The heart of the movie is the push and pull between Charles Xavier (James McAvoy [Gnomeo & Juliet, Wanted], excellent as always), who can read minds and control the thoughts of others, and Erik Lehnsherr (the riveting Michael Fassbender [Jonah Hex, Inglourious Basterds], who will be a huge star after this), who can make metal do his bidding. We saw, in the first X-Men movie, the endpoint of their relationship, at which they are bitter enemies on either side of a hard line, divided over how best to interact with unmutated humans (Lehnsherr sees violent conflict as the only option; Xavier wants to work peacefully together). Here, we witness their meeting and the beginning of what is almost instantly a powerful friendship and complementary working partnership, though they are in contention instantly as well. Where is the boundary between freedom and slavery? Does torture work, and should we be above it even if it does? These questions are explored through their arguments with comic-book-scaled subtlety: one scene in which the two men need to get information about Shaw out of Frost is shocking from a number of angles. The brilliant thing about it all is that both Xavier and Lehnsherr are at least partly correct in their perspectives, and that though we’ve seen their flip sides before, and know where they will end up, the film somehow manages to avoid the feeling of inevitability that comes with prequels and preordained endings.
- Russell Blackford
- Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).
Saturday, May 28, 2011
MaryAnn Johanson on X-Men: First Class
MaryAnn Johanson gives X-Men: First Class a rave review over on her Flick Filosopher site. All the early reviews that I've seen have been very positive, so here's hoping for a totally cool X-Men movie. Sample: