X-Men: First Class (2011)

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9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great comic book movie with a great cast

Some might be soured to the X-Men after poor sequels

 
Movie Info

Movie Name: X-Men:  First Class

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Genre(s):  Comic Book/Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  June 3, 2011

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

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Welcome to school!

Erik Lensherr (Bill Milner) was placed in a concentration camp as a child where his family was killed by Dr. Klaus Schmidt (Kevin Bacon).  Now in 1962, Erik (Michael Fassbender) is using his abilities to hunt Nazis in hiding.  Meanwhile, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is graduating from university as an expert in the study of mutations.  When Xavier and his shapeshifting friend Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) are contacted by the government to help a CIA agent named Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) who believes the world is facing a threat from a mutant terrorist named Sebastian Shaw…the former Nazi Dr. Schmidt.  Shaw and his team of mutants are planning to start a war, and Xavier, Erik, and Moira must assemble a team of mutants to stop him.

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We’re your class? Your first class?

Directed by Matthew Vaughn, X-Men:  First Class is a prequel and soft relaunch to the popular X-Men franchise whose last movie X-Men:  The Last Stand in 2006 was met with tepid reviews but strong numbers.  The movie was released to positive reviews and strong box office numbers.

I liked X-Men, loved X2, and found X-Men:  The Last Stand painful and busy.  X-Men:  First Class however probably outranks both X2 and X-Men to be one of the best true comic book movies.

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Hey Emma does your power have acting-cancelling abilities?

The movie’s story is smart and has interesting ties to the original origins of the X-Men.  The X-Men first premiered in 1963 and the movie feels like a real throwback to old spy movies (especially the plot involving Moira and the C.I.A.).  The movie’s plot does a great job balancing the superhero aspect and find real legitimate reasons for the team to form.  It doesn’t feel as thrown together as some other movies.

The movie had some great casting behind it.  James McAvoy has proven himself in movies like Atonement and is a good Patrick Stewart substitute (though they don’t look much alike).  Likewise, Michael Fassbender doesn’t resemble Ian McKellan but has shown that he’s one of the best up-and-coming actors.  Kevin Bacon is always solid and he makes a great villain and Rose Byrne is a perfect Moira MacTaggert…though I kind of wish they had kept her character Scottish.  January Jones continues to be problematic.  Though she looks great as Emma Frost, she’s not a good actress…fortunately, the cold Emma Frost works with her one-dimensional performance.  Jennifer Lawrence makes Mystique have some real heart and many of the other supporting “X-Men” characters, though underdeveloped, still feel real.

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Does it really matter if you cover up if you’re always naked?

Visually, the movie is a lot of fun.  There is still the slight problem of people in costumes which just don’t always look “right”.  The movie’s setting fortunately has that fun swinging ’60s look that is a throwback to spy movies like James Bond or even Marvel Comics’ old Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. series (especially the Vegas scenes with the Hellfire Club).  The old tech/new tech combo with the Cuban Missile Crisis is also interesting visually.

Though there are tons of problems between calling this a true prequel.  The ages of the characters is all in question when compared to the first films and especially when you mix in X-Men Origins:  Wolverine  (are Havok and Cyclops brothers and what about the woman who looks like Emma Frost in X-Men Origins:  Wolverine?).  Despite this, there are tons of fun throwbacks to the originals with appearances by Rebecca Romijn as Mystique and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (Jackman only took the roll as long as he could drop an F-Bomb on Xavier and Magneto).

What makes X-Men:  First Class strong is that the plot, acting, and visuals all come together.  The movie’s fun throwback feel is rewarding to long time comic book readers, but still has enough fun for new viewers to keep up.  X-Men:  First Class is followed by X-Men:  Days of Future Past which bridges the gap between X-Men:  The Last Stand and The Wolverine of 2013.

Related Links:

X-Men (2000)

X2:  X-Men United (2003)

X-Men:  The Last Stand (2006)

X-Men:  Days of Future Past (2014)

X-Men:  Apocalypse (2016)

Deadpool (2016)

X-Men Origins:  Wolverine (2009)

The Wolverine (2014)

Logan (2017)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by

Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn’t afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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