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X-Men Reviews 2

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:16 pm

http://www.westport-news.com/default/article/MOVIES-Before-they-were-X-Men-Panda-2-3-D-1408203.php

MOVIES: Before they were 'X-Men,' 'Panda 2' 3-D, and Ferrell plays it straight
Updated 05:41 p.m., Friday, June 3, 2011

Following are reviews of the latest movies to hit area theaters by Susan Granger:

"X-MEN: FIRST CLASS"

"The Godfather," "Star Wars," "Star Trek" and "Batman" did it. Now it's time for the "X-Men" origins story, a prequel that takes the superhero outsiders back to their roots.

During the World War II Poland prologue, while telekinetic Erik Lehnsherr (Bill Milner) is in a concentration camp dominated by steely Nazi scientist Klaus Schmidt (Kevin Bacon), later known as Sebastian Shaw, young Charles Francis Xavier (Laurence Belcher), isolated in upstate New York, discovers he's not the only genetically "different" person on Earth.

Skip ahead to the early 1960s during Cold War era, when now-Professor Xavier (James McAvoy), who possesses the power to read and manipulate people's minds, is hired by CIA agent Moira McTaggert (Rose Byrne) to hunt down villainous Sebastian Shaw (Bacon) and his icy sidekick Emma Frost (January Jones). To that end, Xavier recruits and trains other mutants, like shape-shifting teenager Raven Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence), who becomes seductive Mystique; athlete/scientist Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), who becomes blue-furred Beast, and his future nemesis, Holocaust survivor Erik Lehnsherr (charismatic Michael Fassbender), who becomes Magneto.

The ideologies of Xavier and Lehnsherr are quite different: violence-prone Lehnsherr regards mutants as a superior step on the revolutionary process, while humanistic Xavier opts for acceptance as an equals. Balding but not yet confined to a wheelchair, Xavier establishes himself as a charming, peaceful revolutionary, leading his worldwide organization of outcasts, including Lucas Till as Alex Summers/Havoc and Caleb Landry Jones as Sean Cassidy/Banshee, as they become involved in the clandestine politics of the Cuban missile crisis.

Written by Ashley Miller, Zach Stentz, Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn ("Kick-Ass"), it's episodic by its sprawling concept, and some subplots are better than others. Yet what makes this fifth "X-Men" installment particularly effective is the astute casting: Michael Fassbender ("Inglorious Basterds"), James McAvoy ("Wanted"), Kevin Bacon ("Frost/Nixon"), Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone), Nicholas Hoult ("About a Boy"), January Jones ("Mad Men") and Rose Byrne ("Damages").

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "X-Men: First Class" is an explosive, adventurous 8, as comic-book movies go.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:17 pm

http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/06/x-men_first_class_review.html

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class Is Pleasantly Second Rate

6/3/11 at 10:30 AM

Photo: 20th Century Fox

Why is it that in movies, comic-book superhero sagas run out of steam by the third installment? In the first part, the superhero attains his or her power; in the second, he or she weighs the demands of life and human relationships against the responsibility of superheroism (and its attendant fame); and in the third … there are different villains and more occasions for hand-wringing and the star’s fee has become so huge that the studio just wants to wipe the slate clean and go back to the beginning — which is, narratively speaking, the easy part of the whole arc. (Plus, the fanboys have closer emotional ties to their heroes in the earlier, nerdier stages.) In the case of the X-Men saga, which plunged to earth in part three under the hacktacular Brett Ratner after Bryan Singer had found his wings in X2, the decision to start over must have been particularly easy. The old principals are old principals, while Hugh Jackman as Wolverine now has his own “Origins” plotline. And there really is an earlier story to tell, a good one, about the youngish Professor Charles Xavier’s decision, way back in 1962, to identify, shelter, and educate the planet’s population of mutants and his fundamental rift with the separatist mutant known as Magneto.

X-Men: First Class is thoroughly second-rate, but it’s pleasant enough. Where Singer often let his “It Gets Better”–style gay-rights subtext smother the sheer pop exhilaration of the material, the new director, Matthew Vaughn, allows nothing to bog him down. The even-less-talented acolyte of Guy Ritchie, Vaughn developed his self-consciously hip, ironic style at the feet of his petit-maestro and wouldn’t know how to put real emotions onscreen if he even had any. Nazis round up Jews for concentration camps, characters whom we care about are brutally murdered, there’s an imminent nuclear holocaust — and it all just flies by. Vaughn does linger on his female characters’ miniskirts, though. He has priorities.

He’s lucky he also has two first-rate actors in the lead: blue-eyed Scots cutie James McAvoy as Xavier and German-Irish chameleon Michael Fassbender as Erik, soon to be the human magnet dubbed Magneto. McAvoy doesn’t have Patrick Stewart’s stentorian chops, but he’s able to drop his natural jauntiness on cue and rise to several momentous occasions, and Fassbender turns the chip on Erik’s shoulder into a magnetic force all its own. They team up to join forces with the CIA (represented by Oliver Platt) to battle a Dr. Mengele–like supervillain called Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), but Erik is only onboard because Shaw exterminated his mom. Unlike the staunchly accommodationist Xavier, the future Magneto shares Shaw’s militant anti-humanism. He has witnessed the way governments round up the undesirables.

Part of the fun in “prequels” like X-Men: First Class is seeing how characters you’ve never met evolve into characters you’ve known for years. In this case, the pivotal figure is Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), the blue-skinned shape-shifter who becomes Xavier’s surrogate sister — but is destined to grow into Magneto’s most formidable ally, Mystique. Lawrence is a likable presence (she still has her delectable baby fat) and makes her mutant radicalization convincing — but not her defection from the side of her beloved Xavier. The movie has a lot of balls in the air and Vaughn doesn’t focus on any one too long. He has an easier time with split-screen training montages than, you know, feelings.

As an American secret agent, Rose Byrne has a promising first scene in which she impulsively strips down to her lingerie to follow the guy who played Aaron in 24 into a swank nightclub, but she fades into the background once McAvoy and Fassbender do their male-bonding thing. January Jones as an icy telepath strides around in a white miniskirt and pillbox hat, and affects a state of exquisite boredom and superiority — cleverly making her ineptitude as an actress look like a creative choice. By far the most passionate performance comes from Bacon, who has evidently decided that if you’re going to play a villain who exults in his villainy, you don’t half-exult: You throw back your head and throw up your arms and groooooove on your evil. It’s too bad that, for reasons I can’t spell out, what should be his mightiest moment — his last in the picture — is his most inert.

The climax is the biggest letdown, a giant hash of crosscutting and unremarkable (in an era in which we’ve seen everything) CGI, but it does throw a whole new light on the Cuban Missile Crisis. The fact is, it’s a lot less disturbing to believe that the U.S. and Soviet Union came this close to nuking each other out of existence because of unseen psychotic mutants than by humans whom Christopher Hitchens has rightly called “high-risk narcissists."
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:59 pm

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/06/03/weekend-movie-wrap-x-men-first-class-beginners/

Weekend Movie Wrap: X-Men First Class, Beginners
June 3, 2011 10:18 AM

In this film publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, from left, Caleb Landry Jones, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Lucas Till are shown in a scene from “X-Men: First Class.” (credit: Murray Close/20th Century Fox/AP)
mcgee

Reporting Katie McGee

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Comic book fans, get ready, the action-packed franchise that first hit movie screens in 2000 and has since grossed more than $700 million is now taking us back to the beginning, Katie McGee reports.

“X-Men: First Class,” the prequel to the X-Men movies, follows the story of the two men who became Professor X and Magneto.

James McAvoy steps in as Charles Xavier, with Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr.

Set in the 60′s, the young mutants come together, harnessing and learning about their powers.

With Cold War tensions building, the line between good and evil begins to form.

The film features Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, January Jones as Emma Frost, and Oliver Platt as the government agent known as “The Man In Black.”
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:00 pm

http://www.starpulse.com/news/Two_Jews_On_Film/2011/06/03/review_xmen_first_class_two_jews_on_fi1

Review: 'X-Men First Class' 'Two Jews On Film' Just Like Prof X & Magneto Go Their Separate Ways (Video)
June 3rd, 2011 10:04am EDT

By Joan Alperin Schwartz: Right off the bat, I have to say that I gave 'X-Men First Class' 5 bagels out of 5. I absolutely loved it. The director, Matthew Vaughn did the 'X Men' franchise proud.

'X-Men First Class' is a prequel. Before Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) was Professor X and Eric Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) became Magneto, they were just two mutant guys discovering their powers and figuring out how to use them. Charles and Eric were also on the same side.

Charles is your typical nice guy...goodlooking, brilliant, and super rich. He's also an Oxford graduate whose speciality is genetics. Charles also happens to be the world's most powerful telepath.

Eric comes from an entirely different background. When we meet him, it's the 1940's and WW11 is in full force. Eric and his parents are rounded up in Poland and taken to Auschwitz. When Eric is separated from his parents, he freaks out big time and winds up bending a heavy metal gate with his mind in order to follow them. Bad move...This gets the attention of a deranged Nazi scientist, (were there any other kind)Dr. Schmidt (Kevin Bacon). The good doctor is determined to fully unleash and harness Erik's powers. When the boy resists, Schmidt shoots Eric's mother dead right in front of him. That does the trick.

Twenty years later, Eric is a grown man. He has one mission in life: track down and kill Dr. Schmidt...aka Sebastian Shaw. Shaw, thanks to his experiments on Eric, now has the ability to absorb energy and re-channel it into superhuman strength. Not good...considering the guy is a sociopath and thinks the world would be a much better place without humans.

When Charles and Eric meet it's the 1960's. They discover that they are kindered spirits and even though Charles lives to protect and Erik lives to destroy, they become friends and start to work together.

After Charles and Erik become aware of the existence of other mutants, they also discover a plot that puts them in the middle of the escalating tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union which could lead to the world as we know it...coming to an end.

Hint: The Cuban Missle crisis. For those of you who weren't paying attention in school, you can google it. Anyway this leads to an uneasy alliance between the mutants and a covert U.S. government agency within the CIA called Division X, headed by MIB (Oliver Platt) He sends Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) to keep an eye on his new recruits.

What's wonderful about this film is that we see how it all began...How the mutants...you've all come to know and love...learned to harness their powers and embrace their uniqueness.

You meet the hot blue-skinned shape shifter chick with superhuman agility, Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult) Cassidy/Banshee - (think sonic blasts) played by Caleb Landry Jones...Angel Salvadore/Wings...Yep she can fly...(Zoe Kravitz) and Alex Summers, aka Havok (Lucas Till) - He's the dude who can emit rings of super-heated energy waves, causing his targets to burst into flame.

And we mustn't forget, Emma Frost (January Jones) Miss Frost is Shaw's right hand lady. She's also a sexy, telepath with diamond-like indestructible skin. You definitely don't want to piss her off.

How did Charles wind up in a wheelchair? How did the X-Men come together? Where did the X-Mansion and Cerebro come from? How did Charles and Eric become arch enemies? All these burning questions are answered in 'X-Men First Class'.

The film opens in theaters, Friday, June 3, 2011. You're in for a first class ride...no matter what John says.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:03 pm

http://www.starpulse.com/news/Willie_Krischke/2011/06/07/a_lot_like_the_first_filmbut_in_all_th

'X-Men: First Class' A Lot Like The First Film... But In All the Right Ways
June 7th, 2011 3:38pm EDT

Unlike most superhero/comic book movies, there’s an overabundance of story in “X-Men: First Class. There are points in its 132-minute running time when it feels far more like an epic miniseries than a summer blockbuster. It’s surprisingly willing to downplay its big action sequences in order to focus on character development; the action is there, but it just doesn’t feel terribly important.

