Saturday, July 2, 2011

X-Men: First Class

When it comes to X-Men movies, I have been pretty lenient in my criticsims. I was a fan of "X3: The Last Stand" and was one of the few that actually enjoyed "X-Men Origins: Wolverine". I went into this movie with moderate expectations, hoping for a reasonably good X-Men movie. I definitely wasn't expecting a great film, regardless of genre, but that's what I got. Set in the 60's, "X-Men: First Class" focuses on the back-story of Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr who went on to become Professor X and Magneto respectively.

The plot centers around the Cuban Missile Crisis and the hand the mutants may or may not have played in its secret history. While this in itself is entertaining, the emotional crux of the story lies in the friendship of the two leads. Erik, a victim of the Holocaust with a terribly troubled childhood, seeks a figure from his past on whom he has a personal vendetta. Charles, on the other hand, grew up in a wealthy household and went on to become a professor at Oxford University while still in his twenties. Charles meets Erik in an unusual way, but is able to use his rare gifts (telepathy) to tap into some of Erik's more troubling, and more heart-warming memories to help him progress in many ways.

I thought this movie was pretty brilliant. Director Matthew Vaughan does a great job balancing drama with action set pieces all while interweaving this film with the original trilogy (though there are a few minor discrepancies in continuity). The two leads played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender were absolutely pitch-perfect in their respective roles. Both had large shoes to fill from their predecessors, and both made me more fond of their incarnations than I had been with the originals. Some moments are even tear-jerking between them; something you don't get in your average summer blockbuster, let alone in an X-Men movie. I definitely recommend this movie. This is easily the best of the X-Men franchise and one of my favorite films of the summer. I give "X-Men: First Class" four stars.

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language.