X-Men: First Class Breathes Fresh Life Back into X-Men Films
Saturday, June 11th, 2011
It’s a rarity that a prequel or sequel can achieve the same level of originality, interest and overall quality as the original or first installment in a movie franchise. It seems to happen so rarely that the time span between the most recent and last time it happened feels eons long. Though I did feel that The Underworld series prequel, Rise of the Lycans prequel was an exceptional achievement in maintaining the integrity of the Underworld franchise. Nonetheless, X-Men: First Class went far beyond what I expected a prequel to the X-Men film franchise to achieve in writing, directing, acting and character development. I didn’t think it could be possible to not only match the first X-Men, but breathe fresh blood in a franchise that atrophied a bit in the third installment, The Last Stand, and which took a huge, embarrassing blow with the release of the very underwhelming X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
I remember when I saw the first X-Men film, I was surprised and delighted specifically for the emotional, psychological, intellectual and visually stimulating journey I was taken on. It was I think the first comic to film adaptation that I saw that made me respect and admire the genre. I think primarily because it humanized and rounded out the mutant and human heroes and villains alike. The theme was about not who was right or wrong, but what was true and what was real as far as the human capacity for acceptance, change (biological and psychological), creation and destruction. X-Men: First Class brought that feeling of intrigue, emotional enrichment, and psychological journey I so loved from the first film and all forthcoming higher quality films of this reinvented genre.
I remember when I watched the original Superman series when I was a kid. The villains and the heroes were obvious. Black and white, respectively. How things have changed. I think the success of the X-Men franchise relies on the genuine understanding that good and evil are relative, contextual and conceptual. That the complexity of the human condition does not allow for any obvious or easily made assumptions about who or what is good, bad, acceptable, worthy, monstrous, beautiful, lesser or better. And that when it comes down to our basic human nature, we pretty much are most concerned with our own survival and more often than not at the expense of some other group of people’s demise and/or oppression without realizing the irony in oppressing a civilization of people who themselves innately have felt or continue to feel unaccepted, unloved, unwanted at some point in their lives.
Save for that one somewhat jarring and kind of offensive racially charged (and inappropriate) scene (which caused me to rate it an entire one star less than I would have otherwise given it), this was a pitch perfect X-Men installment that I very much look forward to buying on DVD and watching again and again.