And yet, for the most part, “First Class” doesn’t feel overstuffed and rushed, or overlong and talky. There are a lot of characters to introduce after all, though director Michael Vaughn wisely capitalizes on the fact that we’ve met most of them before, and so already know a little about their personalities. (This film has been talked about as a reboot; but there’s no reason it can’t function as a prequel to the existing films. Issues of aging are mostly handled by making aging not an issue for the mutants involved.) Of course there’s Charles Xavier and Magneto (played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, respectively) and Mystique is back, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who actually allows the character to speak; the film never explains how she becomes mute by the later film; the fact that Rebecca Romijn-Stamos played her may be reason enough. We also meet, for the first time, Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy, Zoe Kravitz as Angel and Lucas Till as Alex Summers, among others.

They’re all angsty teenagers with abilites/mutations that make them freaks/superheroes, and this has been the hallmark of the X-Men franchise; it’s about waking up one morning and discovering you’re different from everyone else in the world. ”First Class” plays those themes in a way that may be overly familiar; the debates that go on in this film were awfully similar to the ones in the first film, with not much new added. At times, it feels like actors are just trading places, with James McAvoy stepping in for Patrick Stewart, arguing for peace and reconciliation, while Kevin Bacon plays Ian McKellen, insisiting that mutants are better and mankind is coming to an evolutionary end.

Speaking of Bacon, he leads the bad guys as Sebastien Shaw, a former Nazi who killed Magneto’s mother and thoroughly warped him into the villain he’s destined to become. And, much as in the first film, he’s flanked by mutant cronies who are quite deadly but don’t talk much. (One of them, red-skinned, quick as a cat, reminded me too much of Darth Maul.) The primary one — and the only one with actual lines — is Emma Frost, a telepath who can turn herself to diamond, though that ability doesn’t seem particularly useful. Bacon and January Jones seem borrowed from a Bond movie actually from the sixties; their world-domination plot is appropriately ridiculous, and Jones is as stiff and sexual as a Bond girl/villain. There’s a scene where she undresses and gets it on with a Russian dignitary, or at least a projected image of her does (she’s a telepath, BTW) while she sits and watches, disconnected, disinterested. This seems to be Jones’ approach to the entire film, and from what I’ve seen, to acting in general. Bacon, though, is excellent, playing his villian with lots of whispers and creepy closeness. He’s clearly having fun, and it’s fun to watch him.

“X-Men: First Class” stretches out like a serial comic book, knowing when to ramp up the tension momentarily, when to let things stretch out, and, ultimately, how to bring it all to a satisfying conclusion. It’s a great revamp for the “X-men” franchise, an entertaining and energetic film that reinterests us in characters that had grown stale and maudlin in the last few films. It’s clearly a setup for more sequels, and leaves me interested to see where things are going next.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:06 pm

http://www.hollywood.com/news/MindFood_X_Men_First_Class_Surprises/7803344

MindFood: 'X-Men: First Class' Surprises

By Peter Hall , Special to Hollywood.com | Thursday, June 02, 2011

X-Men: First Class posterEvery summer there are a handful of movies that you can’t help but preemptively geek out over. Balls-out blockbusters like Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Captain America are the kind of big screen beacons we need during the cold and dry first few months of the year when the only kind of escapist action movies out are dreck like Priest, Season of the Witch and Sucker Punch. And every summer those balls-out blockbusters end up disappointing in one way or another, so every year we’ve got to trim down the number of movies we think are actually going to stand the test of time. Of this summer’s box office crop, X-Men: First Class fell into the category of blockbusters I’d completely written off.

Oh how wrong I was.

Not counting films on the festival circuit, X-Men: First Class is the first movie this year that I’d truly consider a must-see movie. Oh, I don’t think it’s flawless. It’s a little cheesy at times, it’s a little long, and January Jones is a real bore as Emma Frost, but those three complaints are minor compared to the film at large, which is a truly character-driven, kick-ass reboot of a downhill franchise that reminds we what it’s like to love a superhero movie again. So if you, like I had, have written off X-Men: First Class, here’s why you need to see it this weekend.

The Actors

One of the most consistent compliments I heard about Thor was how much it showcased Chris Hemsworth as an A-list leading man. And while I don’t disagree with that - the man is pure charisma - Michael Fassbender as Magneto makes Hemsworth look like a fan auditioning for the role of a superhero. This isn’t a case of someone fitting the role very well, this is a case of someone being the role completely. Fassbender isn’t playing a mutant holocaust survivor our for revenge, he is a mutant holocaust survivor. It’s one of those rare performances that is so perfect you simply cannot picture anyone else doing it justice. I can picture other people as Thor or Batman or Harry Potter, but Fassbender’s performance here is so singular that no one else can compete. If there is any one reason to see this movie, it’s Fassbender.

But what makes X-Men: First Class even better is that, though Fassbender may steal the show at every turn, it hardly falls flat without him. James McAvoy is great as a young, groovy version of Professor X that is very, very different from Patrick Stewart’s take. Jennifer Lawrence is solid and alluring as Mystique and Kevin Bacon is killer as the film’s villain, Sebastian Shaw. The only weak point acting-wise is January Jones, an actress who has so little on-screen personality a conspiracy theorist might assume that Fassbender is some kind of acting vampire that sucked her life dry before each take. But she’s hardly a main character, so it’s no big loss. Plus, a batch of very cool character actors pop up throughout the flick, each bringing an always-welcome “Woah, I had no idea that guy was in this movie!” feeling.

A scene from Fox's X-Men: First Class

The Setting

I don’t know why I wasn’t instantly excited about a period piece X-Men movie. I certainly should have been, but there was just something about it that seemed like it came with a hidden asterisk due to memories of other period piece hero flicks like The Phantom and The Shadow, but damned if Vaughn and company don’t pull it off perfectly here. The setting isn’t played purely for nostalgia or anything like that, it’s entirely contextual. It has to do with a time of persecution, of feeling isolated and different; a time when the scientific breakthroughs were as big as our government’s covert operations. It’s a perfect fit for the X-Men.

It’s also an admirable decision just because it’s such a risky move for Fox. The current generation of 13 year-old's aren’t going to remember much about the ‘60s. Their movies and TV shows aren’t still obsessed with the cold war the same way they were twenty years ago. So for Fox to try to make that time period relevant again in a big way is pretty damned cool in my book.

The Action

One of the reasons I wasn’t so excited for X-Men: First Class was because of how disappointed I was with director Matthew Vaughn’s last crack at making a comic book movie, Kick-Ass. My failing there was that I should have remembered that the movie overall may have been a let down, but at least the action was awesome. I’m happy to say that Vaughn keeps refining his action chops with each subsequent film.

What makes the action sequences here so great is that they strike an ideal balance between how the characters would behave and what’s going to make audiences go nuts. The inability to strike that balance is where a lot of movies suffer. When you just try to devise things that are going to make for big spectacle, you get movies like Transformers and the last couple of Pirates movies. And as cool and elaborate as some of those set pieces can be, most of that action is hollow and meaningless because it all feels so inorganic. That’s not the case with First Class, which always stays on top of its game when it comes to delivering bad-ass moments that don’t feel forced at all.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:07 pm

http://www.ontheredcarpet.com/Mr--Moviefone-reviews-X-Men:-First-Class/8168363

Mr. Moviefone reviews 'X-Men: First Class'

2011-06-03 by 'Mr. Moviefone' Russ Leatherman

Sometimes when a movie is so big, the other studios just clear out of the way and give it the weekend all to itself. That was the case with "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" and such is the case again this weekend as we discover how it all began in "X-Men: First Class."

In this prequel, we get to know the origins of some of the characters and we dive into the makings of the rivalry between Professor X and Magneto. Once on the same team, they're fighting to save the world from nuclear destruction.

But a clash turns them into arch enemies, with Professor X leading the mutants in the fight for good and Magneto's only mission to spread chaos. Starring are James McAvoy, January Jones, Michael Fassbender and Kevin Bacon.

The Reel Deal: Look, I wasn't a big fan of this franchise, but I am now, because this movie does it right. It starts at the beginning. Now I know what the heck is going on. It's not like wait, "Why is there a wolfman with razors coming out his hands?" And, "Hey, why is she blue and naked?" Plus, good story, good acting, great action and effects means that "X-Men: First Class" is first class. I'm in.

In limited release, we have "Beginners," which explores the twists and turns of love and family as Ewan McGregor meets an unpredictable woman who makes him reflect on the lessons learned from his gay father.

There's also "Beautiful Boy" about a couple working through their feelings after their son carries out a mass shooting at his university before committing suicide.

And to lighten things up a bit is an all-new adventure in IMAX 3D."Arabia" gives you a front row seat to the exotic sights and history of the region, from its ancient ruins to its natural wonders.
.
(Copyright ©2011 OnTheRedCarpet.com. All Rights Reserved.)
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:08 pm

http://www.cumberlink.com/news/opinion/blogs/now_showing/article_1fbf9a1a-8dcf-11e0-95f6-001cc4c002e0.html

MOVIE BLOG: What to watch this weekend

By Naomi Creason, Sentinel Reporter, June 3, 2011 | Posted: Friday, June 3, 2011 6:46 am

AP Photo In this film publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, from left, Caleb Landry Jones, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Lucas Till are shown in a scene from "X-Men: First Class."

It is the only major movie opening this weekend and it is the second of the major Marvel comic book movies to come out this summer, and for most of the year, a lot of people had their reservations.

On the upside, you had a cast with James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne and Kevin Bacon. On the downside, well, there were a lot of things that had people worried about the movie.

The production schedule was tight. Casting didn't seem to happen as fast as the other comic book movies. The characters weren't anything like people were expecting (other than the two leads being Professor X and Magneto). The cast was still shooting the film well into this year. The trailer was released much later than trailers for other summer movies, and although it was good, the early posters (and let's face it, pretty much the rest of the posters released by Fox) were the kinds even the most ardent fans couldn't profess to loving.

And then the reviews started rolling in.

The British got the movie Wednesday with an early showing last week for reviewers, and so far, the response to the movie has been overwhelmingly positive. Early reports from bloggers indicated that it was the best movie of the franchise (big words considering "X2" is revered by many people) and even the best of all Marvel comic book movies. That fervor has died down somewhat, and I'm reading more down-to-earth responses (mostly from reviewers who aren't huge on X-Men to begin with). However, at 87 percent on RottenTomatoes, "X-Men: First Class" has certainly become a major contender in the comic book movie market. Considering most people were looking at "Thor," "The Green Lantern" and "Captain America" for the summer's big releases and ignoring "X-Men" because of the franchise's troubles ("Wolverine" and "The Last Stand" being craptacular movies), it's kind of nice to see "X-Men: First Class" sneak in and bring the franchise back to where it had been before Brett Ratner took control.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:09 pm

http://www.examiner.com/movies-in-albany/x-men-first-class-first-rate-reboot-review

'X-Men: First Class' first rate reboot

June 2, 2011 5:35 pm ET

Jim Dixon

Capital District Movies Examiner

Like J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek," Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class," opening today in Capital District theaters, is both a prequel and a reboot. And it should certainly change the minds of many audience members were convinced they were watching a franchise in decline after after “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”

Set mainly during the Cold War in the early sixties, this highly entertaining science fiction romp owes at least as much to the early James Bond movies as it does to the universe of Marvel Comics. Longtime antagonists Professor X and Magneto are young men in this story, and while it is James McAvoy’s Professor X who sounds so British you almost expect him to say “The name is Xavier--Charles Xavier,” it is the supposed bad guy who's more Bond-like. Michael Fassbender stars as Eric Lensherr, also known as Magneto, played in the first three movies in the series by Ian McKellan. Fassbender channels the young Sean Connery here, alternately, and sometimes simultaneously, angry and dashing.

