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X-Men: First Class

The 2011 prequel to the "X-Men" film franchise directed by Matthew Vaughn.

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X-Men: First Class is a Good Effort That Comes Up Short

  • Jun 3, 2011
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When the “X-Men:The Last Stand” failed to score big with critics and audiences in 2006, many fans began to wonder if they would ever see their favorite mutant superhero team on screen anytime soon. Despite mixed reviews, 2009′s standalone film “Wolverine“, did sufficient box office numbers to warrant a sequel which is currently in development, indicating that the likely future of the series was with standalone character films.

Then 20th Century Fox decided to tell a team-based origin story that focuses on the early days of the X-Men and how they became the team that they are today. This is a bit of a controversial move as it involves recasting several roles to play younger versions of beloved characters.

The result is X-Men: First Class which stars Scottish actor James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, a brilliant young academic who hides his unique and amazing telepathic gifts from the world. When a chance encounter proves to Charles that there are others in the world who share his gifts he dedicates his studies to unlocking the mysteries of genetic mutations and their possibilities.

At the same time a young man named Eric Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), has embarked on a path of destruction and revenge against those who wronged and tormented him and his family during the Nazi occupation of their native Poland. Eric’s main target is man who now calls himself Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), who has surrounded himself with a team of skilled mutants and is manipulating US and Russia to the brink of nuclear war, for his own evil purposes.

When CIA Agent MacTaggart (Rose Byrne), learns of Shaw’s plans, she recruits Xavier, not knowing that he and his friend Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) are mutants themselves, with the hopes of understanding their new enemy and mounting a proper defense.

When the truth of his true nature is revealed, Charles teems with MacTaggart and scientist Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), to locate and recruit other gifted individuals to their cause. Fate steps in when Erik and Charles meet and eventually become friends over there mutual pursuit of Shaw. Despite a great deal of understanding between the two individuals, Eric is intent upon killing Shaw. He warns his new friend not to trust humans, as his time under Nazi control taught him that it’s only a matter of time until he and his fellow mutants are targeted for extinction by the world. Despite this the Eric and Charles recruit and train a team to prepare to face Shaw and his followers, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

The film starts off well and it was very enjoyable to see a deeper side of the characters. From young Charles hitting on women in bars and making jokes about losing his full head of hair to the deadly side of Eric and his abilities as well as the early relationship between the iconic characters. Somewhere along the way the film loses its initial momentum as the plot of the film takes a while to get going. As good as the cast is, they need something to do and after numerous debates and a few training and recruitment segments the film became somewhat boring. There simply was not a lot of action to sustain the plot.

Kevin Bacon was an interesting choice for the villain. He did a good job, although watching him strut around I kept expecting him to break into dance at any moment. Another issue I had was that some of the supporting characters were basically throwaway as I cared little about their stories and outcomes. Only the characters of Raven, Eric, and Charles held any real interest for me and watching their interplay with one another was one of the strong points of the film.

As the film move toward the finale there were several things about it that did not work for me starting with the makeup for The Beast. Complete with spectacles it was almost a laughable look that brought to mind Jason Bateman in “Teen Wolf 2“. The fact that the character was annoying as well did very little to help.

The biggest issue I had with the film was that after all this buildup the finale was actually very ho-hum and while it did contain some visually nice moments, I do not feel the action balanced with the storytelling, certainly not to the extent that audiences expect from nor require of a summer blockbuster.

There are a couple of moments in the film that will certainly be questioned by fans of the series as well as scenes which conflict with information from the earlier films in the series. It seems certain elements of continuity have been omitted for creative license. I will not spoil those here but suffice it to say that if my wife, who is a casual fan of the series, was able to note conflicts and discrepancies between this film and a previous film, then certainly hard-core fans may have some real issues.

The film does a good job with explaining the origin and nature of the characters, but fails to provide an adventure worthy of the effort and instead plays out in a very underwhelming fashion. Director Matthew Vaughn proved himself highly adept with adventure films when he produced “Kick Ass“, and other action-oriented films. He is clearly a fan of comics and action and I would love to have seen what could’ve resulted had he been given carte blanche with the film.

In the end, “X-Men: First Class“, for me was more entertaining than the previous ensemble films, but fails to live up to its potential and severely lacks enough action to sustain the early momentum of the film.

