The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Movies

June 2, 2011

Review: 'First Class' a class act

(Continued)

THE GOOD,THE BAD AND THE UGLY: “First Class” is one of those films it pains reviewers to write about … because there is no way to encapsulate what one has seen into a few measly words. The best review one can give is to simply say “GO SEE THE MOVIE.”

But there are those of you who will still need reasons, rationalizations.

So, GO because … “First Class” somehow seamlessly melds the 1960s, James Bond and modern filmmaking into a fascinating ride through an era of change and paranoia. The costumes, makeup, styling and sets are spot on. And Vaughn captures it all in stunning color and clarity.

GO  because … you will rarely see performances like this in summer fare. The film is truly an ensemble, but a few performances deserve recognition.

Kevin Bacon shows a dark side as Sebastian Shaw without twirling his mustache with too much gusto. January Jones slips into the diamond skin of Emma Frost and easily delivers the telepath’s cold and calculating personality. And James McAvoy provides young Professor X with a quick wit, infectious smile and set of soulful blue eyes.

But the real standout is Michael Fassbender as young Magneto. He shares the steely demeanor of Daniel Craig’s Bond -- a mask controlling a raging fire underneath. And yet, at appropriate moments, he is light-hearted, funny and sincere.  Though scary -- particularly in a scene in Argentina -- certainly suits him. He no doubt will be at the top of short lists for upcoming lead roles. And Oscar talk, however unlikely, would be warranted.

GO because … this is a band of mutants worthy of getting to know. Many of  the problems with “Last Stand” stemmed from too many mutants. “First Class” has no shortage of mutants, but they are more than their powers. We learn about who they are as people -- their fears, their insecurities, their desires. A lot like Singer’s first two films.

Go because … This isn’t the time to tire of the X-Men franchise. For a prequel, the film is remarkably fresh and seems to have learned from its predecessors’ mistakes. It’s funny, and engaging, and suspenseful, and heartfelt.

Oh, just go already.

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