After the terrible X-Men: Last Stand and the crap-fest known as X-Men Origins: Wolverine, director Matthew Vaughn successfully and literally brings the franchise back to its roots. This reboot/prequel, set in the 1960s, sees a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) help CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) to prevent Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) starting Nuclear War. Meanwhile, Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) seeks revenge for the death of his parents and teams up with Xavier to tackle the same enemy.

The Good

Michael Fassbender steals the show as the troubled Magneto, reflecting Vaughn’s intention of a serious attempt at the X-Men franchise. Fassbender manages to balance the sense of friendship between Erik and Charles with his own tragic past and personal agenda. He’s brutal and relentless as he rips through ex-Nazis, but understanding and fragile when collaborating with Charles. Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Raven/ Mystique, is another one that shines above the rest. There’s an energy and charm to her character, even when her backstory isn’t explored. She plays the role well, and was a wise choice by Vaughn. One key aspect that X-Men: FC has over the likes of Thor, Captain America and the horrendous Green Lantern is action set-pieces. A superhero film isn’t supposed to delve into the realms of romantic drama, or be an absolute ‘borefest’. Audiences want to see over-the-top action and crazy fights, and Vaughn nails this with some intense and energetic scenes that don’t impede the general story.  

The Bad

The major weakness of X-Men: FC is the patchy script. The majority of cinema within this genre has been derived from comic book source material. Therefore, the campy narrative styling and cheesy dialogue unfortunately permeates into Vaughn’s film. Clichéd lines from Admirals and Generals: ‘God help us all’ and contrived speeches from various characters, especially McAvoy, don’t quite match the serious tone established at the beginning, becoming rather comical. Another problem is the general period atmosphere and design. Set amidst the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ and the ‘Red Scare‘, the 1960s has a distinctly modern look. Apart from archive footage of John F. Kennedy and the CIA’s Chevys, it doesn’t immerse or give a realistic experience of the era. One thing that will never be resolved is the fact that NO-ONE can surpass Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier. And a mumbling McAvoy is certainly not a contender. Overall, X-Men: FC is the best of this Summer’s superhero films, but never really astonishes or amazes.

The Extras

20th Century Fox doesn’t seem to have much love for the DVD generation, and is clearly pushing the Blu-ray media. While the Blu-ray version comes with various featurettes including a ‘Making Of’ documentary, deleted scenes, an interactive ‘Mutant Database’ (Cerebro) and others, the DVD version comes complete with deleted scenes and a digital copy. If you’re serious about your extras and the X-Men franchise, then purchase the Blu-ray version.

Film Rating:

Extras:

Jack Singleton

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11 Comments

  1. Cris
    October 31, 2011 at 14:49

    Pathetic review. Anyone who tries to put down one of the best young actors working these days – James McAvoy – certainly doesn’t deserve one bit of attention. And please notice that Fassbender was only good because he had an even better actor to work with. More luck with your reviews next time.

  2. Julie
    October 31, 2011 at 17:35

    He hasn’t exactly put down McAvoy, he just stated that he wasn’t a patch on Patrick Stewart’s Xavier (Which was the best thing about the first three x-men films). Also Michael Fassbender is one of the best actors working today and his portrayal of Magneto was absoloutely fantastic and fully deserved the plaudits he received. It helps to have good actors alongside you of course, but I, and im sure many others, feel that Fassbender’s performance was one of the best parts of what was a great film. I felt this was a good review. What is the point of reviewing films if you dont have your own opinion? Starting the comment off with ‘Pathetic review’ is pathetic in itself do you not think?

  3. October 31, 2011 at 20:03

    Cris,

    That is a hilariously idiotic comment. I rate McAvoy, but Fassbender is one of the best actors currently working in the entire industry, and he was the best thing about X-Men: First Class.

    Julie’s right anyway, all Jack says is that he doesn’t measure up to Patrick Stewart.

    Also, to discredit an entire review on the basis of one point is completely ignorant. More luck with your comments next time.

