X-Men First Class was much better than I expected. It’s a great film depicting the origins of how the X-Men came into existence, and it was pretty thorough. Of course, as with all comic book movies, there are going to be some missing/changed parts to make the movie a more enjoyable experience for the average moviegoer, but the director, Matthew Vaughn, did an excellent job to not change too much.
The basis of the plot is relatively simple and easy to follow, for a movie filled with mutants with super powers. It revolves around how the original X-Men came to be and how their founder, Charles Xavier, teamed up with Erik Lehnsherr, aka Magneto, to thwart a thermonuclear war in 1962. During the movie, we witness Erik/Magneto’s inner demons and thirst for revenge, and Charles’ struggle to bring him back.
The story is filled with detail on characters and “future” (can I call it future if we’ve already seen the othe X-Men movies?) storylines. We go into further detail on Magneto, and how he is a concentration-camp survivor who saw his mother shot to death when he could not perform his extrasensory powers to the camp commandant under duress. Now he is out to find that commander, some twenty years later. On the other side of evil, Charles is a ladies’ man who’s also exceptionally bright, working on his theses about genetics. Raven (Mystique), Charles’ childhood friend, has her own mutation that allows her to take the form of others, but in her true form she is entirely blue with red hair, a bears a striking unwelcoming figure to the general public.
The unifying agent that brings Magneto and Charles together is Kevin Bacon… who plays Sebastian Shaw. Shaw’s plan is to get the US and the USSR to declare war on one another, thus wiping each other out. With this occurring, according to Shaw, only mutants will survive…with only two countries going to war… just go with it. This creates a common enemy between Charles and Magneto, Magneto wants to kill Shaw, and Charles simply wants to stop him. They’re consistently at odds with each other as they recruit other mutants to their cause in 1962. Also throughout the entire story, Charles helps Erik break down his own barriers to harness his powers.
A recurring theme in the X-Men movies is the battle between being who you are and being accepted by society. Do you want to just fit in, or do you want to be your own person? Raven, aka Mystique, isn’t sure, either. Neither are some of the other mutants, leading to a schism that would later show up in each of the other films.
First Class is a great addition to the X-Men saga. It’s pleasing to the eye, both in effects and in cast choice, and keeps true to its familiar characters. It does a great job as a prequel to the other films. It’s easy to follow, both the plot and the backstory of the characters, and the cast does an excellent job portraying their roles. This film is a definite see if you’re a super hero fan, it was very well put together.
G.I.A. Rating: 7.5/10
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 132 min