McAvoy” Kool Aid as well, so I’m sure I’ll be checking this out very soon.

    Chris – this is easily the best X-Men film to date – though admittedly I was never a big fan of the series in the first place. I was no supporter of Kick Ass either, though it was stylishly directed, and Vaughn knows what he’s doing here. –DHS

  4. David, I saw X-Men and Super 8 Friday night. So you read my mind. Super 8 was “That Seventies Show” which is a good thing and X-Men was alternate history groovy!

    Glad you enjoyed them both! I’m checking out Super 8 later in the week. Should be fun. –DHS

  5. B??? WTF ?? This is one of the best movies i have ever seen, this movie deserves A+

    Oh, c’mon! I liked the film a lot – but an A+ should be reserved for the best of the best – the one of a kind cinematic masterpieces – the timeless classics. I guess it’s all a matter of taste, though, and ratings/grades are arbitrary so I guess it doesn’t matter. One person’s A+ is another’s B. –DHS

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