20th Century Fox screened its upcoming X-Men prequel a drop early to some of the geek press over the weekend, and word is it's a damn good movie -- perhaps the best of the X-Men franchise, and, as HitFix's Greg Ellwood suggests, the best "Marvel movie so far." Pretty bold statements -- especially considering the previous two X-Men films failed to please as much as the first two -- but they come after the release of several slick and engaging trailers, which have helped to slowly build a positive buzz that was almost completely squashed when director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) appeared defeated toward the end of a rushed production, unsure he'd be able to finish the job in time for release. That was then, and this is now. If the early word is on target, this could be the film that gets this franchise back on track. Slashfilm's Peter Sciretta compared the vibe to the one he felt after watching J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot. Seems Vaughn (and Fox) definitely succeeded in properly rebooting this franchise with a solid cast (HitFix's Drew McWeeny said Michael Fassbender "emerges from this one a movie star, no doubt about it"), a good premise and a refreshing retro hook. We'll start seeing more reactions within the next week, week and a half, but so far so good. If both Thor and X-Men: First Class are successful with the general moviegoer and the hardcore fan, that's definitely a good thing for our superhero movies going forward. Really hope this one succeeds. Here are some quotes ...
"X-Men: First Class" is a genuinely good movie, not just a good superhero movie. Big and bold and aggressively told, it feels to me like this is the first film in a brand-new franchise, and even the few very wicked and enjoyable references to Singer's films that are hidden in this one don't tie it down. This is ground zero, and I think Fox just got it right, really right, in a way I can't say it feels like they have on any of their Marvel films so far. With the right support, and with this film's key creative team onboard, a sequel to this could well be the "X-Men" epic we've been waiting for since day one." - Drew McWeeny, Hitfix
"Even better than Spider-Man 2, Iron Man or any Marvel movie so far in my opinion. Ambitious, smart and when it's good, it's very good. Not Nolan level though." - Greg Ellwood, Hitfix
"It fits right in with Bryan Singer’s first two X-Men films and is probably the second best film in the series next to X-Men United. And I say that with a certain but of nostalgia for the sequel, as it came out at a time when comic book adaptations didn’t strive to be anything more than popcorn fun. But the more and more I think about it, the more and more I think Vaughn’s film might have surpassed it." - Peter Sciretta, Slashfilm
"If you were nervous the latest chapter in the X-Men franchise might disappoint, I’m happy to report it’s a huge home-run. Everything from the great script to the awesome performances by the entire cast (with special mention to James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) makes this X-Men film my favorite in the franchise. Also, the film is loaded with incredible action and a ton of Easter Eggs for the fans. Even the sets and costumes are great. Trust me, as soon as the movie is over, you’re going to wish the next chapter was coming out next week. " - Steve Weintraub, Collider
"In fact, all the visual effects were great and looked really believable. The costumes and look of the production design was perfect and definitely reflected the comics. I loved that the movie was set against the Cuban missile crisis and used real world events to shadow the war between the mutants. The look of the ‘60s really worked well in the world of the X-Men movies and it gave more of a comic book appearance while still believable. It almost had a Mad Men feel to it.: - Jami Philbrick IAm Rogue
"Kick-Ass showed that Vaughn (and co-writer Jane Goldman) knows how to deliver superhero thrills while still maintaining style, wit and a strong emotional core. And it is this mixture of strengths that he brings to X-Men: First Class, which consistently works on a number of narrative levels - be they origin story, period epic, super-powered action, thematic subtext or character drama." -- Michael Leader, Den of Geek
"First Class contains some of the briskest and most efficient storytelling I’ve seen in any recent blockbuster. An awful lot happens, and awfully quickly at times, but it’s all clear and while some nice moments might be over in the blink of an eye, this can only reward repeat viewers." - Brendon Connelly, Bleeding Cool