The franchise “reboot” has become all the rage these days, replacing the tainted label of “sequel,” which has become passé in cinematic circles.
“Batman Begins” was one of the first. 2009’s “Star Trek” did it with flair and finesse. “X-Men: First Class” has some appeal, especially with its leads James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, but for me, it comes off more like a farm team of the real “X-Men.”
How do I know? Because when one of the original X-dudes showed up, the audience went nuts (both times).
This film takes us back to the very beginning, when Erik Lensherr and Charles Xavier were just pups.
Erik survives the persecution of the Nazis because they realize he has special powers. One particularly cruel scientist (Kevin Bacon) discovers that anger and pain help bring Erik’s magnetic personality to the front.
At the same time, young Charles (James McAvoy) comes from privilege and is nurtured to become a college professor, even though he still uses his telepathic skills to pick up women in bars.
He meets Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) at a young age, and they become like family, but Xavier dreams of the day when other mutants will come forward and learn to use their talents for good.
Erik (Michael Fassbender) is a little more interested in vengeance, following Sebastian Shaw (Bacon) all over world to put an end to his miserable life.
Shaw, as it turns out, has a few mutant tricks up his own sleeve, which he uses for personal power and gain. He recruits a handful of other mutants to create a global conflict between humans, figuring that if they annihilate each other, the mutants can live large and in charge.
Here’s where director Matthew Vaughn uses some cool retro chic to envision the early 1960s Cuban Missile Crisis between the Soviets and the United States.
The film then takes on a James Bond “From Russia With Love” sort of feel as the New Kids on the X-Block try to stop Shaw from starting a nuclear war.
Ah, but when the fearful humans turn their missiles toward ALL mutants, the blue fur will fly. Speaking of “Beast,” he looks more like Michael J. Fox’s Teen Wolf dipped in a Smurf pool — which is hardly menacing.
The girl with the dragon wings, who spits fire balls, Angel (Zoe Kravitz) looks like a ticked-off Tinker Bell (also not menacing). She might as well have the superpowers of growing long fingernails like Meg Griffin in an episode of “Family Guy.”
This is the B team X-Men. I miss and want the A team (no, not Hannibal’s group).
I’ve got to have a good reason to want to watch this new group and, frankly, it’s just not quite there. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it.
And with Fox Studios banking on this new, younger set of actors to create a trilogy of films, it’s going to need a whole lot of love.