In this exciting prequel to the X-Men series, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) — the future Professor X and Magneto — are best friends dedicated to harnessing their powers and promoting the education of fellow mutants during the turbulent 1960s. The duo works together to stop a powerful adversary that threatens mankind, but their ideological differences drive them apart and turn them into ferocious enemies.
Rating: 8 out of 10
It’s amazing how popular and influential the Wolverine character can be. That characters’ inclusion in the original X-Men series caused a lot of the others to be largely ignored. Professor X, Magneto, Cyclops, Iceman, and many others were barely glazed over, much less explored in any satisfying way. In fact, Wolverine was such a popular character that Fox gave the green light to a $150 million budget for his own film and origin story. So, with “X-men First Class,” and no Wolverine to be found (except for maybe the quick funny cameo), how would an X-men film fare?
Well, it turns out to be the best in the entire series. A lot of the credit for that goes to director Matthew Vaughn ( Kick-Ass, Stardust) who makes sure action never comes at the expense of plot and character development. Each of the primary characters in the X-Men First Class are perfectly cast and fleshed out in a way that makes us care what happens to them. I remember when I watched the first 3 flicks in the series that I thought they were all well-made films but none ever engaged me enough to truly care what happened to any of them. The effects were great, the action was great, and the plots were decent. However, many other comic book films made since have caused me to ignore them. The first two Spiderman films, “Batman Begins,” “Dark Knight,” and the Hellboy films are all better. I suppose the difficulty with the X-Men series is that it never truly lended itself to a two hour movie format. There’s just too much back story, too many characters, and too big a world to explore that it’s impossible to explain it all, especially to the non-comic book readers. That’s where “X-Men: First Class” gets it just right. It takes a step back and allows us to slowly get initiated into the world and character relationships to the point where all the other films will make a lot more sense. Is it on par with the greatest comic book films? No, but it’s a lot of fun and works even for those that have never opened a comic book.