1 October 2012

X-Men: Business Class

It's not surprising that over forty percent of the American population wrongly dispute the theory of evolution. Professor Richard Dawkins might be able to present us with “facts” and “evidence” but that hardly explains The Flintstones does it? For all the proof scientists provide, they could never compete with a colourful cartoon depicting the co-existence of man and dinosaur. I don't understand fossil records or sediment analysis, however I saw Fred riding a Brontosaurus with my own pair of bloody eyes. Apparently there's also a process known as Radioactive dating but that just sounds like a pre-fuck dinner with the Hulk.

As convincing as it may be, I'm not sure that The Flintstones was meant to be taken literally. Controversially I'm actually one of those who believes that the show is- at best- just a collection of fables and metaphors designed to help us live a moral and honest existence. When it comes to the story of life, I prefer to put my faith in the facts of science than a dumbed down fantasy account of our past. Perhaps though I shouldn't be too harsh on The Flintstones- it may not be the most accurate depiction of reality but at least it's not as bad as the fucking Bible.

Another source of confusion for the God botherers could be the popularity of the X-Men franchise. Here it's misleadingly implied that evolution could happen over night with Patrick Stewart's Professor X stating that a population of randomly powered mutants could be, “the next step in human evolution”. Obviously he's wrong as it literally wouldn't make any sense for natural selection to produce a species consisting of radically different individuals. Having said that though, Professor X also claims to be a telepath and so just like Psychic Sally Morgan, he's probably a lying sack of shit.

X-Men: First Class was released in 2011 and depicts the early lives of both Professor Charles Xavier and his associate Erik Lehnsherr. This film starts in much the same way as 2000's X-Men did, with the young Erik using his superpowers to yobbishly vandalise a Nazi gate. Most other kids, when they get angry, just stomp around sniffing glue, drinking cider and getting each other pregnant.  When Erik feels pissed off he instead develops the ability to manipulate metal- sort of like what Uri Geller pretends he can do when he wants to make money of his gullible fans.

Because of his apparent gift, Erik randomly finds himself in front of Kevin Bacon who seems a little too excited to discover what is effectively a giant novelty fridge magnet. Because of his child-friendly nature, Bacon starts a game of “move the coin”. For anybody who doesn't know the rules to this, you basically ask a kid to move a coin without actually touching it and if they fail, you shoot their mother in the fucking head. Unfortunately Erik fails and Bacon proves himself a stickler for the rules. I guess you don't make quality films like Footloose and Flatliners without standing by your convictions.

Meanwhile, the young Charles Xavier is sleeping in his bed when he's awoken by a noise downstairs. You can tell he's a toff because despite the risk of it being a burglar, he goes down to investigate alone. If he was a little less sheltered in life, he would of course have taken either a flick-knife, or a bottle, or a chainsaw like the rest of us would. I've got a baseball bat next to my bed and if I ever have to use it I'm going for head and bollock shots only. Luckily for Charles however, his intruder turns out to be a young naked girl with blue skin. Although this might sound like the reanimated leftovers of the Serbian sex-trade she is actually a shapeshifting mutant known as Mystique. If I could have one power, then it would of course be this and I wouldn't be fighting crime with it. Not unless changing into Natalie Portman and strumming myself mental in front of the mirror is helping to make the world a better place anyway.

From this point on, we cut to Charles and Erik as young adults now portrayed by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. Charles now enjoys his time geeking out about genetics, getting drunk and trying to finger girls. Fassbender however, clearly shagged out from the fuckfest that was Shame, instead vents his frustrations by hunting down and torturing ex-Nazi's. I heard that because they're vermin if you kill a squirrel and take it down to the town hall they will pay you fifty pence. If that's true then fuck knows how much you'd get for dragging a Nazi carcass down to them. I reckon at least you’ll get a good hard fiver either way. Erik however is bizarrely less interested in how he can profit from these attacks and more concerned with simply discovering the whereabouts of Kevin Bacon. As is standard practice for celebrity stalkers, he simply wants to locate the star of Tremors and then kill him. I wish Piers Morgan had a stalker... All they'd have to do to kill him would be to block up his pus glands and then watch him suffocate on his own bile. If you were to film it, I think that it would probably become the first ever snuff film that could actually justify a laughter track.

Meanwhile Bacon himself is busy trying to start a nuclear war in the hopes that it will kill all regular-type humans. To be honest though if all he wants to do is live exclusively amongst mutants then he could just as easily move to Birmingham. The only downside is that in comparison to a nuclear wasteland, Birmingham is a little more scummy looking. I should probably also mention that although it wasn't made clear at the beginning of the film, Bacon too has the gift of being able to absorb all energy around him. Presumably he's spent a lot of time with British “comedian” Peter Kay which might explain why he's become such a lazy, fat, shit.

