X-Men: First Class

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X-Men: First Class - The Rise of Magneto (No Spoilers)

Jun 7, 2011
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Bang For The Buck

Pros:Good cast.  Entertaining movie.

Cons:Doesn't seem to be true to the comics.  Several characters not that developed.

The Bottom Line: X-Men: First Class is an entertaining movie with popular characters.  Fans of the X-Men will probably find something to like.


The X-Men have been popular characters for a long time in comics, cartoons, and movies.  I've enjoyed the movies, even when I've thought there have been some issues.  I just saw the newest movie to feature the characters, X-Men: First Class.

X-Men: First Class doesn't follow the first three movies or the one focused on Wolverine.  This movie is a prequel that goes back to show how things for some of the characters began.  Some things tie in fine with the other movies while other little things have been changed and don't tie in as well.  The same thing happened with X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  

I am only going to briefly discuss the plot of X-Men: First Class.  People who prefer not to know more about the plot will want to skip the next paragraph.

** Minor Plot Discussion **

In 1962, Charles Xavier is finishing up his thesis on genetic mutation.  Charles has telepathic abilities that he usually keeps from people.  CIA agent Moira MacTaggert is working on a case and discovers that some of the people involved are mutants.  She looks for an expert on genetic mutations and finds Charles, getting him to help her look for her suspect, Sebastian ShawErik Lensherr, who has the ability to move metal objects, is also looking for Sebastian, but for a different reason.  Charles and Erik meet and they become friends while working with the CIA to track down Sebastian.  The two of them also start finding other people with mutant abilities and training them to use their abilities.

** End of Minor Plot Discussion **

I stayed through the credits and there is no scene at the end of them.

I am far from an expert on the characters from the X-Men comics, but I have learned more about them over the years.  The origins and backstories for the characters have been established in the comics.  X-Men: First Class takes a few basic things from those origins and throws out most of them while making small changes to things here and there.  While I did really enjoy the movie, some of the little changes did bug me a bit.  I'm guessing there were more changes that I didn't pick up on since I'm not as familiar with all the characters.  People that have read the comics for years will probably notice more differences and could be more bothered by them.  

Charles and Erik did have a friendship before they went their separate ways.  That is handled different in the movie than it had been in the comics.  The mutants do work together as a team, though they aren't using the name X-Men.  The change that is bothering me the most is Mystique working with Charles and having a friendship with him.  She was never part of the X-Men and it is just weird for her to be with them now.  I'm sure that was just done because she was a popular character in the first movies.  This movie does a few things that contradict things from the other movies and those contradictions did annoy me.  I've read that this movie is supposed to be launching a new series of X-Men movies that aren't connected to the first ones.  I don't know how true that is, but I don't really like it.  I don't mind movies focused on earlier events with the characters.  I just think it would have been better if the movie had been truer to the source material and the things previously established in the first movies, especially the first two movies since they were so well done.

While X-Men: First Class does show both Charles and Erik, there is a bit more background on Erik shared.  The movie begins with a scene that looks very much like the opening scene in the first X-Men movie with a young Erik.  Some time is also taken to show how he is encouraged to use his developing powers, though there isn't a lot of detail.  As an adult, he's rather angry and I can see why he is that way with what he's been through.  Charles is more calm and centered and already on the path of wanting to find a way to live peacefully with non mutants.  With everything else that is going on in the movie, I feel like there wasn't enough time to fully develop the friendship between Charles and Erik.  When they are older, even when they are at odds, the friendship still shines through.  It just doesn't seem like the foundation presented in this movie is strong enough for that to happen.  There are moments, but overall, it just feels too rushed.  The movie does show Erik turning down a path and starting to become Magneto.

In addition to dealing with abilities they can't really control yet, the characters in X-Men: First Class end up involved in an  event that actually happened.  The movie provides an explanation for how all the characters are involved in the real event that makes sense.  The mutants don't all get along well or have the same ideas on how to deal with being mutants.  How the characters deal with those things are dealt with during the movie and add some complications to the movie.  The story is interesting and works well overall without getting too complicated.  Things are resolved while also leaving open the possibility of more movies.

There is a good amount of action in X-Men: First Class.  There are fights between various characters that are done well and look cool.  Most of the characters in the movie have some sort of powers and all the different powers are used.  Some of the powers, like Charles's telepathic abilities, are more subtle and other character, like Erik, can do things that are more noticeable.  The way the powers are shown in the movie is cool, especially for Alex/Havoc.  Mystique/Raven looks like a regular young woman for much of the movie, but she does shape change a few times.  She stays in her natural blue state more and more later in the movie, though she is wearing clothes instead of basically being naked like she is in the other movies.  She does turn up in her natural blue state with no clothes once or twice.  The different special effects are done well and look good without overwhelming what is going on.