3 stars out of 5

X-Men: First Class is a Good Effort That Comes Up Short

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June 03, 2011
As long as this isn't a raping over the coals of characters like the Wolverine movie did, I might enjoy this.
June 03, 2011
Either, this is a Marvel movie we are talking about afterall.
More X-Men: First Class (2011 movie... reviews
review by . June 04, 2011
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The Children of The Atom Equals An X-Citing Re-Boot Prequel!
When I first heard of the coming “X-Men: First Class” film, I will have to admit that I feared for the worst. The first three movies of the X-Men franchise have been a mixed bag for me; while the first film was decent, “X2: X-Men United” was real good, “X-Men: Last Stand” was just so disappointing that I hoped that the franchise was over. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” was fun, but it just reshaped the “X-mythos” for me in the way that I didn’t …
review by . June 04, 2011
Vaughn's 'First Class' is Brilliant, Yet Leaves Something to be Desired...
It's hard to believe that it has already been eleven years since Bryan Singer's first X-Men came to the big screen.  At that point in time, comic book movies had steadily been going downhill.  X-Men came along and brought the superhero film franchise back from the dead in a very cool, modern way that set the tone for both the Marvel and DC universe's for the next decade.  That's why it comes as a surprise that after some fairly mediocre films from both franchises of …
review by . June 12, 2011
Marvel Studios must have a mutant named
It is a little sad that the when the first X Men movie kicked off the big budget comic movie boom in 1999 that it was the one that ended up needing rebooted in most people's eyes.  I actually liked X Men 3 a little bit and could at least see Wolverine as a halfway decent action movie in it's own right.  However, since X Men 3 is the movie that killed everyone's dog and Wolverine peed on the corpse; to the general public a few changes needed to be made.      …
review by . June 09, 2011
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   Imagine if someone Nolan-ized X-Men. Ok, maybe we use the phrase “Nolan-ze” a little too often. But if Nolan ever did direct an X-Men film, it’d be something close to First Class. Whenever I was a kid I remember watching the Bryan Singer’s first two X-Men films, and compared to bigger, more fantastical superhero movies I was accustomed to like Sam Raimi’s Spiderman series and even the pre-Nolan Batman films, they weren’t my favorite. In fact they …
review by . June 16, 2011
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Yes its a prequel, No it dosent suck, Yes im also a telepath.
I originally didn't want to see this movie because I heard that it is a Prequel/reboot two things I hate all rolled up into one package. It was actually the reviews here on lunch that changed my mind.      First class focuses on the young Charles Xavier and Erik Lensher before they become Professor X and Magneto, how they met and what tore them apart. (no it dosen't show how the Professor went Bald). The Movie also follows the lives of the first students …
review by . June 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         There has been much talk about how sequels aren’t supposed to be better than the films that preceded them. Does the same thing apply to prequels? If so, then X-Men: First Class has set a new standard. Apart from being the best of all previous X-Men films, it belongs on the same shelf as Superman, Batman, and Iron Man as one of the greatest superhero films ever made; it’s superbly cast, the characters are very well developed, it tells …
review by . June 03, 2011
'X Men-First Class' 'Two Jews On Film' Just Like Prof X & Magneto They Go Their Separate Ways- Video
   Right off the bat, I have to say that I gave 'X-Men First Class' 5 bagels out of 5.  I absolutely loved it. The director, Matthew Vaughn  did the 'X Men' franchise proud.        'X-Men First Class' is a prequel.  Before Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) was Professor X and Eric Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) became Magneto, they were just two mutant guys discovering their powers and figuring out how to use them.  Charles …
review by . June 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men" version is definitely one of the movies that made me feel sorry for the skepticism I had before it's release. This proves once again that some trailers might not say anything at all about the final content. I was not impressed with the first footage and the first trailer of the film. I thought it was going to be just decent. Well, I was wrong because "First Class" is by far the best X-Men movie made and one of the best comic-book …
review by . October 10, 2011
2 1/2 stars :
We have all heard the stories before. The stories of these so-called super-humans, people born with special abilities that grant them the power to stand above all others and look down on us like the insects that we are, these stories were told in Greece during the time of Christ. They have been retold countless times over by the Romans, and then again by writers, family members, and teachers and comic book writers. We have all heard of these stories in one way or another; some might …
review by . June 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
There's no other way to fly.
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS   Written by Ahsley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughan   Directed by Matthew Vaughan   Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Kevin Bacon       Charles Xavier: I believe that true focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity.       I’ve always had a soft spot for the X-Men within the ever-expanding realm of comic book film adaptations. Given my own, …
About the reviewer
Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
Ranked #111
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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About this movie


X-Men: First Class
is a 2011 American superhero film directed by Matthew Vaughn. Based on the characters appearing in Marvel Comics, it is a prequel to the X-Men film series. X-Men: First Class was released June 1, 2011 in the UK and on June 3 in the US.

The film is set primarily in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis and focuses on the relationship between Professor X and Magneto and the origin of their groups, the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. The film stars James McAvoy as Professor X and Michael Fassbender as Magneto. Other cast members include Kevin Bacon, January Jones, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, Zoë Kravitz, Nicholas Hoult and Lucas Till. The film was mostly shot in England and parts of the United States.

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Director: Matthew Vaughn
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Release Date: June 3, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Bryan Singer, Zack Stentz
Runtime: 132 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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