Review: X-Men First Class

March 7, 2012

X-Men: First Class (2011)
132 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon

Grade: B

Let’s forget about the disaster that was X-Men: The Last Stand. Let’s even forget that X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released. If you’re able to do that, X-Men: First Class is a great way to remember your favorite team of mutants. This prequel goes back to the 1960’s and concentrates on the relationship of Professor X and Magneto while they were still on the same side of the line. Everything that the recent X-Men films did wrong, First Class avoided.

Beginning with the tragedy that plagued Magneto’s life and then transitioning into Professor X’s life, it’s clear what paths both mutants will be following (even if you have no knowledge of X-Men prior to the movie). But the journey of them standing side-by-side with each other is still an enjoyable one for the die-hard fans or simply the ones who just want to watch a super-hero movie.

The ball starts rolling when Charles (McAvoy) begins recruiting other mutants who will inevitably make up the army to battle the villainous Sebastian Shaw (Bacon), who wants to destroy the inferior race of humans by manipulating them into a nuclear war. We get a small sampling of mutants including Mystique, White Queen, Beast, Banshee, Havok, Darwin, Azazel, and Riptide. The setting is the Cuban Missle Crisis that had America and Russia in a staring match with both countries anticipating the worst. While it was sort of neat seeing how this alternate universe where mutants and humans live together would have impacted actual historic events, I didn’t think it enhanced the plot at all. It was merely a gimmick of more interesting things to come.

The stars of the film are James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, Professor X and Magento respectively. Both share chemistry and really push the film forward when it seems to stall for a bit, especially when the film gets a bit talky. Other notable actors are Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, and January Jones. With such a talented cast of actors, X-Men: First Class benefited from the mind-less super-hero films of recent memory with more than just loud noises and explosions. There was actually acting being done. Surprise!

X-Men: First Class does a good job with visual effects, showing off the mutants’ special powers through the length of the entire film. Even though the plot is uneven, the movie’s best scenes make up for the dull moments. Overall, this is a very good comic-book film with plenty of action. It might not be as good as X-2, but it’s definitely the best X-Men film in a while.


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