Last year Matthew Vaughn gave us Kick-Ass and everybody who watched it very cleverly said ‘It was kick-ass’. Yes, we are a simple minded species. But Kick Ass was a fabulously violent surprise and totally unexpected. Which is always a good thing.
This year Matthew Vaughn did one better. He directed X–Men: First Class. And he thrilled me with it. I was so pleased with this film I walked out looking like the Cheshire cat.
The story is spun around the 1960’s during the American-Russian missile crisis. But it begins just like the first X–Men movie, with a very young Erik Lehnsherr in a Nazi camp, where, when separated from his parents, realises he can bend metal with his mind. He is then tormented by Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon. Woohoo!) and realises that he won’t be able to rest unless he has killed Shaw. Erik grows up to be Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Also, around this time Charles Xavier meets Raven (Mystique) & they both realise that they’re not alone in the world as mutants & become best friends.
Everybody grows up and we move to the 1960’s. Professor Xavier (he goes to Oxford & gets all the right degrees) becomes aware of a certain Sebastian Shaw who is recruiting mutants to the dark side. Shaw becomes Professor X‘s arch enemy, the CIA gets involved, Professor X starts to get all the mutants around the world together (this for me was the funnest part of the film) and size up an army against Sebastian Shaw, who like all villains, is looking at world domination.
Then comes the build up of Magneto & Professor X‘s friendship which has been done spectacularly. Two polar opposites (pun intended), one with such beautiful shades of dark & the other so clear about how he sees life. They come together as two leaders of an army which needs much training and focus. Here we see all the mutants struggle hard with their currently errant powers. Beast, Raven, Angel, Havoc & Darwin have a week to harness and control their gifts.
Meanwhile Sebastian Shaw with his army of absolutely awesome bad mutants, Emma Frost (January Jones), Azazel & Riptide involve themselves with the Russian government and this is when the fun starts.
Impending nuclear doom, two confused governments, mutants on either side, as much as this sounds like a current day situation, the treatment and the end result is far better than what we’re getting. Stellar crescendo, superb performances & a slam dunk ending…. What can I say, Matthew Vaughn does it again.