McAvoy’s Professor X doesn’t have the zen teacher quite down yet, and when we first see him, he uses his expertise in the field of human genetics and mutation for come-on lines in college bars. He also has hair and the use of his legs, unlike Patrick Stewart’s more familiar portrayal. How Xavier ended up in a wheelchair is eventually explained in this film, although there will be no spoilers here. Suffice it to say it does diverge from backstory established in the original Marvel comics. But the prior “X-Men” movies have all taken liberties and license with the source material, and gotten away with it to a degree that would be unthinkable in “Spider-Man,” or the rival DC heavy-hitters, Superman and Batman.

Kevin Bacon has a great time as the film's heavy, Sebastian Shaw, a character from the comics, reimagined as a Bond villain, complete with customized submarine and a sinister, sexy Girl Friday. January Jones, from AMC’s “Mad Men,” who should be used to sixties’ lingerie, plays fanboy favorite Emma Frost as a telepathic Pussy Galore. Shaw’s scheme, to provoke a nuclear World War III to get rid of the unevolved humans, will seem familiar to fans of the Roger Moore Bond films, and is brilliantly grafted onto an alternate history involving the Cuban Missile Crisis (which has a distinctly Marvel ring to it). The day-glow production design features a situation room set design borrowed from "Dr. Strangelove," which was designed by Ken Adams, who also designed a number of early Bond movies. The movie also wastes no opportunity to get Ms. Jones and Rose Bryne, who also stars in this summer’s “Bridesmaids,” into garter belts (to be fair, the movie is set before pantyhose became popular in the mid-sixties). Fanboys will not object.
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Taken to extreme, this approach could have resulted in “Austin Powers” style parody, and Vaughn, who also directed last year's “Kick-Ass," flirts with disaster on occasion. He never falls off the ledge, however, and the result is energetic and exuberant rather and excessive.

The supporting cast includes some excellent veterans, including Oliver Platt, James Remar, Glenn Morshower (“24”) and Michael Ironside, all of whom shine in small roles. Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”), recently cast to star in “The Hunger Games,” plays the role of the shapeshifting Mystique, played in the earlier movies by Rebecca Romijn, with a touching innocence that’s begging to be destroyed.

In the case of Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult, who plays Hank McCoy, aka Beast, mutations that make the characters look less conventionally human become a metaphor for teenage insecurity over not fitting in. But this is also a movie about the death of trust and innocence, and Mystique emerges as a tragic character who embraces darkness as a response to prejudice. One of the great advantages of science fiction is its ability to tackle weighty social themes wrapped in entertainment. Society’s treatment of mutants in the “X-Men” movies is an obvious, but not preachy, metaphor for racism and all forms of human intolerance.

Unlike most other recent Marvel adaptations, there is no post-end credits scene, and "X-Men" creator Stan Lee does not make a cameo appearance (he did in "X-Men" and "X-Men: The Last Stand").

This prequel not only infuses new blood and new energy into the series that launched the current comic adaptation trend, but raises the bar significantly for the onslaught of genre movies scheduled to flood multiplexes right through next year, at least. Fast-paced, original and highly entertaining, “X-Men: First Class” could easily launch a franchise of its own.

"X-Men: First Class" is now playing at the Bow Tie in Schenectady, the Rotterdam Square Cinema, the Regal Cinemas Crossgates Mall 18, the Regal Cinemas Colonie Center Stadium 13 and the Regal Cinemas Latham Circle Mall 10.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:11 pm

http://www.examiner.com/fanboys-in-national/x-men-first-class-the-name-is-xavier-charles-xavier-review

'X-Men: First Class:' 'The name is Xavier. Charles Xavier.'

June 2, 2011 4:25 pm ET

Jim Dixon

“X-Men: First Class” will almost certainly change the minds of viewers who, after “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” were convinced they were watching a franchise in decline. This prequel not only infuses new blood and new energy into the series that launched the current comic adaptation trend, but raises the bar significantly for the onslaught of genre movies scheduled to flood multiplexes right through next year, at least.

Set mainly during the Cold War in the early sixties, this highly entertaining science fiction romp owes at least as much to the early James Bond movies as it does to the universe of Marvel Comics. Longtime antagonists Professor X and Magneto are young men in this story, and while it is James McAvoy’s (“The Last King of Scotland,” “Atonement,” “Wanted,” “The Conspirator”) Professor X who sounds so British you almost expect him to say “The name is Xavier, Charles Xavier,” it is the supposed bad guy who seems more Bond-like. Michael Fassbender (“300,” “Hunger,” “Inglourious Basterds”), stars as Eric Lensherr, also known as Magneto, played in the first three movies in the series by Ian McKellan. Fassbender is almost channeling the young Sean Connery here, alternately, and sometimes simultaneously, angry and dashing, violent and sexy.

“X-Men: First Class” opens with a haunting recreation of the Auschwitz prologue from Bryan Singer’s 2000 “X-Men.” That scene depicted Eric as a young boy (played by an unbilled Brett Morris) entering the death camp with his parents, demolishing the metal gates with an uncontrollable display of magnetic powers when he’s separated from his mother. The original footage would have been difficult to use, as in “X-Men: First Class” young Eric has additional scenes which required the part to be recast. At least the young actor, Bill Milner, who plays the part here gets screen credit for his heart-rending work. Forced to take part in experiments by a Mengele-like Dr. Schmidt (Kevin Bacon) who wants to harness Eric’s powers, the boy can only stand by helplessly as his mother is shot in an attempt to coerce him to demonstrate the powers he doesn’t understand yet and can’t control.

The audience is unlikely to judge Eric’s post-war vigilante campaign against escaped Nazi war criminals harshly. It also sets the stage for his distrust of normal humans, well-known to audiences of the earlier movies and fans of the “X-Men” comic books. The “only following orders” defense carries little weight with those on the receiving end of those orders.

How Xavier ended up in a wheelchair is eventually explained in this film, although there will be no spoilers here. Suffice it to say it does diverge from backstory established in the original Marvel comics, and contradicts to some degree the opening of "X-Men: The Last Stand." But the prior “X-Men” movies have all taken liberties and license with the source material, and gotten away with it to a degree that would be unthinkable in “Spider-Man,” or the rival DC heavy-hitters, Superman and Batman.
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Bacon reappears in the film as Sebastian Shaw, a character from the comics, reimagined as a Bond villain, complete with customized submarine and a sinister, sexy Girl Friday. January Jones, from AMC’s “Mad Men,” who should be used to sixties’ lingerie, plays fanboy favorite Emma Frost as a telepathic Pussy Galore.

Shaw’s scheme, to provoke a nuclear World War III to get rid of the unevolved humans, is also absolutely Bondian, at least in the movies. Grafting that idea, so familiar to fans of the Roger Moore Bond films, to an alternate history involving the Cuban Missile Crisis (which has a distinctly Marvel ring to it), is inspired.

Production designer Chris Seagers has not just tried to evoke the sixties in his approach to the film’s sets, but clearly tried to evoke the look and feel of the early James Bond movies, designed by Ken Adams. A central situation room set is openly modeled on the “War Room” set from Kubrick’s 1964 “Dr. Strangelove or I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” also designed by Ken Adams. Henry Jackman’s music score is reminiscent of early Bond scores and the end credits sequence recalls the opening credits of “Dr. No.”

The filmmakers waste no opportunity to get Ms. Jones and Rose Bryne, who also stars in this summer’s “Bridesmaids,” into garter belts in this story, set before pantyhose became popular in the mid-sixties, propelled by the dominance of the miniskirt. (Not wearing a garter belt is Jennifer Lawrence, an Academy Award nominee for last year's "Winter's Bone," and who is currently shooting "The Hunger Games," who takes over the role of Mystique with touching innocence and vulnerability.)

Taken to extreme, this approach could have resulted in “Austin Powers” style parody, and director Matthew Vaughn (“Kick-Ass”) flirts with disaster on occasion. He never falls off the ledge, however, and the result is energetic and exuberant rather and excessive.

There is no post-end credits Easter Egg scene, now de rigeur in the movies produced by Marvel Studios (the "X-Men" movies are all distributed by 20th Century Fox). There is also no cameo by Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, who has popped up in most, though not all, Marvel Comics adaptations. “X-Men: First Class,” as would be expected of a superhero movie in this day and age, delivers plenty of big ticket special effects with requisite property damage. Audiences are used to this sort of thing nowadays, and it takes more than that to impress them. Wisely eschewing 3D, which current box office receipts indicate audiences are increasingly skeptical about, Vaughn and writers Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Sheldon Turner have focused on story and character. The result is a movie which is both reboot and prequel, much like J.J. Abrams’ wildly successful “Star Trek” reboot. Fast-paced, original and highly entertaining, “X-Men: First Class” could easily launch a franchise of its own.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:12 pm

http://www.examiner.com/movie-in-boston/x-men-first-class-a-truly-thrilling-and-re-energized-franchise-worth-seeing-review-1

X-Men First Class: A Truly Thrilling and Re-Energized Franchise Worth Seeing!

June 3, 2011 1:54 am ET

Tim Estiloz

Boston Movie Examiner

In the new film "X-Men: First Class", the popular but faltering film franchise gets a much needed infusion of new energy, new blood and new faces by going back in time with an imaginative and exciting prequel.

Much like the recently rebooted Star Trek film by J.J. Abrams, "X-Men: First Class" sets the stage for a renewed series of on-screen adventures by taking audiences back to the early and much younger origins of the characters we've come to know in the previous films, headed by Patrick Stewart as Professor X and his former friend and nemesis, Magneto played by Ian McKellen.

This time around, James McAvoy takes the reins as Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Erik, the future villain, Magneto, with the film featuring their early years as friends and allies against mutual foes, before eventually by the film's end realizing their destinies and desires will lead them to become foes battling one another.

"X-Men: First Class", which opens today in Boston area theaters including the Boston Common AMC Theater and more is a thrilling addition to the superhero genre. It's screening earlier this week for Boston area film critics garnered the film mostly favorable reviews and is sure to capture the weekend box office... with Boston area audiences sure to enjoy this wonderful summer movie ride.

The film begins during World War II in 1944, with a powerful replication of the scene at Auschwitz that opened the very first "X-Men" film directed by Bryan Singer in 2000. Here we see a young Erik Lensherr brutally separated from his parents during the Nazi camp's infamous selection process. In anger and desperation to be reunited with his family, Erik mentally bends the camp's metal gates before knocked unconscious.

However, his astonishing display of superhuman abilities is observed with great interest by a camp scientist, Sebastian Shaw ( Kevin Bacon ), who is determined to develop and harness Erik's dormant mutant ability. Like a cinematic version of the real life Nazi demon Dr. Mengele, Shaw is suave, ruthless and deadly in forcing Erik to unleash his power under the threat of his mother being murdered before the teenager's very eyes. The brutally tragic result sets the stage for Erik to not only realize his power; but also, plants the seeds for a mission of myopic vengeance for the young boy for years to come, spanning into his adulthood.

Meanwhile, in the far more tranquil setting of Westchester, New York, a young Charles Xavier meets an equally young peer and fellow mutant in the guise of a blue-skinned shape shifting girl named Raven. Both find a kindred spirit and a sibling-like bond in each other that will last into their early adulthood.

