X-Men First Class is the complex and intriguing origin story of how Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) start as the closest friends, but grow apart by their different theories of mutant’s role in humanity and the truth behind the Cuban missile crisis.
I was weary of another origin story from the X-men lexicon as the last origin tale was so horribly mediocre. I did my best to not get my hopes up as I firmly believe about 60% of the outcome of a movie is based on your perceptions of it before you even see it. Therefore I went into First Class with a clean slate.
The film is a very strong installment in the X-men library, much more so than the last two films. The film is not heavy on action, but the characters, and the actors who portray them, keep the audience involved on a dramatic level. Not a single X-man has a sunny back-story, but we want them to overcome the odds because most of us can feel like mutants in our own right. Mystique is portrayed as a young girl simply insecure about her looks. Beast is a brilliant scientist plagued by his big feet. The beauty of X-men thematically and the reason we watch their tragic stories is because we have all felt like an outsider at one point. First Class focuses on this outsider theme wonderfully which makes up for the explosions every five minutes that is stuffed into most superhero films.
It starts off strong and I love the intertwined stories of Xavier and Magneto as they grow up. It plays out like a real friendship could because they come from totally different backgrounds yet are united by the same goal, mutant freedom, but tear apart because of the path they want to take to achieve the goal. James McAvoy is kind of an everyman actor where he has an incredible range and I thought he brought real depth to Professor X. Michael Fassbender is so strong as Erik Lensherr I almost forgot he becomes the enemy. I was also pleasantly surprised by Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw. I was worried he would be way too over the top of a villain, but he fit into the antagonist role with delightful evil.
The film did suffer some corny lines and scenes, but the storyline is awesome. The running time is bustier than some other Marvel films, which for me is only a plus as they always feel rushed. What it lacks from other super-hero films is that “oh cool” moment. There is never a point where you’re really blown away by something you’ve just seen.
It took me a long time to write this review because I love X-men, and it took me awhile to really discover how I felt about this one. At first, I was a little disappointed with the lack of action, but I couldn’t get the movie out of my head and that’s when I realized I truly enjoyed it.
Technically: 8; Entertainment: 9; Overall: 8.5