X-Men: First Class review

Posted on 4 June 2011
By Matt Barden
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X-Men First Class is Kick Ass director Michael Vaughn’s version of the re-booted world of the uncanny X-Men.

Set during the backdrop of the 1960s and the Cold War, comic geeks are given the full back story into the turbulent relationship of Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), aka Magneto and the beginnings of Marvel’s mutant superhero team the X-Men.

The film opens in the 1940s and shows us the parallel lives of Charles and Erik, which shapes their ideology for the mutant race.

Xavier is a well heeled upper class child, who goes on to use his psychic ability to graduate from Oxford. Erik is used as a lab rat by the Nazis after he and his family are held at a concentration camp by the sinister Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon).

Moving forward 20 years and Shaw has recruited his own band of not so merry mutants in an attempt to cause enough friction between the US and the Soviets to start WWIII.

Erik is hunting the former Nazi to avenge his mother’s death and crosses paths with Charles, who is aiding the CIA in thwarting Shaw. Bonding over their mutant outcast status, the two gather a team of mutants to help stop the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Urged to not shy away from their mutant abilities and join Professor X and Magneto are; Hank McCoy (Skin’s Nicholas Hoult), Havok (Lucas Till), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Angel (Zoe kravitz) and Banshee (Caleb Jones).

The film is witty, stylish and intelligent, even if it does try to cram a lot of back stories and mutants into its 2 hours and 11 minutes run-time.

McAvoy is brilliant as Professor X. He adds a funny and, at times darker side, to the much wiser version we know and love from the comics. The on screen chemistry between him and Fassbender makes the film and sheds a lot of light onto one of the most interesting and conflicting relationships that exists in the Marvel universe.

There is plenty of action and great fight scenes to keep the adrenalin junkies happy, but mixed in with a little history and a shining spotlight on social rights and prejudices.

The film opens up a lot of questions. Magneto can no longer be seen as just another super-villain and it leads the audience into making their own decision; whose ideology is right, Xavier’s or Magneto’s?

The relationship that Vaughan has built between the two lead characters will give him plenty to build on for future films and should make the X-Men legacy much more interesting.

First Class has a lot more substance than other recent superhero films (Thor and The Green Hornet anyone?) and proves that you can take lesser known comic characters and provide just as an entertaining movie as their more famous counterparts.

Vaughan has created a superhero movie that relies just as much on explosions and fantasy as it does on drama and character relationships, and has given Marvel fans a film that they can sink their teeth into and behold proudly.