Charles ends up being hired to help track Bacon down which leads him into an encounter with Erik. For various reasons the two men decide to work together and even recruit themselves a team of freaky mutants to help. This includes the previously mentioned Mystique who has now superpowered herself to look like Jennifer Lawrence and also an intelligent, young chap named Hank McCoy. Hank wears glasses to prove how smart he is and has a mutation causing his feet to be almost as big as Uma Thurman's. I'm not a fan of feet at the best of times so when I first caught a glimpse of Thurman's meat flippers, I almost puked. They're so big that I reckon a footjob off her would be like getting an angry-wank off Gollum.

The rest of the film from here attempts to depict the relationship between Charles and Eric and also explain how they eventually become Professor X and Magneto. If there's an issue though, it's in just how rushed this whole thing feels. They've met each other, become best friends and have gone their separate ways faster than it takes me to even realise other people in the world exist. Unless somebody lists The Smiths down as their favourite band on Facebook, then I refuse to even entertain a conversation with them, let alone make friends.

The special effects are also fucking awful. There's a shot of one character flying above a satellite dish which honestly looks like they just used fucking clip-art. If I cut a picture of the character out, placed it on a photo of the sky and then farted it from one side to the other, it would genuinely look more realistic. However that's almost un-noticeable when compared to the ‘new design’ of the character Beast. Although it's not saying much, in X-Men: The Last Stand, his makeup was one of the best things in the film. But here he looks like somebody's raped the Honey Monster to death and then hidden his corpse at the bottom of a lake. If you were to smear yourself in glue and then roll around a dirty barbershop floor like a retard on crack then you'd already have a better costume than they do here. I don't think I saw his mouth move once when he was talking so presumably we're meant to think he's also become a ventriloquist. In which case the cunt should probably stop pissing about so much and start trying to save the world.

Now, I'm no effects expert, but I can't help but assume that if more time had been spent on pre-production then perhaps things would have looked a little more believable. In fact, like Erik and Charles’ friendship, every problem with X-Men: First Class can be attributed to it being rushed.  Matthew Vaughn signed on to write and direct in May 2010 with the film hitting cinemas in June 2011. That means he therefore had 13 months to do absolutely everything, which is just mental. In fact I've probably spent more time in total, knocking one out to those pictures of Scarlett Johansen's tits than he spent making this feature film.

Being that he only had a few months to completely write and polish the script it is of course a little clunky. Most supporting characters such as Darwin are hugely two dimensional and serve almost no purpose whatsoever. Darwin is a Kenyan/American whose ability allows him to physically change in order to adapt and survive. However his power unfortunately isn't quite strong enough to overcome the ‘black guy dies first’ rule. In fact, his sole existence here seems to be to look sternly whenever Kevin Bacon mentions slavery, meaning that if you replaced him with a sign saying, “Clunky Political Analogy”, the story would continue unchanged. There's also another character called Azazel whose sole creation seems simply to keep Jason Flemyng in work. For anyone unsure who Flemyng is, he's the actor from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen whose Mr Hyde looked like it could be Schwarzenegger's anus troll.

The story too is a little waffley with the plot wandering back and forth like a pissed tart at her fifth wedding. It also feels slightly contrived with its conclusion being a little too neatly wrapped up. The two things that it does have (luckily) to balance this near-mess are James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. Their performances are both fun, engrossing and should have been the sole focus of a more steadily paced film. There's a scene near the end in which they discuss their opposing political views which is even more exciting than seeing the insectoid stripper-mutant fly around and spit out acid like a slag.

The early Fassbender scenes play across as a kind of Connery-esque Bond but with violent superpowers to add to the fun. The only superpowers the actually Connery had was the ability to slap a woman and feel no remorse, so this depiction of Magneto was a real treat. A particular highlight is the section in which Charles and Erik joyfully recruit their fellow mutants which could almost have been expanded into a 'lads on tour' film on its own. It's just a shame that like everything else, the pace was too relentlessly fast. Vaughn's film is like a mad Christmas shopper, desperately machine-gunning her way to the aisle of festively decorated, discounted novelty dildos, despite it only being February.

In the end, X-Men: First Class was almost an intelligent film made enjoyable by its two lead actors. It might have special effects designed on MS Paint and it may have thrown up a lot of continuity errors but fuck it, it was alright. This was an average film because Vaughn made it too quickly. Which is better than X-Men: The Last Stand which was a crap film because Bret Ratner is a retard. It might not be as good as the Star Trek reboot, but it was sure as fuck better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine. At the end of that film, Wolverine gets shot in the head and is mercifully allowed to forget the last hour and a half. For those of us still burdened with the memory of that shitty instalment, then this one may restore some faith in the franchise. It might not understand the science of evolution but it does have a semi-naked Jennifer Lawrence which, being honest, is enough of a reason to see any movie at least once.

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  1. Another good review and I agree with almost everything, especially the fast pace and terrible effects.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Lets hope the sequel eventually sorts all of these problems out!