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X-Men Reviews 3

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Post by Admin on Sun Jun 12, 2011 4:34 am

http://www.bclocalnews.com/okanagan_similkameen/vernonmorningstar/entertainment/123638484.html

Aisle Seat: Mutants show their true colours

By Jason Armstrong - Vernon Morning Star
Published: June 10, 2011 9:00 AM
Updated: June 10, 2011 9:23 AM

As one of the seemingly few who actually enjoyed the X-Men’s previous big screen outing, 2006’s Last Stand, I don’t know if I’m a real expert on giving advice for the latest mutant adventure, X-Men: First Class. Perhaps there’s just something about this story that intrigues me, good or bad.

I do know this much, though, X-Men: First Class isn’t as great a comic book movie as it is a solid film, period.

A prequel to the Hugh Jackman-led trilogy, First Class is a wonderfully told story; the manner and style in which director Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass) unfolds his tale is darn close to magic. This engages, it entertains, and most impressively, it won’t alienate non-fans of the franchise –– and that’s not a simple thing to do.

How can I be so sure? Easy. I wasn’t a fan of The X-Men growing up. My comic book preference always leaned more towards D.C. than Marvel –– ask your kids to go into detail what that means –– long story short, I’m more hyped about this summer’s Green Lantern than Captain America ), but again, there’s something so irresistible about the concept; it’s almost too smart to be labelled typical comic book fare, yet too much fun to considered art.

Of course, an outrageously great ensemble cast doesn’t hurt. Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Basterds) plays Erik Lehnsherr , a guy who barely made it out of a Holocaust camp, where it was discovered by an evil scientist (Kevin Bacon ) that he could bend and shift metal without ever touching it.

Erik obviously becomes Magneto, and First Class is largely about his early friendship with Charles Xavier (James McAvoy , who eventually becomes Professor X , the leader of the X-Men.)

The origins of other familiar players like shape-shifter Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence of Winter’s Bone), airborne Angel (Zoe Kravitz ) and fuzzy blue Beast (Nicholas Hoult ) are paraded out, yet it doesn’t reek of obligation to introduce these characters – Vaughn makes every one of them fit beautifully and feel essential to the proceedings.

Where other Marvel material has sometimes piled on a variety of creatures at a rapid fire pace (Iron Man 2 and even some of the Spiderman sequels were probably guilty of overcrowding the bench), First Class never gives off the vibe that there are too many cats at the party.

Best X-Men film yet? In my opinion, yes, but, as we’ve already established, you can take that with a grain of salt.

The feature is currently playing at Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:29 pm

http://collider.com/review-x-men-first-class/94331/

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS Review
by Matt Goldberg Posted:June 2nd, 2011 at 2:05 pm

How much do we expect from superhero movies? Do we ask that they be faithful? Do we demand they be grittier so we can argue that they’re more mature and therefore better? Or do we ask that they be fun, disposable entertainment? That answer probably depends on the property, although the tone and plot of the most famous superhero comics have varied so widely over the years that there’s no single answer. Keeping this in mind, Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class forges its own path, not just in terms of the X-Men franchise, but in the superhero genre. The film is stylish and exhilarating, but it’s also darker, more intense, and all the better for it.

First Class is a prequel that takes us back to the origins of not only the X-Men, but between its founders Charles Xavier aka “Professor X” (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr aka “Magneto” (Michael Fassbender). We witness how both men are mutants by nature (Xavier a telepath and Lehnsherr a master of magnetism), but their attitudes towards man are based in their nurture. Xavier grows up pampered in a mansion in Westchester, New York and develops an early friendship with a young Raven Darkholme aka “Mystique” (Jennifer Lawrence). In Europe, Erik is placed in a Nazi concentration camp where he’s forced to develop his powers under the auspices of a cruel officer (Kevin Bacon).

We then flash forward and Charles is hitting on chicks (a jealous Raven at his side) by showing off his knowledge about mutations while Erik is hunting down his Nazi tormentors. While a weaker script may have rushed the meeting between Charles and Erik, the film keeps them apart for the majority of the first act. It’s a smart move because it gives us a chance to better know the individual characters and how deeply they believe their own views regarding mutant-human relations. The two are eventually thrown together serendipitously as Charles is recruited to hunt down Sebastian Shaw (Bacon) who has his own band of mutants—telepath Emma Frost (January Jones), teleporter Azazel (Jason Flemyng), and tornado-conjurer Riptide (Álex González)—and at first glance is working as a communist spy. In response, Charles and Erik team with CIA operative Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) and form their own team of mutants to combat Shaw and stop his ultimate plan: to engulf the world in a nuclear apocalypse.

Why does Shaw want to nuke the world? Because he believes mutants will survive and they will then rule the planet with Shaw as their leader. It’s a dumb plan but it’s convincing that Shaw would do it since he’s arrogant enough to believe that every mutant would agree with him and those who didn’t would cower in fear. He also works as a villain because his power is almost unstoppable (he absorbs energy and then dishes it out) and because Bacon comes off as absolutely terrifying. He’s played villains before, but this is him at his malevolent best.

Shaw’s plan is almost the exactly the same as Magneto’s plan in the first X-Men (but with nuclear annihilation instead of genetic obliteration). It’s a cool twist that Erik shares his mortal enemy’s beliefs and eventually takes his plan. And First Class is full of these cool twists. The film simply doesn’t say “Charles = Good, Erik = Evil”. The audience is forced to reconsider the beliefs of both these men. Charles’ faith doesn’t seem to be placed in humanity, but rather a celebration that mutants can be “the better men.” It’s part of not only his naivety but his astounding arrogance. It’s not a mistake that the last thing we see Charles do in the film is underhanded, patronizing, and ultimately ineffective.

By contrast, Fassbender consistently draws us into the badass charisma of Erik. We shouldn’t side with his methods and his hatred towards humans, but he’s just so damn cool. McAvoy does a terrific job as does the majority of the cast, but this movie truly belongs to Fassbender. This is where he becomes an A-list star and viewers will be rushing out to see his previous films (start with Hunger!). He plays every side of Magneto and plays it honestly. We completely believe in his anger, his pain, his aloofness, and most importantly, his inability to forgive humans. Because the plot owes so much to spy flicks and their 1960s style, it almost feels like Erik and Charles are two sides of James Bond. Erik gets to be the brutal ass-kicker who uses a license to kill to his full advantage while Charles gets to be the suave “shaken-not-stirred” man.

But there’s so much confidence in the direction that the film never feels like parody. Vaughn takes the heart of a serious cold-war drama and expertly blends it with the larger than life tone of superhero stories. X-Men: First Class is never embarrassed that it’s a superhero movie but it never feels the need to play into the genre’s tropes or audience expectations. There are few films that can balance the brutality and darkness of the film’s violence with the joy, humor, and fun of the mutants discovering and learning to control their powers. When we see the young mutants going from partying and declaring their code names to being under attack from Shaw and his killer mutants, the switch should be so abrupt as to knock us out of the movie, but Vaughn’s total conviction and complete control keep us drawn in.

That’s X-Men: First Class: a bunch of disparate elements that shouldn’t work and yet they do. Weighty character drama between two friends who are doomed to become enemies played alongside flying teenagers and blue teenagers shouldn’t work, but it does. Throwing together a slick espionage story with charming coming-of-age narratives shouldn’t work, but it does. The reason it works is that everyone is playing everything at the top of their game. There are a few weak links in the cast (Zoe Kravitz, Caleb Landry Jones), but almost all of the heroes get solid character arcs. The cinematography is eye-popping, Henry Jackman’s score is neck-and-neck with John Ottman’s music for X2 as the best in the series, and Eddie Hamilton and Lee Smith editing work is superb.

The movie isn’t without its problems. The series continues its weakness of making the henchmen nothing more than fearsome powers attached to no-name characters (I’m not sure “Riptide” is even referred to as “Riptide” except in the credits). The script, while doing its best to tap into Cold War fears, shirks commentary about racial integration in favor of yet again making a comment about gay discrimination. That’s fine for films set in the modern day, but it feels heavy-handed and it highlights the story’s oversight of racial politics. Speaking of race, my biggest problem with the film is when [spoiler, scroll over to read]: Darwin sacrifices himself to save the group. For a movie so determined to take chances, it’s a tired cliché that’s unworthy of this film.

In the first half of the 2000s, when it became clear that Bryan Singer wasn’t going to direct the third X-Men movie, Vaughn came close to getting the director’s chair for The Last Stand. Then it fell apart but he’s come back and delivered arguably the best film in the franchise. X2 holds a special place in my heart, but for sheer ambition, the risks it’s willing to take, and its total confidence and style it possesses, X-Men: First Class is the best X-Men movie to date and one of the best movies I’ve seen so far this year.

Rating: A-
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:32 pm

http://www.slate.com/id/2296037/

X-Men: First Class
Mutants save the world, and share their feelings.
By Dana StevensPosted Thursday, June 2, 2011, at 5:23 PM ET

Michael Fassbender in X-Men: First Class. Click image to expand.Michael Fassbender in X-Men: First Class I'm not even going to hazard an assertion as to whether X-Men: First Class (Fox/Marvel Entertainment) is a reboot, a prequel, or a spinoff of the four- or five-part (depending if you count X-Men Origins: Wolverine) film franchise based on the Marvel comic. No matter what I say, some Marvel stickler will be mad about it. Suffice to say that the "first class" of the title refers not to the mutant superhero team's preferred mode of air travel, but to the formation of its first graduating class. Appropriately for the season of its release, this is a graduation movie, but instead of caps and gowns, the seniors wear a mismatched array of shiny helmets, outsized prehensile feet, and royal-blue scaly skin.

As all self-respecting summer blockbusters should, X-Men: First Class begins at the gate of a Nazi concentration camp in 1944. A young boy, Erik Lensherr (Bill Milner), is being separated from his mother by SS guards. After demonstrating telekinetic powers—in his desperation, the boy bends a metal gate with his mind—Erik is brought before a sadistic Nazi officer (Kevin Bacon, whose first appearance on-screen gets a laugh from his sheer Baconitude). Very bad things ensue, eventually resulting in the adult Erik (played by Michael Fassbender) vowing to use his extraordinary powers to find and kill the officer, who is now operating as international supervillain Sebastian Shaw.

Meanwhile, on a lavish estate in upstate New York, a wealthy boy named Charles Xavier (Laurence Belcher) makes an astonishing discovery: A little girl with the ability to shape-shift appears in his kitchen. Charles, who was born with the ability to read minds, realizes he's not the only kid on earth with a genetically mutated superpower, and the two grow up together as siblings.
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The adult Charles (James McAvoy) becomes an Oxford prof specializing in genetic mutation—reason enough for him to be sought out by CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), who's attempting to convince her agency higher-ups that supermutants are for real. The audience needs no convincing, once we've gotten a load of Emma Frost (January Jones), a James Bond-style villainess made entirely of crystal, and other freaks of nature including a stripper with wings, a goth-looking dude who uses smoke as a weapon, and someone whose superpower appears to be … being the devil?

That's a lot to keep straight, and we haven't yet gotten to the romance between Charles' shape-shifting adopted sister Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and a monkey-footed mutant science whiz (Nicholas Hoult). X-Men: First Class is so stuffed with subplots that even the action sequences contain cutaways to romantic contretemps: On the eve of the Cuban missile crisis, Raven takes some time to process her self-esteem issues.

This narrative multitasking slows the pace to a sometimes agonizing degree, but it also allows the director, Matthew Vaughn, the leisure to develop the movie's only substantive relationship: the contentious friendship between touchy-feely Charles Xavier and steely, monomaniacal Erik. For a couple of superpowerful mutants nicknamed Professor X and Magneto, these guys are astonishingly emo. They play chess on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and debate the ethics of vengeance. They weep together over a shared recollection of Erik's dead mother, then cheer when the recovered memory gives Erik the strength to move a satellite dish with his mind. These ludicrous but endearing moments of bro-bonding are all that sets this otherwise stock-issue superhero movie apart from its mass-produced brethren.

McAvoy and Fassbender, two smart, elegant heartthrobs who are usually more at home in a very different kind of literary adaptation, bring a frisson of intimacy to their scenes together. They don't seem like lovers, exactly (though it's not hard to imagine a Magneto/Professor X slashfic site springing up in this movie's wake). They seem like good friends separated by a genuine ideological rift: Should mutants enlist themselves in the cause of serving humanity, or break away to form a militant separatist society? By the movie's end, the ground has been laid for a worldwide man vs. mutant battle that will no doubt unfold in the next X-Men installment. May the best humanoid win—as long as Fassbender and McAvoy get another chance to shed their helmets, lock azure gazes, and cry.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:33 pm

http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/dpp/news/national/foxnews/StarStudded-Cast-Gives-FirstClass-Performance-in-XMen-Prequel_55130683

Star-Studded Cast Gives First-Class Performance in 'X-Men' Prequel

With spectacular effects and an engaging story, “ X-Men: First Class” is a standout period adventure film that just happens to be about superheroes. And with Marvel seemingly throwing all of their early summer marketing weight behind “Thor,” the film could prove to be the sleeper hit of the blockbuster summer season.

Unlike most superhero films, “X-Men: First Class” does not take place in present time. The setting is 1962, moments before the Cuban Missile Crisis. Dropping a genre film in the middle of a historic event immediately and successfully adds depth, substance and plenty of story.

Despite being an origin story, it unfolds less like a superhero film and more like an epic James Bond adventure. The villain, Sebastian Shaw ( Kevin Bacon) plots and connives his way around the globe in a nuclear submarine with his endgame being the Cuban Nuclear crisis and World War III. His assistant is the sultry Emma Frost ( January Jones), who is essentially a Bond girl with a skill. And who better to hunt them down than Magneto, superbly played by Irish star Michael Fassbender.

James McAvoy (Charles Xavier/Prof. X) and Fassbender are the glue that holds the film together. McAvoy’s Professor X is a more relatable character than Patrick Stewart’s in the original trilogy. He is still as much a genius, but maintains his boyish charm and an accessibility that has yet to have been afforded to X’s character.

Fassbender similarly takes his character to a new place, trading the campiness of Ian McKellen’s Magneto and focusing more instead on Erik Lehnsherr’s anguish and tragic past.

But the standout performance in the film is Kevin Bacon. The prologue features Bacon as a frightening Mengele-esque Nazi doctor who becomes a seemingly invincible super villain. It was an inspired choice to cast Bacon in the role of Sebastian Shaw, and the audience gets to see a completely different side of the actor.

One of the best parts of the film is watching the mutants find themselves. X-Men has always touched on issues of acceptance and the notion of "the other," but director Matthew Vaughn (“Kick Ass,” “Layer Cake”) takes his time in letting the audience feel the characters’ revelations and ultimate fear of rejection. It’s an ambitious task for a superhero film, but the breakneck speed of the plot allows Vaughn to accomplish it well.

The film is not without its faults. Most notably, the obnoxious and overbearing musical score during scenes that might have been more powerful had they been done with less volume.

Overall, Vaughn and his team did their homework and gave Marvel’s “X-Men” franchise a real winner.

4 out 5 stars
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:39 pm

http://www.tauntongazette.com/opinions/x724666893/MOVIE-REVIEW-X-Men-First-Class-redeems-the-franchise

MOVIE REVIEW: 'X-Men:First Class' redeems the franchise

Murray Close/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
January Jones is Emma Frost in "X Men: First Class."

By Al Alexander
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Jun 02, 2011 @ 05:00 PM

As a devout hater of comic book movies, it is indeed begrudging to admit that “X-Men: First Class” accomplishes super heroic feats in its rescuing of a flagging franchise. It’s not entirely successful, mind you, but it is a huge step up over the last two films, which turned the Xs into Zzzzzzs.

Like “Batman” and “Star Trek” before it, “X-Men: First Class” wisely goes back to the beginning to relight the fading embers of a concept that seemed to have run its course. And what director Matthew Vaughn and his army of co-writers have done to achieve that is as daring as it is galling.

Educators and historians will be particularly peeved at how Vaughn and company have rewritten history to meet the outrageous demands of a tale that begins in a Nazi concentration camp and ends at the pinnacle of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The CIA also might take exception to how it is portrayed as a collection of incompetent dolts. But, screw them; the target audience of teenage boys probably couldn’t give a rat’s behind about Hitler, Castro and Khrushchev.

They want bizarre characters, funky special effects and comprehendible action scenes that go light on the cheese. They get all that, and more, as Vaughn imaginatively reinvents the mutant superhero genre just one year after totally trashing it with his funny, lacerating satire, “Kick-Ass.” But that doesn’t mean he leaves out any of the fun, injecting numerous one-liners that are as knowing as they are glib.

It’s the two lead performances, though, that send “X-Men: First Class” soaring, with accomplished thespians James McAvoy (“Atonement”) and Michael Fassbender (“Inglourious Basterds”) fleshing out intriguing Shakespearean undertones in their portrayals of franchise mainstays Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, and Erik Lehnsherr, aka Magneto. We know them from the previous films as philosophical enemies, the Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X of the nonviolent and militant factions of the mutant community. But for this film’s purposes they are temporarily united in their quest to end the world’s persecution of the chromosomally challenged.

Standing in their way is one nasty hombre in Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw, a former Nazi doctor who sends chills from the get-go, as Erik, then a child, watches in horror as the sour kraut offs the boy’s mother right in front of him. From that point on, it becomes Erik’s mission to hunt down the maniacal war criminal and serve up some whoop-ass justice.

Little does Erik know that Shaw’s a mutant, too; one able to absorb great amounts of energy to convert into pure evil. Bacon performs much the same feat in absorbing much of the film’s energy as a mustache-twirling villain plotting to instigate an American-Soviet thermonuclear war designed to open the door to mutant rule in October 1962.

That showdown, of course, is about to take place in Cuba, 90 miles off the southern tip of Florida, and it’s up to Professor X, Magneto and their newly recruited teenaged mutant minions to stop it from happening. That is, of course, if the professor can keep his deeply divided troupes from breaking ranks before the mission is complete.

The conflicts, as well as the meetings of the minds, between Professor X and Magneto are as intriguing as they are thrilling. That’s especially true early on, when each thinks they’ve found a kindred spirit in the other, as they conspire to bring down Shaw and save the world. But there’s never a lack of tension between them, as Professor X preaches cohabitation with the humans, while Magneto wants only to wipe them off the face of the earth.

Yes, it’s silly and cliché, but McAvoy and Fassbender sell it as effectively as Steve Jobs sells iPhones. They answer the call, too; no matter if the mood is comical, dramatic or absurd. But it’s Fassbender who steals the show with his swarthy good looks and James Bond-like demeanor that adds welcome swagger to Erik’s Nazi-hunting exploits in the film’s suspenseful first act. That only makes it more rueful when he’s asked to momentarily retract his claws during a sluggish middle act when passiveness and moralizing prevail.

Still, even though we’re supposed to be rooting for Professor X’s nonviolent approach to life, I found myself unbending in my backing of the magnetic Magneto’s malevolence. Well, I did until he donned that silly helmet made famous by Sir Ian McKellen. Then, he lost me. So did the movie, as it progressively grew less about characters and more about appeasing X-Men fanboys hungering to glean the origins of X-Men lore.

That includes such dull insights as Professor X’s first encounter with his mind-reading enhancer, the Cerebro (looking like a freaky hairdryer), and the maiden flight of the X-Jet. The film’s worst impediment, however, is its insistence on ladling on supporting characters, whether it’s a lovely in lingerie CIA operative (Rose Byrne from “Bridesmaids”) sympathetic to the mutants; Shaw’s beautiful, crystal encrusted henchwoman, Emma Frost (an awful January Jones from “Mad Men”); or the insecure in her blue skin, Mystique, nicely played by recent Oscar-nominee Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”).

At least those three are more interesting than the rest of the cast of mutants, whose “special gifts” obviously do not include acting ability. I mean you, Edi Gethagi, your Darwin never evolves. And you, Zoe Kravitz (daughter of Lenny), your wing-sprouting Angel never takes flight. Less of them and more of McAvoy, Bacon and particularly Fassbender might have taken “X-Men: First Class” to the level of magna cum laude instead of just another B movie. Still, in a summer polluted with junk like “Thor” and “Pirates 4,” that’s practically a reason for celebration, as this “X” definitively marks its spot.

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language.) Cast includes Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne and Jennifer Lawrence. Co-written and directed by Matthew Vaughn. 3 stars out of 4.

Copyright 2011 The Taunton Gazette. Some rights reserved
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:40 pm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/reviews/article-1393697/X-Men-First-Class-A-minus-new-X-Men.html

A-minus for the new X-Men

By Chris Tookey

Last updated at 12:23 AM on 3rd June 2011

X-Men: First Class (12A)

Verdict: Well worth a middling second
Rating: 3 Star Rating

The X-Men series started well in 2000 with two films directed by Bryan Singer, but suffered an ugly mutation with Brett Ratner’s brainless X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and risked extinction with the boring prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).

Matthew Vaughn’s attempt to revive the franchise is the fifth and best of the lot. It bears the same relationship to the four previous films that J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek did to its predecessors.

It shows how the X-Men came into being as a group rather than as individual mutants, how they were first wooed by the CIA and then incurred the hatred of the authorities.

It casts young actors in familiar roles. The only old-stager to survive from the previous films is Hugh Jackman, and his appearance as Wolverine is no more than a cameo.
Second class performances: January Jones' performance, along with the other female leads, are the weakest characters

Second class performances: January Jones' performance, along with the other female leads, are the weakest characters

One big asset is James McAvoy. He is excellent as the young Professor Charles Xavier (formerly played by Patrick Stewart), the most civilised, reasonable and urbane of the Mutants.

McAvoy plays him with charm and verve, and his lightness of touch rescues Charles from the priggishness that made Stewart’s performance less sympathetic than it was meant to be.

First Class takes Charles from his privileged U.S. childhood to university days in Oxford, and then on to his first confrontation — during the Cuban missile crisis — with his initial friend and then long-term enemy Magneto, formerly played by Ian McKellen and here interpreted with commendable forcefulness and athleticism by Michael Fassbender, who makes a good case for himself as the next James Bond.

The picture spans two decades, from the Forties through to the Sixties, so it’s a tribute to the six screenwriters that the tale spins a coherent, gripping narrative.

The globe-trotting first half — which visits Poland, Russia, Argentina, America, Switzerland and the UK — is dominated by Fassbender, and the central conflict is between him and the former Nazi Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) who shot his mother. Bacon makes Shaw a malign, if implausibly melodramatic, villain and he serves a useful narrative purpose by pushing vengeful concentration-camp survivor Erik into becoming Magneto, the least human-friendly of the mutants.

The reason I wouldn’t give X-Men: First Class a fourth star — though many comic-book fans will feel I’m being stingy — is that I don’t think it will convert many non-believers to the franchise. Even though it has humorous moments, it’s a shade pompous and pedestrian, and seriously outstays its welcome at 132 minutes.
Charming: James McAvoy's excellent turn as Professor Xavier is a huge draw of the film

Charming: James McAvoy's excellent turn as Professor Xavier is a huge draw of the film

It crams in enough detail and subsidiary characters to satisfy the fanboys, but that’s at the expense of the pace it needed to entertain those unfamiliar with the books.

There’s also a problem with hanging the plot on the Cuban missile crisis. There’s not much suspense, because we all know how that worked out, and even those hazy about the historical details will be aware that it didn’t really involve the timely intervention of mutant superheroes.

A tiresome amount of time is spent setting up the minor X-People’s internal angst, which will have action fans drumming their fingers.

I’m unconvinced that anyone except comic-book aficionados is going to care sufficiently whether mutants Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) are happy in their skins or would prefer to look normal.

Mystique, especially, worries a good deal about being bright blue, whereas Cheryl Cole never seems to have a moment’s self-doubt about looking orange.

Another disappointment is that the film sets up a budding romance between Beast and Mystique, but then never delivers on its promise.

The film’s weakest characters are its women — and that has been true of the series as a whole.
Too many of the females — among them Mad Men’s January Jones as the telepathic Emma Frost — spend an astonishing amount of time flaunting their physiques in form-fitting lingerie.
The next James Bond? Michael Fassbender puts on an impressively athletic show

The next James Bond? Michael Fassbender puts on an impressively athletic show

It’s a pity the chance was not taken to offset the male-oriented geekiness of most graphic novels — though it’s no great surprise that it prefers to pander to fanboys’ grosser instincts.

The original X-Men cartoon strip for Marvel comics was born in the Sixties out of the Civil Rights Movement. As a metaphor for black people struggling against prejudice, the strip showed powerful, dignified but oppressed mutants suffering at the hands of opportunistic, invariably Right-wing politicians.

In the big-screen spin-offs, the mutants have ceased to be symbols and have come to represent just about any minority group.

It is this vagueness that undermines the power of the movies. It’s hard to get angry about the treatment of the mutants, or feel their pain, when we aren’t certain what they represent. It’s also hard to empathise too specifically with a guy who has prehensile hands where his feet should be.

And it’s easy to feel detached about someone like Professor X, who has superpowers of telepathy, or Magneto, who can lift a submarine out of the sea by thinking about it. Their problems don’t have much similarity to our own.

The epic scale and portentous pace of X-Men: First Class may suggest its makers feel it has something important to say, but whatever that message is doesn’t come over clearly, unless it is a half-hearted plea for tolerance — all the more half-hearted as director Vaughn shows more sympathy for the animalistic aggression of Magneto than he does for the self-righteousness of Professor X.

Though geeks are going to love it, this superhero film moves more slowly than any comic-strip movie ought to, and takes itself so seriously that it becomes, paradoxically, a bit ridiculous.

It lacks the crossover appeal of the best in its genre, such as Superman, Spiderman 2 or Batman Begins.

All the same, this is the classiest of the series and one of the better summer blockbusters so far.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:42 pm

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/jun/02/its-not-a-fun-journey-back-to-x-mens-humble/

It's not a fun journey back to X-Men's humble origins
Prequel ‘First Class’ comes off feeling like a second-class superhero story

By Alison Gang, UNION-TRIBUNE

Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 2:09 p.m.
In this film publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, Michael Fassbender portrays Erik Lehnsherr in a scene from "X-Men: First Class." (AP Photo/20th Century Fox, Murray Close)

/ AP

In this film publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, Michael Fassbender portrays Erik Lehnsherr in a scene from "X-Men: First Class." (AP Photo/20th Century Fox, Murray Close)

“X-Men: First Class”

Rating: PG-13

When: Opens today

Where: Wide release

Running time: 2 hours, 11 minutes

★★

Summer blockbuster season is upon us, and with that comes superhero movies, comic book adaptations, overhyped sequels and, in the case of “X-Men: First Class,” a superhero comic book adaptation prequel. While I list 2000’s “X-Men” as one of my favorites of the genre, its two sequels hardly compared. Still, I couldn’t help but get a little excited for “X-Men: First Class.”

Origin stories have that effect on me. I can’t resist the chance to go back to the beginning, to know them when they were nobodies just like me. Or, in this case, when they were genetic mutants finally getting the courage to emerge from the shadows and claim their identity. But as much as I wanted to revel in this most original of origin stories, this prequel felt sluggish, forced and more fretful than fun.

Of course, the not-so-subtle subtext of the entire X-Men franchise — that human beings despise and fear that which is different, especially if it’s more powerful — is hardly a laugh riot. Especially when such an unpleasant truth is thrown up alongside the Nazi’s frighteningly successful effort to isolate the Jews from “regular” society, and then murder them. This is precisely where “X-Men: First Class” begins, as young Erik Lehnsherr is forcefully separated from his parents at the gates of a concentration camp. In the rage and grief of the moment, his power to manipulate metal with his mind is revealed, landing him in the hands of a sociopathic doctor, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). That boy grows up to become Magneto (an intensely handsome Michael Fassbender), and all he wants is revenge.

Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has it much better, growing up in a monstrous estate, where he spends his days studying the science of genetic mutation. Understandable, considering he comes with one of his own — telepathy. There he meets blue-skinned, shape-shifter Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), and the two grow up together, essentially as brother and sister.

When Charles, soon to be Professor X, earns his doctorate in 1962, a CIA agent (Rose Byrne) comes calling for help, convinced she’s discovered a national security threat involving humans with strange powers, including Shaw (un-aged since the war), a blond bombshell literally made of diamonds (January Jones) and other indescribably powerful beings.

Eager to help, as is his nature, Charles reveals the existence of mutants like himself to the CIA. He soon meets and befriends Erik and recruits a selection of young mutants into the fold. While the CIA exploits their abilities, it’s clear that they’re considered “freaks” more than allies. And so begins the eternal tension between mutant and human and among the mutants themselves.

This conflict is most intriguing as Charles and Erik’s friendship evolves, yet the debate dominates far too many energy-draining discussions. The slowly unfolding Cold War-era plot feels close to corny, especially as it begins to entwine itself with real-life events like the Cuban missile crisis. Between the go-go dancer costumes, cartoonish Russian generals and stale Cold War clichés, the film occasionally feels like a James Bond spoof, without Austin Powers to lighten the mood.

Origin stories work their magic when the audience is initiated into a new world right alongside the main character. Think Tobey Maguire clumsily learning to throw his webs in “Spider-Man” or Aaron Johnson naively approaching his first foes in “Kick-Ass,” a film also helmed by “First Class” director Matthew Vaughn. While McAvoy and Fassbender make an appealing duo as younger versions of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, their characters are mostly developed by the time we meet them, and the posse of teenage mutants are kept at a distance, remaining two-dimensional and mostly uninteresting.

The magic is missing from “X Men: First Class,” and without it, the film’s just an average superhero movie with a dark side and a groovy Bond-era paint job.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:42 pm

http://www.dailyrecord.com/article/20110602/NJENT03/306020005/Can-X-Men-First-Class-deliver-what-comic-book-lacks-?odyssey=nav|head

Can 'X-Men: First Class' deliver what the comic book lacks?
2:15 PM, Jun. 2, 2011 |

Michael Fassbender portrays Erik Lehnsherr, who has the power to control magnetism, in a scene from the motion picture "X-Men: First Class."

Written by
Michael Re | For NJ Press Media

When I first started reading comics as a kid, I fell hard for one group of heroes in particular -- the X-Men. Something about the group's nature as outsiders, their long, shared and almost familial history, fascinated me. I devoured not only every current book with a capital ''X'' in the title, but the classic original issues from the '60s, an era in the team's history that writer Jeff Parker has tried to re-create with his series ''X-Men: First Class.''

Given my affinity for the characters, I was pretty fond of the first two X-Men films, director Bryan Singer's contribution to the series.

The second installment in particular really tapped into the things I'd always loved about the comic, and remained my favorite super-hero movie until my first screening of ''The Dark Knight.'' But Bret Ratner's follow-up to Singer's films left me feeling somewhat less enthusiastic about the franchise, and the abysmal ''X-Men Origins: Wolverine'' shattered any hopes I had for its future until I saw the trailer for ''X-Men: First Class.''

This latest installment is helmed by director Matthew Vaughn, who earned himself some serious super-hero cred with last year's ''Kick-Ass.''

With its back-to-the-beginning approach and a story set amid the tensest episode of the Cold War, it promises to be a return to the form for the franchise, and I'm anxiously awaiting its release.

The series, which has had two limited runs, is largely comprised of single-issue standalone stories which barely have the space to build up any tension before they're ultimately resolved, while the dialogue, and consequently the character development, are just a little too goofy for contemporary sensibilities. The result is a teen drama without the angst, a harmless and unremarkable bit of nostalgia.

This is one of those rare instances where deviation from the source material is probably a good thing, and from just the cursory glance offered by the trailer for ''X-Men: First Class,'' it seems clear that Vaughn has taken the liberty and gone way off book, not so much adapting Parker's comic as borrowing his central premise and hopefully putting it to better use.

''X-Men: First Class'' opens in theaters today, and even if it only turns out to be half as good as it looks, it will be a major step toward putting the franchise back on track.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:04 pm

http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/goblinbomber/news/?a=38907

X-Men First Class Review: I Told You So
WARNING:SPOILERS! I do not suggest paying full price to see this movie

We can all agree that "X-Men First Class" was something special. Whether that's a good special or a bad special is entirely based off different aspects and taste. I'm not one to judge a movie off of the trailers and pictures, but I already had speculations that First Class was going to disappoint me. Needless to say it did. I'm not saying that it was a bad movie, I'm saying that I was PERSONALLY upset with the outcome. Some have decided to completely trash the movie, because those handful of people were assuming that First Class was a reboot, and they shouldn't be reviewing the movie at all if that's what they thought, apparently they didn't look into the movie too much, but still have the audacity to critique it with such hatred. If it WAS a reboot, then why did we see the same Magneto gate scene, and why did we have a Hugh Jackman cameo? I don't care what anyone says, they can go ahead and call it a reboot, but I can also say that The Hulk is yellow, just because I said it, and you just read it on an article online, doesn't make it true.

Again, I'm not saying that it was a bad movie, but it was far from good. I went in with the mindset that I was going to walk out of the movie un-wowed. Their were so many plot holes, and so many characters that were unconnected. Such as Scott Summers and Alex Summers: NO RELATION, Mystique and Azazel: NO RELATION, but I expected that considering they did the same thing in X3 with Charles and Juggernaut.

I was pretty bummed out with Beast in the movie. They way they portrayed him was almost identical to the way the portrayed The Thing, in the first Fantastic 4, with all the moping around and the huge distraught. I want to see Beast reciting Shakespeare and different philosophies. Walking on the roof and always making the best out of the worst situations. His fighting scene was one of the dopest parts of the film, but as soon as it was through we got sad Beast again.

The biggest upset for me was seeing Charles go through all the trouble to get this group of playful rapscallions together and tell them that there is going to be some serious training, and then one corny training montage scene afterwards, the once rowdy young adults are a devoted vigorous force ready to take on a nuclear war. The same way Charles could party like a young frat boy, then go to wanting to save human kind from war.

The movie did have some good come out of it though, for me the saving grace of the whole film was Magneto, and actually showing the origin of young Eric, seeing Emma Frost in her skimpy white costume was a fruitful delight, and the Wolverine cameo wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I actually got a good laugh out of it. I know if someone introduced themselves as Charles Xavier and I turned around to see Mr. Tumnus instead of Patrick Stewart, I'd tell 'em to [frick] off too.

You're gonna have those who loved it, those who hated it, or those like me, who appreciate the fact that Marvel came out with another movie to watch. Appreciate what you get, and no matter what happens...nothing will be as bad as X3. Thanks for reading, and I'll have another article up next week. Thumbs Up!

GoblinBomber
6/6/2011
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:04 pm

http://www.comicbookmovie.com/x-men_movies/x-men_first_class/news/?a=38885

MARVELFREEK REVIEWS: X-Men: First Class
Well, I throw my two cents on the movie that seems to have beaten Thor.
Ok well first off I walked into this movie opened minded. I threw away the continuity and character issues and basically everything else that irked me out of the window two months before the film came out. So I went in seeing this film as a film that is meant to show a beginning in more ways than one. I found if you see this film as a requel instead of a reboot or whatever with elements from the previous films the pill is easier to swallow. Now my point of view is that this is an X-Men film that is meant as a new beginning so before anyone decides to diss my thoughts just read it in the same mindset as I saw it.Now on to the review!

Okay, For starters I won't be following my usual review rubric. Just by likes and dislikes.

LIKES: Well, I enjoyed the film tremendously, the reasons are as follows;
-The performances and chemistry of the Professor and Magneto were very well made and worked.
-Sure the first class wasn't the original but it worked; that being said I enjoyed it especially Beast and Banshee
-The 60's element was very well made and I liked how they portrayed it (Charles even said Groovy!)
-How history tied into the story was very cool because I love history and I thought that was well put together.
-When Charles was paralyzed: honestly it snuck up on me! I was very surprised and even though I knew it was going to happen I still felt bad for him.
- I got to see Banshee fly,Beast be more traditional and scientific, the REAL Emma Frost turn diamond,and a real Magneto helmet. All pluses in my book.
-The Logan cameo and the recruitment scene in general, very fun.
-The team really used their powers for everything things (Getting women or messing around) really which to me was fun(Especially how Erik used his powers).

These were pretty much the things I enjoyed. Now the things I didn't enjoy.

DISLIKES:
- First off minus the helmet the final Magneto costume was cheesin baaad!
- Not enough of the class really bonding sans Havok and Beast I would have liked to see that.
-Not any closure to the class at the end of the film. Kind of a bummer.
-I would have liked to see an early mission with the class in which a human Beast uses his abilities but they fail and must train as a team.
- A little bit of an expansion on the Hellfire club would have been nice. Kind of wanted to explore that more.
-Angel: what was her purpose?
-Emma Frost was a tad under used and she had potential.

Well there you have it loyal readers. I give this an 8.5 out of 10 because I enjoyed the STORY not the fact that its X-Men just the STORY and also the character portrayls were very nice and I really felt this was an espionage 60's film which is what it was geared for. My favorite character was Banshee and before anyone says ANYTHING about lack of accent watch Storm in the 3 X-Men films. No African accent in the last two yet no one flipped over that so there. But yes this film in my opinion was great and please give me your thoughts on the film or my review as long as they are not attempting to put me down. I'm eager to hear why you liked/hated it! So stay tuned for more reviews MARVELFREEK OUT!!!!!


Marvelfreek94
6/7/2011
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:05 pm

http://www.comicbookmovie.com/x-men_movies/x-men_first_class/news/?a=39075

RaisingTheBar's Review of X-Men: First Class
I apologize that this is a few days behind all of the other reviews; however, I’ve had to collect my thoughts overall and avoid being a prisoner of the moment after seeing the film. This is my first review ever, and I must disclaim that, by no means do I consider myself a professional at this. I’m just an avid fan of movies, this site, and comic book movies in general and I religiously follow this website on a daily basis. That being said, on to the review…

As this is my first ever review, I’ll begin with the most general part, the story itself. Like many when this movie was announced, I was very excited for what could be. However, as more information came out about the film I became very cynical of its prospects—random mutants pulled from oblivion, a glaring omission of certain key characters, and storyline set during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I must admit that I was adamantly against the naming of the movie as “First Class” when only one of the original team appeared. The audacity and arrogance by which the often vilified Fox (deservedly so most of the time) seemed to be spitting in the faces of the fans was just beyond me. That aside, I believe the film itself was overall a good film. I did have problems with certain parts of the story such as the building of cerebro by Hank McCoy, Moira MacTaggert being CIA, and some of the characters used. The story itself though was easy to follow, had good flow, kept the audience involved, and was entertaining.

As I mentioned one of my biggest problems was the characters placed in this movie. That’s not to say it didn’t have its bright spots. I thought Fassbender (Magneto), Hoult (Beast), McAvoy (Xavier), and even Kevin Bacon (Shaw) were extremely engaging. Fassbender and Hoult in particular really stole the show for me. They brought layers to their characters and seemed to really connect to their roles. I think McAvoy was a great balance on screen to Fassbender and his performance was overall impressive. I also haven’t come across anyone who has seen the movie who didn’t despise or hate Shaw within a few scenes or minutes. Kevin Bacon really brought the audience a villain they could connect with and dislike. These four characters really made the movie for me, in particular Fassbender. Unfortunately, after these characters I really didn’t feel like the others were very impressive. Azazel (Flemyng) and Riptide (Gonzalez) were forgettable overall and did not really add much to the film, dialogue or otherwise, with the exception of a few action sequences. And although I liked the look of Azazel overall, I feel like he was a poor man’s Nightcrawler circa X2. As for the so-called “X-Men,” I was most impressed with Banshee. His look was pretty accurate, although I wish he would’ve had the traditional accent. The others (Havok, Darwin, and Angel) were all very underdeveloped characters and overall slightly less forgettable that Riptide. Also, as a side note, the nerve of Fox to call the movie “First Class,” not have the original team, and then have a character called Angel bothered me. And yes, before anyone comments I do know it was Angel Salvadore, but she takes the name Angel in the film. As far as Mystique (Lawrence), I’m quite torn. At times she was good, but at others she was very whiny, annoying and just flat out bad. Overall, her performance was slightly above average, but nothing that impressive in my opinion. And finally, Emma Frost (Jones) and Moira MacTaggert (Byrne) were complete busts in my eyes. I wish I could forget some of their scenes honestly. January Jones seemed completely uninterested, devoid of emotion, and disconnected almost the entire time she was on screen. Her performance was cringe-worthy in spots and I was beyond disappointed. The one positive thing I can say was that she looked the part. Likewise, Moira (Byrne) was unimpressive and seemed overmatched by most actors she shared the screen with. As a final note on the characters, I thought the cameos were all great—Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Romijn, the slight nods to Storm and Cyclops—all great.

All that being said, I thought the movie was pretty good and I would be interested to see Vaughn continue the franchise. Some comic book movies like Thor, Batman Begins, and Iron Man had me leaving the theater wanting more. First Class left a similar impression on me, although with one slight difference. I left First Class wanting more: more from Vaughn, more Fassbender/Hoult/McAvoy, more X-Men, but most of all I left wanting the ever elusive and still never captured proper X-Men film. I want to see the original members come together, Cyclops lead, and a story more faithful to the material take place. Hopefully, Fox can take the positive momentum from this and give the fans what they’ve been wanting all along.

Good effort, overall good film though. (3.5/5 stars)

6/9/2011
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:06 pm

http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/allthingsx/news/?a=39224

X-Men: First Class Review (after the 10th June India release)
Finally a movie that us X-fans have truly deserved!

OK so I know you lucky guys out there in the US may have already watched the flick twice (even thrice) but here in India X-Men First Class has just released on June 10 (right now as I post this it's the 11th Razz). But I thought, heck, I would like my opinion to be heard about the movie so why not post a review of my own! So here goes, my first online review for a movie EVER! (As well as my first article on my just-made fansite out here Very Happy )

I won't get into the whole customary introduction of the review (the story blah, blah) so I'm getting right down to it now...I feel the movie has extremely well executed in more ways than one! Finally a movie that us X-fans have truly deserved! Read on to know why I say so...

