X-Men: First Class is Matthew Vaughn’s masterpiece of comic book action, drama and history.
Majestic Marvel Comics movie
The mutants are those who are different. They are proud and loud as they save humanity in lively, thrilling fashion.
This smart, exciting prequel is an instant classic on par with Batman and Superman. It captures the spirit and scope of the original Marvel Comics with big talent, engaging story, sci-fi elements and Bond-like espionage.
Freaks as valuable citizens
Freaks or outsiders can see beyond the petty, dangerous wars of men. They are the true heroes of humanity. The new X-Men must learn to accept themselves fully to unlock that awesome power.
Globe trotting, can’t-look-away action is expertly woven around larger-than-life characters. This stylish summer blockbuster has a timeless quality.
The action seems like it’s happening today rather than during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Director Vaughn displays flair as the X-Men exercise mutant powers.
Forgiveness vs. revenge
James McAvoy as humanitarian genius Professor X/Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender as obsessed revenge seeker Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr headline with an uneasy bromance.
They’re the mutant granddaddies who lead and guide a hand-picked crew of young superpowers to battle mutant Nazi megalomaniac Sebastian Shaw/Dr. Schmidt (Kevin Bacon, better than ever).
Professor X’s telepathy has given him empathy and a concern for humanity. X-Men have a responsibility to be better than humans, using their powers to prevent catastrophe and also to lead men on the path of peace and justice.
Magneto’s rivalry with Professor X arises from his thirst for revenge. He’d rather be right than be happy.
Between rage and serenity
Years after executing Erik’s mother, Shaw is now a world threat who wants to exploit Cold War tensions to spark nuclear annihilation. Erik must stop him. “Let’s just say I’m Frankenstein’s monster and I’m looking for my creator,” he says. B
Bacon has played evildoers before, most notably a child molester in The Woodsman.
Charles teaches his friend to tap into authentic might. “True focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity,” he says. Erik eventually joins forces with Charles and the other X-Men to enhance his own powers.
Sexpot Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) yearns to fit in with humans, hiding her lovely blue scales. Raven sneaks into Erik’s bed one evening. “You want society to accept you, but you can’t even accept yourself,” he chides.
Nerdy scientist and Raven’s admirer Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult) enhances his freakishness in a botched lab experiment. Finally Raven gets it. “Society should aspire to be more like us.”
Rose Byrne plays adventurous CIA agent Moira MacTaggert. She recruits Charles and Raven to join the agency’s new Division of Mutant Powers.
Mutants bearing gifts
Oliver Platt is perfect as a CIA special ops bigwig who must defer to Charles’ leadership if they stand any chance of stopping Shaw.
Rounding out the ensemble are January Jones as Shaw’s accomplice Emma Frost, a call girl and telepathic ice queen. Zoe Kravitz (Angel Salvadore/Wings) breaks a few hearts. Caleb Landry Jones (Cassidy/Banshee) rides ear-splitting sound waves.
Jason Flemyng (Clash of the Titans) plays devilish Azazel. Lucas Till shows real leadership as Alex Summers/Havok. Alex Gonzalez plays soulful Janos Questad/Riptide. Edi Gathegi (Twilight) stands up to Shaw as Darwin/Armondo.
Visual effects pop
A funny cameo by one famous mutant bestows a back-handed blessing on the newest X-Men.
Top notch are John Mathieson’s cinematography, John Dykstra’s visual effects, Chris Seagers’ production design and Sammy Sheldon’s costumes. (5 out of 5 stars)
If you like X-Men: First Class, you might enjoy: Thor; Captain America: The First Avenger.
X-Men: First Class 2011 / PG-13 / 2 hour, 10 min
Cast Overview: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Oliver Platt, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz, Jason Flemyng, Lucas Till, Caleb Landry Jones, Alex Gonzalez, Edi Gathegi
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Genre: Action, Adventure, SciFi, Fantasy, Comic Book