Violence does turn up in several scenes of X-Men: First Class.  The violence isn't extremely graphic, though some of what happens is more disturbing or upsetting.  Erik has some definite anger issues that sort of deals with by using his power.  He is not someone to tick off.  A lot of the violence is done either by Erik or Sebastian.  The movie is a bit too violent for younger children and parents should see the movie before letting children see it.  The movie is rated PG-13 and it really isn't a family movie.  

X-Men: First Class has several characters, some of which aren't developed as well as the others.  Some of them do start using other names, or at least the suggestion of the name is introduced.  In some ways, Erik evolves the most over the course of the movie, and in other ways, he doesn't change much at all.  It is understandable why he has anger about some things and doesn't think mutants and people can live peacefully together.  He does bad things, but there is a hint of goodness lurking in him.  His origin story is one of the strongest and it provides a believable reason for why he basically turned against most of the world.  Michael Fassbender is really good in the part, though I do miss seeing Ian McKellen in the part.

Charles is a very intelligent man who hopes that mutants and humans can get along.  He does use his ability to read minds to give himself an advantage at times, but it is always when he is trying to do good.  He is a lot like the older Charles from the previous movies, though he is a little more fun loving.  He even attempts to pick up women with a really lame line.  James McAvoy does well with the part, though again, I miss Patrick Stewart.  It is just weird to see someone else play Charles.

Raven/Mystique shows hints of the woman she will become, but she is still a little uncertain at times.  She doesn't have the confidence she will have later in life, though the foundation is there.  She is still trying to fit in most of the time, though she wants to be accepted in her natural form, which Erik does.  Jennifer Lawrence is fine in the part.  From what I know about her in the comics, her backstory has been changed a lot for this movie.

Moira MacTaggert is a CIA agent who comes across mutants and goes looking for an expert in genetics.  She accepts the strange things that go on fairly well and she develops a strong friendship with Charles.  Rose Bryne does well with the part.  She has been changed for the movie as well, becoming a CIA agent instead of a research scientist.  Hank McCoy is a very intelligent research scientist working with the CIA.  He struggles with being different even before something goes wrong and turns him into Beast.  Oliver Platt turns up in a few scenes as a CIA agent working with Moira and Charles.  He is only identified as Man in Black in the credits.  

Charles and Erik manage to find several other people with mutant abilities, most of whom are teenagers.  There is a cameo of one of the better known members of the X-Men.  The mutants that train with Charles and Erik don't receive a lot of attention.  Angel is working in a strip club.  She has fly like wings and can spit what look like fire balls.  I never heard of her before, but when I did some research, I discovered she has been in some of the comics.  Alex Summers decides to be called Havoc.  He has a very strong power that allows him to shoot blasts of energy.  He's actually the brother of Scott/Cyclops, though Scott is never mentioned in this movie.  Darwin is able to adapt to different things to survive.  Sean Cassidy can scream in some kind of sonic way that breaks things and allows him to fly.  He decides to use the name Banshee.  

Sebastian Shaw is the main villain of the movie.  He is in charge of the Hellfire Club, though not that much with the club is really shared.  He is determined to start Word War III so mutants can rise up and take over.  He can absorb different types of energy and then use it against others.  He is willing to do anything to reach his objectives.  He's a really good villain and Kevin Bacon is really good in the part.  I had no clue that he was in the movie before I saw it.

Emma Frost is telepathic and she can also make her skin diamond hard.  She is basically Sebastian's second in command, though he doesn't seem to see her as an equal.  January Jones is fine in the part.  Azazel works with Sebastian and has the ability to teleport.  He reminds me of a lot of Nightcrawler except he is a different color.  When I looked him up after seeing the movie, I remembered why he seemed so much like Nightcrawler to me.  Riptide is another mutant working with Sebastian.  Riptide is able to create whirlwinds.  I hadn't heard of him either.  

From what I know about the Hellfire Club in the comics, I don't think Azazel and Riptide were members.  They were really flat characters and I can't even remember them saying much of anything.  It is almost like the makers just went through and picked the mutant characters with the powers they thought would look the coolest in the movie without giving consideration to where they actually fit into the X-Men world.  Some of that has happened in the previous movies as well.

Main Cast
    
Kevin Bacon - Sebastian Shaw
Rose Bryne - Moira MacTaggert
Michael Fassbender - Erik/Magneto
Nicholas Hoult - Hank McCoy/Beast
January Jones - Emma Frost
Jennifer Lawrence - Raven/Mystique
James McAvoy - Charles Xavier

Matthew Vaughn - Director

X-Men: First Class works well as an entertaining movie even though I do think there are a few issues, mostly with changes to characters.  People that have liked the other X-Men movies will probably find something to like about this one.  Fans of the comics may be bothered by some of the changes.

This review is part of elvisdo's 2011 Funny Pages Write Off.   

X-Men Related Reviews
X-Men ~ X2: X-Men United ~ X-Men: The Last Stand ~ X-Men: The Legend of Wolverine ~ X-Men Origins: Wolverine ~ Ultimate X-Men ~ Wolverine: Inside the World of the Living Weapon ~


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