Fast forward to 1962, where the film finds a now adult, but no less vengeful Erik ( Michael Fassbender ) tracking down the former Nazis who killed his family. Erik is now, thanks to Shaw, in full control of his magnetic abilities. However, like Frankenstein's monster, Erik is also on a mission to kill his creator who also murdered his mother. A scene where Erik travels to the former Nazi hiding haven of Argentina and encounters two former SS soldiers in a rural beer pub is riveting in it's all too literal execution.

Charles Xavier has grown into a man ( McAvoy ) who is working on his thesis on genetic mutation at Oxford University, accompanied by Raven ( Jennifer Lawrence ), who has fallen into the guise of his foster sister and confidant. Charles is exuberant and not shy about using his telekinetic powers to impress any young woman who strikes his fancy, much to the exasperation of his young friend Raven.

However, at this point elsewhere in the world, "X-Men: First Class" picks up speed at a rapid pace in it's story line.

Unbeknownst to all, Shaw, who despite the passage of years since the concentration camp, has somehow ( and woefully unexplained in the screenplay ) attained a mutant power of absorbing energy which not only has kept him physically young, but able to unleash the absorbed energy with deadly results. Aided by several other mutants including the beautiful Emma Frost ( January Jones ) who has telekinetic power and the ability to transform her shapely figure into indestructible diamond form; Shaw begins a Machiavellian plot to coerce the Russians and the U.S. into a nuclear face-off which ultimately leads to the film and it's characters embroiled in the real life 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Shaw's end game is to manipulate the U.S. and Russians into a nuclear war and wipe out mankind leaving only mutants bred on the resultant nuclear radiation to survive, conquer and rule in the aftermath.

Meantime, Xavier is recruited by a covert CIA operative ( Oliver Platt ) and agent Moira MacTaggert ( Rose Byrne ) to oversee a mutant training facility which is designed to seek out other mutants around the globe. Eventually Charles and Erik cross paths in their mutual pursuit of Shaw and the two become friends. However, Charles and Erik find themselves increasingly at odds on the methods necessary to not only bring Shaw down; but also, in finding agreement on how or if they, and their fellow mutants, can co-exist among humans without conflict.
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Xavier is also tasked with training the first new group of young and inexperienced recruited mutants at the CIA facility. Joining Raven is the acrobatic Hank / Beast ( Nicholas Hoult ), the energy wielding Alex / Havoc ( Lucas Till ), the piercingly vocal Sean/ Banshee ( Caleb Landry Jones ) and the winged, fire spewing Angel ( Zoe Kravitz ). Obviously this group of young actors are brought on to make the franchise more friendly to younger audiences; but in this screenplay, the stunt casting seems to work just fine.

When Shaw and his band attack the CIA compound with deadly results, the stage is set for Xavier to bring his young charges to fast maturity and learn control of their own abilities in preparation for an ultimate face-off with Shaw… and to literally prevent World War III with the Russians off the coast of Cuba.

"X-Men: First Class" often has the feel of an early James Bond film; not only with it's multiple worldwide locales and 60's style atmosphere, but also, in it's real life Cold War plot line and more that seems to be nostalgically reminiscent for the era. Indeed, many who have seen the film have compared Fassbender's rugged and hard-edged portrayal of Erik as a suitable heir apparent to Daniel Craig as 007.

The film is certainly packed with characters, at times seeming overcrowded. One may feel they need a scorecard, or at least flash cards to keep track of all the mutants contained within this film, both good and bad… let alone keep track of their abilities and who's side they're on, because as the film evolves… several characters shift sides and allegiances.

Most troubled among the group of mutants is Raven, who eventually becomes the mutant Mystique seen played in previous films by the beautiful Rebecca Romijn. In fact, watch for an unexpected blink of an eye quick cameo by Romijn, as well as an additional funny appearance by another previous X-Men alum and favorite.

Raven, as wonderfully portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, is troubled by her feeling she has to hide her true self to appear normal. Only when Erik comes on the scene and encourages her inner sense of mutant pride and self worth does she begin to question herself and her allegiances, setting the stage for a choice between her friend Charles, and Erik, her future companion.

McAvoy, Fassbender and Bacon all turn in wonderful performances with McAvoy and Fassbender having the best moments as friends who genuinely care for one another as close friends, but are ultimately forced apart by their deep convictions about the potential threat posed by the humans against their mutant brothers and sisters.

"X-Men: First Class" as directed by Matthew Vaughn ( Kick-Ass ) is filled with fast paced action and rich character development that makes this film among the best of the superhero films in quite some time. There is real depth to the conflict felt amongst these individuals as they try to find their place and purpose in a world where they gradually realize they don't truly fit in. The special effects are thankfully free of any 3-D distractions, instead relying on the capable hands of visual effects wizard John Dykstra to fill the film throughout with large scale and subtle special effects culminating in a wonderfully exciting and spectacularly re-imagined Cuban Missile Crisis, as told by Marvel.

The screenplay also is filled with enough references and visuals, including a clever homage to the X-Men's early comic book outfits, to make all the die-hard fan boys happy; while equally entertaining those not familiar with every detail of the team's overall mythology.

"X-Men: First Class" may be filled with a younger generation of heroes designed for a new audience, but the storyline makes the youthful element work. Anchored by the establishment of the friendship turned conflict between the elder Xavier and Erik, the film also sets the tone for truly epic battles to come between the former allies.

The final scene with a fully realized Magneto impressively embodied by Fassbender creates a moment where we, the audience, know Professor Xavier and Magneto

… will join the ranks of Batman vs The Joker and Lex Luthor vs Superman as the adversarial power couple worthy of following in the future of this wonderfully re-energized Marvel film franchise.

Moreover, where this film excels is in the fact that that it stands alone and apart from the previous films in the franchise. While the characters may be familiar from earlier incarnations on screen via prior director Bryan Singer, this film and it's actors stake their own claim and ownership of the story and roles they now inhabit.

"X-Men: First Class" is a solid and deservedly solitary chapter in terms of cinematic excellence for the superhero genre.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:12 pm

http://www.timeout.com.hk/film/features/42958/x-men-first-class.html

X-Men: First Class
Posted: 2 Jun 2011

How to shoehorn gravitas into your superhero blockbuster? Plonk it at a critical juncture of twentieth-century political diplomacy by giving us a Red Dawn-style generic rendering of the Cuban Missile Crisis, before suggesting that our boys, the X-Men, were decisive in defusing this showdown? It’s a neat trick, already attempted and bungled by Zack Snyder in Watchmen. But while the context of Matthew Vaughn’s slick X-Men origin story feels like it’s been filched from the notepad of a high-school history student, there’s no shortage of breathtaking spectacle elsewhere.

Erik Lehnsherr, aka Magneto (Michael Fassbender), is out for the blood of Kevin Bacon’s pantomime scoundrel Sebastian Shaw, the energy-sapping mutant Nazi who executed Erik’s mother. Meanwhile, in the cosy real-ale pubs of Oxford, fledgling genetics professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has been roped-in by the CIA to use his telepathic powers to locate Shaw. What follows is a jolly collection of snappy montages, FX set-pieces, a killer fanboy cameo and a torrent of disposable wisecracks that, while functioning perfectly as stand-alone episodes, fail to cohere.

McAvoy plays Xavier as a raffish boffin and his charming performance is one of the film’s high points. Fassbender, too, is on teeth-clenching powerhouse mode, until his accent dies a death on the home stretch. Jennifer Lawrence is less convincing as shapely shape-shifter Mystique, the torch-bearer for the film’s obligatory investigation into issues of identity and who dubiously adapts the black power slogan into ‘I’m a mutant and proud’. As with the previous X-Men films, the many mutants look like they serve no purpose other than to be pretty punching bags for the film’s climactic scuffle. You wish as much time was spent on drawing together the disparate elements and devising a ripping yarn than was spent concocting the shiver-inducing final death scene, which – props to Vaughn – really is one for the ages.

David Jenkins

From Time Out London

Dir Matthew Vaughn Category IIA, 131 mins, opens June 2
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:13 pm

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/film/review-23956101-michael-fassbender-is-formidable-in-x-men-first-class.do

X-Men: First Class
Cert: 12A

Description: Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr are close friends, who are coming to terms with their strange powers and the repercussions once their special abilities are revealed to the world. Joining forces with other Mutants including Raven Darkholme, Hank McCoy, Alex Summers, Angel Salvadore, Sean Cassidy and Armando Munoz, the men unite against Sebastian Shaw and his secret society, which is determined to spark nuclear war.


Rating: 3 out of 5 David Sexton's rating
Rating: 4 out of 5

Dir: Matthew Vaughn.

Cast: Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Jason Flemyng, James McAvoy, January Jones, Kevin Bacon

Country: US.

Year: 2011.

Duration: 131mins
Showing at
Michael Fassbender is formidable in X-Men: First Class

Lifelong enemies: (front left and right) the young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy)

David Sexton By David Sexton
3 Jun 2011

The X-Men franchise had seemed to be flagging, both in critical reception and box office takings.

A couple of years ago the fourth instalment, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, did less well all round than the third, X-Men: The Last Stand. But X-Men: First Class, directed by Matthew Vaughn, fresh from Kick-Ass, successfully reinvigorates the series.

It's a prequel, an explanation of how the X-Men originated, set mainly in the Bondish Sixties but starting right back in the Second World War.

In a Nazi death camp we see young Erik Lehnsherr, Magneto to be, being tormented by evil Dr Schmidt, who makes him display his freakish powers by the simple device of threatening to shoot his mother if he doesn't oblige: "You don't move the coin, I pull the trigger."

Back in the States, in the lap of luxury, courtly young telepath Charles Xavier, Professor X to be, meets young Raven, who is blue and a bit offputtingly corrugated but blessed with the ability to adopt any form she chooses. They bond: "I always believed I couldn't be the only one in the world, the only one who's different."

Zip forward to the Sixties. Erik (played now with chilly fury by Michael Fassbender, a formidable performance) is busy hunting down old Nazis, seeking revenge on Dr Schmidt in particular.

Charles (James McAvoy, ever so cuddly, in fact looking a bit like the young Rodney Bewes with a touch of lipstick) is being donnish in Oxford. But they have to save the world.

Dr Schmidt, now known as Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), is revealed to be a powerful mutant himself, able to absorb explosions and use their energy. With his crew, the Hellfire Club - which includes Emma Frost (January Jones from Mad Men), a blonde telepath who can convert her body into crystals and the demonic Azazel (Jason Flemyng) - Shaw plans to provoke nuclear war between America and the Soviet Union, so as to clear the world for the new improved species. "We are the children of the atom - what will kill the humans will only make us stronger." So that's how the Cuban missile crisis happened!

Only another team of mutants can hope to combat Shaw - and Charles starts to put it together, contacting lonely freaks everywhere and telling them they're not alone. There's brilliant scientist Hank (Nicholas Hoult), secretly a bit of a beast; stripper Angel (Zoe Kravitz), who has wings and spits fire; Banshee, who screams and whishes through the air that way; Havok, who can blast...

All of this earlier part of the film, in which the young mutants discover each other and learn to control their powers, is engaging and amusing, smartly filmed and scripted. The second half, however, outstays its welcome. The mutants endlessly debate should they/shouldn't they help the humans who are not really their friends. And then there's the inevitable combat climax which is diverting enough in a Thunderbirds way, if you don't mind a bit of silly fun about the world's closest approach so far to nuclear catastrophe.

