Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class

After the abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the middling X-Men: The Last Stand, this mutant superhero franchise was in need of a reboot to restore its dominance for 20th Century Fox. Along comes X-Men: First Class and in celebration of the closing of this new X-Men trilogy, I wanted to revisit the two movies that lead up to X-Men: Apocalypse with the story of Magneto and Professor Xavier.

The story begins with Magneto as a child Erik Lensherr as it did in the first X-Men film. Magneto exhibits his mutant talents of controlling metal and in this version, he is tortured by an evil mutant Sebastian Shaw played by Kevin Bacon. It is revealed that Shaw can harness energy, especially explosive energy, to make him nearly indestructible and very deadly. Magneto grows up to be played by Michael Fassbender and seek revenge against his tormentor.

Meanwhile, Charles Xavier played by James McAvoy grows up with privilege and her best friend Raven, or Mystique, played by a young Jennifer Lawrence, pre-Hunger Games fame. This story line leads to Rose Byrne as CIA agent Moira MacTaggert recruiting him after she sees Shaw, now conspiring in the sixties to orchestrate nuclear war. Xavier and Magneto encounter each other and decide to recruit mutants to fight against Shaw's team.

Transporting back to the sixties is very cool with the mutants and director Matthew Vaughn, of Kick-Ass and Kingsman: Secret Service, does a great job navigating these characters and still giving them each depth while their youth exposes their immaturity and weakness. The climax is a pleasure to watch and one of the best action scenes in an X-Men film. The final scenes set up a new series for X-Men and effectively rebooted the superhero franchise.

With the poor reviews pouring in for Apocalypse, I am still holding out hope that it will be an enjoyable film. First Class really brought me back into the universe of the mutant X-Men though continuity was shot all to hell. The studio has not worried much about keeping the stories consistent, and the promise of the scenes at the end of First Class really have nothing much to do with Days of Future Past. I did like where the series went with that installment and should have a review of that when I watch it tomorrow. The only installment without Wolverine besides the new Deadpool, this movie is one of my favorite superhero movies of the many that are out there! 

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