Review: X-Men – First Class

THE SETUP: Set in the groovy, yet politically paranoid 60s, a professor specializing in mutation (Charles Xavier aka James McAvoy) and a Nazi-hunter (Erik Lehnsherr aka Michael Fassbender) come together to fight evil mutants and prejudice. Along the way they recruit a group of gifted kids to their cause, who are also dealing with their own acceptance issues and controlling their powers.

For a fourth installment in a franchise, the first question is how it stacks up. I’d put this one on par with the first X-men, behind the 2nd movie and waaaay ahead of X-Men: Last Stand and Wolverine. So to break it down, it’s a good flick. Don’t be turned off by the timeframe. The X-men comic actually began in the 60s so it’s a wink to that and the setting is perfect – arms race, cold war, and global paranoia. This is a perfect setting for a movie about acceptance and a changing world. The 2nd bit of good news is Kick-Ass Director Michael Vaughn and producer Bryan Singer got some great actors to fill the spandex. For me, Michael Fassbender stole the movie as the young Magneto. Scary intense with a real emotional core to his acting brought so much to what is really a cartoon super-villain. McAvoy, you could tell was enjoying a more laid back version of Professor X. Add Rose Byrne, the kid who played Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones) and standout Jennifer Lawrence as a young Mystique and you’ve got actors really elevating the material. And it is the material I had a problem with. If it weren’t for the actors, the words would be more painful than they sometimes were. Not all the time, but enough to induce a slight cringe or two. Kevin Bacon as the bad guy was also not left with much to do, other than try to rule the world. All the other elements made it a good movie, just not a great one.

3 stars – good movie, take a friend. This summer hasn’t really knocked it out of the park yet but there have been some solid additions, this being one of them. If the X-movies continue down this path, we might be able to forget the horror that was X-Men 3.

Random Recommendations
Tremors (1990) – Want some stupid fun? Take Kevin Bacon, a few small town folk, add a huge carnivorous worm, a bit of humour and the Family Ties dad with an itchy trigger finger and you have a movie you can really enjoy without a lot of thought.

Hunger (2008) – On the flipside, want to see a really great but unbelievably uncomfortable to watch? Michael Fassbender had to be watched by doctors as he went on a crash diet to portray Bobby Sands, leader of an IRA hunger strike in prison. Emotional and violent.


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