Reviews & Previews - X-Men: First Class

Posted on Saturday, July 02, 2011 at 06:00 PM

X-Men: First Class

By: S. Tran

Starring:  James McAvot, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence
Director: Michael Vaughn
Rated : PG-13
Running time: 132 minutes

Classy is Right
For anyone who has been a fan of comic books the X-men has always been held up as an example of something unique in the world of tights and capes. The underlying message of discrimination and prejudice always gave fans a little more to digest than the usual smashing and crashing usually found in the genre. Despite this pedigree it was not until now that the film adaptation of the comics finally found their footing. X-man: First Class is the best of the franchise.
As you can deduce from the title this is a pre-quel to the past X-men movies, showing us how Charles Xavier (McAvoy), Mystique (Lawrence) and Magneto (Fassbender) met and how they eventually split up due to their philosophical differences. The movie is infused with just enough humour and action to palcate the casual fan, but takes some time to examine the struggles that the characters have in trying to determine their place in a world that fears their existence. Sure, the messages may be overly simplistic, but this is a summer movie, not some college course, you can only expect so much.
Xavier is the idealist, growing up in a sheltered, pampered life as the son of wealthy parents. Magneto does not grow up as much as he survives a horrific childhood in an concentration camp in WW II., There he has to witness his mother killed and becomes the subject of experiments by a German scientist who eventually becomes Shaw, (Bacon) the leader of a group of mutants determined to create a world full of mutants by causing a nuclear war. 

Both McAvoy and Fassbender are excellent and take a professional approach to the roles. No mugging or camping here, just serious efforts by good actors. Kevin Bacon has always been a reliable actor and brings a nice touch of creepiness to the movie as the bad guy without going over the top. There are also some fun cameos by actors from the previous X-Men movies.

The origin story also cleverly incorporates some real life events from 1960's when it is set, to try and give it some solid grounding in the real world, which is a nice touch. Still, when you get people who can fly and a bad guy with his own personal submarine you'll still need to firmly check your disbelief at the door. The end result is a little bit super hero/James Bond type of adventure, but it is entertaining throughout the 132 minutes.

If there was anything to pick at in the film it would have to be the terrible make up jobs they did with a couple of the characters, Msytique and Beast. I know it can't be easy to create a big blue mutant covered in fur, but the final result in this case came out looking like he was created in someone's basement using spare teddy bear materials. Mystique looked like she was covered in silicon painted blue, which she likely was, but it shouldn't look that way. For some reason Rebbeca Romjin who played her in the other movies just looked better in the part. I am not sure whether it was due to different make up or the fact it was Romjin running around naked in blue paint but something was off.

4 stars out of 5.

S. Tran also writes at, and


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