Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Produced by Gregory Goodman, Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner,
and Bryan Singer
Screenplay by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, and
Story by Sheldon Turner and Bryan Singer
Based on Characters by
Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Chris Claremont
Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, January
Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Oliver Platt, and Kevin Bacon
Music by Henry Jackman
Cinematography John Mathieson
Studio Marvel Entertainment, Dune Entertainment, Bad Hat Harry
Productions, and Donners' Company
Distributed by 20th Century Fox (United States/Worldwide)
Release Date: June 3, 2011
Running time 132 minutes
X-Men: First Class
Review by Jason Donner
We've endured two terrible sequels since
the X-Men movies last gleamed with the pure awesomeness of a
true Summer blockbuster and now, like Star Trek and James Bond,
it's getting a reboot up its butt to shake some of the tedium off and,
by the looks of things, this is something that should have been done a
long time ago.
X-Men: First Class, a sort-of prequel and kind-of reboot
to the X-Men movies hoping to shake off the stink of The
Last Stand and Wolverine. So far, so good!
Taking one giant step back into the
1960's right in the lap of the Cuban Missile Crisis, X-Men: First
Class documents how a young Professor Xavier (played very well by
James McAvoy) first assembles his X-Men. Among them is a young
Magneto (played equally well by Michael Fassbender) dealing with the
fresh pain of his parents deaths at the hands of the Nazis.
It's a very scary time for the world.
Not only is every collected human on the planet staring down the
barrel at the very real threat of nuclear war, but the very first
mutants are beginning to immerge and, while man of them stay hidden
out of fear, some of them believe that they are the next step in human
evolution and they will do anything -- including that before mentioned
nuclear war -- to insure that they wind up on top of the heap.
That group is the Hellfire Club and it's
headed by a man named Sebastian Shaw, played by Kevin Bacon who looks
like he's having the time of his life playing someone so suave.
Shaw wants nuclear war because he has a somewhat-religious belief that
mutants were born of the atom and will evolve by it.
Honestly, Shaw's rather James Bond plan
doesn't matter, because I wouldn't even call him the main antagonist
of the story. That's not to insult Mr. Bacon at all because he
is really fun in this movie and he's named after one of my favorite
things in the universe, he just has the unfortunate luck of simply
being a cinematic means to an end.
The true confrontational meat in this
story is Magneto and his justifiable anger and need for revenge.
If X-Men: First Class has a main villain, it would be the man Magneto
is to become. Watching Erik go from being angry and unsure of
himself to the supervillain he is by the end of the picture is
enrapturing mostly because many of the decisions he makes are
decisions I can't say I wouldn't make myself. It's impossible to
say that Professor X or Magneto is entirely right or entirely wrong
and it's that kind of moral ambiguity that makes the movie so
interesting. Tearing The Golden Gate Bridge out of place and
using it to cross over to Alcatraz to kill a bunch of scientists is
evil... having incompatible goals is something else all together.
There are many other things in this
movie that makes it work. The secondary characters are fun and
interesting, there are some clever action sequences with some clever
uses of powers, and some character archs that you simply never see
coming. I know the whole Mystique origin story threw me for a
loop, but it made perfect sense as it played out.
There are also two cameos in this movie.
One is subtle while the other is not -- the one that is not could very
well be one of the best cameos in the history of cameos.
Not only is X-Men First Class the best
X-Men movie, but it could also be the best Marvel superhero movie so
far -- at the very least, it's on par with the first Iron Man movie.
I simply enjoyed this movie; It was wonderfully written, smartly
paced, and was full of great actors playing great characters. I
wish all superhero movies could be like this!