Erik Lehnsherr, a child of a Jewish family in Nazi-era Germany, has the power to bend and move metal with his mind. The ability is fickle, though, showing up only under duress. Abducted and isolated from his family, Erik’s skill is tested by the twisted gambit of a Machiavellian superkiller, who threatens his mother’s life. In defying his will, the power that could save his mother, instead, betrays her and sets Erik on a vengeful trajectory. Decades later, at the height of the cold war, a young academic and telepath named Charles Xavier pulls together a group of superhumans that would assist the CIA in shattering the violent ambitions of two supernations. As it turns out, Erik is among these mutants. And his mother’s killer? Well, he lurks behind the dark plot to elevate this international conflict to the level of a mass atomic xenocide.
This film is exciting and competently conveyed. It features several terrific performances, including those of Kevin Bacon (Sebastian Shaw, the mother-killer), whose charisma lends terror to his malice; Michael Fassbender (Erik/Magneto), whose maniacal repression is viscerally conflicted; and James McAvoy (Professor Xavier), who deftly avoids a goody-goody cutout. Vaughn’s camera is at first nervous – almost skittish. By making frequent offbeat cuts, he interrupts our gaze before we can wade in the pool of its laudable characterization. As the story develops, and the mutants begin to harness their talents, so does the boldness of Vaughn’s aesthetic, growing in confidence and playfulness. The baritone tremolo of a compressed guitar fronts a dramatic score that dances alongside the talented portrayals.
- X-Men: First Class (Vaughn 2011) @ Cinemark Tinseltown USA #notfrisco