Tag Archives: X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class

If you’re going to title a movie “first class” you better be sure it’s a good one.  And the latest X-Men movie certainly is.  I will probably always like the original film the best, because of Hugh Jackman and the relationship between Wolverine and Rogue.  Still,  X-Men: First Class is a very entertaining film, and I’m glad I saw it the first day without reading any reviews or spoilers.

James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender have no difficulty leading the movie with their charisma and intensity.  They are both excellent in their individual scenes, and they have the necessary chemistry in their scenes together.  I have to give a shout out to Laurence Belcher, who plays Xavier as a boy, because he’s such a good match to McAvoy.  Jennifer Lawrence is great as Mystique;  January Jones as Emma Frost is cool and distant, but at least she’s tough and smart.  I appreciate strong female characters in this genre, ones who aren’t just dumb sex toys.  The new faces playing the other young mutants are all enjoyable to watch.  Kevin Bacon was obviously having a grand old time playing villain Sebastian Shaw.  I can’t believe all the brilliant character actors who keep popping up in tiny roles, like Ray Wise, James Remar, and Rade Serbedzija.  Another favorite actor makes an appearance, but mentioning his name would just be a spoiler, and you’d hate me.  Matt Craven and Oliver Platt have bigger roles, and they are a treat, too.   Brendan Fehr from Roswell, and more recently CSI: Miami and Bones, has a blink-and-you-miss-it part, as does Randall Batinkoff.   Who’s Batinkoff?  He appeared with Kellie Martin in the 1994 TV show Christy.

I do find it strange that a movie set in 1962 had almost no period details.  The hair, makeup, costumes, and sets seem deliberately generic.   Banshee has hair that would have gotten him stranger looks in 1962 than any genetic mutation.  In other words, it looks totally normal for any time after 1968.  I didn’t mind the lack of period details, really, but I do wonder about the decision to go in that direction for the film’s look.   Another thing I couldn’t help noticing is that all the mutants except Angel and Darwin have blue eyes.X-Men: First Class

Without giving away any spoilers (and if you hate spoilers, don’t read this paragraph just in case I’m not obscure enough!) there’s one thing that happens early on that makes no sense to me, when young Magneto first faces Sebastian Shaw.  I suppose it happens, or doesn’t happen, “because if it didn’t, or did, there would be no movie.”  (That classic plot device!)

As much as I enjoyed X-Men: First Class, I have no desire to see it a second time, at least not until it comes out on DVD in a few months.   A key ingredient to a blockbuster hit is repeat viewings from loyal fans, so it will be interesting to watch the box office numbers over the coming weeks.   I do want to go back and re-watch the original X-Men.   I also want to see more of Michael Fassbender’s films.   I’ve already seen just about everything James McAvoy has done, so it’s just a waiting game until he hits the big screen again.

Note:  Comments are encouraged and welcomed, but I will not post any with spoilers.

Related posts:  Stage Door (2): James McAvoy   Stage Door (6): Hugh Jackman

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Stage Door (2): James McAvoy

I discovered James McAvoy in 2003 when he played Leto in Children of Dune, the son of Paul Atreides who transforms into a sand worm. A good friend in the UK recorded all the British TV he did in the next couple of years and mailed me the tapes, which included State of Play, Early Doors, and Shameless. When I went to London in March 2005,  I had no idea he was appearing in a new play at the Royal Court in the tiny Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. I almost missed the listing, so when I stumbled across it, I was falling over myself to get to the theatre. I was able to get the last seat at a special matinee for school groups, even though I hardly qualified.

I stood outside the theatre after getting my ticket at the box office, stunned at my good fortune and wondering how to pass the time until the play began. I saw a very familiar face headed toward the theatre, so I called out a friendly hello. It was McAvoy, clearly in a rush, but he stopped to meet me and give me a big smile. I’m sure he could see how excited I was, and I suppose having enthusiastic fans was still a novelty back then. He said he’d look for me at the stage door after the performance, and then he went inside. I went down the street to a card shop and bought some blank cards with envelopes for the autographs that I hoped to get.

People often say when they meet an actor that he looks shorter/taller/different than onscreen. McAvoy looked exactly the way you’d expect. We are the same height, so I was eye to eye with him. His Scottish accent is delightful, and it’s a shame that he rarely gets to use it in his movies. He usually adopts a British accent, which is fine, but I want more Scottish!

The play was Breathing Corpses by Laura Wade. It explores the way finding a dead body affects a series of people, and the first character to find a body ends up being the last corpse in a chain of deaths. McAvoy played a guy whose girlfriend is abusive to him, both verbally and physically, but he doesn’t fight back until his girlfriend abuses his dog. The other cast members included Tamzin Outhwaite, Paul Copley, and Niamh Cusack.

The Jerwood Theatre is an intimate studio space with only 85 seats, and I sat in the third row center. During the curtain call, McAvoy saw me and winked. There was a Q & A with the cast onstage after the performance. Unfortunately, Paul Copley couldn’t stay for it, so I missed meeting him at the stage door later. He appeared in one of my favorite miniseries, Horatio Hornblower, so I regret not getting the chance to talk to him.

I can’t complain, though, because McAvoy came out the stage door to find me. I had him all to myself, since none of the students stayed around. He signed several autographs for me and some of my friends who are also fans. He also posed for several photos. Too bad I didn’t have my good Nikon, just a cheap pocket camera, so that’s why my photos are rather poor. McAvoy was warm and open, and he told me he was going to Africa next to film The Last King of Scotland. He talked about Shameless and his recent vacation travels. Then he had to go meet his grandparents for a meal, so he said good-bye. I left the Royal Court feeling completely satisfied.

I don’t have to say that James McAvoy’s career has exploded since I met him. The Last King of ScotlandThe Chronicles of NarniaBecoming Jane, Atonement, and Wanted are just some of the major films that have kept him working hard over the years. This weekend Gnomeo & Juliet opens (he voices Gnomeo) and this summer he stars in X-Men: First Class, as a young Professor Xavier. I’ve read some recent interviews with him, and he’s become more guarded, which makes a lot of sense to me. Keeping your life private these days has got to be a challenge. McAvoy has earned his success, and I look forward to watching him in many more films. I hope to see him accepting an Oscar one of these days. It’s only a matter of time.



(Click on photos to scroll.)

The second in a series of stage door fan encounters.  See the first here.

All photos ©2005 The Ugly Bug Ball.  Please do not post to other sites without permission.


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