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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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The Children of The Atom Equals An X-Citing Re-Boot Prequel!

  • Jun 4, 2011
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 really care for by making references to iconic characters that felt cheap. This time, I feel that “First Class” is a prequel/re-boot that may have been geared to attract new fans. It is a lot better than “Last Stand” albeit it still does something I’ve dreaded; unnecessarily re-shape the “X-Universe“ in a Hollywood manner. Not necessarily a bad thing, as it is quite solid in storytelling but this film would definitely get different reactions from its fans.

Charles Xavier (James McAvoy, Wanted) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) are two men who come from different sides of the world. One is raised with a silver spoon while the other grew to manhood in the Nazi concentration camps. Both have fantastic mutant powers that have made them the ‘children of the atom’. Now during the cold war, a Nazi war criminal, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) rises to power with his “Hellfire Club” (that is made up of January Jones as the White Queen, Jason Flemyang as Azazel, and Alex Gonzalez as Riptide) that threatens to spark a war between the two superpowers, Russia and America. Charles and Erik along with Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne, Insidious) are recruiting new blood to counter the threat of the Hellfire club, as Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence, Winter‘s Bone), Angel (Zoe Kravitz), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Havoc (Lucas Till), Henry McCoy “the Beast“ (Nicholas Hoult) and Darwin (Edi Gathegi) joins in on the fight to save humanity and mutant kind. But just who is the enemy?

                    Michael Fassbender as Erik 'Magneto' Lensherr in "X-Men: First Class"

                    Jamers McAvoy as Charles Xavier and Micahel Fassbender as Erik 'Magneto' Lensherr in "X-Men: First Class"

                   January Jones as Emma Frost and Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw in ``X-Men: First Class.''

“First Class” is a film that I found quite entertaining, despite the fact that I didn’t like some of the changes, and opened some minor continuity issues in the existing Movie universe of “X-Men”. It has references and took some inspiration from the actual “First Class“ mini-series, the X-Men comic series (the Marauders) and most notably from “Ultimate X-Men“ in the 2000‘s. It touches on the cold war themes that I thought which was quite creative; the confrontation between man and mutant take place during the Cuban missile crisis. To like “First Class”, one may have to put his knowledge of the comic books on hold, and accept that this is a re-telling of the origins of Xavier and his relationship to Erik, the man who would become “Magneto” and how it applies the same characters to different points of the story (as with “Age of Apocalypse“).

Director Matthew Vaughnn (Kick Ass) with the story written by Bryan Singer and Sheldon Turner (not the screenplay) wisely makes a new story that can stand on its own, and I have to say I enjoyed the way it uses the X-universe to shape its story. The origins of Xavier’s institute for Gifted Youngsters, the relationship between the two mutant idealists, and how science can help aid the control and enhancement of mutant powers (in the case of Havoc and Banshee). Certain racial overtones are touched on, as mutants will be different and feared for their abilities. It also presents the idea that mutants are people, and as people they are different from themselves and people present both sides of good and evil. One’s past is the point where one’s character is shaped, for good or ill.

                  Lucas Till as Havok in "X-Men: First Class."

January Jones as Emma Frost in "X-Men: First Class." January Jones as Emma Frost in "X-Men: First Class."

                        Michael Fassbender as Magneto in "X-Men: First Class."

I do often wonder, why fix something that wasn’t broken in the source material which are the comics? Well, remember, the films that came before were a mixed bag, so I rather accepted the execution of its story as it maintained focus and energy throughout. Some changes did bother at first (Alex Summers to become the father of Cyclops instead of his brother and Moira MacTaggert as a CIA operative?) but I immediately got past them as it also presented changes that made more sense in solidifying its story as with the CIA, and how Sebastian Shaw got into the picture. I liked the manner with which the film found its footing in executing its storyline. The direction by Vaughnn was capable in executing the characterization, action and drama that I enjoyed the interactions in the film.

