Part of my general dislike of the film is the thing feels so damned gimmicky. It's like someone said, "You know what would be awesome? Let's combine X-men with Mad Men and see if that can get us out of the current rut we have with the series." The fact the movie works as well as it does given the X-men's traditional associations with Civil Rights, Magneto being perfectly positioned age-wise to be full of righteous anger but not completely set in his ways, and the fact the X-men were created in the 1960s anyway should allay this complaint.
But it doesn't.
|I love the return of the yellow uniforms. That was my favorite bit of fanservice.|
The premise of X-men: First Class is that it's the 1960s and the world is very different. The Soviets are on the brink of nuclear war with the Americans, women are treated as objects, and the government is filled with ineffectual oversexed douchebags. Okay, things are sort-of different. Charles Xavier is the Old Money boy genius who dreams of a better world from his Ivory Tower while Eric Lensherr is a Holocaust survivor who dreams of revenge against the Nazi scientist who killed his mother.
|The bromance between Magneto and Xavier is, as always, the best part of the X-films.|
The problem is I'm not sure what the movie's message is and if there is one, whether the creators care about it or not. It's seemingly on the side of Magneto for most of the film but the movie draws an explicit parallel between him and Sebastian Shaw (who is a Nazi). Charles Xavier is shown to be idealistic and a good man but ultimately ineffectual.
Even if the movie is trying to show both men as flawed, it does a poor job of saying what it thinks. Stuff happens in the movie and that's about the height of the movie's opinion, which is sad because the Civil Rights Era and the X-men have both had a very firm opinion about acceptance.
I.e. it's a good thing.
|The movie's treatment of women is period appropriate--which isn't exactly a good thing.|
In conclusion, I think X-men: First Class is very entertaining. The acting is wonderful, the action is delightful, and it occasionally stumbles across something profound. Unfortunately, the movie's lack of desire to take a firm stance on the struggle for acceptance sours the whole thing for me. I'm also uncomfortable with the treatment of women in the film, which seems to be all about the (male) fanservice in a rather degrading manner. Still, it's worth a watch.
Unlike X-men: The Last Stand.