X-Men: First Class a few days ago, and I've had some time to ruminate upon it. Its budget was apparently $160 million, and it shows. If it was filmed in crappy digital video, I couldn't tell. The cinematography was pretty great, as was the production design. I get the feeling they were going for that Mad Men-esque magic, and not just because of the casting of the ultra-buoyant January Jones. They were also taking a pretty big risk by not placing the story in the '70s, along with every other thing these days. The gamble sorta pays off.
That being said... for me, the plot hung together as best it could, but I'm just a cold-hearted cynic and still believe the textbook version of events during the Cuban missile crisis. Also, I'm certainly no scholar of the X-Men back story... I never did see that second one. But as with the gap between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars (A New Hope), somehow the pieces don't fit together. Spoiler alert: we get to witness the mortal wound that forces Charles Xavier into that wheelchair. More spoilers: it thankfully comes at the end of the movie, and it's all the more compounded by who caused it. Also, I thought Raven's choice of loyalties seemed a little forced... but I guess those were the only two major sticking points in terms of plot. Oh, and the naming of everything happens here too. Magneto, Professor X, X-Men... most of them get handed down, but what the hell. Just go with it.
Which leaves the cast. All in all, everyone does a fine job. Still, I couldn't help but think that Jennifer Lawrence is the new Renée Zellweger, not the new Rebecca Romijn. Lucas Till's the new Matt Damon. See, I don't know my X-Men, because I thought he was Cyclops. I don't know what Havok does. Havok has a better sense of geometry than Cyclops, obviously. There's also a nice cameo by a certain Wolverine, who gets to deliver the film's one f-word. Gotta like that. Oliver Platt does a subconscious Tom Hanks impression... damn! So much more reading to do. The point being, only eye candy allowed in front of the camera. No uggs. Ugg. Although, the casting department did a pretty good job in getting people that looked like they came from the early 60s, I must say. So: great casting, great production design, great camerawork. Music? So-so.
The door is left open for a sequel, which is getting worked on as we speak. Director Matthew Vaughn is opting to direct the sequel, leaving the Kick-Ass sequel in other directors' hands. Probably the right choice. He's come too far by now, and he's gotta bring it to Guy Ritchie. Bring it on!!!
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan