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X-Men Reviews 3

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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:31 pm

http://www.digitaltrends.com/entertainment/x-men-first-class-review/

Home » Entertainment » Hollywood » X-Men: First Class Review
X-Men: First Class Review

By: Ryan Fleming •
June 2, 2011

In X-Men: First Class, Matthew Vaughn takes the franchise to the past in a prequel to the X-Men franchise that may be the best film in the series.

I grew up as a comic book nerd. The boxes filled with years of my obsession which my mother grudgingly stores for me can attest to that. And of all the series I collected, none were as close to me as X-Men. I hunted down the Phoenix saga. I collected Classic X-Men until they caught up with the issues I already had. I was there when the team went to Australia for no damn reason and nearly destroyed the franchise. So it shouldn’t be a big surprise to hear that I’ve also seen all four of the previous X-Men films several times. Even though I hated at least two of them.

Bryan Singer’s X-Men and X-Men II weren’t all that bad. And at the time, compared to the other comic book movies that had been released, grading on a curve a “not bad” was actually fairly impressive. But they still felt like a movie that featured the X-Men, not a movie about the X-Men. The sense of adventure and drama that anchored the comic was missing. There was no spark or recognition of the deep history. That would be fine for the movies if there had been something better in its place, maybe something original and fresh, but there wasn’t. It was a superficial look at a world that deserved better; the films were just missing something. They weren’t Schumacher’s Batman and Robin bad, but they weren’t great either.

Then a few things came to pass in the comic book movie world that changed everything: namely Spider-Man 2 and Batman Begins. Both challenged what a comic book movie could be and set a new standard for the superhero film. It was a good time to be a comic book nerd. Then X-Men: The Last Stand happened. X3 was a mess of a movie from the start. Fox rushed the third movie out, Singer left mid-way to direct Superman Returns (not the best career move ever) and Brett Ratner was not the guy that could glue the broken pieces together. The result was a movie that hurt the brains of comic book fans and made casual audiences wonder why people ever cared for the X-Men.

And then there was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a more divisive film that people either disliked, or they hated it passionately – very little middle ground. But regardless of whether or not they were any good, all four movies made money which meant a fifth was inevitable. Several suggestions were tossed around before they eventually settled on a prequel. Singer then returned as an executive producer, and Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Stardust) was hired to direct. The result is the best film in the series yet.

Once upon a time in 1962

Whether the decision to set the film in 1962 was because the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis worked in the story, or because it honors the comic book which debuted in September of 1963, the setting plays a major role.

But X-Men: First Class actually begins years earlier during World War II, when a young teenager named Erik Lehnsherr watches as his mother is dragged off by Nazis through a Concentration Camp. If you saw X-Men, then you saw the scene that begins First Class. But unlike in X-Men, the story continues after Lehnsherr was dragged off by Nazi guards.

Young Erik is taken to the office of the German Commandant (Kevin Bacon), who recognizes the powers in the boy. To bring that power out, he proceeds to commit atrocities against the kid that will set his bloody path as an adult. On the other side of the world, a teenager named Charles befriends a young shape-shifting mutant named Raven that had broken into his house searching for food. He accepts the girl into his life, which also sets the young Charles on his path of helping others.

Jump to 1962 as the Cold War is heating up. Part of the tension between the world powers is due to the secret manipulations of a group known as the Hellfire Club, a collection of mutants operating before the world knew that mutants existed. Led by Sebastian Shaw, the former Nazi that Lehnsherr has been hunting, the Club is under investigation by CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne). When the Club appears to be more than human, Xavier (James MacAvoy) is brought in to help.

The first confrontation against Shaw and his Club that includes telepath Emma Frost (January Jones), a mutant capable of controlling whirlwinds (Alex Gonzalez) and the teleporter Azael (Jason Flemyng), goes badly, but it does bring Xavier and Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), who was hunting Shaw on his own, together.

The CIA’s Division X, run by an unnamed man in black (Oliver Platt) helps Xavier to recruit a group of mutants to fight Shaw. Along with Xavier’s childhood friend Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Lehnsherr, he is joined by Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Sean Cassidy/Banshee (Caleb Landry), Alex Summers/Havok (Lucas Till), Angel (Zoe Kravitz) and Armondo Munoz/Darwin (Edi Gathegi).

As the proto-X-Men and the Hellfire Club face off, the ideologies of Xavier and Lehnsherr continue to mature, and the fate of the world and the budding mutant population are both in jeopardy.

One of the things that sets First Class apart from the other X-Men movies is the level of depth the script has. There is an action movie in there, but it is also a drama about two men that begin as friends, but who the audience know will become bitter enemies. It also seems to “get” the X-Men more than the other films. The little nods to the mythology and history of the comics are there, and they work within the canon of the existing films.

If anything, the greatest flaw in First Class is something that isn’t the fault of the film at all–it is a slave to the existing films. Most casual fans won’t know the mutant Banshee. Longtime fans certainly will, and he is a great addition because of the history, but you get the sense that Vaughn is doing the best with what he has. That shouldn’t take away from the film, but the casual fan will be left wondering who half the characters are. But putting that aside, First Class has a story that while steeped in the fantastic, is far more believable than a machine capable of turning people into water (or liquid goo), or a magic cure that rewrites DNA and can be turned into cure-bullets, or a stupid adamantium bullet that somehow erases memories in the dumbest way possible or… you get the point.

At the heart of the plot is tension. Tension between Xavier and Lehnsherr, tension between The Hellfire Club and the X-Men, and tension between the U.S. and the USSR. They all work well within each other, and the final climatic battle is suitably intertwined with all these themes, leading to a satisfying ending.

The Artwork

Although the film borrows heavily on the events of the 1960s, the look only touches on the era, which is something of a shame, but also something that is more of an absence than a problem. The clothes are correct for the time period, but they are also fairly average looking. The cars are period-specific, but you only see them a few times. Even the hairstyles are current. If it weren’t for the occasional black and white TV and the plot steeped in the historical events of the day, you might not realize that the film is a period piece at all.

None of that is a problem, but it feels like Vaughn is straining to make the film modern but is trapped by the mythos of the other films which relegates him to the 60s. Much more could have been done with the era, but again, this is more a case of what could have possibly been rather than a problem with the movie. Still, it feels like a missed opportunity, albeit a minor one.

But beyond that one gripe, the movie looks great. It is filled with color that was notably lacking in Singer’s nearly monochromatic world, and it is helped immensely by fantastic casting.

Although the name of Michael Fassbender may not yet be a household name, give it time, it will be. While Ian McKellan is one of the best living actors today, Fassbender plays the young Magneto with a complex blend of rage and limited compassion that McKellan lacked. You can see the character’s potential as a prophet to alienated mutants, especially in his interactions with the young Mystique which are among some of the best single moments of the film.

McAvoy also shines as Xavier, and as he slowly begins to accept the role of teacher, it feels natural. His relationship with Raven/Mystique is also an important dynamic, and the girl becomes something of a defining character for both Xavier and Lehnsherr. It is handled with subtlety and finesse, which makes it more powerful. A good deal of the credit needs to go to the actors, but it also reflects on Vaughn. Brett Ratner could not have done the same thing. Singer is credited for part of the story, but the inherent vulnerability and complexity of the character of Raven is a character-driven moment, which feels more akin to Vaughn’s work.

The young X-Men also do fine, but with the exception of Beast, none of them are really much more than a stepping stone to help create the man Xavier will become. They are mostly there as special effects, which is too bad, but completely understandable as they would have just gummed up the solid pacing of the film.

Speaking of the special effects, they look great, and Vaughn seems to have a good eye for CGI. There are no shaky cam shots, nor are there any moments where you are left wondering what you just saw. The tradeoff is there are only a few moments that you can call spectacular, but there are plenty of great moments. Vaughn manages to make complex and impossible action look believable, which is something Ratner was hit or miss with, but Singer failed at with mostly unspectacular and dull fights (remember X-Men and the lackluster fight in the Statue of Liberty?).

There aren’t many action scenes that will blow you away, but they are all fun to watch.

A First Class Ride

X-Men: First Class is the best of the X-Men films, with the only real competition coming from X2. But there is an intelligence that carries the film that wasn’t present in the other movies in the series. All the other X-Men films tried to be superhero films grounded in reality, while First Class just tries to be a good film.

The cast is spot on, and the lead actors all have a chemistry that was lacking in many of the other films (looking at you James Marsden and Famke Janssen). McAvoy and Fassbender play off each other well, and both represent something far more than themselves. Xavier is the hope of tomorrow, while Magneto is the specter of yesterday. And between them rests the future of the world, as seen through the eyes of a handful of kids.

In terms of an all-out action movie filled with massive explosions, First Class is only average—there are plenty of cool fight scenes, but nothing that really wows you. But it is a movie that wants to be more than that, and it succeeds in spades. Despite the prequel nature of First Class, a direct sequel would be a welcome addition to the franchise. Barring that, maybe they can reboot the entire franchise using this as a foundation. But if not, at least there is hope for the X-Men films.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:32 pm

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20110603/LIVING/106030317/Film-review-X-Men-First-Class

Film review: X-Men: First Class
Newest X-Men adventure embodies spirit of Marvel's super mutants.
6:14 PM, Jun. 2, 2011 |

Written by
David Germain

Mutants, it seems, are only as good as the creators assembling their chromosomes. And the mad scientists behind X-Men: First Class are real artists in the laboratory.

Director Bryan Singer's first two installments of the X-Men trilogy were superior adventures, about as smart and provocative as comic-book adaptations are likely to get.

After Singer left, the trilogy wrapped up with a dud, followed by a limp spinoff chronicling the origins of fan-favorite mutant Wolverine.

Now Singer's back as a producer and idea man for First Class, a prequel that presents a clever, cohesive, exhilarating big-screen take on how those Marvel Comics mutants came together on opposing sides in the evolutionary battle.

Matthew Vaughn, another filmmaker adept at blending smarts and action (Stardust, Kick-Ass), was wisely recruited as director and co-writer.

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

The young cast led by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender is no match for Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and the rest of the grand ensemble Singer enlisted for the first X-Men flick in 2000.

Yet McAvoy has playful energy and unshakable nobility, while Fassbender captures slow-burning wrath and unflinching pragmatism, which nicely prefigure Stewart's august Professor X and McKellen's dogmatic Magneto.

Despite a jumble of screenwriters that includes Vaughn, writing partner Jane Goldman and Thor scribes Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz, First Class is a focused, coherent story.

That's all the more admirable given the large cast, whose stories are woven together with enough immediacy and clarity that even Marvel newcomers can follow along without a playbill.

We're introduced to McAvoy's telepath Charles Xavier and Fassbender's Erik Lehnsherr, who can manipulate magnetic fields, as boys in the 1940s. Their vastly different upbringings underscore the differences that eventually will turn them from best friends to bitter rivals.

Charles grows up in a rich, privileged home, believing he's a freak of nature, the only one of his kind, until he meets shape-shifting mutant Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), the future Mystique character originated by Rebecca Romijn in the X-Men trilogy.

Raven and Charles forge a foster-sibling relationship, while Erik, a Polish Jew, suffers unspeakable tragedy during the Holocaust as the Nazis try to unleash the boy's power to control metal.

Charles and Erik team up in the early 1960s as part of a CIA operation against Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), a mutant who can absorb explosive energy and aims to set off a nuclear war to wipe out humanity so his kind can inherit the Earth. Bacon's a lot of fun, clearly having a blast playing the U.S. against the Soviets as puppet master of Armageddon.

Shaw is aided by bad girl telepath Emma Frost (January Jones, who's stunning in her skin-tight Bond girl-style outfits and adopts a suitably icy demeanor).

Among those initially fighting for the good guys are intrepid CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), her nameless team leader (a sadly under-used Oliver Platt), and mutants Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Havok (Lucas Till) and Angel (Zoe Kravitz).

But allegiances change, and the point of the prequel is to spell out who switched sides and why. At the heart is the break between Charles and Erik, and the filmmakers, clearly plotting a prequel trilogy, leave plenty of loose ends to tie up and a lot of room to introduce more X-Men mutants down the line.

The story also leaves off around the time the civil-rights movement starts to pick up steam, so the franchise's parallels between human racism and bigotry against mutants are bound to gain new resonance.

Many key questions about the mutants — Magneto's helmet, Professor X's wheelchair and his telepathic-amplifying machine — are explained. The film also features amusing cameos by stars from the X-Men trilogy.

The visual effects are solid, though nothing spectacular. Where the film really shines is in the design, taking the cheesy aesthetic of early James Bond films and doing the '60s up right with all the glam today's big studio bucks can buy.

If the studio can keep Singer, Vaughn and the rest of the First Class team together, there's a chance that this X-Men trilogy could evolve into a better one than the original.

130 minutes; rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language. Critic's rating is
8.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:33 pm

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/06/03/2247218/x-men-first-class-pg-13.html

Posted on Friday, 06.03.11

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (PG-13) ★ ★ ★
X-Men: First Class (PG-13)

Before Charles Xavier (James McAvoy, left) and Erik Lehnsherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men who became the closest of friends.

Movie Info

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Nicholas Hoult, Oliver Platt, Jason Flemyng, Lucas Till, Edi Gathegi.

Director: Matthew Vaughn.

Screenwriters: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn.

Producers: Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg, Gregory Goodman.

A 20th Century Fox release. Running time: 130 minutes. Vulgar language, violence, adult themes. Playing at area theaters.

By Rene Rodriguez

Marvel Comics diehards may squirm in frustration over the flagrant liberties the filmmakers have taken with the X-Men canon. But for everyone else, X-Men: First Class is an uncommonly polished and sophisticated superhero movie in which the characters are so strong you sometimes forget you’re watching a story about telepaths and men who can bend steel with their minds.

In his previous picture, Kick-Ass, director Matthew Vaughn deconstructed the comic-book genre, delivering a satire that was affectionate yet deeply subversive. With First Class, though, Vaughn sets aside all the irony and comes up with one of the best X-Men movies (second only to X-Men 2), by going back to the beginning in the 1960s when mutants were becoming more frequent after the nuclear testing of the atomic age.

Kids growing up with bizarre talents such as the ability to shape shift or shoot laser beams from their hands keep their skills hidden, afraid of being ostracized and outcast. As tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union escalate, a CIA agent (Rose Byrne) recruits the help of telepath Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) to see if this growing number of odd humans can be put to use to defend the country. Meanwhile, Holocaust survivor Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender), who has the ability to manipulate metal, is hellbent on tracking down Dr. Schmidt (Kevin Bacon), the Nazi officer who murdered his mother in front of his eyes and used him for medical experiments.

The eventual friendship between Charles and Erik, who will eventually be known as Magneto, is one of most appealing aspects of X-Men: First Class. We’ve seen these two old foes at odds for so long that watching them working together to round up a team of young, frightened mutants and honing their skills is highly entertaining (Imagine the Joker and Batman suddenly making nice and helping each other.)

Schmidt, who wants to lead the this country and Russia into a nuclear war in order to strengthen the powers of mutants everywhere and rid the world of puny humans, is played a bit broadly by Bacon, although his orchestration of the Cuban Missile Crisis is a clever intersection of history and pure fantasy. The young mutants, played by Jennifer Lawrence (the blue-skinned Raven), Nicholas Hoult (Beast) and others, are all fine, but the true stars of the film are McAvoy and Fassbender, who credibly depict how Xavier and Magneto could go from being such tight allies to mortal enemies.

Vaughn pulls off some astounding set pieces — Magneto’s lifting a giant submarine from the ocean is a jaw-dropping highpoint — but this is the rare kind of comic-book adaptation in which you’re equally entertained when the characters are just sitting around talking.

The X-Men series seemed to have reached its end with the crummy third installment The Last Stand, but First Class injects energy and life into the franchise and opens the door for a slew of potential sequels. Plus you also get the most amusing cameo of the year thus far. ’Nuff said.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:34 pm

http://www.lvrj.com/neon/-x-men-franchise-returns-to-form-with-first-class-123087673.html?ref=673

Carol Cling | MOVIE REVIEW
'X-Men' franchise returns to form with 'First Class'

Working for the CIA, Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender), left, Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and Havoc (Lucas Till) train to battle a former Nazi bent on triggering a U.S.-Soviet showdown — and a mutant takeover — in “X-Men: First Class.”
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Review

"X-Men: First Class"

132 minutes

PG-13; intense action and violence, sexual content including brief partial nudity, profanity

Grade: B

By Carol Cling
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Posted: Jun. 3, 2011 | 2:02 a.m.
Updated: Jun. 3, 2011 | 9:56 a.m.

That elusive "X" factor may be tough to define, but you know it when you see it -- and "X-Men: First Class" definitely has it.

That's good news for a once-shining Marvel Comics franchise that showed definite signs of decay once the second sequel ("X-Men: The Last Stand") and first spinoff ("X-Men Origins: Wolverine") hit screens in 2006 and 2009, respectively.

"First Class" turns out to be even more of an origin story than "Wolverine" was, tracing how the telepathic Charles Xavier becomes the idealistic Professor X -- and how Erik Lensherr's childhood traumas in a Nazi concentration camp inspire his transformation into the malevolent, metal-bending Magneto.

"First Class" also demonstrates something of a mutant identity all its own, blending familiar comic book details with the feel, and trappings, of early James Bond movies. (That makes perfect sense, considering this movie takes place during the Cold War era, when 007 himself made his big-screen debut.)

A prologue introduces our "First Class" heroes as youngsters, contrasting Xavier's lonely existence as a child of privilege with the horrors Lensherr endures at the hands of a fiendish Nazi doctor (gleefully nasty Kevin Bacon) who's eager to explore his own mutant powers -- and young Erik's.

Flash forward a few decades, to the early '60s. The studious Xavier (James McAvoy) has emerged as an authority on genetic mutations -- including his own, and those of his shape-shifting friend, Raven ("Winter's Bone" Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence).

As for Lensherr ("Inglourious Basterds' " Michael Fassbender), he's become a globe-trotting Nazi hunter, determined to track down his childhood tormentor. Who, naturally, has morphed into Sebastian Shaw, an international mystery man intent on world domination. Shaw would be a perfect Bond villain -- if only Ernst Stavro Blofeld hadn't gotten there first. (If you're from the "Austin Powers" generation, think Dr. Evil.)

Shaw's even got a Bond girl to keep him company: the icily fetching Emma Frost ("Mad Men's" January Jones), who's as good at reading minds as Xavier is. If only her intentions were as good.

But Lensherr's not the only one on to Shaw's machinations. Intrepid CIA agent Moira MacTaggert ("Bridesmaids' " Rose Byrne) stumbles upon one of his hideouts -- an ultra-private Las Vegas lair, appropriately named the Hellfire Club, where he hatches a plan to heat up the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. After all, a nuclear war will leave him free to lead mutant survivors of what will destroy the "normal" part of the human race.

Naturally, MacTaggart needs more information on mutants to get to the bottom of things. Which in turn leads her to a leading expert on genetic mutation: one Charles Xavier, who winds up as a CIA consultant -- and ultimately joins forces with Lensherr to recruit fellow mutants who will lead the fight for truth, justice and the American way. (Oops, wrong comic book franchise.)

Raven's in, of course. So is young scientific genius Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), otherwise known as Beast. There's Angel (Zoe Kravitz), who can breathe fire -- and fly. Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), with his ear-splitting wails, is a solo sonar system, while Havoc (Lucas Till) creates exactly that when he aims his wild bolts of energy.

If they can harness their disparate powers, they might be able to defuse the inevitable nuclear showdown . To say nothing of the equally inevitable clashes between Lensherr and Shaw -- and Lensherr and Xavier.

With a story by Sheldon Turner ("Up in the Air") and original "X-Men" director Bryan Singer and a screenplay by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz ("Thor"), director Matthew Vaughn and "Kick-Ass" co-writer Jane Goldman (whew!), "First Class" easily could have fallen victim to dreaded too-many-cooks script syndrome.

Yet Vaughn and his collaborators keep things rolling, shifting smoothly between settings and characters -- and neatly sorting out various elements, and characters, as the movie sets up its dominoes before toppling them in controlled bursts of action.

If anything, "First Class" seems so intent on maintaining momentum that it sacrifices some of the intriguing subtext that always has set the "X-Men" movies apart. Just as "Superman" flies, in part, on the conflict between the title character's dual identities as alien and down-to-earth reporter, so "X-Men" gains gravity with its focus on its "different" characters, some of whom want a mutants-only existence, while others strive for a place alongside "normal" humans.

It's the great debate that ultimately divides Professor X and Magneto. Yet "First Class" doesn't make much room for it -- which seems a shame, considering how well the earnest, brainy McAvoy and the intense, brawny Fassbender embody their contrasting roles.

They're far more compelling than their younger counterparts, who seem too contemporary for a movie set during the Cuban missile crisis. Sorry, folks, but "whatever" wasn't teenage slang during the Kennedy administration, women didn't wear miniskirts and men didn't sport long sideburns.

Still, I suppose it's foolish to expect verisimilitude in a comic book movie -- especially one as entertaining as this proves to be.

Besides, they'll have other chances to get it right, now that "X-Men: First Class" has regained its mojo -- or, more accurately, its "X" factor.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:37 pm

http://www.ology.com/movie-reviews/x-men-first-classhttp://www.ology.com/movie-reviews/x-men-first-class

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class
By: Benny Gammerman

X Men First Class
opening June 3, 2011
genre Action/Adventure
runtime 132min
director Matthew Vaughn
starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence
ology rating
10

X-Men: First Class is a very bad movie that is unbelievably fun to watch. I was never bored, but constantly engaged and entertained to the fullest. If I had to sum up the appeal in two words, those words would be "t**s-out." This is because A) The movie is packed with wall-to-wall nonsense, and B) Any and all breasts are displayed prominently throughout. Grab a Bud Light, because here we go...

First Class is essentially the Muppet Babies version of X-Men, the prequel to end all prequels. For the most part, the year is 1963. Against a Cold War backdrop, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) team up with the CIA to recruit a special squad of young mutants. Their goal? Nothing short of circumventing the Cuban Missile Crisis and thus preventing Word War III. I'm aware all this still sounds relatively sane. Not for long.

Kevin Bacon is the bad guy, but he's not just any bad guy. He's an ageless, indestructible Nazi scientist who lives on a pimp sub. I call it a pimp sub, because this submarine is f*cking pimp. Nazi Bacon reclines on his white vinyl couch, drink in hand, and says to a scantily clad January Jones, "Everything is going according to plan." It certainly seems that way. Rose Byrne plays a government agent, but not just any government agent. She specializes in what can only be described as lingerie espionage. I've never seen someone take off more to blend in less. The wide variety of mutant superpowers is positively staggering. All your favorite characters are here alongside creatures straight from the discount Halloween store, like Edward Tornado-Hands, Mister Monkey Feet and Satan. When they do actually speak, they tend to say things like, "We're the same, you and I," which is exactly what a bird-girl would say to a fish-boy.

First and foremost, First Class is aggressively, relentlessly enormous. Every two minutes, the action moves to a completely different country. Training montages pile on top of training montages. "What a week," the mutants mutter. If the film has a strong suit, it's pacing. The scenes, though horribly written and barely acted, never lag and the WHIZ BAM POW is crisp and clear. I wasn't always crystal on the why, but the what was obvious. In a movie this bad, that's a saving grace. In closing, you should see First Class with a friend who's smart enough to understand why it's so dumb. I went in stone cold sober and came out feeling high as f*ck. Art can do that.

SumOlogy: The Fast Five of X-Men movies. A craptacular masterpiece.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:39 pm

http://www.economicvoice.com/x-men-first-class-film-review/50020557#axzz1P0QNaAEu

X-Men: First Class – a film review
x-men-first-class-a-film-review
June 3rd, 2011
Author: Lee Price
lg share en X Men: First Class a film review

Credits:

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Writers: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn

Principal cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones and Jason Flemyng.

Release date: 1st June 2011.

Synopsis:

The prequel to the highly successful X-Men series reverts back to the early sixties to chart the formative years of Charles Xavier (McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Fassbender), two men with mutant abilities whose paths cross as they track down former Nazi and mutant criminal Sebastian Shaw (Bacon).


As Shaw plans to ignite a third world war by manipulating the politics of the Cuba missile crisis, Xavier and Lehnsherr embark on a search to find a team of talented youngsters to assist them in their attempts to foil the criminal mastermind’s plot.

However the friendship between the two men will be tested as society’s misunderstanding and fear of the emerging mutant phenomenon causes Erik to take a radical path which will see him harness his powers to become Magneto, an enemy not only to mankind but also to Xavier and his emerging X-Men.

Review:

Michael Vaughn’s origin story cleverly breaths some new air into the franchise after the limp finale that was Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), by turning back the clock and examining the early years of the mutants and their adventures.

In focusing on the early sixties, the film seems to resemble the original stories of Stan Lee’s comic strip whilst the almost absurd plot of an evil mastermind pulling the strings of cold war politics also gives a nod to classic Connery era Bond.

The Bond influence is everywhere and Vaughn is clearly having fun with it and the period, which visually marks First Class as a refreshing change to the ever increasing overload of comic based movies hitting the screen.

Also apparent is a more adult tone, with Shaw’s Hellfire Club seducing prominent world players (generals and politicians) with scantly clad beauties and even Xavier and Lehnsherr tracking down potential mutant allies to strip-joints.


The violence is also upped in ante, and no more so then Fassbender’s embittered anti-hero, the future Magneto’s command of metal and magnetic fields are at the heart of the film’s special effects and come to symbolise the justice branded out by the character as he emerges as a dark Bond like Nazi hunter on the trail of Bacon’s villain.

Xavier is also seen in a new light as McAvoy has great fun portraying the early years of Professor X as an idealist and womaniser at ease with his telepathic powers whilst gradually wising up to the unfurling events around him.

It is a credit that both actors have delivered something new to the roles previously inhabited by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. If this is the start of a prequel trilogy then the fun will be witnessing the younger incarnations of such well known characters evolve into their established selves.

But in creating a large ensemble cast in a film that focuses primarily on Xavier and Lehnsherr some supporting characters seem to miss out on their due screen time.

January Jones most certainly looks the part as telepath and villainess Emma Frost, but the performance never seems to fulfil it’s potential and Jason Flemyng’s devilish teleporter Azazel seems regulated to the role of mere henchman.

Likewise, with such a powerfully character driven opening, the film’s action based final act does not hold the attention as much as previous events and perhaps there’s too much tidying up of loose ends at the close.

But there’s more than enough to commend and one senses that the inevitable sequels will evolve all characters and their various plights further, which should not be hard given the richness and variety of the source material.

Verdict:

A refreshingly new spin on the X-Men formula which is headlined by two very likeable performances by McAvoy and Fassbender. Recommended.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:39 pm

http://clatl.com/atlanta/hollywood-product-x-men-first-class/Content?oid=3291141

Hollywood Product: X-Men: First Class
Director Matthew Vaughn rejuvenates the franchise and presents one of the summer's best films
by Curt Holman
From left: Erik (Michael Fassbender), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Charles (James McAvoy), Moira (Rose Byrne), Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), and Havok (Lucas Till)

Murray Close

From left: Erik (Michael Fassbender), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Charles (James McAvoy), Moira (Rose Byrne), Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), and Havok (Lucas Till)

X-Men: First Class
****
Rated PG-13 - Action/Adventure, SciFi/Fantasy
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne and January Jones
Opens Fri. Jun. 3 in area theaters

Official Site: www.x-menfirstclassmovie.com
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz
Producer: Gregory Goodman and Simon Kinberg
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Oliver Platt and Kevin Bacon

GENRE: Superhero epic with retro sizzle

THE PITCH: In 1962, mutation researcher Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and vengeful Holocaust survivor Eric Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) unite to find other super-powered individuals and thwart the scheming Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) from provoking a nuclear war. Any resemblance to super-characters played by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen is totally the point.

MAGNETIC MONEY SHOTS: Young Erik trashes a Nazi experimentation lab. Grown-up Erik uses metal teeth fillings to get information from a secretive banker. Erik uses anchor chains like giant tentacles against Sebastian's huge private yacht. Erik demonstrates (and prevents) military destruction on a beach when the Cuban Missile Crisis nearly becomes the Cuban Mutant Crisis. Maybe the best is young Erik crumpling Nazi helmets; You wish he would say, "I am crushing your head!"

BEST LINE: With Oxford University co-eds, Charles uses the pick-up line, "It's a mutation — a very groovy mutation."

CORNIEST LINE: "I always believed I couldn't be the only one in the world, the only person who was ... different." About a zillion Marvel Comics from the 1960s contains that basic line, with the same emphasis on "different."

MOST BADASS LINE: Eric reads the words "Blood and honor" on an ex-Nazi's knife and asks, "What would you like to shed first?"

BEST LINE I MADE UP: Sebastian's psychic right-hand woman Emma Frost ("Mad Men's" January Jones) can turn her body into diamond, but she neglects to declare, "I'm my own best friend."

FLESH FACTOR: In Vegas, Sebastian's Hellfire Club swarms with hotties in lingerie, a la the 1960s Playboy Club. Jones shows off cleavage whether flirting with generals or piloting submarines. Young Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) eventually opts to keep her scaly blue skin unconcealed. At one point, Fassbender dons a skintight wet suit to sneak up on Sebastian.

FASHION STATEMENTS: When Emma Frost isn't in her white undies, she wears a white jumpsuit like Diana Rigg from Avengers. A telepathy-proof helmet provides a big plot point while foreshadowing the future films. The good guys don black-and-yellow leather jumpsuits faithful to the comic book's debut in 1963. Fassbender looks best in khakis and a white golf shirt.

MUTANT PRIDE: Characters use the phrase "mutant and proud" so often, you expect them to break into a remix of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," only with prehensile toes and dragonfly wings.

CAMEOS: I won't spoil the walk-ons and references to the X-Men movie franchise, which include possibly the year's best joke. X-Men: First Class proves surprisingly generous with great character actors in tiny roles, including Ray Wise, James Remar and Michael Ironside. JFK even makes some cameos thanks to effective use of his speeches.

HEY, WAIT A MINUTE: Charles helps Erik temper his rage to move a giant radar dish — but what's it doing spoiling the view in Westchester?

BETTER THE REST? Yes, except for the terrific X2: X-Men United — and it might even be better than that. Compared to the overwrought sloppiness of X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, director Matthew Vaughn rejuvenates the franchise, gracefully juggles countless roles and locations and totally digs the go-go boots and cover derring-do of the James Bond/Matt Helm-era movies.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A prequel/reboot easily on a par with J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, X-Men: First Class grounds the big civil rights-style metaphors in the relationships between the characters, with special credit to the performances of McAvoy, Fassbender and Lawrence. Some of the jokes and special effects go a little over the top, but X-Men: First Class doesn't need Storm to steal the thunder of this summer's better-hyped blockbusters.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 6:00 pm

http://www.4029tv.com/r/28117217/detail.html

Review: First-Class 'X-Men' Marvels
Prequel Brings Franchise Back With Bang
Michelle Solomon, Contributing writer

POSTED: 1:59 am CDT June 3, 2011
UPDATED: 2:15 am CDT June 3, 2011

"X-Men" (PG-13) Popcorn rating Popcorn rating Popcorn rating Half Popcorn Rating (out of four)

Don't worry if the names Professor X and Magneto don't stir a fire in your soul, "X-Men: First Class" will spark excitement even in those who care little for comic book superheroes.

Much like the inventive 2009 "Star Trek" reboot that chronicled the early days of Spock and Kirk, "X-Men: First Class" goes back to the beginnings of "X-Men" when Professor X and Magneto first meet. Gifted scientist Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), who, because of his own genetic make up, has a gift of telepathy, and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), who, possesses the power to control magnetism when provoked, join together to stop Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). The powerful energy-absorbing mutant has hatched a plan to have mankind succumb to its own demise so mutants can take over the world.

The imaginative story is set in the 1960s at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, and uses real historical events fused with fiction to heighten the tension. In "X-Men: First Class," Shaw has figured out a way to escalate the Cold War crisis to trigger an all-out war.

Setting the film in the 1960s also lends the atmosphere a bit of James Bond mystique. It's the dawn of the Space Age -- no cell phones, no 21st century high-tech gadgetry, just submarines and super powers. There are other themes from the era that are fascinatingly interwoven including human themes of Civil Rights. Here the question of man's equality creates audience sympathy for the mutants, outcasts who are feared and hated because they are different. It's also a bit of a tribute that the film is set in the 1960s -- the Marvel Comics series was first created in 1963 by Stan Lee with Jack Kirby.

Of course, what's most intriguing in this Part One is how the X-Men came to be the X-Men. How did Professor X end up in a wheelchair? And how did X and Magneto become archenemies? Those of you who aren't concerned about these burning questions can just enjoy the magnificent effects and the mastery of the story.

Fassbender as the headstrong Erik is the focal point of the film. "X-Men: First Class" introduces Erik with a scene that opened the original "X-Men." He's a youngster held at the Auschwitz concentration camp in the 1940s and has been separated from his parents. "First Class" takes the opening a step further with the evil Dr. Schmidt pushing Erik to the limit so that the boy's strong mental powers become a force to be reckoned with.

The film moves forward 20 years later, where Erik is out to seek revenge for what he had endured at the hands of Dr. Schmidt. One of the best scenes (reminiscent of "Marathon Man") is when Erik visits someone who may know the whereabouts of Schmidt, but in order to make the man spill his secrets he must use his magnetic powers to do a bit of dental work on the gentleman.

"X-Men: First Class" also introduces other heroes and villains (and villainesses), some from past "X-Men" films and others primarily from the pages of the comic books. Here, we meet some new recruits as teenagers: Blue-skinned Mystique, a changeling who can appear as her human self, Raven, or assume the appearance of anyone else, has been taken under the wing of Charles. In the original film trilogy, she is played by Rebecca Romijn, part of Magneto's Brotherhood. Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence from last year's "Winter's Bone" plays the young Mystique with an innocent charm.

There's also the big-footed Hank (Nicholas Hoult), whose secret to how he became Beast is revealed; Alex Summers (Lukas Till), aka Havok, who emits super-heated energy waves; Sean Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones looking an awful lot like Harry Potter's Ron Weasley), aka Banshee, whose unique sonic blasts carry him into flight; and Armondo Munoz (Edi Gathegi), aka Darwin, who is able to adapt to any situation or environment. Zoe Kravitz (musician Lenny Kravitz's daughter) plays Angel, who sports an insect-like tattoo on her back that actually sprouts real wings, which enable her to fly.

Shaw's Hellfire Club villains and villainesses include Shaw's right-hand woman, Emma Frost, played by a seductive January ("Mad Men") Jones; the demonic Azazel (Jason Flemyng) and the tornado creating Riptide (Alex Gonzalez). So where's Wolverine? Now that's a surprise.

"X"philes will rejoice that the franchise is back in full force after a slump while anyone out for a little fun will herald this super, superhero extravaganza that kicks off the summer movie season with a resounding bang.

Distributed by Internet Broadcasting. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Post by Admin on Sat Jun 11, 2011 6:05 pm

http://annistonstar.com/bookmark/13531786-%E2%80%98First-Class%E2%80%99-effort-by-X-Men

‘First Class’ effort by X-Men
by Robert Bozeman
rbozeman@annistonstar.com
Jun 03, 2011

After having to sit through the last couple of installments, X-Men: First Class is really quite refreshing.

It’s refreshing in a way that is reminiscent of the latest Star Trek. It’s light and fun with good energy and no major flaws.

Ultimately, First Class doesn’t really reach the level of X2 or the first Iron Man, but it makes a fair stake for itself, mainly behind the performances of James McAvoy (who plays Charles Xavier) and Michael Fassbender (Erik Lehnsherr as he makes his transformation into Magneto.)

The film starts with young Erik folding in a gate at a concentration camp after being taken from his parents. He is then taken to Nazi officer Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), who tries to activate young Erik’s magnetic powers by threatening to shoot his mother if Erik can’t move a coin with his mind. It’s almost as if Shaw is trying to create a comic book supervillain.

And then we have young Charles Xavier finding a young Mystique/Raven, the teenage version played by Jennifer Lawrence for the majority of the film, stealing food from her kitchen.

The film plays out in the backdrop of the Cold War as Charles, Raven and Erik find each other, they also find that Shaw, now teamed up with Emma Frost (January Jones) and two disposable baddies, is dead set on starting up World War III and the extinction of us lesser humans.

The good guys of course have to try and stop this, teaming up with the CIA and recruiting more mutants, Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Angel (Zoë Kravitz), Sean Cassidy/Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Alex Summers/Havok (Lucas Till) and Darwin (Edi Gathegi).

All these young cast members lend to the film a great deal of energy and charisma, which director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake,’ Kick-Ass’) uses well.

And of course, it wouldn’t be the X-Men without the over-arching theme of alienated outcasts who deal with rejection, fear and hate – themes that have drawn awkward teens to their stories since the days of Stan Lee. The metaphor here extends — in some places less subtly than others — to the LGBT community and at one point when McCoy is asked why he never mentioned his mutation, he replies: “You didn’t ask, I didn’t tell.”

Despite the film being over two hours long, it’s very well-paced. The special effects are all up to par, the acting is on point most of the time – Lawrence does a great job playing the transformation from insecure to empowered — and the score is well done. Most fanboys will probably disagree with me here, but there might have been a bit too much winking and nudging with the inside jokes. Ultimately this is good summer fare, nothing here that’s breaking any genre boundaries, but you won’t be disappointed if you venture out and catch it this weekend.
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:23 am

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/xmen-first-class-20110603-1fkog.html

X-Men: First Class
Jim Schembri
June 3, 2011

First-class reboot
You first: A young, hirsute Charles Xavier (James McAvoy, left) squares off with a pre-Magneto Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) in the terrific X-Men: First Class.

You first: A young, hirsute Charles Xavier (James McAvoy, left) squares off with a pre-Magneto Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) in the terrific X-Men: First Class.

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 35 out of 5 stars

The new X-Men film is the best of the lot, writes JIM SCHEMBRI

X-Men: First Class

(132 min) M

Wow! This kick-ass origin story from Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust) not only hits refresh in a major way on the decade-old franchise, it easily chimes in as the best, most engaging and visually impressive X-film so far.

Tracing the tales of eventual adversaries Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), the film takes us from the evils of Auschwitz - where the young Magneto’s powers draws the attention of Nazi doctor Sebastian Shaw (a typically fabulous, scenery chewing Kevin Bacon) - to the Cold War tensions of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, into which the X-Men legend is cleverly woven, Forrest Gump-style.

Sprinkled with some killer FX sequences - unlike most blockbuster pay-offs, the superb, surprising finale occurs in broad daylight - and blessed with the sustained cinematic novelty of what is essentially a period film with super heroes, the pace never flags, even during plot exposition. Much of this comes courtesy of genetics expert Dr. Moira MacTaggart, played by the ever-versatile Rose Byrne (soon to be seen stealing scenes in the hilarious Bridesmaids).

But of all the things that went right with this film, the masterstroke was casting McAvoy and Fassbender as the bristly young versions Patrick Stewart’s Xavier and Ian McKellen’s Magneto respectively. Bringing the dramatic polish they honed on such films as Atonement and Hunger, they give soul and - pray - believability to what could otherwise have been a tragic, worthless repeat of the empty, FX-driven dross we got with the first two X-Men movies.

A terrific film.
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:24 am

http://www.artlink.co.za/news_article.htm?contentID=27283

Feldman @ the flicks
Peter Feldman
06/03/2011 10:00:46

Peter Feldman: Two big movies open this week, X Men: First Class and Lincoln Lawyer, and both are well crafted and entertaining productions.

X-Men: First Class
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne,
Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Nicholas Hoult
Director: Matthew Vaughn

Marvel Comics did extremely well out of its X-Man saga, but the last permutation, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” lacked magic and drive. It was sorely in need of a revamp.

Now director Matthew Vaughn, with a fresh batch of faces, has fashioned an ambitious and enthralling escapade in which the story travels back to the ‘60s and the very beginning. It is shaped with great style and the kind of insouciant wit which was in evidence in the first two offerings.

“X-Men: First Class” focuses on the rise of Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and the earliest mutant disciples who were only starting to master their various “gifts.”

The story cleverly manipulates the Cuban Missile Crises to its own advantage, stoking the Cold War paranoia that existed. It’s difficult to judge how Stan Lee purists will react, but Vaughn has not lost sight of new audiences, or those familiar with the X-Men mythology, dishing up commendable fare that bears his very own signature.

It’s interesting to note that Bryan Singer, who directed the first two in the series, is back as a producer and is also credited with writing the story with Sheldon Turner.

The opening shots take us into a Nazi concentration camp where we meet a young, distressed refugee, Erik Lensherr, whose intense anger enables him to bend metal with his mind. Dr Schmidt (Kevin Bacon), a Mengele-type doctor, spots the enormous possibilities of the boy’s “talent” and attempts to harness it in a most horrifying way.

Erik’s ghastly experiences instil in him a lifelong thirst for revenge and this state of mind makes him incapable of using his gifts without becoming enraged.

In sharp contrast, is Charles Xavier, a dashing Oxford academic, with an ability to read minds. This well-spoken intellectual envisages a utopian world order in which mutants are able to control their superhuman gifts and coexist with the rest of mankind.
He has an adoptive sister, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), a shape-shifter, who has a problem keeping her natural blue-skinned appearance hidden.

Charles is recruited by Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), an attractive and courageous CIA agent, who suspects that there is some malevolent outside interference in the escalating US-Soviet conflict, a move that is not wholly endorsed by the Agency.

A dramatic development in the story sees the future Professor X and Magneto thrown together for the first time and, despite their ideological differences, they decide to build a stronghold of young mutants. Here mutants such as the plasma-blasting Havok (Lucas Till), the sonic screamer Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), the adaptive Darwin (Edi Gathegi); and the bookish, big-footed Hank/The Beast McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), learn their trade

While Charles and Eric are assembling their motley crew, Dr Schmidt has re-surfaced as a villain called Sebastian Shaw who has his own gang of renegade mutants under his control. Shaw is cunningly manipulating the situation for his own evil purposes with the help of a mutant sidekick, Emma Frost (January Jones).

The stage is now set for an explosive confrontation, with the missile crises as a backdrop, and mutant power pitched against mutant power. It’s a sleek production that captures the youthful energy of the team – and it works.
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:24 am

http://www.firstshowing.net/2011/sound-off-matthew-vaughns-x-men-first-class-your-thoughts/

Sound Off: Matthew Vaughn's 'X-Men: First Class' - Your Thoughts?

June 3, 2011
by Alex Billington
X-Men: First Class

Now that you've seen it, what did you think? Its been five years since we last saw Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr on the big screen, but they're back. Bryan Singer and director Matthew Vaughn have revived the franchise in the prequel X-Men: First Class, which arrives in theaters this weekend. Taking over the lead roles this time are James McAvoy as Professor X and Michael Fassbender as Magneto, exploring the origins of their friendship in story set in the 1960s. So how is it? Where does this movie rank in the X-Men series? If you've seen it, leave a comment below and tell us what you thought of X-Men: First Class.

To fuel the fire, I thought X-Men: First Class was a good film, I enjoyed some parts of it, but thought it seemed a bit lackluster; it felt rushed and unpolished in places. And it was just an origin story that serviced the origins (everyone eventually got to their own "I'm now the X-Men you know" moment) and that's it, nothing more. I thought McAvoy and Fassbender were actually awesome as Xavier and Magneto, although sometimes pushing it a bit too far (especially Xavier), but these two carry the movie on their shoulders and do a fantastic job of it. There's some awesome action, but I wouldn't say I loved it, it didn't come close to matching X2. I know I'm going to be in the minority here, but those were just my thoughts after I seeing it.

Also, I loved the cameos, but don't spoil them for those who haven't seen it yet. The rest of the cast was just mediocre. Jennifer Lawrence didn't impress me, January Jones was only there for looks, Rose Byrne could've stayed in that lingerie that whole time, and the only really good kid was Nicholas Hoult, who Bryan Singer cast to star in Jack the Giant Killer. Kevin Bacon was fine, but it just felt all-over to me. Though I still had a blast watching all of the power battles and conversations between Magneto and Xavier.

So what did you think of X-Men: First Class? A fantastic franchise restart or just mediocre? We will remove any comments that indicate you have not seen the movie, as this area is meant to discuss the film only once you have seen it and can talk about your thoughts. Please keep the comments civilized!
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:25 am

http://www.wfmz.com/atthemovies/28117217/detail.html

Review: First-Class 'X-Men' Marvels
Prequel Brings Franchise Back With Bang
Michelle Solomon, Contributing writer
EmailPrint

Posted: 2:59 am EDT June 3, 2011Updated: 3:15 am EDT June 3, 2011

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

"X-Men" (PG-13) Popcorn rating Popcorn rating Popcorn rating Half Popcorn Rating (out of four)

Don't worry if the names Professor X and Magneto don't stir a fire in your soul, "X-Men: First Class" will spark excitement even in those who care little for comic book superheroes.

Much like the inventive 2009 "Star Trek" reboot that chronicled the early days of Spock and Kirk, "X-Men: First Class" goes back to the beginnings of "X-Men" when Professor X and Magneto first meet. Gifted scientist Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), who, because of his own genetic make up, has a gift of telepathy, and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), who, possesses the power to control magnetism when provoked, join together to stop Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). The powerful energy-absorbing mutant has hatched a plan to have mankind succumb to its own demise so mutants can take over the world.

The imaginative story is set in the 1960s at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, and uses real historical events fused with fiction to heighten the tension. In "X-Men: First Class," Shaw has figured out a way to escalate the Cold War crisis to trigger an all-out war.

Setting the film in the 1960s also lends the atmosphere a bit of James Bond mystique. It's the dawn of the Space Age -- no cell phones, no 21st century high-tech gadgetry, just submarines and super powers. There are other themes from the era that are fascinatingly interwoven including human themes of Civil Rights. Here the question of man's equality creates audience sympathy for the mutants, outcasts who are feared and hated because they are different. It's also a bit of a tribute that the film is set in the 1960s -- the Marvel Comics series was first created in 1963 by Stan Lee with Jack Kirby.

Of course, what's most intriguing in this Part One is how the X-Men came to be the X-Men. How did Professor X end up in a wheelchair? And how did X and Magneto become archenemies? Those of you who aren't concerned about these burning questions can just enjoy the magnificent effects and the mastery of the story.

Fassbender as the headstrong Erik is the focal point of the film. "X-Men: First Class" introduces Erik with a scene that opened the original "X-Men." He's a youngster held at the Auschwitz concentration camp in the 1940s and has been separated from his parents. "First Class" takes the opening a step further with the evil Dr. Schmidt pushing Erik to the limit so that the boy's strong mental powers become a force to be reckoned with.

The film moves forward 20 years later, where Erik is out to seek revenge for what he had endured at the hands of Dr. Schmidt. One of the best scenes (reminiscent of "Marathon Man") is when Erik visits someone who may know the whereabouts of Schmidt, but in order to make the man spill his secrets he must use his magnetic powers to do a bit of dental work on the gentleman.

"X-Men: First Class" also introduces other heroes and villains (and villainesses), some from past "X-Men" films and others primarily from the pages of the comic books. Here, we meet some new recruits as teenagers: Blue-skinned Mystique, a changeling who can appear as her human self, Raven, or assume the appearance of anyone else, has been taken under the wing of Charles. In the original film trilogy, she is played by Rebecca Romijn, part of Magneto's Brotherhood. Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence from last year's "Winter's Bone" plays the young Mystique with an innocent charm.

There's also the big-footed Hank (Nicholas Hoult), whose secret to how he became Beast is revealed; Alex Summers (Lukas Till), aka Havok, who emits super-heated energy waves; Sean Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones looking an awful lot like Harry Potter's Ron Weasley), aka Banshee, whose unique sonic blasts carry him into flight; and Armondo Munoz (Edi Gathegi), aka Darwin, who is able to adapt to any situation or environment. Zoe Kravitz (musician Lenny Kravitz's daughter) plays Angel, who sports an insect-like tattoo on her back that actually sprouts real wings, which enable her to fly.

Shaw's Hellfire Club villains and villainesses include Shaw's right-hand woman, Emma Frost, played by a seductive January ("Mad Men") Jones; the demonic Azazel (Jason Flemyng) and the tornado creating Riptide (Alex Gonzalez). So where's Wolverine? Now that's a surprise.

"X"philes will rejoice that the franchise is back in full force after a slump while anyone out for a little fun will herald this super, superhero extravaganza that kicks off the summer movie season with a resounding bang.
EmailPrint

Distributed by Internet Broadcasting. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:25 am

http://nine-to-five.whereilive.com.au/lifestyle/story/movie-review-x-men-first-class/

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class

7 Jun 11 @ 09:00am by Nikolaos Stavrou

X-Men: First Class is the best offering yet in 20th Century Fox’s mutant franchise.

A bold statement, I know, but I stand by it 100 per cent.

Terrific performances from all the actors, a strong script, a solid score and the direction of Matthew Vaughn really make my case for me.

Vaughn has brought to the X-Men universe depth, emotion, character and spectacle - all which have been missing since X2.

The decision to tell how the X-Men were created and how Professor Xavier and Magneto went from friends to arch-enemies was a master stroke.

The developing relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr is the best thing about this and they are played to perfection by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender respectively.

They are so much more than a bald man in a wheelchair and a sociopath with what looks like a metal bucket on his head.

You understand each character’s motivations and sympatise with their choices.

In fact, as is often the case, it is the villain who is the more sympathetic character and thus the more tragic.

Worry not though, there are plenty of other mutants to enjoy and spectacular action to entertain.

Recruits for both the X-Men and Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants are plenty and displays of their powers memorable.

Watch for a couple of surprise cameos that fans of the franchise will no doubt appreciate.

As for the setting, First Class is set in the 1960s during the Cuban Missle Crisis.

Tying that historic event into the discovery of mutants helps give the film a realism that the other X-Men films lacked.

It also gives it a style all its own, which is critical in establishing this as something distinct from the other films.

Whether you’ve seen X-Men and its sequels or not, or whether you like or dislike superhero films as a rule doesn’t matter - X-Men: First Class shatters the limitations of those films and rises as its own glorious achievement - one which is truly first class.

X-Men:First Class is in cinemas now.
RATING: M
RUNNING TIME: 132 minutes
DIRECTOR: Matthew Vaughn
STARS: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, January Jones and Kevin Bacon
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:27 am

http://www.worstpreviews.com/review.php?id=1620§ion=review

X-Men: First Class
Revitalizes the series with fresh blood and new ideas.
A Scene from "X-Men: First Class."

RATING:
8/10

Theatrical Review (by Dustin Putman): 2009's clunky "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" notwithstanding, the cinematic adaptations of the "X-Men" Marvel Comics franchise—2000's "X-Men," 2003's "X2," and 2006's "X-Men: The Last Stand"—have been solidly workmanlike, but no more than that. The first was too slight, the second too long-winded, and the third too rushed, yet they all nonetheless satisfied as relatively cohesive, purely diverting popcorn entertainments. Upper-echelon superhero movies, they were not—all of the above seemed to have more potential than they ultimately delivered, especially in the development of its ever-expanding ensemble of mutant characters—and the dismal first "Origins" film toplined by Hugh Jackman did nothing to assuage one from suspecting that the best the blockbuster brand had to offer had long since passed. As it turns out, this is far from the case. A prequel that stays true to the mythology already established while simultaneously revitalizing the series with fresh blood and new ideas, "X-Men: First Class" is an altogether superior motion picture—grander, better written, and more dramatically sound. The story is undoubtedly character-focused, but director Matthew Vaughn (2010's "Kick-Ass") ensures through his pertinent use of style, ripe handle on pacing, and confident blending of history and revisionary sci-fi gleam that things never become stale or rambling. Even at 131 minutes, the time practically flies by.

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Before the Brotherhood of Mutants, before the opening of the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, before the so-called "X-Men" came to be, there simply were a small group of people in the world whose genetic mutations and extraordinary powers had rendered them outcasts within society. Seen as pariahs, their differences from the majority populace viewed as something to fear and hate, they have little choice but to hide their true selves if they hope to be accepted by those around them. For well-meaning telepathic mutant Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and shape-shifting stepsister Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), they have struggled to move forward with their lives, hesitant to get close to anyone else as they keep who they are—who they really are—in check. Charles' ultimate dream of coexisting with normal humans and earning the respect he deserves suddenly seems like a possibility when he is approached by Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), a scientist working for the CIA who believes a new mutant division could be the answer to solving the U.S. conflict with the Soviet Union. The enlisting phase of this operation soon begins, leading them to such formerly in-the-closet mutants as scientist Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), as fast as lightning and as agile as a bat; Angel Salvadore (Zoe Kravitz), equipped with the physiology of an insect; Sean Cassidy/Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), specializing in supersonic screams and flight; Alex Summers/Havok (Lucas Till), able to discharge blasts of cosmic energy; and Armando Munoz/Darwin (Edi Gathegi), with the power to adapt to survive.

Also welcomed aboard the operation is Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), whose telekinetic control of metal has been mastered through the anger and pain of his childhood. As a 12-year-old in 1944 Auschwitz, he witnessed his mother's death at the gun-wielding hand of Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), a mutant who can turn kinetic energy into raw, superhuman strength. Now, eighteen years later, Sebastian is the leader of the Hellfire Club, bent on world domination, and Erik has old-fashioned, blood-thirsty revenge on his mind. Making no bones about this when he meets and befriends Charles, Erik's radical views may be at odds with Charles' hope for peace, but their goal in overthrowing Sebastian's evil ways as he masterminds the events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis is the key point of agreement that keeps them joined together. Once this mission is over, however, both parties know their destinies will once more cast them on opposing sides of the same fight.

"X-Men: First Class" is in sturdy hands with writer-director Matthew Vaughn and his trio of co-penners, Vaughn's collaborator Jane Goldman and Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz (2011's "Thor"), who bring a respectful reverence to the films that have come before this one while making sure to set it apart enough so that it isn't just a retread. Whereas the former "X-Men" trilogy never quite seemed to reach its full promise, troubled with a revolving door of problems that only ever scratched the surface of its characters' hearts, here, at last, is a film that digs a little deeper, understanding and empathizing with its roster of mutants and the respective battle that ultimately divides them down the middle. If the previous pics were ably conceived and shot, there was an obligatory, almost by-the-numbers nature to their narratives. By allowing this introductory tale the time to breathe and percolate—and incorporating the real-life past into the proceedings—everything becomes more real and personal here, excelling beyond that of a typical superhero actioner while dipping its toes into other genres and era-specific sensibilities. The globe-trotting plot, breathlessly skipping around from Switzerland to England to Russia to New York to Las Vegas to Miami to Argentina to Cuba, reminds of a classic James Bond effort, while the scenes portraying the recruitment of the team shares the hip energy of a crime caper along the lines of 2001's "Ocean's Eleven." Social issues run rampant—as a story that has always plainly been a metaphor for gay rights, it is no coincidence when Hank McCoy, asked by his employer why he kept his mutant side a secret all this time, replies, "You didn't ask, so I didn't tell"—while the disparate belief systems of its ragtag assortment of protagonists and eventual anti-heroes are steadfastly understandable based on where they're coming from and what they feel is their only choice for the future.

Technical credits and period details are top-notch. The sumptuous production design is impeccable, from a Cambridge University pub to a moody, mod-style Vegas nightclub (the use of the song "Palisades Park" by Freddy Cannon is a welcome additional flourish) to the regal waterside estate that will eventually become the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters in Westchester, NY. Lensed by John Mathieson (2010's "Robin Hood"), the cinematography has a textural, film-like palpability and scope, feeling more like an authentic journey than a trample between studio backlots. Visual effects are just about faultless, a huge step up from the chintzy feel of the CGI in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," lending believability to the awesome powers that each mutant holds. While major action set-pieces are on the lower side, one hardly notices since the human story is so compelling. Director Matthew Vaughn is consistently in control of his mise en scene and the silky bridges between them that maintains momentum. By the time the impressively assembled climax set in the waters around Cuba arrives, the sheer excitement and thrill of it feels particularly well-earned. When so many movies of this sort let slip their best, or at least most dazzling, moments too early in the show, here is one that saves its splendorous highlights for last.

The cast hasn't a weak spot among them. James McAvoy (2011's "The Conspirator") and Michael Fassbender (2011's "Jane Eyre") do not particularly look much like their elder counterparts from the earlier "X-Men" films, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, respectively, but they do effectively capture their souls and the tricky bond between them. Charles and Erik are like brothers by the second half, yet their moral compasses and personal viewpoints differ greatly—enough that there is still a certain amount of love and caring between them despite the fundamental inability for them to see eye-to-eye. McAvoy emanates a reliable integrity, a conviction that he might be able to eventually change non-mutants' minds about them, while Fassbender gives an intense, electric reading of Erik, overwhelmed by his hatred for what Sebastian did to his mother and the pessimism that goes along with having lived through an unshakable tragedy.

As the shape-shifting Raven/Mystique, Jennifer Lawrence (2010's "Winter's Bone") alternates between a pretty blonde version of her character's more disconcerting true appearance. The actress continues to leave a mark with each new and diverse role she plays, essaying the younger version of Rebecca Romijn and, yes, sliding effortlessly into the form-fitting blue body paint. Like Erik, but maybe even more so since they've been together since kids, Raven and Charles have a sibling-like relationship that becomes unexpectedly poignant the more that the two of them begin to sense they're headed for opposite paths. Lawrence is right in tune at portraying the war inside herself, her devotion to Charles at odds with her desire to stand beside Erik. Rose Byrne's banner year rolls on, as she has starred in 2011's giant sleeper hit "Insidious" and the summer's, well, even more giant sleeper hit "Bridesmaids." This film, meanwhile, is no sleeper, but it will be a hit, and Byrne is quite good as Moira MacTaggert, a non-mutant expert on genetic mutation and possible love interest of Charles. As the despicable Sebastian Shaw, Kevin Bacon (2011's "Super") is having obvious fun playing the slimy heavy and chews the scenery accordingly. Supporting performances are fine, as well, each one individualizing themselves even when their parts are comparatively compact. Of them, only January Jones (2011's "Unknown") comes off as undernourished as the ice-cold, diamond-sheened Emma Frost.

An adventure rife with danger and the necessary building blocks that, by the end, have transformed Charles Xavier into the virtuous, wheelchair-bound Professor X and Erik Lehnsherr into his central adversary Magneto, "X-Men: First Class" works as both gritty Cold War-set thriller and majestic otherworldly fantasy. It's an unlikely combination, but it gives the picture an audacity that separates it from typical big-budget fodder that is only ever allowed to be one thing or the other. Further installments that are to eventually lead seamlessly into the 2000 original will surely be able to build even more upon what has been set up here, but "X-Men: First Class" is an accomplished beginning. These characters may be living in the 1960s, but the barricade before them as they strive to be accepted for who they are still exists today. In one way or another, they embody us all.
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:27 am

http://www.mania.com/mania-review-xmen-first-class_article_130079.html

Mania Review: X-Men: First Class
Valedictory.

By Rob Vaux June 03, 2011

“Hey wasn’t that part cool when…?”

“Do you remember that bit where they…?”

“Something else I really dug was…”

You can use a lot of formal terms to describe why you feel a film works or not, but one sure sign comes with comments like these: little moments, incidental details, and bits and pieces that just tickle you to no end. The more you think about the movie, the more nifty things you find to talk about. X-Men: First Class is stuffed to the gills with nifty things, including a sharp story, strong performances, and a way of making you think even as it pumps you full of adrenaline.

Ostensibly, the early adventures of Charles Xavier (played here by James McAvoy) and Eric Lehnsherr /Magneto (Michael Fassbender) doesn’t hold much interest. We know where they end up, after all, and while Magneto ranks as possibly the greatest villain in all of comics, Professor X always worked better as a guiding mentor than a front-line hero. First Class nimbly scales that obstacle with a number of secret weapons, not the least of which is its 1960s setting. Early critics have noted its similarities to Connery-era James Bond pictures, and that energy grants it a unique perspective on the world of Marvel’s Merry Mutants. Lehnsherr actually shows up in Big Sean’s famous grey three-piece from Goldfinger at one point, and the overall threat – inducing the United States and Soviet Russia to destroy each other – comes straight out of the SPECTRE playbook.

The instigator is Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon; yes, really), sinister power-monger and leader of the secretive Hellfire Club which has designs on global domination. Mutants – men and women born with extraordinary powers – are appearing in greater and greater numbers, and Shaw envisions a future where they (and he) reign supreme. Xavier and Lehnsherr stand in his way, though both for very different reasons. First Class develops their friendship/rivalry exquisitely: Xavier – cocksure son of wealth and privilege – sees only the best in humanity, while Lehnsherr – survivor of the concentration camps – knows just how evil they can be. The former writes treatises on genetics and picks up girls with his clever mind-reading act. The latter acts as a one-man Nazi hunter: tracking down the instigators of the Holocaust and making sure they scream good and loud before they die.

Director Matthew Vaughn scores his biggest hits with early scenes of Lehnsherr on the prowl: honed by righteous anger and savoring his vengeance like fine wine. His motivations come into clear focus -- aided by a rich and nuanced performance from Fassbender – and at the end of the day, First Class may agree with his point of view more than Xavier’s. That sobering notion tempers the swinging 60s nostalgia without overwhelming it: shading the good times with dark shadows and providing strong moral subtext to chew on amid all the action.

McAvoy, for his part, matches Fassbender at every turn (as does Bacon, who couldn’t rock this scene harder if he tried), and First Class works primarily as an exquisite study of its central pair. Fast friends and instant blood brothers, each one provides the other with vital insight, yet neither deters from their opposing course. Xavier believes that mutants can set a positive example for humanity; Magneto is convinced that war is the only answer. As the threat from Shaw rises, they join forces to meet it, even though they both suspect that their alliance cannot last. Their central argument spills over into the young students they both recruit, with figures like Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and the Beast (Nicholas Holt) debating whether or not they should assimilate with humans or stand proudly as God made them.

Vaughn combines their struggles with historical fact, fanciful suggestion, and details pulled straight from the comics into a supremely appealing package. The Hellfire Club makes an ideal adversary for the setting – all privileged indulgence and pop-culture fizz – which Vaughn augments with some intriguing ties to Lehnsherr’s origins. He lays down solid groundwork for mankind’s growing suspicion of mutants, while confidently establishing the basis for things like Cerebro, the X-Men’s jet, and the school in upstate New York where budding young superheroes can find a safe haven.

The effects-heavy action scenes do their job admirably enough, but as it turns out, Vaughn doesn’t need them. The film’s best moments come with subtle filmmaking tricks – the odd splash of water from a drinking fountain, a chilling reveal in a concentration camp office, a marvelous bit of verbal turnabout that punctuates the climax – which pile up so fast and thick you can hardly keep track of them all. From them emerges an intelligent subtext, an exciting historical adventure and another deeply respectful presentation of some deeply beloved characters. Even the closing credits are a stone groove, mixing one part Saul Bass with two parts Maurice Binder to keep us seated until the lights come on again. (There’s no Easter egg after the credits, but keep your eye peeled for a few fun cameos.)

The only real complaint comes with overall continuity… which is a complete hash, but – to be fair – got screwed up good and proper by earlier X-Men movies. You have to accept the fact that Emma Frost is older here than she was in Wolverine, despite taking place fifteen years earlier; that key meetings alluded to in the first film now have no basis in fact; and that the whole “Professor X in a wheelchair” timeline will give you a headache if you try to wrap your head around it. First Class slaps a few Band-Aids on the problem, but simply can’t do its job if it tries to fit everything in properly. Rather than destroy itself in an effort to explain it all away, it simply cuts the Gordian knot: concentrating on telling a good story first and worrying about how it all fits in later. It’s a wise policy, and though it leaves a few lingering questions, better those than ones like “why did this movie suck so much?”

No fear on that front, however. “Suck” couldn’t touch this bad boy with a 10-foot pole, and while I remain a defender of Wolverine and X3, you can sense the palpable relief most people will feel at the franchise returning to form. Wait, did I say “returning?” First Class actually surpasses its predecessors, making it the best of the five X-Men films so far. With Thor and now First Class, this is turning into a banner year for Marvel adaptations. Someone remind Captain America to bring its A-game, because the bar just rose a little higher.
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:28 am

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/movie-guide/Mutants+with+mission/4884758/story.html

Mutants with a mission

Superheroes story conveys a larger message about war, peace and accepting differences

By Katherine Monk, Postmedia News June 3, 2011

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS ???1/2

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

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

Rating: PG (violence)

Playing at: AMC, Barrhaven, Coliseum, Empire 7, Galeries Aylmer, Gatineau 9, Empire Orléans, South Keys, SilverCity, StarCité

Believe 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.

For instance, we all knew and liked Wolverine, which made Hugh Jackman's X-Men character an easy pageto-screen transition. He was easy to understand and his mutant power of fast healing and super strength made him completely cinematic.

Professor X and Magneto may not have the same narrative sex appeal, given that one is in a wheelchair and the other is 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 enraptured by the premise, this X-Men movie is a must-see. And dramatically speaking, it has the biggest ambitions of any X-Men spectacle.

After all, it deals directly with the Holocaust, complete with scenes of concentration camps and coldblooded 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 been separated from his family by Nazis when he demonstrates a talent for bending metal. 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 being emotionally tortured by Shaw, young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is living comfortably in a mansion in the English countryside. Rich, privileged and well-educated, Charles is a blue-sky thinker who also has the curious ability to read minds. One day, a shape-shifter appears in his kitchen. He can read her mind, and in an instant, Charles and Raven (later known as Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence) become best friends and spiritual mutant siblings.

Flash forward to the height of the Cold War circa 1960. Charles Xavier has 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 archenemy 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.

The mutant triumvirate is comprised of topnotch 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 the privileged hero with an almost Kennedy-esque persona -one that is noble and a tad scandalous at the same time.

Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) hands in such an emotionally driven performance that he may actually reduce the audience to tears.

Lawrence's role is smaller, but she proves her Oscar-nominated turn in Winter's Bone was no fluke 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 because of her blue skin and yellow eyes, she's learned selfloathing and longs to be "normal."

That's where this movie makes its most articulate points as it challenges our human propensity to judge all books by their cover.

X-Men: First Class brings these 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.

That First Class also offers up 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 from X to Z.
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:28 am

http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20110603/ENT/106030309/-X-Men-prequel-first-class-affair

'X-Men' prequel is first-class affair
2:30 PM, Jun. 3, 2011 |
Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), also known as Magneto, begin as friends in 'X-Men: First Class.' / 20th Century Fox

DAVID GERMAIN

***1/2 of four

Rated PG-13 (intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language)

The cast:

Professor X: James McAvoy

Magneto: Michael Fassbender

Raven: Jennifer Lawrence

Sebastian Shaw: Kevin Bacon

Emma Frost: January Jones

Directed by Matthew Vaughn. 20th Century Fox. Running time: 130 minutes. Opens today.

Mutants, it seems, are only as good as the creators assembling their chromosomes. And the mad scientists behind "X-Men: First Class" are real artists in the laboratory.

Director Bryan Singer's first two installments of the "X-Men" trilogy were superior adventures, about as smart and provocative as comic-book adaptations are likely to get.

After Singer left, the trilogy wrapped up with a dud, followed by a limp spinoff chronicling the origins of fan-favorite mutant Wolverine.

Now Singer's back as a producer and idea man for "First Class," a prequel that presents a clever, cohesive, exhilarating big-screen take on how those Marvel Comics mutants came together on opposing sides in the evolutionary battle.

Matthew Vaughn, another filmmaker adept at blending smarts and action ("Stardust," "Kick-Ass"), was wisely recruited as director and co-writer.

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

The young cast led by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender is no match for Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and the rest of the grand ensemble Singer enlisted for the first "X-Men" flick in 2000.

Yet McAvoy has playful energy and unshakable nobility, while Fassbender captures slow-burning wrath and unflinching pragmatism, which nicely prefigure Stewart's august Professor X and McKellen's dogmatic Magneto.

Despite a jumble of screenwriters that includes Vaughn, writing partner Jane Goldman and "Thor" scribes Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz, "First Class" is a focused, coherent story.

That's all the more admirable given the large cast, whose stories are woven together with enough immediacy and clarity that even Marvel newcomers can follow along without a playbill.

We're introduced to McAvoy's telepath Charles Xavier and Fassbender's Erik Lehnsherr, who can manipulate magnetic fields, as boys in the 1940s. Their vastly different upbringings underscore the differences that eventually will turn them from best friends to bitter rivals.

Charles grows up in a rich, privileged home, believing he's a freak of nature, the only one of his kind, until he meets shape-shifting mutant Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), the future Mystique character originated by Rebecca Romijn in the "X-Men" trilogy.

Raven and Charles forge a foster-sibling relationship, while Erik, a Polish Jew, suffers unspeakable tragedy during the Holocaust as the Nazis try to unleash the boy's power to control metal.

Charles and Erik team up in the early 1960s as part of a CIA operation against Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), a mutant who can absorb explosive energy and aims to set off a nuclear war to wipe out humanity so his kind can inherit the Earth. Bacon's a lot of fun, clearly having a blast playing the U.S. against the Soviets as puppetmaster of Armageddon.

Shaw is aided by bad girl telepath Emma Frost (January Jones, who's stunning in her skin-tight Bond girl-style outfits and adopts a suitably icy demeanor).

Among those initially fighting for the good guys are intrepid CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), her nameless team leader (a sadly under-used Oliver Platt), and mutants Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Havok (Lucas Till) and Angel (Zoe Kravitz).

But allegiances change, and the point of the prequel is to spell out who switched sides and why. At the heart is the break between Charles and Erik, and the filmmakers, clearly plotting a prequel trilogy, leave plenty of loose ends to tie up and a lot of room to introduce more X-Men mutants down the line.

The story also leaves off around the time the civil-rights movement starts to pick up steam, so the franchise's parallels between human racism and bigotry against mutants are bound to gain new resonance.

Many key questions about the mutants -- Magneto's helmet, Professor X's wheelchair and his telepathic-amplifying machine -- are explained. The film also features a couple of amusing cameos by stars from the "X-Men" trilogy.

The visual effects are solid, though nothing spectacular. Where the film really shines is in the design, taking the cheesy aesthetic of early James Bond films and doing the "60s up right with all the glam today's big studio bucks can buy.

If the studio can keep Singer, Vaughn and the rest of the "First Class" team together, there's a chance that this "X-Men" trilogy could evolve into a better one than the original.
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:29 am

http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20110603/ENT/106030312/New-X-Men-film-explores-beginnings-franchise

New 'X-Men' film explores beginnings of franchise
6:38 PM, Jun. 2, 2011 |

GREGORY KATZ

They are a merry band of mutants, at least when the director is away and the hard work is done.

They've been given a task -- concoct a "prequel" that will satisfy longtime fans of the "X-Men" series and bring in new moviegoers as well -- and, with global release just a few days away, they think they've nailed it.

Much of the cast gathered in London recently to boast about the film -- tastefully of course -- at a round-table discussion that focused on the challenge of creating a credible early life for comic strip characters already portrayed successfully in four films by such masters as Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, venerable English actors who carry the title "Sir" in front of their names.

This time, it's a much younger cast playing the mutants in their formative years, when they were still discovering and honing the special powers that set them apart from what they view as the rather drab human race. As a result, "X-Men: First Class" is filled with soul-searching identity crises as the mutants wrestle with a central dilemma: To downplay their differences in order to be accepted by humanity, or to celebrate what makes them unique, humanity be damned.

Instead of McKellen and Stewart in the key mutant roles of Magneto and Professor X, it's Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, starting off as allies but ending up as bitter foes. The closest thing the cast has to eminence is Hollywood veteran Kevin Bacon, who plays evil mutant Sebastian Shaw with villainous glee.

Fassbender, a talented actor of German and Irish descent, said he did not feel hemmed in by earlier portrayals of Magneto, even if his approach doesn't appeal to fans of the earlier movies, which turned the old Marvel comic into a lucrative international film franchise that started with "X-Men" in 2000.

"I think we all realize there's a massive fan base out there and we definitely want them to like it," said Fassbender, seen in 2009's "Inglourious Basterds." "They are the first sort of go-to audience, but there has to be a certain amount of disrespect for them as well, because you're trying to do something new. You're trying to make decisions that you think are justifiable and you have to forget about that or you can end up not making any bold choices. And I think we all made bold choices and took risks."

McAvoy, his voice still carrying a heavy hint of his native Scotland, said that means the new cast is to blame if the movie bombs -- a fate that would sink plans for two additional "X-Men" prequels and a chance for the franchise to continue a few more years at least.

"It is intimidating because the four films made a lot of money, so clearly people like the characters enough to go and see them," said McAvoy, who starred in "The Last King of Scotland" and "Atonement." "If it doesn't work, we take full blame."

He said his approach to Professor X was to show how different the character was as a very young man.
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:30 am

http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20110603/ENT/706039971

Published: Friday, June 3, 2011
Michael Fassbender portrays Erik Lehnsherr as a young man in a prequel,

James McAvoy plays Charles Xavier (left) and Michael Fassbender is Erik Lehnsherr in "X-Men: First Class."

Cool ‘X-Men: First Class' prequel keeps action under control
by Robert Horton, Herald Movie Critic

Now this is more like it. The summer blockbuster season feels like it hasn't gotten in gear, what with the sputtering efforts of sequels for "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "The Hangover."

But "X-Men: First Class" puts some much-needed oomph into the tired business of sequels. Or should we say, prequel: This one flips the "X-Men" franchise back to 1962, for the sake of an origin story that takes place around the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The geniuses of "X-Men" lore are here, but as young men, and not yet as mortal enemies. Therefore, the actors who previously played them, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, are nowhere to be seen.

Charles Xavier (played by James McAvoy) is a dashing instructor at Oxford, researching genetic mutation. He'd know; his own status as a mutant allows him to read people's minds.

Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender), embittered by his childhood experiences during World War II, has the power to bend metal at will. He has vowed revenge against the Nazi war criminal (Kevin Bacon) who exploited his mutant gifts.

These two meet because a CIA agent (Rose Byrne, late of "Bridesmaids") recognizes their powers, and summons them for Cold War duty.

Charles also has his adoptive sister Raven (Jennifer Lawrence, the Oscar nominee from "Winter's Bone") along. Nice girl, if you can overlook her tendency to erupt in blue skin and yellow eyes (she'll later be known as Mystique).

The recruitment of a new team of young people with mutant powers takes up an enjoyable section of the movie. While the kids aren't really all that interesting, fans of the comic book should enjoy watching the future X-Men get discovered (including an amusing scene where they decide on snazzy-sounding nicknames for themselves).

Fans will also savor a couple of well-placed cameo appearances by actors from the previous films. One is easy to guess, the other not so much; but if I revealed them, my head would be crushed by Magneto's mighty power, so forget it.

It gets a little generic during the requisite big climax, but in most other ways "X-Men: First Class" gets the job done. Director Matthew Vaughn, fresh from "Kick-Ass," moves things very crisply indeed, and he has a nice sense of timing within scenes.

McAvoy is fine, but Michael Fassbender walks away with the movie. His intensity, previously on vivid display in "Inglourious Basterds" and "Centurion," gives a grounding to the comic-book origins of the picture. One early scene, when his character has traced some ex-Nazis to an Argentina bar, is a gem of swift, decisive action.

Thankfully, "First Class" doesn't get overblown, as did the ridiculously over-the-top "X-Men: The Last Stand" in 2006. You actually are more interested in the people than in the explosions, and this is one case where another sequel would be welcome, rather than dreaded.

"X-Men: First Class"

A solid prequel that gets the job done, introducing us to the warring geniuses of the "X-Men" world as younger people: James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender play the future Professor X and Magneto. The story is set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and if the young recruits to the mutant side aren't all that interesting, director Matthew Vaughn keeps it all moving crisply and Fassbender and McAvoy are well cast.

Rated: PG-13, for violence

Showing: Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood, Merdian, Metro, Woodinville, Blue Fox, Cascade
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:31 am

http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2011/06/03/1514596/x-men-first-class-is-first-rate.html

'X-Men: First Class' is first-rate
By Gary Wolcott, atomictown.com

A few years ago an industry out of ideas began to delve more deeply into comic books and graphic novels for plots and movie concepts.

What started as a once-in-awhile thing in the 1970s, 80s and 90s has steamrolled. Producers are now seriously mining the industry for movie ideas.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

You need a scorecard to keep track of what we’ve seen since 2000: two Batman movies, a new Superman, three Spider-man flicks, a couple of Incredible Hulks plus assorted Marvel super heroes such as X-Men, Wolverine, Iron Man, Daredevil, Elektra and the Fantastic Four.

Don’t write. I know I missed some, and we haven’t even touched the graphic novels.

Already this year we’ve seen Thor and still to come are Green Lantern and Captain America.

Next year is more Iron Man, The Avengers and a Superman reboot. We get another Batman, G.I. Joe and Wolverine and a rework and reintroduction of the Spider-man series.

And again — don’t write. There are so many that I no doubt missed a few.

If you’re marking your scorecards here’s where we are now — the X-Men prequel: X-Men: First Class. This one traces the origins of the heroes and villains of that comic.

It is co-written by two of the guys that gave us Thor and is co-written and directed by the inventive Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Stardust, Layer Cake). James McAvoy (Wanted) stars as super telepath and X-Men leader Charles Xavier and the ultra interesting Michael Fassbender as his friend Erik Lehnsherr, who eventually becomes the villain Magneto.

Working around the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the plot follows the formation of the friendship between Xavier and Lehnsherr as they try to stop rogue super-mutant Sebastian Shaw from starting World War III. Shaw is done by Kevin Bacon. Revenge is part of what motivates and ultimately undoes Lehnsherr because Shaw is the Nazi that killed his mom in a concentration camp.

The film also introduces characters from the comics and how they came to be the X-Men — and women — of the future.

While not real deep, this one is very, very good and much more fun than the two previous X-Men films and the disastrous spin-off Wolverine. Vaughn is an outstanding storyteller and gives the concept a nice retro look with sets and costumes out of the 1960s. He also helps sell the concept and give the movie more originality by mixing cuts of the Cuban Missile Crisis speech by then President John F. Kennedy and newsreel footage of the crisis into the plot.

Vaughn also casts terrific young actors to play the mutants.

McAvoy and Fassbender have exceptional chemistry as fast friends on a mission to recruit others of their kind to defeat the hated Shaw. Equally interesting is Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) who plays Mistique.

While McAvoy is terrific and acts as the plot’s glue, Fassbender and Lawrence steal every scene they are in and dominate the movie. Both are quite charismatic and give riveting performances that leave you wanting more of them and less of the not-so-interesting side plots involving other mutants and CIA characters.

You also can’t drop the topic of acting without mentioning Bacon who early in the film does some outstanding villainy. Unfortunately the plot and his character don’t evolve to the level of his performance.

Some comic book flicks work. Others don’t. In spite of same-old, same-old plot lines, effects and types of characters, comic book movies — at least so far — are much more interesting than a lot of the action crap being churned out by out-of-ideas Hollywood writers, directors and producers.

That’s where you’ll find X-Men: First Class — more interesting than your average action flick and toward the top of the heap of comic book classics on film. Definitely put an X beside X-Men: First Class on your list of weekend movies.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes and violence. It opens Friday, June 3 at the Carmike 12 and the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:32 am

http://www.sacbee.com/2011/06/03/3670403/x-men-prequel-really-is-first.html

'X-Men' prequel really is first class

By David Germain
Associated Press
Published: Friday, Jun. 3, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 16TICKET

Mutants, it seems, are only as good as the creators assembling their chromosomes. And the mad scientists behind "X-Men: First Class" are real artists in the laboratory.

Director Bryan Singer's first two installments of the "X-Men" trilogy were superior adventures, about as smart and provocative as comic-book adaptations are likely to get.

After Singer left, the trilogy wrapped up with a dud, followed by a limp spinoff chronicling the origins of fan-favorite mutant Wolverine.

Now Singer's back as a producer and idea man for "First Class," a prequel that presents a clever, cohesive, exhilarating big-screen take on how those Marvel Comics mutants came together on opposing sides in the evolutionary battle.

Matthew Vaughn, another filmmaker adept at blending smarts and action ("Stardust," "Kick-Ass"), was wisely recruited as director and co-writer.

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

The young cast led by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender may be no match for Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and the rest of the grand ensemble Singer enlisted for the first "X-Men" flick in 2000.

Yet McAvoy has playful energy and unshakable nobility, while Fassbender captures slow-burning wrath and unflinching pragmatism, which nicely prefigure Stewart's august Professor X and McKellen's dogmatic Magneto.

We're introduced to McAvoy's telepath Charles Xavier and Fassbender's Erik Lehnsherr, who can manipulate magnetic fields, as boys in the 1940s. Their vastly different upbringings underscore the differences that eventually will turn them from best friends to bitter rivals.

Charles and Erik team up in the early 1960s as part of a CIA operation against Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), a mutant who can absorb explosive energy and aims to set off a nuclear war to wipe out humanity so his kind can inherit the Earth. Bacon's a lot of fun, clearly having a blast playing the U.S. against the Soviets as puppetmaster of Armageddon.

Among those initially fighting for the good guys are intrepid CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), her nameless team leader (a sadly under-used Oliver Platt), and mutants Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Havok (Lucas Till) and Angel (Zoe Kravitz).

But allegiances change, and the point of the prequel is to spell out who switched sides and why. At the heart is the break between Charles and Erik, and the filmmakers, clearly plotting a prequel trilogy, leave plenty of loose ends to tie up and a lot of room to introduce more X-Men mutants down the line.

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

CAST: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, Oliver Platt

DIRECTOR: Matthew Vaughn

THEATERS: Century (Downtown Plaza, Folsom, Greenback, Roseville, Stadium), Palladio Folsom, Regal (Auburn, El Dorado Hills, Natomas, Placerville), UA Laguna, Holiday Davis

130 minutes

Rated PG-13 (intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language)
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:34 am

http://www.comicbookbin.com/X-Men_First_Class001.html

X-Men: First Class
By Andy Frisk
Jun 3, 2011 - 0:35

Studios: Bad Hat Productions
Writer(s): Sheldon Turner, Bryan Singer
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, Oliver Platt, January Jones, Jason Flemying
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Running Time: 132 min
Release Date: June 3rd, 2011
Distributors: 20th Century Fox

After X-Men The Last Stand (2006) the X-Men franchise was virtually dead. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2008) wasn’t much better, and even if I didn’t hate it as much as everyone else, it wasn’t exactly going to be the movie that would resurrect the X-Men franchise. No, no Phoenix Effect was bringing this franchise back to life. When X-Men: First Class was announced, I rolled my eyes collectively with most members of the X-Nation. When the cast started to be unveiled though, and the setting (1960s Cuban Missile Crisis/Cold War Era) was revealed, my interest was piqued. After the casting of James McAvoy as Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, I really got interested. As the trailers and teasers came, this film looked like it just might be what every die hard X-Men fan, I’m talking fans from at least the 1970s and 1980s, were looking for. This film had the potential to bring to life the story of two of sequential art’s most tragic and multidimensional characters: Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. Repeatedly referred to as the Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X of the allegorical civil rights story that the X-Men’s tale has metaphorically become, the story of these two’s friendship, trials, and eventual split into two warring camps, set against the backdrop of the 1960s Cuban Missile Crisis, and freed from the ever present, highly marketable, and distracting to the telling of a good tale, shadow of Wolverine, X-Men: First Class had the makings of a phenomenal film. I’m happy to say that it has lived up to its promise. X-Men: First Class is phenomenal in every way. It is easily the best film based on Marvel Comics characters (even beating out this year’s Thor, 2002's Spider-Man, and 2008's Iron Man), and is the closest thing the movie going public and comic book fan base has seen to compare with The Dark Knight (2008). This statement isn’t made lightly. X-Men: First Class is that good.