  4. Cris
    November 2, 2011 at 06:13

    Julie – Firstly, the reviewer completely put down McAvoy, and it’s quite obvious that he hates the actor. He was not only comparing McAvoy with Patrick, which is obnoxious, because James portrayed a much younger character – naive, a bit arrogant, juvenile, not always wise, but on his way to become the serious professor – and very different from the one Patrick played in other X-Men movies – anyone with half a brain can see it. But he also called him one of the “bad” things of the movie. If it’s not putting an actor down I don’t know what is. Secondly, I completely disagree with the “Fassbender is one of the best actors working today”. Fassbender was lucky in getting the Magneto role, that’s all. Everybody seems to go gaga over the dark-villanious-misunderstood type these days. I can see a lot of actors doing what he did in his solo scenes, but when he acted alongside McAvoy the movie came to life. It was the chemistry between them, not Fassbender alone. And I saw Fassbender in other movies before X-Men and he never caught my attention. The first time I saw James acting I was stunned, because he was so good and it was obvious he would be huge. Maybe this is what bothers the reviewer. Great actors must be unkown to the masses. Thirdly, I mantain that the review is pathetic. There’s no need to put down one actor to praise the other. I don’t consider it “having your own opinion”, just pettiness.

    Tom – I see you’re friends with the reviewer above. Well, just read my response to Julie. How is not a hard-working and serious actor being discredited when he’s, according to the reviewer, one of the “bad” things about the movie? And I just have to reinforce that I disagree that Fassbender was the “best” thing about the movie. He, alone, didn’t make the film. Remove McAvoy as Charles and his interesting and complex relationship with Erik and all you have is a sub-Wolverine. And I still prefer the original one, thank you.

  5. November 2, 2011 at 10:41

    @ Cris,

    Not sure I quite understand your point here,

    “There’s no need to put down one actor to praise the other. I don’t consider it “having your own opinion”, just pettiness.”

    Isn’t that exactly what you are doing with Fassbender? To quote your first comment,

    ” And please notice that Fassbender was only good because he had an even better actor to work with.”

    If that isn’t putting down one actor to praise another, then I have obviously missed a subtle nuance within the comment. I’m not sure how you can say this, then level the accusation of doing the same thing at the author of the article without it being just a tad hypocritical.

  6. November 2, 2011 at 12:11

    @Cris

    Ben is right, you’re being hypocritical by criticising Jack for putting down McAvoy, yet putting down Fassbender in your own comments.

    It is, of course, just your opinion, but to call the review pathetic for disagreeing with you is inherently ignorant and stupid.

    Personally, I didn’t criticise McAvoy’s performance in my own review, but Jack is entitled to do so in his.

    Also, I’d like to know whether you’ve seen Hunger, Jane Eyre (2011) and Shame – watch those and then tell me if you disagree with the comment about Fassbender being one of the best actors working today.

  7. Cris
    November 5, 2011 at 02:52

    Tom – Oh, I see you called another one of your friends to help with your arguments. Call the whole gang then, if you can’t stand on your own. It’s quite hilarious, really.
    Anyway, you can call me ignorant and stupid all you want, it won’t change the fact that you didn’t really bother to read – ot at least, understand – what I wrote. Because there’s a HUGE difference between singling out one of the main actors as the “bad” in XMFC, like your friend did, and saying that one actor is better than the other, like I said. I never said that Fassbender was a bad actor, or the worst part of the movie; I just said that in my opinion the other actor – James McAvoy – is better. It’s true that Fassbender never really caught my attention in other movies, but then there are lots and lots of actors out there that I don’t think are as wonderful as some critics say, but that I would never call “bad”. At least I have some respect for hard-working serious actors, even when I’m not really terribly impressed by their acting. So I respect Fassbender much more than your friend here respects McAvoy, who he was undoubtedly, clear as day, putting down by calling him “bad” while the other actor was praised as if he was god himself. Like one is trash and the other is pure gold. This is quite curious because for most people it was the interaction between the two leads that made the film great. I would think that gold acting alongside trash wouldn’t result in a great product. But anyway, your friend here seems to believe that Fassbender did all the wonderful acting himself – when he had to act alongside McAvoy he had to make this GIGANTIC effort so that his immaculate artistry wouldn’t be corrupted by the lousy actor he was forced to work with.
    Well, let’s see which one of your friends is going to show up next time. Maybe the author himself?

