Lou and I got to the Pink Taco obscenely early, so committed were we to the Margarita Movie process. Andy texted us for a ride, and all we could do was laugh cruelly from the bar. Many hours of drinking later, it was TIME FOR SOME FUCKING MUTANTS.
X-Men: First Class is notable for having some of the shittiest advertising in history, as pictured above. I mean seriously, guys. It’s the X-Men. Can you not make it look a LITTLE cooler than this “Magneto’s stomach wants to talk to you” thing?
Anyway, it’s the swinging 60s, and Charles Xavier’s legs are working. He’s using those legs to swan around London pubs like a complete jack-the-lad, trying to get up what in the 60s were termed ‘dollybirds’, by all accounts. He’s using his luscious, luscious hair to reel them in. And also, booze. After a while of this, Mystique turns up at his luxury mansion and says hey, would you like to have a weird brother/sister relationship? Professor X basically says, ok, but I hate you, you blue freak.
Magneto, on the other hand, is strolling around South America murdering Nazis in interesting ways. This is such a brilliant thing that it should have been the entire film. Michael Fassbender is so menacing and malevolent in this part of the film that I would personally help finance a sequel featuring nothing but him swanning into pubs, casually threatening a Nazi or two, and then murdering anyone around with a German accent.
Betty Draper from Mad Men has decided that in-between making Don Draper miserable and shagging that other guy, she’s going to hang around with Kevin Bacon on a superspy submarine, wearing saucy white leather outfits and using her mind control powers on people. Some people say that January Jones cannot act. This is a fairly reasonable claim, but as a counterpoint, I would point out that she is really pretty nice to look at. You can’t have everything. If you want to cast Judi Dench in the role of Emma Frost, you go ahead! You monster.
Anyway the X-Men assemble slowly over the course of the film. Instead of each getting a single amazing mutant ability, they get a single amazing character trait. Havok turns up - he’s dangerous. Beast turns up - he’s clever. Darwin turns up - he’s black. Angel turns up (the insect winged one from the Grant Morrison run) - she’s a stripper. Banshee turns up - he’s ginger. It’s generally a very well-realised interplay of characters, let me tell you.
The baddies have their own team of personalities - there’s Azazel, who is a red teleporting bloke who in the comics is Nightcrawler’s demonic dad, but in this is just a red fella in a sharp suit. There’s also a guy in a purple suit. Our best guess as to who he was is a Prince cosplayer, but it turns out he’s Riptide. He has air-control powers - makes sense.
There’s a lot of the kind of creaky foreshadowing that you only get in comic films - at one point I swear Professor X goes “I’ve got this big ROOM, we can train in it, it’s a bit DANGERous though”. The bit where they all give each other their codenames is also pretty dumb. They make the codenames seem lame and stupid, and then by the end of the film Magneto is all “I RATHER LIKE THAT” and now he’s Magneto.
Kevin Bacon is a BASTARD. He’s such a bastard that despite the film not having much death in it, he strolls up to Darwin, whose mutant ability is to SURVIVE, and kills him. It did not escape Team MM’s notice that the black guy died despite there being no reason for it and him having powers that specifically protected him from death. Being the black guy in a sci-fi film is basically a death sentence, I don’t care if you are invulnerable.
Kevin Bacon also has some sort of nefarious plot to plunge the world into a nuclear war, so he can… I forget. Something pretty dastardly, I expect. Anyway, his submarine turns out to tragically be made of metal, and the one tiny flaw in his evil plan is that the child he has been cruelly tormenting for twenty years has the power to control METAL. I bet he kicked himself when he realised this. Magneto picks up his submarine and throws it about like you’d expect, and then Magneto becomes SO ANGRY that he becomes Irish. All through the film he’s been maintaining a sort of generic British accent, which is weird considering he’s German, but then he lapses into a sure-an’-you-wouldn’t-wanna-be-sittin-inside-yer-submarine-wouldye-Mister-Shaw-a-toi-toi-toi thing for the last twenty minutes of the film. Did nobody notice during filming? Come on!
By any means necessary, The SCALE Scale!
S - Story: 8. There’s a story! It mostly makes sense. I wish they’d all just get along, though. The only dodgy bit is that whenever they cut to a secret location, the caption is kind of crap. It always says something like ‘COVERT CIA BASE’ like they couldn’t be bothered really explaining it. ‘A BEACH SOMEWHERE’. ‘A PUB IN LONDON WHERE CHARLES XAVIER GETS UP STUDENTS’.
C - Comedy: 7. There is some!
A - Awesomeness: 9. Magneto killing Nazis, Inglourious Basterds style, is worth the price of admission alone. Kevin Bacon hamming it up as an arch-60s-bastard is also very watchable.
L - Ladies: 9. January Jones is a pretty lady. So is Angel. And Mystique. Oh, you thought I meant when she was a blonde girl? Margarita Movie readers should be aware that I fancy her the most when she’s blue. Scales and all!
E - Et Cetera: 7. For the TOP SECRET BIT that I will not reveal.
Next week: Super 8!