The action and visuals in the film were quite good. The effects in the execution of the mutant powers were reminiscent of “X2” and I liked several scenes as in the display of the uses of teleportation, the plasma energy, McCoy’s evolution and the sonic scream. Magneto’s scene with the submarine and the artillery were just so cool to see as it reminded me of the Asteroid M storyline. It was also refreshing to see the traditional black and yellow suits worn by the actual first team of the X-Men. I do still have the small complaint as the battles seemed to be a little too mild, and I have yet to see the definitive X-Men fight filled with intense action, crazy power struggles executed with a true dramatic sense of urgency. Despite this, the action was exciting enough and it was good for a film of its kind.

                   James McAvoy as Charles Xavier in "X-Men: First Class"

                  James McAvoy as Charles, Jennifer Lawrence as Raven, Michael Fassbender as Erik and Nicholas Hoult as Dr. Hank McCoy in "X-Men: First Class."

                  Jennifer Lawrence as Raven and Nicholas Hoult as Hank in "X-Men: First Class."

The film isn’t perfect, Kevin Bacon was a little miscast as the leader of the Hellfire club, but January Jones (Unknown) was indeed attention grabbing as Emma Frost. McAvoy and Fassbender managed to form a convincing chemistry as to how they became allies, friends and enemies that I could feel their confusion and how their stands in morality and idealism stood in the way. I also felt that some parts of the script were a little too ‘canned’ especially in the part of the confusion between McCoy and Raven, as some elements also came from nearly nowhere and left some developing factors underdeveloped.

Admittedly I was a little lukewarm to the idea of another Magneto Vs. Xavier storyline, (I mean the X-Men do have a good list of enemies and its themes and concepts are far-reaching); but “First Class” surprised me. It provided a solid storyline about acceptance and the direction was clever enough to capitalize on the strengths of its script as with the applications of real world events. “X-Men: First Class” is a good re-boot, re-issue or as one may say, starting from scratch. It gave me a new reason to hope that perhaps comic books may have a new future in movies again after the missed opportunities that “Thor“ and “Iron Man 2“ were. Nope, it wasn’t perfect, as it did have some scenes that made my eyes roll and it didn't open a new chapter in the X-universe. I also was glad that it didn’t focus on the overexposed “Wolverine” again (though there is a cameo) and instead focused on story building. It is the best X-film since "X2: X-Men United", but arguably that isn't saying all the much.

Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

Teaser poster for "X-Men: First Class" January Jones as Emma Frost in "X-Men: First Class."

The Children of The Atom Equals An X-Citing Re-Boot Prequel! The Children of The Atom Equals An X-Citing Re-Boot Prequel! The Children of The Atom Equals An X-Citing Re-Boot Prequel!

