This evening I saw X-Men: First Class, and I have to say, it might be my second favorite Marvel movie to date (the first being Iron Man). Solid acting, good story, decent effects, the whole thing. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum… but if you REALLY want to avoid them, I’d just skip to the rating.
The movie actually keeps pretty true to the previous movies (even using the footage from X-Men (1) from Magneto’s childhood and him bending the gates. It goes on to show more than that, but the footage appeared to be shot for shot, if not the same actual footage. Later in the movie there’s also a nice cameo from one of the future X-Men (that also doesn’t ruin the timeline). The whole movie was fairly canon to my understanding, though they did veer off a bit in a couple cases (like how Xavier was paralyzed). But they did keep with most things… so the movie felt both like a prequel, and a “reboot”. While my wife hates this take (mainly because she dislikes Christopher Nolan’s style), the line that’s been thrown about a lot with regards to First Class is “Matthew Vaughn did for X-Men what Christopher Nolan did for Batman (in Batman Begins)”. It’s not the different timeline approach like Star Trek, but rather just a different, more serious take.
I really enjoyed X-Men and X-Men 2 when they were released (I prefer to think of X-Men: United having never been made), but they suffered from some of the typical comic book adaptations (mainly cheesy dialog). Sorta like Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. Both of those just seemed forced a lot of the time. One could say the same for Spiderman 3 (another movie I like to think never happened). X-Men: First Class was just a well done movie that felt unforced. It doesn’t hurt that it took place in the past (largely around 1962) so there was never really the infamous technology gaffs movies suffer from (where they hack into something instantly, or claim some technology can do X or Y when it’s not possible, or doesn’t even make sense). That very fact made the movie MUCH more watchable from my mindset. You would think Iron Man would have suffered from this in my mind, but the first one didn’t really have much of that (yes, talking AI computer, theoretically impossible propulsion, etc), but it was never really highlighted. Iron Man 2 on the other hand, while enjoyable (but less so than 1), really suffered from this in part of the movie (inventing a new element).
Bottom line, X-Men: First Class was a highly enjoyable movie (would have been even more so had the theater not been hot/humid, but that’s not the movie’s fault) that I would greatly recommend to anyone who enjoys comic based movies (or just a generally good movie). And as an extra bonus… they DIDN’T shoot it in 3D (or do any crappy post-production “3Dification”). Meaning it didn’t look funky, and I didn’t have to decide which version to see. Long live 2D movies!