The film's makers are keen to push the idea that the Sixties setting connects not only with the Cold War but also the dawning Civil Rights movement. Can these outsiders be assimilated? But that's not what powers the film at all. The mutants are really adolescents, trying to come to terms with their morphing bodies, learning to accept themselves and each other. Charles reaches out to them all, sensing "their isolation, their hopes, their ambitions".

"I thought I was ... alone," says Erik, when Charles saves him from his own rage. "You're not alone, Erik, you're not alone," says Charles, comfortingly. When he discovers Hank, horribly embarrassed by his hairy, deformed feet, he reassures him too - "You're among friends now, Hank." Even lurid, wrinkled Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) comes to accept herself after Erik has told her: "Have you ever looked at a tiger and wanted to cover it up? You're an exquisite creature, Raven."

Mutant and proud is the message. "We are different but we shouldn't be trying to fit into society - society should aspire to be more like us!"
All superhero stories are, not very far beneath the surface, about adolescence, its changes and fantasies. They are, thus, truly for adolescents too - and that's a problem. Although we'd all like to think we still have the child we once were intact within us, who nourishes their inner adolescent quite so fondly? Yet these films, potty costumes and all, detain adult audiences too, somehow.

X-Men: First Class is a bit spiffier than Thor or Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides but it, too, has little for grown-ups. Kids, though, should be so lucky.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:14 pm

http://www.nme.com/blog/index.php?blog=131&title=x_men_first_class_prom_senna_the_weekend&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

X-Men: First Class, Prom, Senna - Weekend Movie Guide
By Owen Nicholls
Posted on 06/02/11 at 04:43:22 pm

Welcome to the NME Weekend Movie Guide, rewarding the hard-working films with A's and letting the naughty ones know, we're not angry with them, we're just disappointed

The Big Release

X-Men: First Class

What's the story? As the US and Russia engage in a wang measuring contest with nuclear weapons, sinister bad guy Sebastian Shaw uses the possibility of the imminent apocalypse to further his goal of mutant supremacy. Another band of mutants, with differing special powers and conflicting philosophies, set out to stop him.

Cast: James McAvoy (Wanted, The Last King of Scotland), Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Basterds, Hunger). Director: Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, Layer Cake).

Plus points: The inclusion of actors rather than stars helps lift First Class out of the category of 'shameless cash-in' and into the realms of passion project, with McAvoy and Fassbender standing tall against their actorly counter-parts of McKellen and Stewart. For X-fans it's the chance to see what may have been, with director Vaughn finally being able to have fun with his mutant play-set after leaving at the start of filming X-Men 3.

Let downs: That age old prequel problem of 'we know where we're going' removes tension where it's needed most, as does the rush to get the characters to the point of recognition from the earlier films. Some ropey effects will help it fit in with it's predecessors- looking, as they occasionally do, circa 2000- but the painfully dull score has no such excuse. It's biggest crime, however, is relegating the back-story of Charles and Erik's life-long friendship to the summer and autumn of '62.

Critics said: "First Class feels swift, sleek and remarkably coherent" (Variety) but "this should still be seen as a missed opportunity" (Little White Lies). 91% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Verdict: The last effort to re-vamp the X-Men franchise was Wolverine, a film so poor even Hugh Jackman's mum failed to like it. While First Class is an infinite improvement if it is indeed the birth of a new trilogy you can't help but think they've shot their load a bit prematurely. After all where can this band of merry mutants really go from here except to the start of the first X-Men film?
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:16 pm

http://www.examiner.co.uk/leisure-and-entertainment/entertainment-west-yorkshire/2011/06/03/x-men-first-class-12a-131mins-86081-28811478/

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (12A, 131mins)

by Roy Wright, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
Jun 3 2011

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (12A, 131 mins) 8/10(12A, 131 mins) 8/10

VERY good things come to those who wait.

After the sinking ship of Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and the pounding headache of The Hangover Part II, the omens were distinctly ill for this summer season.

Thankfully British director Matthew Vaughn, who lifted spirits last year with the deliciously foul-mouthed Kick-Ass, repeats the feat with this exhilarating, action-packed prequel based on the hugely popular Marvel Comics.

After the lukewarm reception to spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Vaughn delivers a sleek and satisfying opening chapter that establishes the mythology of the iconic characters and provides tantalising glimpses of where the series can go next.

The film opens in Poland 1944 with young Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) unlocking his devastating power of magnetism thanks to the provocation of sadistic concentration camp commandant (Kevin Bacon).

“We unlock your gift with anger!” he cackles.

At the same time in Westchester, New York, young telepath Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets shape-shifter Raven Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence) and they become close friends.

Fast forward to 1962 and Erik is hunting down the commandant to exact revenge for his parents.

“Let’s just say I’m Frankenstein’s monster and I’m looking for my creator,” he tells a henchman.

It transpires that the German officer has re-invented himself as power-hungry globe-trotter Sebastian Shaw, who intends to spark nuclear war between Russia and America aided by mutant sidekicks Emma Frost (January Jones), Azazel (Jason Flemyng) and Riptide (Alex Gonzalez).

Standing in his way are Charles, Raven and five gifted mutants – Angel (Zoe Kravitz), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Darwin (Edi Gathegi) and Havok (Lucas Till).

At first Charles and Erik work together to defeat Sebastian, their common enemy.

However, a grave rift opens between the mutant leaders, lighting the fuse on the brutal and bloody war between the X-Men and Magneto’s brotherhood.

X-Men: First Class is a terrific reinvention, adhering closely to the comics to appease fans while entertaining cinema audiences with a tight script, snappy editing and directorial brio.

McAvoy and Fassbender are assured actors, capable of heartbreaking emotion, and there are plenty of tears here as nuclear war looms.

The only quibble is Fassbender’s wavering accent, which jigs from Europe to County Kerry and resonates so strongly of the Emerald Isle by the closing frames that you have to question if the Polish prologue was fantasy.

Supporting performances, particularly Lawrence and Hoult, are compelling and Bacon is a suitably boo-some pantomime villain.

A hilarious cameo by an X-Men favourite results in the film’s only swear word, and there are some tongue in cheek references to the future, like when Charles quips, “The next thing you know I’ll be going bald!”

We await his shiny bonce with feverish anticipation in the inevitable sequel.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:17 pm

http://www.lancastereaglegazette.com/article/BR/20110603/ENTERTAINMENT02/110602001/-X-Men-revives-reboots-First-Class-?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Frontpage|s

'X-Men' revives, reboots with 'First Class'
10:03 AM, Jun. 2, 2011 |
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Trailer: 'X-Men: First Class'
Trailer: 'X-Men: First Class': Before Professor X and Magneto were archenemies, they were close friends, discovering their powers for the first time. The film follows the classic Marvel mythology and goes back to the beginning of the X-Men saga.

KERRY LENGEL
The Arizona Republic

Michael Fassbender portrays Erik Lehnsherr, who has the power to control magnetism, in a scene from the motion picture "X-Men: First Class." / Gannett, Murray Close/20th Century Fox/File
More information

• Opens Friday, June 3

• Two and One-Half Stars out of Four (Fair to Good)

• Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language.

• Kevin Bacon steals the show as a smirking mutant maniac in this prequel, which also features hunky Brits James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as a young Charles Xavier and Magneto. The mix of familiar and new characters, along with plenty of big action, makes this a more than serviceable popcorn flick for the summer. 20th Century Fox, 132 minutes.

• Online: http://www.x-menfirstclassmovie.com/

"X-Men" without Professor X and Magneto? It didn't work out too well in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," so now Marvel Entertainment is attempting a full-system reboot with "X-Men: First Class."

The prequel stars James McAvoy ("Atonement") as a young Charles Xavier, child of privilege, mutant telepath and all-around goody-two-shoes, though he isn't above using his psychic powers while hitting on the ladies at the local pub. While McAvoy doesn't quite match the Shakespearean gravitas of Patrick Stewart, he does display a certain rakish charm, not to mention a full head of hair, which is good for a few in-jokes aimed at fans of the film franchise.

More compelling is his partner-in-bromance, Michael Fassbender ("Inglourious Basterds," "Jane Eyre"), as the future Magneto, Erik Lehnsherr. Bent on taking revenge on the Nazi manipulator who killed his mother, he's sort of the Anakin Skywalker to Xavier's Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Clocking in at more than two hours, "X-Men: First Class" adopts a rather leisurely pace in bringing their storylines together and explaining how they will end up heading rival bands of mutants, one bent on dominating obsolete, un-superpowered humanity and the other determined to defend peace, justice and etcetera.

Happily, Marvel has given them an immensely entertaining common enemy in the form of Kevin Bacon. He plays Sebastian Shaw, yet another mutant and leader of the Hellfire Club, whose plans for humanity involve escalating the Cuban Missile Crisis to the point of kaboom.

It's hard to say exactly why Bacon is so much fun in this movie. He certainly doesn't seem to be working that hard at the acting, but there's something about his sinister smirk that keeps all eyes on him.

As for the rest of the motley crew, well, fanboys will probably love the mix of familiar and new characters, which includes a young Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and a nerdy Banshee (he uses his ultrasonic screech to fly).

For the rest of the moviegoing public, however, it can be a bit tiring to keep up one's willing suspension of disbelief. "X-Men" maintains a pretense of science-fictional explanations, but its trappings remain adolescent fantasy. Mutants with extraordinary abilities? OK, sure, but why do they end up looking like demons, fairies and werewolves?

Even more annoying is the series' pretense of offering relevant social commentary, from a jokey reference to Don't Ask, Don't Tell to its rather disturbing use of the Holocaust narrative (at one point, Magneto declares "Never again" to justify his contempt for humanity).

After all, it's not the thematic metaphors but the action set-pieces that draw people to a summer blockbuster. In that regard, director Matthew Vaughn ("Kick-Ass") delivers, particularly with the climactic air-and-sea battle involving a levitating submarine.

"X-Men: First Class" isn't anywhere close to being a genre classic like "Spider-Man 2" or "The Dark Knight," but it is good enough to rejuvenate a franchise stuck on idle.

We'll see how long the treatment lasts.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:18 pm

http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/LEEE777REVIEWS/news/?a=38639

REVIEW: Fox's X-Men: First Class By LEEE777!
Well was it at all good and a complete slap in the face or was it the best comic book movie ever made? After reviews I've seen I had to go and watch it for myself and tell you what I thought of X-Men: First Class in this spoiler free (not that most don't know most of the plot anyway) movie review...

First off the official synopsis:

X-MEN FIRST CLASS charts the epic beginning of the X-Men saga, and reveals a secret history of famous global events. Before mutants had revealed themselves to the world, and before Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Not archenemies, they were instead at first the closest of friends, working together with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to prevent nuclear Armageddon. In the process, a grave rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto's Brotherhood and Professor X's X-Men.

Second off I'd like to point out that I had many chances to watch this X-Men movie on the opening day but didn't, it just didn't appeal to me at all apart from Michael Fassbender who plays Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto). Anyway I went only because some have said its one of the best comic book movies ever made. How can this be I said, after all these: Superman: The Movie, Superman II, Watchmen, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Sin City, Thor, Burton's Batman, Spider-Man I & II, The Crow, History of Violence, Kick Ass and Road to Perdition. They are what I call best comic book movies of all time. Don't worry though its no way that but its no X3 or X-Men Origins: Wolverine either and as some may know I was dead set against this movie and I did want to hate every part of it, but didn't, please read on...

Anyway thirdly, this is SPOILER FREE as I will not talk about any of the plot or scenes that people do not know about until they watch it. I'll be doing here more reviewing the actual characters and actors in X-Men: First Class than anything and once the movies out everywhere then bring up plot issues I have if any with people. So here we go: As soon as I sat down the cinema was playing showing trailers, I must have missed the adverts which is a good thing I hate that crap lol, just straight to the teasers/trailers as it should be and second trailer in... oh my god, it was Green Lantern. My jaw dropped as I watched the trailer on the big screen for the first time, it looked so much better than watching it on YouTube in the format its men't to be seen in and all I'm going to say on that one is cannot wait!

So anyway X-Men: First Class started pretty much how I expected it to start with Erik and family there, where they left off in Bryan Singers original X-Men I in the concentration camp. Same powerful music and same scene too so its not really a reboot straight away but of course it is a prequel, well to the first X-Men movies anyway. Then like most movie origins we go very early for a bit with a twelve year old Charles Xavier played by Laurence Belcher and a ten year old Raven (Mystique) played by Morgan Lily which is very cringe worthy, I wont tell you about the scene but it felt like I was watching a damn Power Pack movie and thought to myself what the hell was I thinking sitting in the theatre chair. Anyway past an old made up Kevin Bacon (cough) and young Erik important scene we get to the only reason I even gave this movie a chance...Michael Fassbender. Michael Fassbender many years later completely sucks you in first minute he's on screen as Erik Lehnsherr. I cannot stress enough how much he is perfect for that role and after that awful Jonah Hex we needed something better from the talented actor, we most certainly did as he sucks you into every scene all through the entire movie, breathtaking performance.

James McAvoy (Wanted) plays Charles Xavier with hair and mobile legs, though that's cool as it is actually an origin story plus you do get to see Xavier and how he does lose his legs later on in the movie too. McAvoy took a bit of time to get used to as Prof X as the accent was a bit iffy at first but then you do get used to it and by the end he was a natural playing the part. Still wanted Paul Bettany though for the younger part of Xavier but I was pleasantly surprised and McAvoy did own it and also sucked you in.

Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw I thought first off "what the [frick]" but as you go on he did bring depth to the supervillain mutant leader which was basically is a lame character. In fact they did bring in many lame characters for this movie and I still don't know why? Angel Salvadore played by Zoë Kravitz was one, talented young actress but her with those stupid wings kinda sucked the big one, waste of a mutant. Back to Bacon, by halfway lets just say you truly did love to hate him as the main villain in this, he ate up every scene but I do have to say this (sorry), Moira MacTaggert who's played by the beautiful Rose Byrne has a silly scene where she finds Sebastian Shaw's secret lair just like that, kinda stupid but then again was early in the movie.

Characters that I'd rather personally not be in it on a lesser note for obvious reasons was Alex Summers/Havok (Lucas Till), Emma Frost (January Jones) and Sean Cassidy/Banshee (Landry Jones). It was just every scene they was in, it just took me out of the picture, every damn scene. It wasn't them its the fact them characters had no business being in the movie at all in that time period and I don't still know if Alex is supposed to be Scott's dad or not in it, as like why we get Emma Frost in here too and X-Men Origins: Wolverine version is never explained either? I will say though Landry Jones who plays Banshee, you don't notice his American accent and does have some good funny scenes in this film that cracks you up towards the last forty minutes, spot on casting, pity he didn't put on the trademark Irish accent.

Azazel was played by Jason Flemyng was the one that surprised me the most as he was amazingly good and evil too, very vicious. At least they didn't make this a kid friendly film and things in places got really nasty. Yup I wouldn't mind seeing that character actually again at some point, be it even in Wolverine II. Talking Wolverine, cool cameo which I'm sure everyone on CBM.com knows about from Hugh Jackman. Lets just say the ten seconds was the best ten seconds of anyones cameo ever, you will love it!

Now going blue, Mystique played by Jennifer Lawrence was annoying, only for the fact she too had no business being in the picture, especially as Xavier's childhood friend. Pretty girl but no, just annoying and the character was over used in the last two X-Men Singer films too. They do explain though why she doesn't age and also a nod to Anil Rickly that knew about a certain cameo Mystique related that he told me about days before it was even released, so hats off to him!

You can read Anil's review here: X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

Beast wise, you really didn't notice his Thundercat type appearance on the big screen played by English actor Nicholas Hoult (Skins). He played a good warm hearted Hank McCoy and there was much more human Hank than I expected. Also he's an original actual First Class member so he is one of the highlights in this for me, a big highlight. Its just a pity we didn't see the rest as I still wanted to see the original five in this instead of some of the lame ass characters we did get. Maybe they should have titled this movie X-Men: Origins which is more fitting than First Class, that's a big issue I had and still have with this movie. Anyway loved Nicholas Hoult (Beast) in this and his big feet, dodgy CGI though when he actually turns into Beast but they do explain how and why he gets blue fur later on.

Oliver Platt who plays the Man In Black Suit just seems out of place, like a 1960's Fox Mulder just like The X-Files. I can see why he was in it but no, just reminded me of that show.

Okay I'm beat, I hate doing reviews takes so long lol. In the end they did a good movie with what characters they used. A popcorn throw away movie in places but if they just used Magneto with Fassbender and McAvoy as Xavier and called it say something like Magneto: Origins like they was going to, it would have been a much better film in my eye. Plus later we could of had X-Men: First Class with the actual original team in it, if your going to reboot this sucker, that is the way to go. The soundtrack though was beautiful, totally sucked you in and I'm so happy Fox finally got Magneto's helmet right, never liked the previous version at all.

Bottom line is it could have been something magical, but the thrown in z grade characters and no respect for source material totally took a lot of marks off personally for me. Its like having the Avengers movie with just Iron Man in it, with Jarvis as his Uncle and a bunch of lame characters they pulled out of thin air. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bitching, I just still see what could have been done if we had the right original characters in it. From what they had and did, they did well and trust me that hurts me to say, but again all I see is what could have been.

If you like just the movies or cartoons you'll probably love this, but if you know and respect the original source material then not maybe so much like me. I wont tell you not to watch it, judge for yourself and I don't hate it as much as I would have wanted and I wanted to give it like 1 out of 5. X-Men: First Class does deserve 3 out of 5 (Empires rating too) and Singer does pull your heartstrings like he always does in every movie. Like people said its a good movie, just not a good comic book movie. Go and see for yourself, its no Thor but I do hope its a stand alone movie as without the originals it wont be the X-Men. Of course if that's true in what they say and call this an actual reboot then I see no reason why we can't have the whole original team in the second one, we would have pure gold.

A big 3 out of 5.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:18 pm

http://entertainment.stv.tv/film/254475-x-men-first-class-gets-top-marks/

X-Men: First Class gets top marks

Review: This superhero prequel/reboot is refreshing enough to revitalise what had become a tired franchise, Scottish actor James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender shining in this superhero blockbuster meets retro spy thriller.
Michael MacLennan

By Michael MacLennan

03 June 2011 11:00 GMT


X-Men: First Class gets top marks

Class act: new superhero blockbuster comes complete with 60s setting

Ah, what most of us wouldn’t do for the chance to start over. Movie franchises increasingly have their own opportunity for reinvention, as studio realise the financial incentives of bringing out a fresh take on familiar source material that audiences are bound to flock to. Aren’t they?

X-Men: First Class isn’t so much a reboot though. Instead it nods to – and is set in the same universe as – Bryan Singer’s first movie in 2000, which helped redefine the capability for the superhero movie to be a work of substance rather than just a box-ticking blockbuster there as much to sell advertising sponsorship as to tell a story.

A huge part of that was down to the beginning, in which a young Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto) is seen bearing direct witness to the atrocities carried out by the Nazis during the Second World War, and that chilling introduction is recreated in this new movie – except that instead of moving to a more present day setting as happened in the first movie, the film shifts earlier onwards to the early 60s to explain the initial formation of the X-Men, and the pivotal friendship between the damaged Erik and a rather groovy smooth-talking (and thinking) Professor Charles Xavier.

James McAvoy impresses as the more cultured Charles (previously played by Patrick Stewart), though it’s Michael Fassbender who is more gripping as Erik, not too surprising as it’s his character’s arc which is the more dramatic and central to the storyline which plays out. It’s not coincidental that the movie kicks more fully into gear once their friendship is established, with the combined purpose of stopping dashing supervillain and fellow mutant Sebastian Shaw in his tracks.

With the retro setting, it’s a bit of an inspired choice to make the plot reminscent of a spy thriller in the vein of James Bond – except with mutants at its heart and an ever-so-slightly revisionary take on the looming threat of nuclear war between the US and USSR which hit crisis point with the Cuban Missile Crisis. The X-Men may be able assist the American government, but how will they be treated if the situation has calmed, and should they want to integrate into society?

Yep, the theme of segregation is still integral in this X-Men movie and given perhaps an added resonance thanks to the setting, the relationship between the dextrous Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) especially intriguing, both dealing with their unique physical appearance in markedly different way.

The large cast as a whole is strong, and though the introductions to them all makes for a slightly confusing start, once the movie gets going there’s a real verve to it, and an added emotional heft that helps proceedings build nicely. Perhaps not as heavy on action as some of the other movies – with nothing close to the jaw-dropping opening scene of X-Men 2 – this instead feels like a great start to a new multi-movie storyline, which on this evidence certainly deserves to be left in the hands of director Matthew Vaughn. After the below-par X-Men: The Last Stand and hugely misjudged X-Men Origins: Wolverine, this is exactly what was needed to ensure that X-Men wasn’t regarded as the awkward outsider to the current superhero party. A sequel to the prequel can’t come soon enough, though it’ll be interesting to see what period they opt for next time. It might be a little difficult to take Magneto seriously if he’s wearing bellbottoms, or Professor X if he’s wigging out to Jethro Tull on a particularly eye-opening acid trip...
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:19 pm

http://www.nola.com/movies/index.ssf/2011/06/solid_x-men_first_class_falls.html

Solid 'X-Men: First Class' falls short as a whiz-bang blockbuster
Published: Friday, June 03, 2011, 5:00 AM

It may be a new tradition in superhero movies -- the first film sets the bar high, the second pushes things too far, and the third runs the whole franchise into the ground.
0603 xmen first class 2.JPGMichael Fassbender (left foreground) and James McAvoy (right foreground) lead Caleb Landry Jones, left, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult and Lucas Till in a battle to prevent nuclear war.

And then the fourth starts things all over again with a "reboot."

That's the gameplan for the upcoming "Spider-Man," with Andrew Garfield. And it's the idea behind the latest "X-Men: First Class, " both a prequel to the series and a fresh start.

It's a good idea. Casual fans will probably be interested in finding out why Prof. Xavier and Magneto first became enemies, who crippled Xavier and how he founded his academy for mutants.

And some of the truly X-obsessed may enjoy debating how the script remaps the Marvel universe (there are characters in this origin story who didn't show up in the comic for years).

As for those who don't know their X-Men from their Watchmen -- well, it's unlikely they'll go anyway, so the filmmakers don't need to worry about them.

The moviemakers do need to worry, however, about providing us with strong characters and lots of eye candy. And "X-Men: First Class" does only a second-rate job of delivering.

More than most Marvels, "X-Men" is about the coolness -- fascinating heroes with extraordinary powers. (Yes, there's the usual Stan Lee angst, but a lot of that comes from Wolverine -- who has only a jokey cameo in this episode.)
0602 xmen first class 1.JPGMichael Fassbender stars in the comic-book origins film 'X-Men: First Class.'

