X-Men: First Class – Movie Review

x-men_firstclassIt is truly the year of the superhero movie.  What started in January with the Green Hornet, continued in May with Thor, now moves onto a reboot of sorts to the series that started this comic book inspired trend in the first place.  The first X-Men movie was released in 2000, and at the time fans weren’t sure if The Usual Suspects director Bryan Singer was up to the task, but he was, and by the time X2 was released in 2003 fans couldn’t envision anyone else at the helm.  Unfortunately for them however Singer moved onto a Superman reboot and Brett Ratner was hired as his replacement for X-Men:  The Last Stand.   The movie did well enough, but it wasn’t as good as the first two, and the X-Men franchise’s next move was in limbo.   Bryan Singer returns for X-Men:  First Class, but only as a producer and writer, while Matthew Vaughn takes over as director.  Will it be as good as the first two movies, or will the X-Men series find themselves in an even worse position?  That’s the question fans of the series want to find out.

Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) are two sides of the same coin.  Xavier wants to unite mutants with the rest of the world and bring about a peaceful solution to their differences with normal humans, whereas Lehnsherr (who is eventually known as Magneto) is seeking revenge for the terrible war crimes perpetrated against him by the Nazis during World War 2 and believes that Mutants should be proud of who they are and not have to hide to fit in.  Xavier joins the CIA to hunt down a mutant criminal known as Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), and while on a failed mission to bring him in he meets Lehnsherr who is hunting Shaw because he is the man who killed his mother and experimented on him when he was a child.  Lehnsherr reluctantly agrees to join Xavier, and together they locate other mutants and form a team to continue the hunt for Shaw.  Unfortunately for them however their difference of opinion ends up forcing them down different paths.

X-Men: First Class is not your typical summer superhero blockbuster.  If you are expecting a lot of action and a lot of explosions you’ll be sorely disappointed.  They do happen, but they build up to them and don’t just occur for the sake of having them occur.  The basic premise of the movies is the friendship between Xavier and Lehnsherr and their differences of opinion.  Everything else is secondary.  This is of course where the major complaint of the movie will come, because even though it is interesting to see the friendship grow and eventually fall apart, you don’t get to see enough of the young X-Men team and their individual personalities.  Comic books geeks will undoubtedly pick it apart for its failure to stay accurate to the comic book (after all a lot of the character in the comic book wouldn’t even have been born in 1962) and because this movie is a prequel to the previous series movie buffs will pull out their long list of continuity errors (such as Xavier and Lehnsherr still being friends in X-Men: The Last Stand when they try to recruit Jean Grey in the 1980’s).  Even with these problems however the movie does still manage to stand on its own two feet and keep you entertained.  It’s worth watching, but it’s still not as good as X2 was.  It’s also worth noting that it was fun seeing how they managed to fit the events of the Cuba missile crisis into the storyline.

If you are looking for the typical summer blockbuster then this movie isn’t for you, but if you want a great story with insight into the demise of a friendship this is the movie to see.  For a slower paced movie it surprisingly moves pretty fast, which means you won’t come out feeling like you’ve wasted your time or money.

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