Many long term fans of the X-Men comic books, who know each and every character’s debut and nuance, will doubt my assertion that X-Men: First Class is barely second only to The Dark Knight. The seeming hodgepodge or mixed bag of characters assembled for this film and its story will grate against the X-Men purist’s sense of continuity. Left with the bitter aftertaste of X-Men: The Last Stand, this is completely understandable. Again, at first I was even skeptical of the assembled cast of characters, which includes Havok, Beast, Banshee, Mystique, Emma Frost, and Sebastian Shaw. This assembly ends up making storytelling sense though in every way. Each of these characters represent personality and characterization complexities (and are much more visibly appealing--physically and mutant power wise) than the original cast as they appeared in the first issue of X-Men from September of 1963. Each character is well rounded, and effectively developed, considering the amount of time we get to know them. Each one has their own insecurities and strengths which contributes to the overall theme of the film. The two characters at the heart and soul of the tale though are Xavier (McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Fassbender).

X-Men: First Class is, at its heart, the story of these two men and the ideals that they represent: peaceful coexistence and cooperation (Xavier) and domination (Lehnsherr). These two men though are not as different minded as they might seem topically, at least in the outset, but both represent different worlds. Lehnsherr, a survivor of the Nazi death camps, is the realist. Xavier, son of privilege and higher education, is the idealist. To list all of the dichotomies that the two represent (liberalism vs. conservatism, idealism vs. realism, progressivism vs. traditionalism, etc. etc.) would be “too long to tell” and deprive the viewer of discovering them on their own, but they both are men, first and foremost, with the same desires and motivations in life. They simply have two very different ideas of how to go about achieving their goals. Regardless of their differences philosophically though, they become the best of friends who actually do care about each other and want to help each other until circumstances deem otherwise. Both these men are not perfect though. They are not perfect representations of their allegorically personified ideals, either. Xavier is idealistic almost to a fault, and Lehnsherr fails to see that he is on the verge of becoming what he hates the most, namely the fascist and racist Nazi that Sebastian Shaw (Lehnsherr’s childhood tormentor) represents. Xavier tries to reach Lehnsherr and vice versa, and they try convince each other of the flaws in their philosophies, but ultimately fail each other, as men so often do when pressed by desperate events, personal tragedies, and desires.

By setting this tale of warring ideologies in the 1960s, the actual years of the creation of The X-Men as a comic book and concept, and against the backdrop of Cold War paranoia and the burgeoning Civil Rights movement, writers Sheldon Turner and Bryan Singer (of the first two X-Men movies’ fame) manage to capture, more than in any other Marvel Comics film adaptation, the spirit of the times and what Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were attempting to say culturally about this respective time period in American history. Turner and Singer manage to make the film relevant to today’s civil rights struggle as well though. When Xavier accidentally outs Hank McCoy (Beast) as a mutant to the shocked CIA agent that helps put the team together, McCoy responds, “You didn’t ask, so I didn’t tell.” Silver Age Marvel Comics were revolutionary in their portrayal of the then real world cultural issues and X-Men: First Class captures this spirit of the times masterfully and makes it relevant to today’s cultural issues in spite of its Silver Age setting. This is what makes the film a work of cultural, and pop-cultural, brilliance. This is also what will make this film stand the test of time just as Lee and Kirby’s original storytelling does, regardless of how it messes with the sacredly long held continuity of the comic book itself.

As a film (and this might be where most readers of this review are going to get what they were looking for when they started reading—thank you for indulging me my musings and reading this far), X-Men: First Class isn’t just all heady intelligence and philosophizing. It is a fantastic adventure filled with dazzling special effects, humor, great characterization, and acting. Fassbender and McAvoy have real chemistry and command of their onscreen friendship and scenes. The film is visually dazzling and recreates the Cold War era of the early 1960s quite well as far as dress, vehicles, and tech goes. There are also some really great (and I mean REALLY great) cameos in the film that are uproariously funny and poignant. The characters, with the exception of Xavier and Lehnsherr, are all college age, and they do some pretty funny college age things. The kids, soon to be thrust into the world of adulthood very quickly and violently, do have time to be kids though. Xavier himself even gets in on the fun early on by using some incredibly funny pick up lines while a student finishing his doctoral degree in genetics. Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) is as breathtakingly beautiful as she is breathtakingly talented as an actress, and plays the soul torn between the ideals of Xavier and Lehnsherr’s masterfully, while still maintaining the nascent innocence of a girl her age in the 1960s who’s about to enter a whole new world of adult complexity. Kevin Bacon gives perhaps the most shockingly standout performance as Sebastian Shaw, leader of the Hellfire Club, who is dedicated to the total domination of the world and instigator of the Cuban Missile Crisis as a means to achieve his ends. He is the film’s true villain, and Bacon plays the part with frightening aplomb. He is evil, and he oozes evil in a way that instills fear (like any Nazi would) that leaves you in horror of his vileness. There is nothing hokey or silly about his Shaw. He is pure evil and far more tempting than any Dark Lord of The Sith.

X-Men: First Class is more than just a superhero film. Like its only serious peer in the genre, The Dark Knight, this film makes you think, feel, and wonder. It is the most pure representation of what superheroes and the intellectually mature complexity of their allegorical tales mean. It’s the perfect combination of a summer blockbuster and a thought piece, and there is nothing better than this type of combination in a film. It leaves you wanting more from this cast in these roles and in this time period. Hopefully, it will spawn a whole new series of films that will live up to the standard that this film sets.

Rating: 10/10
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:34 am

http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/movies/123040478.html

Posted on Fri, Jun. 3, 2011

'X-Men: First Class': Early adventures in the days of JFK

By Steven Rea

Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic

Finally, the Cuban missile crisis explained.

Toward the maelstrom climax of X-Men: First Class - set in 1962, with President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev squaring off in a nightmare game of nuclear chicken - the truth about what really happened off the southern tip of Florida is revealed. The dramatic action sheds a whole new light on those dread-filled days that October, when the world looked like it would be covered in mushroom clouds - and for that, director Matthew Vaughn and his team should be thanked. Of course, history books will have to be rewritten, but, hey, that's life.

This was also the time, it should be noted, when James Bond was combing nearby Caribbean waters for Dr. No, and, in fact, it looks as though Vaughn went combing through early 007 films, too, to come up with the look and style of X-Men: First Class. Jennifer Lawrence, the hoodied Ozarks girl of Winter's Bone, in miniskirts and go-go boots? Yup. Michael Fassbender, brooding Rochester in the new Jane Eyre, in mod turtlenecks and sideburns? Check.

An elaborate origins story with more datelines than an issue of Condé Nast Traveler (Oxford! Miami! Argentina! Poland!), X-Men: First Class has some fun trying to explain how Professor X, Magneto, and all those mopey mutants came to be. It's a mess of backstory to contend with: Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is graduating from Oxford, a budding, brainy geneticist who picks up babes by complimenting them on their "groovy" genomes. Erik Lehnsherr (Fassbender) is a concentration camp survivor determined to track down the Nazi sicko who exploited his magnetic mind powers. Kevin Bacon, an evil gleam in his eye and a Berlitz class worth of German in his mouth, plays Sebastian Shaw, the sinister Teuton. Sending millions of Jews to their death only whetted this guy's appetite for destruction.

And there's Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), the blue-skinned beauty who becomes Mystique; and Hank (Nicholas Hoult), the science whiz who becomes Beast; and Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones), whose sonic scream gives him the moniker Banshee, and January Jones, all vintage va-va-va-voom as a telepath. (She's pneumatic and psionic.) Not to mention Azazel and Riptide and Angel, whom we won't mention.

As prequels go, then, X-Men: First Class has its hands full. Oliver Platt and Rose Byrne show up (the latter in lingerie, to blend in with a bevy of lap-dancing call girls) as CIA agents trying to figure out what's up with these weirdos - and to help with the exposition. For a time, Vaughn - who seemed considerably less encumbered with his previous superhero outing, Kick-Ass - keeps things afloat. McAvoy and Fassbender are serious actors, and seem to be having a serious good time inhabiting these extraordinary Marvel Comics creations. But there's just so much you can do with lines like "You're not alone, Eric, you're not alone" and "the president's about to make his address!" before you get sucked into the vortex.
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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:36 am

http://blog.seattlepi.com/peoplescritic/2011/06/02/review-x-men-first-class/

Review: X-Men: First Class

Eleven years after X-Men opened in theaters, Professor X and crew finally get their origin story in X-Men: First Class. Director Matthew Vaughn takes us back to 1963 in the prequel/sequel story of how the mighty team of mutants got started.

James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Bastards) star as Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr – two mutants who cross paths while chasing a mysterious military leader named Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Xavier and Erik join forces with the CIA to identify other mutants and help stop Shaw from starting a nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union.

What this film may lack in continuity with other films or early 1960’s X-Men comics, it gains in the fine performances by McAvoy and Fassbender. The studio did everything right by casting these two. They both play their characters different than we’ve seen them in the other X movies. There are a few moments towards the end of the film where Fassbender steals a few scenes. I could not have been more impressed with him.

X-Men: First Class focuses primarily on the friendship between Xavier and Erik and their opposing beliefs on how mutants should integrate with humans. The comic book movies that get it right always focus on the films relationships. I’m surprised more movies haven’t caught on to this. Early on in the film we see Professor X as a well-to-do ladies man who’s studying genetic mutations, and Erik as a Holocaust survivor who is hell bent on killing the man who murdered his mother. The two men couldn’t be more different. As the film moves on, the two share the same love for wanting to see mutants be free. But at what cost?

Not to be outdone by the men, the beautiful Jennifer Lawrence shines as a young Mystique. She also gives a new layer to a character we’ve seen in previous X-Men movies. We know Mystique as Magneto’s evil sidekick but Lawrence helps answer the questions: How did she get there? What is going on with her and Magneto? How old is she? The young talent in this movie sets it apart from the other X movies. We get a refreshing look at some old characters. They were able to do so much more with the characters because they haven’t developed into the mutants we’ve read about in the comic books.

Kevin Bacon turns in a performance that reminds us why we love him. He’s got my vote for my imaginary Academy Award for Best Villain. I laughed when I first saw him on screen. By the end of the movie I wasn’t laughing anymore. Bacon is the best baddie I’ve seen all year.

Like the early X-Men comics, the film is able to show social issues in our nation, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the United States ongoing battle with the Soviet Union all in the guise of humans discovering their mutant powers. It was brilliant in the 1960’s and is still brilliant today.

The movies Achilles heel is the special effects that look they’re from 2002. The scene when Angel (Zoe Kravitz) shows off her powers, the special effects looked old. It reminded me of something I would have seen in the first Spiderman. The effects do work for some of the movies bigger action scenes, so it wasn’t a complete disappointment.

Without giving away too much of the film, there are some good Easter eggs in the film for X-Men fans throughout the movie. Don’t worry; there is no need to stay after the credits. No post credit goodies this time.

My Grade: B+

X-Men: First Class exceeded all my expectations. The film has a great story along with two A+ performances by its lead actors. I wouldn’t go as far saying First Class is better than Nolan’s The Dark Knight, but it is one of the best comic book turned movie films I’ve seen since The Dark Knight.
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