Yet given that simple, strict order -- astonish us -- "X-Men: First Class" feels more like a sturdy set-up for the next, better adventure than a great stand-alone entertainment.

Although the effects are big and polished, the film isn't quite as good at its human -- and superhuman -- elements, particularly when it comes to its supporting mutants. Azazel looks like Hellboy somehow had a kid by Darth Maul. Riptide comes off like a bad bar mitzvah magician.

The leads have more luck. A fine James McAvoy radiates all the necessary decency and patience as Xavier; Jennifer Lawrence makes an interesting, needy Mystique (although her baby-face renders the character's overt sexuality a little creepy).

Michael Fassbender falters as a strangely unmagnetic Magneto, but Kevin Bacon has a nuclear blast as chief bad guy Sebastian Shaw. With the story set in 1962, director Matthew Vaughn's clear inspiration is classic Bond; that makes Bacon the hammy supervillain, complete with lushly anachronistic sideburns, and the actor has some real fun.

More fun, sometimes, than the audience. Although Vaughn likes campy sets, he doesn't have original director Bryan Singer's interest in the X-Men as metaphor. Social subtext, part of the series going back to the original comic, is relegated to some Cold War saber-rattling, and replaced with lots of exposition.

Admitted, the scenes of Xavier assembling his team and putting them through their paces are enjoyable; the last half-hour, with the X-folk trying to avert an even-worse Cuban Missile Crisis, is terrific. But that's still only about 45 great minutes, leaving close to an hour and a half of a painless but fairly mediocre ride.

"X-Men: First Class"? More like coach, actually.

Note: Newhouse News Service critic Stephen Whitty wrote this review.

__________

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
2.5 stars, out of 4

Snapshot: A prequel to the superhero franchise (and a possible beginning for a new series) features a young Prof. Xavier and an adolescent crew of mutants -- this time trying to keep the Cuban Missile Crisis from getting even worse.

What works: A fine James McAvoy radiates all the necessary decency and patience as Xavier.

What doesn't: Director Matthew Vaughn seems to more interested in the 007-style trappings than in the superheroes themselves. Apart from McAvoy and Kevin Bacon as the snarling villain, most of the mutants are rather forgettable.

Starring: McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence. Director: Matthew Vaughn. Rating: PG-13, for violence, brief strong language, mild sensuality and mutant nudity. Running time: 2 hours 12 minutes. Where: See movie listings.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:20 pm

http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/whats-on-coventry-warwickshire/cinema-film/2011/06/03/film-review-x-men-first-class-12a-92746-28814174/

Film Review: X-Men: First Class - (12A)

By David Bentley
Jun 3 2011

(12A, 131mins) Sci-Fi/Action/Romance. Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Rose Byrne, Jason Flemyng, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz, Lucas Till, Caleb Landry Jones, Edi Gathegi, Alex Gonzalez. Director : Matthew Vaughn.

WE ALL know how Hollywood loves to create franchises and then flog them to death, so how do you keep things fresh and exciting?

Rather than just pumping out the increasingly desperate sequels, one answer is to go back to basics. And the latest brilliant example of such a revamp is X-Men: First Class.

It does what Casino Royale did for the Bond films, what the 2009 Star Trek film did for that ailing brand and what Christopher Nolan is doing for Batman. The X-Men have been reborn.

The superheroes first appeared in Marvel’s comics in the early 60s and, fittingly, it’s in that era that this new film is set. The mutants have returned to their roots in a tale with style and substance as well as spectacle.

With former X-Men filmmaker Bryan Singer back on board as a producer, the new film not only works as an origin tale to the existing movies but also takes things in an exciting new direction.

Singer came up with the story and left it in the capable hands of director Matthew Vaughn, who brings his own edgy, sexy, colourful splash to the proceedings.

It’s a winning combination.

The story centres on the early years of Xavier and Magneto – how they first met and worked together and the devastating events that led to the disintegration of their friendship.

Singer cleverly uses the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis – the closest we’ve yet come to World War 3 – as the backdrop. This historical event enhances our connection to the story and gives it a sense of realism, weight and of something great at stake.

James McAvoy plays the younger Charles Xavier – this time with hair and not yet in a wheelchair – and Michael Fassbender is Holocaust survivor Erik Lehnsherr who later takes the name Magneto.

Xavier first befriends a young Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) before events lead him into the path of Erik, who is on a mission of revenge against a sadistic concentration camp commandant (Kevin Bacon) who has reinvented himself as globe-trotting warmonger Sebastian Shaw.

The two men must then work together to stop the threat of nuclear war.

It’s during this battle that the friendship between Xavier and Magneto is put to the ultimate test, sowing the seeds of the later films starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.

A number of new mutants enter the fray, including ice-queen Emma Frost (Mad Men actress January Jones), devilish Azazel (Jason Flemyng), wind-whirling Riptide (Spanish actor Alex Gonzalez), winged dancer Angel (rocker Lenny Kravitz’s daughter Zoe Kravitz), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), super-adaptable Darwin (Edi Gathegi) and Havok (Lucas Till).

The end result is a terrific relaunch, taking inspiration from the existing movies as well as several elements from the comics, and it’s sure to entertain mainstream audiences as well as superhero fans.

McAvoy and Fassbender are assured actors, capable of heartbreaking emotion, and there are plenty of tears here as nuclear war looms.

Dramatic tension is palpable and the film rises much higher than the usual superhero fare to focus on characters’ human struggles in a story packed with meaning and gravitas.

Although – as in the previous movies – some of the henchmen are rather thinly characterised, that’s to be expected in such an ensemble piece and the only real quibble is Fassbender’s accent, which seems to have very strong hints of his native Irish by the closing frames.

Supporting performances, particularly Lawrence and Hoult, are compelling and Bacon is a suitably nefarious villain.

Matthew Vaughn, at one time set to direct X-Men: The Last Stand before Brett Ratner stepped in, proves he can capably handle the challenges and complexities of the X-Men’s long-established world and, crucially, its powerful underlying themes.

A welcome return to form for the series. I can’t wait to see where the story goes next.

Rating * * * * *
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:20 pm

http://www.holymoly.com/hm15/reviews/cinema-dvd/film-review-x-men-first-class-sexy-60s-reboot56792

Top marks

Fri, 03/06/2011 - 10:55 By BeccaDP

Ask anyone what’s worse than sequels and, with the memories of Jar Jar Binks still painfully clear, they’ll say prequels. Everybody hates prequels, because they’re rubbish. Not this one, though. X Men: First Class is a snazzy, sexy 60s reboot that tells the tale of how Magneto got his silly helmet and how Professor X got his wheelchair.

Starting in 1944, with a scene familiar from a flashback in the original X Men movie; a young boy in a Polish concentration camp discovers his power for the very first time. While in a huge house in New York, an over-privileged British boy meets a new friend, a mutant just like him. Then, boom, it’s 1962 and that little British boy is a flirtatious Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) while the little Polish boy is brooding Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) hell-bent on revenge. These two protagonists are the heart and soul of First Class, giving flawless performances that drive the whole thing. While McAvoy’s Charles is certainly sexier and, er, “groovier” than the old Professor X we know, he displays the old X’s fatal flaw; a blind faith in goodness. Fassbender, as Erik, is a revelation; his nuanced performance lending gravity to what could easily have been a silly comic book romp. He also looks pretty bloody tasty in a polo neck, eh, ladies? McAvoy and Fassbender play very well together, so well in fact that it is surely only a matter of time before someone YouTubes a Brokeback/First Class mashup…

The supporting cast is also largely brilliant, with Kevin Bacon playing shithead-in-chief Sebastian Shaw, Mad Men’s January Jones as uber bitch Emma Frost, and newcomer Jennifer Lawrence (robbed of an Oscar for her star turn in Winter’s Bone, if you ask us) as a young Mystique perfectly, stripping away the sexy, over confident character given to us by Rebecca Romjin-Stamos in the earlier films, and playing her with a great deal of vulnerability and fragility. Non-mutant, CIA agent Moira McTaggart (Rose Byrne) is a joy to watch, with her non-mutant power of being seriously ballsy.

The young mutants, X Men in training, let down the overall action with below-standard acting; Angel, Havok and Banshee are all pretty lame, and we weren’t overly convinced by Nicholas Hoult’s turn as Beast Hank McCoy. Yes, Hoult gives an OK performance, but whether he has what it takes to shine next to stars like Fassbender and McAvoy, as his peer Jennifer Lawrence does, is yet to be seen. The lamest of the lame, though, is demon-mutant-thing Azazel. We hate Azazel.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn, who helmed tongue-in-cheek superhero zinger Kick Ass, First Class manages to maintain a humour and simplicity befitting the genre whilst also tackling the thornier issues of the Holocaust, the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Did you know the X Men played a big role in the Cuban Missile Crisis? Well, you do now. First Class breathes new life into a franchise that quickly grew tired until Last Stand and Wolverine kicked it to death. We can only hope that we get the sequels that have been hinted at, to join First Class seamlessly with the first movie, so that all the sub-plots and threads that are left unexplored in this film are developed, and questions answered. Questions like; if Mystique has no nips, how does she know when she’s cold? And, while we understand the helmet, why does Magneto suddenly go from sexy knitwear to wearing a ridiculous cape? And what does Beast’s downstairs look like? So many questions…

X-Men First Class is out now in literally every cinema, everywhere.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:21 pm

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/xmen-first-class-in-position-for-first-place-against-hangover-2-2292584.html

'X-Men: First Class' in position for first place against 'Hangover 2'

Relaxnews

Friday, 3 June 2011

The reboot of Marvel's successful ‘X-Men' franchise, X-Men: First Class, starring James McAvoy (Atonement) and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds), is expected to hit screens with force with weekend and collect a strong $69 million in the US, according to BoxOffice.com.

This prequel, an origin story directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass), follows Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr before they became Professor X and Magneto, as they discover their powers and their rivalry begins.

Also co-starring January Jones (Mad Men) as Emma Frost and Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) as Raven/Mystique, the mutants.

This fifth installment follows X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine which have collected more than $1.5 billion worldwide, and is positioned as the only major film releasing internationally from June 1-3, but for Germany, Greece and Japan where it opens June 9 to 11.

X-Men: First Class is receiving a 98 percent positive rating from reviews posted on aggregate website, RottenTomatoes.com and Boxoffice.com's WebWatch states that comic superhero tale leads with a 23 percent share of online opinions for unreleased films.

According to online ticket outlet Fandango, X-Men: First Class is pulling 21 percent of daily ticket sales. As of June 1, The Hangover 2 still held 31 percent of sales, but is expected to drop as the weekend draws closer.

The Hangover Part II could see a drop to $37 million in North America after it's grossed $205 million worldwide, per BoxOffice.com estimates. Kung Fu Panda 2 might earn $26 million and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides could bring in under $20 million in its third week.

Internationally, the ‘Pirates' blockbuster, starring Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz, collected $256.3 million over the first weekend and $122.8 million the next, but could finally drop another 50 percent to $60 million, leaving room for X-Men: First Class to dominate worldwide.

‘X-Men' trailer

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:22 pm

http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/day-and-night/movies-xmen-first-class-2665175.html

Movies: X-men: First Class ***

DIFFERENT TACTICS: James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender star

By Paul Whitington

Friday June 03 2011

Quietly and steadily, the X-Men franchise has clocked up a tidy $1.5billion at the global box office with four workmanlike but well-crafted action films. In this, the fifth, series producer Lauren Shuler Donner and her writers have taken the brave step of going for a prequel, for X-Men: First Class investigates the origins of the X-Men and their founder Professor Charles Xavier. Specifically the film examines the troubled relationship between Xavier and his nemesis Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr, and when we first meet them both are small boys.

Charles Xavier has grown up in an atmosphere of refinement and privilege in 1940s New York, but from an early age has been aware of his telepathic powers. He's a mutant and has always assumed he's the only one, but when he meets a girl his age called Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) who can change her shape and appearance at will, he realises he's not alone. Young Erik Lehnsherr is a mutant too, but he's also a Jew -- not the best career move in 1940s Germany. After being sent to a concentration camp, Eric catches the eye of a Nazi scientist called Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) who spots the boy's telekinetic abilities.

In an incident that will scar Eric for life, Shaw tries to force the boy to move a coin with his mind by holding a gun to his mother's head. She gets shot, and Eric grows up a very angry mutant.

The adult Erik (Michael Fassbender) first runs into Xavier (James McAvoy) while on the trail of Shaw, who's now in South America. Shaw and a merry band of mutants, called the Hellfire Club, have decided to play the Russians and Americans off each other and start a nuclear war that will wipe out humanity and leave the world to the mutants.

Xavier is working with the CIA to stop them, and he persuades a reluctant Erik to join him. They also recruit a group of young and untrained mutants, but Xavier and Erik differ sharply about their tactics in particular and mankind in general, whom Erik considers an irretrievably bad lot. The Cuban missile crisis forms the lively backdrop for a spectacular showdown between Shaw, Xavier, the Russians, the Americans and Erik.

All of that sounds terribly complicated and grandiose, but in fact once it settles down X-Men: First Class is a lively, cheerful romp. The script has fun filling in the backstories of X-Men regulars such as Mystique and The Beast, and the use of actual 1960s geopolitics gives substance to a story that might otherwise have been slight.

The worst thing one of these superhero romps can do is take itself too seriously, but X-Men: First Class does its best to punctuate the action with jokes, most of them courtesy of Charles Xavier's rather prim and proper personality. James McAvoy was an inspired choice to take on the role played with such economy of effort by Patrick Stewart in the other films, and in fact the general high calibre of the actors on display makes X-Men: First Class a surprisingly enjoyable watch.

Michael Fassbender is suitably tortured and conflicted as Erik Lehnsherr, Kevin Bacon is a satisfyingly unctuous villain, Rose Byrne and January Jones provide the glamour, and it's nice to see Jennifer Lawrence (who so impressed in Winter's Bone) having a bit of fun in a lighter role. Oliver Platt brings colour to a potentially bland supporting turn, and Hugh Jackman makes a brief but salty cameo as the predictably grumpy Wolverine.

All in all English director Matthew Vaughn handles a complex assignment with skill, providing enough quiet pauses to counteract the action scenes and giving his impressive cast sufficient room to do their stuff. This isn't the end of it, one suspects -- although X-Men: First Class is officially a prequel to the first film in the series, I imagine the producers might fancy squeezing yet another egg out of the golden goose.

- Paul Whitington
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:23 pm

http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-06-03/entertainment/29615788_1_charles-xavier-michael-fassbender-jennifer-lawrence

'X-Men: First Class' review: Mutants' early days
June 03, 2011|By Amy Biancolli, Hearst Movie Writer

Erik (Michael Fassbender), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Charles (James McAvoy), Moira (Rose Byrne), Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and Havok (Lucas Till) join forces to prevent the greatest disaster the world has ever known.

Belief suspension is compulsory for any superhero flick, and mine is pretty flexible. But my fantasy-support system crashes in a heap when asked to believe that someday, James McAvoy will mature into Patrick Stewart. Deepen his voice. Acquire stentorian Shakespearean gravity. And lose all his hair.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn ("Kick-Ass"), "X-Men: First Class," the fifth movie in the Marvel mutant franchise and the first since 2009's overwhelmingly blah "Wolverine," is never blah. Uneven, occasionally silly, true, but it's also an improvement over 2006's "X-Men: The Last Stand."

"First Class" zips back to the origins of Professor X, the goodly telepath played by McAvoy, and Magneto, the telekinetic friend/antagonist played by Michael Fassbender.

Fassbender doesn't look much like his predecessor in the role, Ian McKellen, but both men have a slippery charisma that fits Magneto. As a German Jewish Holocaust survivor, Magneto offers the darkest and most compelling part of the story: In 1944, little Erik Lehnsherr watches his mother die at the hands of a vicious Nazi scientist (Kevin Bacon), who then takes him under his wing, teaches him to exploit his powers and turns him into Frankenstein's monster.

Meanwhile, the wee Charles Xavier spots a fellow mutant named Raven raiding the fridge in his mansion. She's a shape shifter. In her natural state she's all scaly and blue, but she's too ashamed to go "mutant and proud" in a world that looks down on genetically altered freaks. Raven grows into Jennifer Lawrence - a sad, smart creature - while Charles turns into an aggravatingly foppish McAvoy.

By then it's 1962, the eve of the Cuban missile crisis, and Bacon's nasty Nazi scientist has acquired a perfect American accent and a yacht full of bad mutant sidekicks in his quest to squish humans like insects.

When "X-Men: First Class" moves on to the matters of CIA politicking, U.S.-Soviet tensions and a worldwide mutant-recruiting effort, Professor X and Magneto enlist their young mutants. These two are harder to swallow as friends than enemies - their bonding seems forced, their chemistry spark-less.

X-Men: First Class

ALERT VIEWER Sci-fi action. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Starring Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence. (PG-13. 132 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:24 pm

http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/movie-guide/Xs+and+Ohs!/4886072/story.html

Xs and Ohs!

Superhero prequel takes us through mutant team's early growing pains

By Katherine Monk, Postmedia News June 3, 2011

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, January Jones and Kevin Bacon

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

PG: Violence

Running time: 132 minutes

Rating 3 1/2(Out of 5)

elieve it or not, the world wasn't crying out for the X-Men backstory. Like most comic book franchises to get a big screen birthing, the appeal of an X-Men movie lay in the physical embodiment of the familiar characters -not a David Copperfield-styled biopic.

For instance, we all knew Wolverine -and we liked him -which made Hugh Jackman's X-Men character an easy page-to-screen transition: He was well-defined, easy to understand and his mutant power of fast-healing and super strength (combined with hightech weapons-grade metal implants) made him completely cinematic.

Professor X and Magneto may not have the same sex-appeal given one is in a wheelchair, and the other shaded under a prophylactic chapeau, but they are the two poles that hold the X-Men universe in position, and in this prequel, we find out how these former mutant allies became enemies.

If you're already enrapt by the premise, this X-Men movie is a must-see because dramatically speaking, it's probably got the biggest ambitions of any X-Men spectacle to date.

It deals directly with the Holocaust, complete with scenes of concentration camps, people in striped clothing and cold-blooded killing.

Marrying systematic mass murder and comic book sensibilities is a big challenge, but one director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Layer Cake) handles with relative ease as he tapers the story down to two charismatic characters: Professor X and Magneto.

The most magnetic of the two is Erik Lehnsherr, which is where our story begins: Young Erik has just been separated from his family by Nazis when he demonstrates an unusual talent for bending metal. The show proves so compelling, he's recruited for experiments by a creepy camp doctor named Shaw (Kevin Bacon).

The only problem for young Erik is his lack of control. He can't command metal on a whim. He needs emotional urgency to access his mutant gift, which means the Nazis use his family to conjure emotional responses of the worst kind.

While Erik is emotionally tortured by Shaw, young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is living comfortably on the English countryside in a mansion. Rich, privileged and well-educated, Charles is a blue-sky thinker who also has the curious ability to read minds. Charles always figured he was alone in the universe, but one day, a shapeshifter appears in his kitchen.

He can read her mind, and in an instant, Charles and Raven (later known as Mystique, played here by Jennifer Lawrence) become best friends and spiritual mutant siblings.

Flash forward to the height of the Cold War circa 1960. Charles Xavier has just graduated from university, where he was a clear winner with the ladies thanks to his opening line: "Hey gorgeous! That's a groovy mutation you've got there...."

Erik (Michael Fassbender), meanwhile, has been hunting down Nazis, hoping to trap and kill his arch-enemy Shaw.

These two central mutants are on opposite tracks. One is focused on killing. The other is dedicated to teaching the world to embrace mutant differences. War versus peace, love versus hate, mutant versus human: It's drama on an epic scale and Vaughn renders the players with a loving hand -and plenty of frame time.

It's a good decision -for the most part -because the mutant triumvirate is composed of top-notch talents: McAvoy, Fassbender and Lawrence are standouts of their generation, and no matter how moronic the script gets, they find a way to inject genuine feeling into each moment.

McAvoy plays out the part of privileged hero with an almost Kennedy-esque persona -one that is both noble, and just a tad scandalous, at the same time. Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) hands in such an emotionally driven performance, he may actually reduce the audience to tears -which is no small feat in a Hollywood action reel.

Lawrence's role isn't as big as those of the two men, but she proves her Oscar-nominated turn in Winter's Bone was just the beginning of a flowering dramatic career as she carves out the conflicted heart of the turncoat Mystique.

Mystique is the symbolic core of First Class because she's struggling with self-acceptance. Ostracized and alone as a result of her blue skin and yellow eyes, she's learned selfloathing. She wants to be like everyone else. She wants to be "normal," and that's where this movie makes its most articulate points as it challenges our human propensity to judge all books by their cover.

Only Erik has the depth of experience to understand the importance, and the beauty, of individual difference. When he looks into Mystique's yellow eyes, he sees someone worth loving for who she is -which makes Erik surprisingly attractive, despite his hate-on for just about everyone and everything.

X-Men: First Class handles all these themes with just enough gravitas to bring the emotional moments home, without sacrificing the kitsch appeal of a story about mutant superheroes and their connection to such historical events as the Bay of Pigs crisis.

Vaughn balances the whole precarious assembly with grace, but there are still some glaring problems -namely, January Jones and Jason Flemyng. Jones is altogether comatose for the duration as a mutant Ice Queen with diamond flesh, while Flemyng plays a mutant with a devilish appearance -red face, pointy tail and all.

The diamond special effect is kind of lame, and the red makeup for Flemyng is downright comical. Then again, it's an X-Men movie: Its central mission is entertainment, and on that score, it delivers.

That First Class also offers a decent narrative about the importance of self-love, family bonding and friendship gives it extra dimension, even if the overall dramatic range only goes X to Z.

WHAT OTHER CRITICS ARE SAYING ...

Excerpts from reviews of X-Men: First Class

A large and talented cast manages to make more than a dozen characters pop, but still this is the Michael Fassbender show.

-Kyle Smith, New York Post The result is one of the best Marvel adaptations, packed with action, humour, retro 1960s style that's both campy and sexy and a revisionist history lesson that puts the X-Men at the centre of the Cuban missile crisis.

-David Germain, Associated Press It's big, bright, savvy, and so expansive you'll undoubtedly leave feeling you got your money's worth.

-Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News

Entertaining enough for a Saturday night, and much more satisfying than the last X-Men offshoot, the woeful Wolverine.

-Ty Burr, Boston Globe If there is to be yet another X-Men movie in the future -though I have to say that now might be the time to call it quits -then a solo effort with Fassbender's super-nasty Magneto would be the way to go.

-Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

The best superhero movie since The Dark Knight. An excellent balance of fun and serious, highstakes excitement

-Matt Pais, RedEye

Though First Class has its share of well-honed action sequences, it shines in the same way the previous films did: through fine casting and carefully crafted characters.

-Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times
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