4 out of 5 stars (one of the best of the year)
I am a very tough critic. For those who have read my reviews for a while, you may notice that almost everything I review gets a three or three and a half star rating. A film has to be very unique to me to get a higher rating. “X-Men: First Class” does just that, with as much plot as action and wonderful explanations of the unanswered questions about the characters.
The “X-Men” franchise actually ignited the comic book film popularity eleven years ago. Before 2000, Marvel’s film projects had been huge failures. The only good comic book film was “Batman” in 1989, but even that series ended badly, with “Batman & Robin” basically sending Hollywood elsewhere for source material. “X-Men” brought in amazing reviews and, obviously, an ongoing franchise, along with other comic book films from the pages of Marvel, the “Spider-Man” and “Iron Man” movies have been critically acclaimed.
The story begins by showing us Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr in their childhood, the first having the better one. Erik is a Jew in a Nazi concentration camp and Charles is a “normal” kid learning about his mind control powers. Erik’s mother is shot by Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) right in front of him because of his inability to manipulate a metal coin. We then fast forward to the 1960’s to see that Charles (James McAvoy) is in college, using his mind power to woo women in bars, to the dislike of Raven “Mystique” (Jennifer Lawrence,) and Erik (Michael Fassbender) looking for Shaw with intent to kill. Charles is recruited by CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) to search for mutants like him. His search leads him to an ocean, and that’s how he meets Erik, who is attempting to kill Shaw at the time. Charles convinces him to let Shaw escape, or Erik will die.
Erik and Charles then start recruiting mutants together, Hank McCoy “Beast” (Nicholas Hoult,) Alex Summers “Havok” (Lucas Till, “The Hannah Montana Movie”,) and Sean Cassidy “Banshee” (Caleb Landry Jones) to use against Shaw and his army, people like Emma Frost (January Jones,) Azazel (Jason Flemying,) and others. Meanwhile, the US is heading towards the Cuban Missile Crisis.
This is a fantastic movie. It received outstanding reviews, but I didn’t get my hopes too high up. The reason for this is that I didn’t want a repeat of “Avatar”. I set my expectations extremely high for that one, and I was mildly disappointed. With this film, I didn’t see a million previews on TV, and didn’t read a lot of the reviews, so I didn’t know more then what the plot was. My sister, Carol, who’s not a big fan of superhero films past “Spider-Man” and “Iron Man”, told me that she might like the X-Men films (She hasn’t seen the first three, just “Wolverine” and this,) now that she’s seen this installment.
I highly recommend this to anyone who’s seen the others and has unanswered questions and to people who have never seen any of the other entries in the series.
Rated PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Action and Violence, Some Sexual Content Including Brief Partial Nudity, and Language