I've chose to give XMEN: FIRST CLASS it's own review because it deserves better than being grouped with subpar summer fare.
I knew (hoped really) from the trailer that this had the potential to be the kind of summer movie that excites, at the same time that entertains without insulting your intelligent or gives you cheap thrills. And I'm glad to say that after weeks of stale disappointments, this is the first blockbuster of the season to deliver the popcorn goods.
Matthew Vaughn (LAYER CAKE, KICK-ASS, STARDUST) has yet to disappoint as a director, and he's quickly becoming a favorite of mine; to the point that if I see he's involved, then I make it a point to see it. And though I'm one of the few that didn't completely hated part 3, LAST STAND, I was glad he had been given the chance to undo the mess that Brett Ratner created with that last movie. (The less said about ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, the better).
The plot is solid, the set pieces perfectly created and scenes choreographed in a more subtle way that allows you to take it all in and not have to search all over the screen to know what's going on. The action sequence are thrilling, and though not every single character could be wholly fleshed out when you're dealing with this many, not one felt like a cardboard. Well, with the exception of Emma Frost, but that's not the writers fault, but bad casting. January Jones is a terrible actress. No matter what she's in, she's lifeless, wooden, her expressions are blank, her line delivery monotonous, and she's supposed to be a vamp on this, but an olive swimming on a martini has more sex-appeal. She's the one and only weak point on the whole film.
Which I'm fine with, because the rest of the cast shines enough to forgive her, none more than the trifecta of Kevin Bacon, James McAvoy, and Michael Fassbender. Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, who still remains the most underrated actor of the last 25 years, shines as the movies villain without ever being cartoonish or coming off as demented. James and Michael, as Charles Xavier/Professor X and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto respectively, are what keeps you glued to the screen. Not only are they superb in their respective roles, but they breathe so much life and complexity to their characters; their friendship being the heart and soul of the movie. You actually feel their pain when it's time for them to break apart and go on in their chosen paths. I can only hope that Matthew is called back to make the sequel and he brings back the whole cast, at the very least, James and Michael.
Oh, there are some funny bits in the movie too, especially the surprise cameos. XMEN has always been more dense and serious in term of storylines and FIRST CLASS, like LAST STAND before it, serves a brilliant balance of seriousness and exciting parts. A-