X-Men: First Class (2011) – movie review

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Movie review by EDF

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Nicholas Hoult, Kevin Bacon, Jason Flemyng

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Sequels could be becoming a thing of the past, maybe, thanks to the number of prequels that are scheduled to come out. STAR TREK proved that you can take something that has a core audience and make it into something that a wider audience could embrace, without upsetting its fans. The opposite can be said of the STAR WARS prequel trilogy which fans of the original trilogy found a bit lacking. With other prequels set to hit the big screen soon such as a reboot of the PLANET OF THE APES and the ALIENS saga, we should not be too surprised that after the WOLVERINE origin story that an X-MEN one would soon follow.

This origin story starts off with something that is not that original, and that is how young Erik Lehnsherr first used his powers while in a Nazi prison camp, exactly as seen in the first X-MEN movie. We follow what happened to Erik after he is knocked out by the prison guards. His power attracts the Nazi scientist Sebestian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) who forces Erik into a dire situation to use his power again. Years later, Erik (Michael Fassbender) seeking revenge to find Shaw, will go to any lengths to use his powers to hunt and kill him.

Meanwhile, a young Charles Xavier adopts a young girl called Raven who breaks into his house. They grow up together as best friends even though Raven is looking for something more. Xavier (James McAvoy) who is now a professor is approached by Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) to help the government out with an investigation. While out in the field, they come across Erik who risks his life to get back at Shaw but Xavier manages to save Erik’s life. Together they join forces to stop Shaw.

It might surprise some people that Bryan Singer is one of the co-writers of this tale. With Jane Goodman on co-scriptwriting duties and Matthew Vaughn directing, both fresh from the success of KICK-ASS, there is a high expectation of this X-MEN movie. Especially since X-MEN 3 and WOLVERINE did not impress fans of the first two movies, FIRST CLASS does impress with an engaging storyline and fine performances. Being set in the 1960’s, one of the many plots of this movie is X-Men vs The Cold War which is a very intriguing premise but here, the action takes a back seat of sorts to character development.

The most enjoyable character to watch is Erik / Magneto as Michael Fassbender has produced a compelling performance that lends sympathy to Erik’s character. Alongside James McAvoy’s Xavier, the strong bond between them is quite believable. The young supporting cast is also impressive and so are the cameo appearances of genre actors. As for the story, it is truly an epic tale that, by the end, has ticked all the correct boxes. Yet again, the bar has been raised for the superhero movie and for all prequels too.

5 out of 6 stars