X-Men First Class

 

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio:  Marvel, 20th Century Fox

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Review Rating: 9 Mutations

Young Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr, aided by the government and a band of mutants, take on Sebastian Shaw and the Hellfire Club, to try and prevent a World War between the Americans and the Russians!

I am actually greatly impressed with this movie. Better, in my humble little opinion, than the third X-Men movie, not that that was terribly hard. Director Matthew Vaughn, who brought us such gems as Stardust and Kick-Ass, has given us a movie that started off as a diamond and only got better. A happy compromise between those things we know and love of the original X-Men and just have to keep, versus rich new ways of telling their stories in a very Star Trek Zero style.

We begin with a meeting of boy Charles Xavier and our blue gal pal Raven (Darkholme) inside what will become the X mansion, where Charles demonstrates his lifetime commitment to aid all mutants however he might, even at such a young age. Conversely, young Erik Lensherr is being tortured in a Nazi concentration camp, especially when a certain Schmidt observes his burgeoning powers and decides to take a direct interest. I know, Magneto is more or a less always a villain, but I simply can’t help but cheer when boy Erik crushes Nazi helmets with heads still in them! Cut to much later, Charles is now Professor X, a delightfully charming young man with a vested interest in what he now calls Mutants. Whereas Erik is now hunting down the man who was Schmidt, now calling himself Sebastian Shaw, and this is where our two Icons finally meet. Shaw and the Hellfire Club (Azazel, Riptide and Emma Frost) are on the point of settingAmerica and the Russians at eachothers throat by….some nonsense about stationing missiles in Cuba and not crossing water lines – who cares right? Accurate history is fine and all, but I want the story and the Mutants!

So, aided by a reluctant Erik and his sister Raven, Charles embarks on a quest to gather Mutants and train them as a kind of counter force against Shaw and company. The Man in Black, who never gave an actual name, is the one who offers the new recruits a place to live and train, introducing the genius Mutant Hank McCoy, and the earliest incarnation of Cerebro! And we get to watch the new recruits – Banshee, Darwin, Angel, Havok, Mystique and Beast – train their burgeoning powers in anticipation of fighting. Personally, I love the training montages and can never get enough of them in the X-Men movies. Plus finally Banshee gets a, more or less, starring role – I always thought he got a bum deal when it came to the X-Men movies. Inevitably, yes there is a cameo for Wolverine, they of course try to recruit him and of course he turns both Erik and Charles down very bluntly. We have to train, because the Hellfire Club is coming, and sure enough, while X and Erik are away, the new recruits are attacked by Shaw and a clear dividing line is drawn. Everyone who’s left has to go back to the X mansion, where training continues in the first version of the Danger Room, to stop the final battle the Hellfire Club is trying to start!

The dynamics between Erik and Charles, always a loving and strained relationship, is truly given grand screen time in this movie, and I thought that was wonderful. James McAvoy as the Prof was fantastic and Michael Fassbender as Erik was just marvelous. Didn’t much care for the makeup they gave Beast when he did finally blue and fur himself, but the actor who played him as human-ish, Nicholas Hoult, did a lovingly awkward job. Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique was awesome too, although I personally thought she looked much hotter all blued up. Lucas Till of Battle: Los Angeles fame is Havok, also known as Alex Summers, his training made me laugh out loud. Jason Flemyng as Azazel was a really strange choice, but you can see echoes of Nightcrawler in his tail. And of course let us not forget Kevin Bacon, the man of degrees himself, as Sebastian Shaw! He sure doesn’t physically look like Shaw in my opinion, but he sure pulled off the attitude! X-Men First Class gets a rating of 9 Mutations, because as Mystique is fond of saying – “Mutant, and proud!”

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