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June 17, 2011
Nice review. I think I'm going to hold off on this one. I'm still recovering from the burn I got from watching XMen:  The Last Stand.  Heck, I haven't even sat through the entire XMen Origins:  Wolverine flick yet and I've owned it on DVD since its initial release. 
June 22, 2011
Hah. That wolverine flick was brainless fun with some decent action. "Last Stand" was indescribably silly. Not to worry, this one was better than "Last Stand" and that "Wolverine" flick, and waayy better than the GL movie. Seen that one yet?
June 23, 2011
I have plans to see the Lantern this weekend.
June 23, 2011
give me a holler when you post a review on it... :)
June 09, 2011
Looks good. Will probably wait for this on DVD. I think the next movie we will see in theaters is the conclusion of Harry Potter. Liked the review!
June 09, 2011
Thanks, Adri. I want to read your review on the last Harry Potter film :)
June 09, 2011
lol. Thanks. I'll see if I want to write one. I never wrote one for Part 1 even though I considered it. I'm just too slow when it comes to movie reviews. If I don't have the source material on hand, I get nervous about doing a review cause of forgetting some of the details I wanted to mention.
June 06, 2011
Great review!! We really do see almost eye to eye on this film. I however, couldn't get past Summers being Scott's brother or moria being a CIA operative and jot Irish...
June 06, 2011
Yeah, that thing bothered me a lot too but I just focused on its strengths. This had redeeming factors going for it but it also had flaws in the screenplay. Thanks for the read, Julian and again, glad to see back again!
June 04, 2011
excellent review. I like your writing a lot.
June 05, 2011
Thanks, Joan, means a lot to me coming from you and John! :)
June 04, 2011
You know I'm still not happy with the direction Marvel's taking their franchises and frankly I think this looks awful. Prequels so rarely work and this one only looks like it will screw up continuity with the other films... but I'm so in love with Emma Frost that I might need to see it... more than once.
June 04, 2011
It did open up several continuity issues as with McCoy and Raven, Charles and Erik, and I did not like how they made some characters part of the film. It made its own origins of the first class of X-men, it may be a reboot too of a sort, but I am a little tired of how the X-films seem to focus on one premise. Emma Frost just sizzled the screen.
June 04, 2011
I don't totally agree, C.O. I think anything that increases interest in the comic book as an entertainment medium is worth at least producing and putting out there. I have not seen this one yet, but I have liked Iron Man and Thor. Sure there are continuity issues but only a die hard fan would note them. A man on the street would say, wow, these comics are not just for kids, there is actually some adult entertainment value here. Picks up a graphic novel. He's hooked. It's all good. I'm more worried about The Hobbit than X-Men, frankly.
June 04, 2011
I have very little in the way of expectations of this or anything from Marvel since their approach continues to be fragmented and based more on making money than pleasing fans or telling good stories. However, like I said, I'm willing to shell out some spare cash for Emma Frost and why not... I'm enlightened, but not that enlightened.
June 09, 2011
Still drooling over Emma Frost. I wonder what Spider-Woman would look like on screen and who'd play her... (drools)
June 09, 2011
you keep on doing that, and you'll need a new keyboard.
June 09, 2011
Need a new mouse, but the keyboard is fine. LOL! Check out the latest topic in Beyond the Printed Page.
June 09, 2011
I saw...I was cracking up! LOL! no comment on my two reviews?
June 09, 2011
you never did answer my inquiry if you liked Terrence Malick...
June 09, 2011
Haven't checked yet.
June 09, 2011
And yes, I did.
June 09, 2011
what's your fave Malick flick?
June 09, 2011
For cinematography, I'd say "Days of Heaven", for emotional impact, I'd say "The New World", and for characterization, I'd say "The Thin Red Line".
November 02, 2011
I think majority would agree...no one is going to be picking up any comic books after the mediocity of the comic movie adaptations we've seen. Seen this yet, Sean?
June 04, 2011
Great review WP, I want to see this but not sure when.
June 04, 2011
Take your time, it isn't exactly packing viewers but it should be around next week.
June 04, 2011
Very well done indeed. Not only did I share your fears for the worst when I heard this one was coming, I am in complete agreement with how you ranked the 3 original films. It's kind of amazing to me how frequently the hero film franchises have been getting reboots these days! This whole franchise here has been so misguided. The third film left them basically nowhere to go but backward. Next we got Wolverine's exploits and the worst representation of Deadpool possible and now this, another origin attempt. Thanks for the solid critique though. It sounds enjoyable but nothing I feel compelled to rush out for. I guess I'm just disappointed that all of those characters we invested so much time in the original three films have been written off. Only Hollywood could muddle up a franchise with this much potential!
June 04, 2011
I tried to look at it like a reboot as in "Ultimate X-Men", "Age of Apocalypse" and what was that other one...(so many of them). This had a good script but I am rather a little disappointed that it had to make some changes which were totally unnecessary but I do see why it did them. I do feel that this movie should've come after "X2" or maybe before "Origins". I did like the way it incorporated cold war themes and whatnot, but I dunno. I look at X-Men as a strong concept with the evils of racism and the humanity in its themes which is why it outsold all DC books before. I guess H-wood will always play it safe when it comes to comic book movies, and I doubt comics will never overcome that staple. I know they have to make them cater to everyone, but hey, there is just so much more to portray such as Mutant Massacre, X-Tinction, and Messiah Complex. I liked the movie but I am tired of the Xavier vs. Magneto thing..it feels overplayed.
More X-Men: First Class (2011 movie... reviews
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 03, 2011
X-Men: First Class is a Good Effort That Comes Up Short
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 …
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
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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, …
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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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