Review: X-Men First Class


Embedded within the strenuous climate of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class finds itself entrenched with the United States and Russia on the brink of war. Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw, a mutant who possesses the remarkable ability to harness kinetic energy and transform that power into brute strength, intends to use this impending American/Russian conflict to create a nuclear holocaust; an environment which he believes would favour mutant domination over the powerless humans.

In opposition to Shaw’s beliefs, stands Charles Xavier (played by James McAvoy) before he became known as Professor X. A graduate of Oxford, Charles through his telepathic abilities recruits a team of untamed mutants to give each of them a chance to become a part of something much bigger than themselves. Under his guidance and the impending threat of nuclear war, they learn to shape their abilities and ready themselves for a confrontation against Shaw and his own team of powerful mutants.

One of Charles’ students is Erik Lensherr (played by Michael Fassbender) before he became known as Magneto. Their extraordinary powers brought Charles and him together, but their diverging mentalities regarding Shaw and the humans will eventually drive them apart. Before Charles was Professor X; before Erik was Magneto; before they were enemies; they were allies and it is this section of the X-Men universe that X-Men: First Class focuses in on. The film’s central story of the United States, Russia, and Sebastian Shaw are nothing more than a mere backdrop to allow us to witness how Charles’ and Erik’s opposing philosophical ideologies become the essence of what forced them to become enemies.

In case you didn’t get the memo, comic book movies are in and have been for some time now. It feels like every other weekend another superhero graces our box offices with its presence; and with the release dates of Captain America and Green Lantern fast approaching, this trend is unlikely to shift. Summer blockbuster season has now officially become superhero season, and X-Men: First Class is not only the strongest of the all X-Men films, but also the strongest North American comic book adaptation since Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which while it doesn’t seem like it was released three summers ago.

For those familiar with Michael Fassbender and his commanding performance in Steve McQueen’s Hunger, it should come as no surprise that he once again possesses a magnetic screen pretense as the prominent X-Men villain, Magneto; a role previously brought to life from the page by Sir Ian McKellen. While other cast selections are questionable, James McAvoy as Charles Xavier was another excellent choice, as he brings a tranquility to his character that offers a stark contrast to the rage that embodies Fassbender’s Lensherr.

By taking us to where it all started, Director Matthew Vaughn allows us to witness the origins of the mutant struggle for civil acceptance, and asks the question how can you ask society to accept you when you can’t even accept yourself? With first class action sequences mixed in with two persuasive performances from Fassbender and McAvoy, this prequel is able to surmount its glaring flaws. It is actually quite remarkable what a little Michael Fassbender and no Brett Ratner can do to rescue a deteriorating franchise. X-Men: First Class is a bold take on the sagging X-Men film adaptations; proving that sometimes backwards is the only way forwards.

74/100 - It is actually quite remarkable what a little Michael Fassbender and no Brett Ratner can do to rescue a deteriorating franchise. X-Men: First Class is a bold take on the sagging X-Men film adaptations; proving that sometimes backwards is the only way forwards.

Christopher Misch

I've always loved movies, but it wasn't until under the tutelage of Professor Garry Leonard at the University of Toronto that my passion for the industry became an understanding of an art form. With a specific fascination in both the western genre and Asian cinema in general, I am of the view that good movies are either enlightening or entertaining, and if you are truly lucky they are both.
  • Arianne Tong

    Great movie.  I actually think I may like it the most.   Michael Fassbender is a wicked actor.

  • Alfredyeung3

    Great call with the marks.

  • Christopher Misch

    Nice, actually agree with me this time?

  • Christopher Misch

    It’s tough to find a actor more talented than #Fassbender; a superb choice to play LensherMagneto,

  • Arianne Tong

    I liked it a lot; I thought it had a simplicity to it that reflected the the films focus on origins.

  • Matt Alleyne

    I can live with the bit of artistic freedom they took with the true story of X-MEN, but the subtle cleverness between Charles and Eric is this movie’s only saving grace.

    I was a bit annoyed that Darwin, who’s only superpower is to survive, died so early in the film.

    Also there needs to be a bit of continuity if they are going to reference and even use the same characters from past films. This isn’t Star Trek where you can use the JJ Abrams cop-out of an alternative dimension to explain the difference in story line.

    It is a simple film, but I am waiting for a superhero movie this summer to wow me, and this was not it.
    Maybe Green Lantern or even Harry Potter might do the trick.

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