  8. November 5, 2011 at 09:09

    @Cris

    Just for the record, I have no idea who Julie is and Ben is the website editor here, I don’t think I’ve ever actually met him. Also, would it really be such a shock if the author turned up to defend himself against your derogatory comments? What is hilarious is that when a few people disagree with your opinion, you presume they’re colluding!

    So, let’s get this clear, what you’re saying is that Jack should not criticise what, in his opinion, was one of the bad things about the movie because he should have more respect? If that’s the case, why would he bother doing the review? Should he have too much respect for the hard-working Mathew Vaughn, and therefore not criticise his film at all?

    It seems strange that you’re taking this so personally. Are you going to go back to my review of Chalet Girl and criticise me for having a lack of respect when I speak negatively about Ed Westwick. If not, are you perhaps related to James McAvoy?

  9. Jack
    November 9, 2011 at 17:32

    @ Cris,
    This review was based on my own opinions and interpretations of the film. I just felt McAvoy, as a lead actor, was weak when compared to Fassbender IN THIS FILM. I have nothing against McAvoy. When he’s given a strong script and under a capable director, he does well i.e. ‘The Last King of Scotland’. That saying, ‘The Conspirator’, ‘Gnomeo and Juliet’ and the imminent ‘Arthur Christmas’ aren’t saying much about his acting talent and range. If I had a major problem with his acting, I would have made that the focus of the ‘Bad’ section rather than a sly, cheeky remark.

    What I do have a problem with, is your abruptness to discredit my entire review on a minor disagreement of opinion. You’re entitled to your thoughts and I have no difficulty with that. But to rant on about the matter and then criticise Tom, Julie and Ben is bad manners and very disrespectful.

    I was very reluctant to comment on this whole ordeal as to not ‘fuel the fire’, which I’m all too familiar with. But to be brutally honest, I’ve just repeated everything Julie, Ben and Tom have stated. However after reading through the list, I felt it necessary to try to clear things up. And I hope I have.

    BTW: Cheers Julie, Ben and Tom

    AND Fassbender in Hunger, Jane Eyre (2011) and Shame – Come on!!!!! That’s hard to beat!!!!

  10. Cris
    November 10, 2011 at 06:07

    @Jack
    You obviously have a problem with McAvoy. Why would you give “Arthur Christmas” and “Gnomeo and Juliet” as examples of his “bad acting”? I would never try and put an actor down just because he / she did some voice work in a cartoon. This is just low. What James was set to do in those animations – give his voice to the characters – he did well. So why the criticism? And “The Conspirator”…you really got to be kidding me. A lot of critics disliked the movie, but it’s quite hard to find anyone calling James’ acting in it “bad”. This to me just shows your grudge towards McAvoy. And you know what? I don’t care. You’re allowed to dislike him as much as I’m allowed to come here and defend him. Just please don’t give me this “I have nothing against McAvoy”. From the moment you mentioned him as an example of “bad” in X-Men FC, and now came up with ridiculous examples as why you think he’s not “improving his acting” it’s quite clear you have lots of things against him. Otherwise, why didn’t you give examples of his wonderful acting in “Atonement”, “Macbeth”, “Inside I’m Dancing”, “State of Play”, “Shameless”, and even plays like the great “Three Days of Rain”? Was he only good in “The Last King of Scotland”? He wouldn’t have much of a career then, would he?
    And since we’re talking about bias, I think it’s funny how people go on and on about Fassbender mentioning “Shame” and “Hunger” and “Jane Eyre” (huh, “Jane Eyre”? really?) as great examples of his acting and very conveniently forget about atrocious stuff like “Centurion”, “Jonah Hex” and “300”. It’s because Fassbender is considered perfect, isn’t he, so let’s just forget about those minor silly movies, shan’t we. While with McAvoy, why, let’s bring up cartoons as examples of “not showing range” and simply forget about his wonderful acting in so many movies/plays/tv shows, and so many unique characters.
    I really think it’s not that “hard to beat” Fassbender. So far, what have he done…he basically has played the same angry/tortured/violent character over and over again. I wouldn’t call it range; just the type of roles that people seem to identify with “great acting” these days. If he can go from a Robbie Turner in “Atonement” to a Bruce Robertson in “Filth” when his first known role was a semi-goat in Narnia…then we’re talking.