Saturday, July 16, 2011

X-Men: First Class (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
X-Men:First Class

Just when you thought Marvel film projects were running out of ink or radiated cameras here comes an X-Men installment that might have had Ayn Rand yearning to change her cell structure. Or at least fortify it. "X-Men: First Class" is a colorful, benzedrine-paced prequel that has the instantaneous zip and texture of an actual comic book.

At the start, Erik Lensherr (played as an adult by Michael Fassbender) is a young boy in Nazi-dominated Poland. Erik apparently has the ability to bend metal. But faced with seeing his mother held at gunpoint by the once again evil Kevin Bacon. A Sebastian Shaw.(Yes, Kevin Bacon is playing a villain once more, as he did in the film "Super" he's not a drug dealer, but a mutant doctor this time) Shaw counts to three and shoots Erik's mother. A rage commences. The boy reduces the room to an empty shell.

Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is a semi-arrogant hot-shot at Oxford. He talks in poetic speech about the wonders of manipulating genes and cell structures. In a comic-book way he is a bit like the poet Shelley, with all the talk of a new science emerging with the improvement of Man. And he has a trio of sexy mutant girlfriends that wear the most fashionable of contact lenses even though the action takes place in the 1960s before the trend. There is so much interest in the sexy irises that the beginning could be a commercial for Bausch and Lomb.

Erik, needless to say becomes a kind of Nazi-hunter, wanting to avenge his mother's death. The evil Shaw is a megalomaniac playing Russia against the U.S. in the Cuban Missile Crisis, a Marvelized version of history.

We see all the heroes and villains here: Raven, Banshee, Darwin, Beast, Frost and Angel (who might be the first stripper super-villain) she is part dragonfly and spits fire. What emerges is kind of a Fab Four story of the X-Men as kids.

"X-Men: First Class" presents the origins of their characters as a bunch of idealistic Libertarians. The U.S. Government is powerless. Only the mutants seem to know what's right. The choice to act or not act is theirs alone. Part of the fun is wondering which mutant will turn to Erik's sinister side and who will remain true to Xavier's benevolent path.

The crisp retro cinematography gives a sort of "Barbarella" like attitude to the film without any rated R risqué romps or robe tosses. No reason to be camera shy, this film is safe for any mini mutant that may be among us. And I know you're out there.

Watching the debt ceiling talks on television, I am reminded of Charles Xavier's words: "true focus comes from the point of rage and serenity."

If only Stan Lee could ink Professor X into The Capitol to read minds. Yes...if only.

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