Firstly, Matthew Vaughn with his trusty writing partner Jane Goldman have penned a great story. True it isn't at all what the X-Men First Class comic series was, but keeping in mind that they are trying to be true to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as much as to the comics, it's a great adaptaion of the characters.

Unlike X3, this movie has heart, loads of it! Right from the dilemmas of Mystique & Beast, to the entire backstory of Magneto, everything is handled really well! In fact, Magneto is portrayed so well out here by Michael Fassbender that I think he's become my fave character in the movie! Jennifer Lawrence excelled as Mystique- be it her comic timing or emotional scenes. Looking forward to seeing more of her true-blue self in the sequel (which seems inevitable now). James Mcavoy has really given us a fresh new take on the Professor & I was really digging it! Though many accuse her of being wooden, January Jones' Emma is spot on actually cos we know from the comics what a bitch she can really be- a cold character, known for switching her loyalties as she pleases. So her "wooden performance" was just what the role called for! The entire cast has done a swell job!

The direction is brilliant! Some really cool shots. I loved the manner in which the XFC emblem is displayed as the movie title for one. And then there were shots that simply gave me the chills- kiddo Magneto unleashing his powers, Xavier's first use of Cerebro, Azazel's main fight scene (& here I mainly talk about the part where the bodies just keep dropping from the sky)!

I love that the movie doesn't take itself too seriously, something X-Men & X2 lacked in. I delighted in the jokes & enjoyed hearing the cinema hall roar with laughter along with me! Great references to the previous movies. And the cameos?? Yes, Wolverine does make an appearance- which I know many will be happpy with- the gasp emitted from the guy sitting next to me was enough to let me know that. However the bite of that scene was sucked out cos in the theater they muted the response out here Razz That damn Indian Censorship Board! lol Rebecca's cameo was awesome too! And though I do appreciate the little glimpses we get of a young Storm & Cyke in the Cerebro sequence, I just feel it muddles that already minced up timeline of the MCU!

One thing I relished also was the camaraderie shown between the characters. The actors didn't seem to be "acting" here, it all seemed to come so naturally. Especially when watching the scene where they choose code-names, I felt this sorta thing- the actual friendship & team bonding between the characters- was something else lacking from previous X-movies.

The visual effects? WOW! I was apprehensive about Mystique's transformation when seeing the trailers, but after seeing it on the big screen I can certainly say it's executed well! Ditto for Emma's diamond power. Actually all the powers in fact have been depicted really well. And don't get me started on the sub-lift scene lol! Even scenes that make subtle use of CG look great! My only grouse with it was in one scene, when Magneto holds the missiles up in suspension there's a far off shot of the group below & missiles above- they looked SO CG! Otherwise the effects looked real & cool. The conceptualization of Havok, Darwin & Sebastian's powers were tough (as I've read) but they pulled it off well.

The action never seems to be just some mindless explosions & fighting for no rhyme or reason. Each action has a specific reason behind it, & doesn't just seem like a desperate way to just give all the mutants a time to shine & show off with their powers. Quite unlike what we were served with in X3 Razz

OK now I may be going a bit too deep in my review here but I felt the costumes deserve a special mention. They really brought on the 60's feel. The suits, jackets, skimpy dresses, sunglasses (loved some some really retro ones on some characters!) & how can we forget Emma Frost's wardrobe & the uniforms! Frost is known for her barely-there apparel in the comics so that's simply a very faithful portrayal of the character (in case any girls thought, 'What the heck is she wearing?!?' lol). The yellow-&-blue uniforms are a fresh change from all that black leather we got used to seeing in X-movies! AND I adored Fassbender's ENTIRE wardrobe! Amazing suits & jackets! The Fass carried off everything in style! Why on earth did Magneto sack his fashion designer when he got older is a real mystery LOL! A mystery that may be answered in the next sequel perhaps? ;P

Bottomline? My rating for it would be 4.5 / 5! Where's the 0.5 go? Well I think I'll leave that for my next article Smile

Hope you guys like the article! Do comment below (but do be nice considering I'm a novice on the Fansite & review scene) & I would appreciate it if you guys visit & follow my blog All Things X (http://all-things-x.blogspot.com/) & leave your comments there too if you like...

Editors Note - Do not put Reviews in News.

njferns
6/10/2011
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:56 pm

http://www2.tbo.com/entertainment/movies/2011/jun/02/well-acted-x-men-first-class-keeps-mutant-action-m-ar-234547/

Well-acted 'X-Men: First Class' keeps mutant action moving

20TH CENTURY FOX

"X-Men: First Class" stars, from left, Caleb Landry Jones, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Lucas Till.

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones

Info: Running time: 2:12.

Rated PG-13 (brief strong profanity, some sexuality and a violent image)
By KEVIN WALKER | The Tampa Tribune
Published: June 02, 2011
» 0 Comments | Post a Comment

The "X-Men" franchise returns to form in "X-Men: First Class," with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender classing up the proceedings, making a good script even better with intelligent performances.

"First Class" isn't perfect or even as good as the first two "X-Men" films. For one thing, it's too long. For another, the middle portion sags and loses some of the 1960s flavor of the rest of the film.

But McAvoy and Fassbender make the long journey worth it, as does a frenetic finale involving superheroes, nuclear weapons and the naval power of the United States and the former Soviet Union.

For the most part, director Matthew Vaughn ("Kick Ass") keeps the pace humming. Ten minutes never go by without someone jumping, punching, flying or turning into diamond crystals (don't ask, you'll see).

He also gives the best parts of the movie, which is set in an alternative history of the 1960s during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a kind of James Bond feel, with Fassbender dressed the part of the mod superspy/assassin and both Soviet and U.S. military leaders meeting in gleaming rooms with large maps and many blinking lights, looking as if they were designed for the sets of "Dr. No" or "Goldfinger." There's even liberal use of the word "groovy."

Perhaps most importantly, the movie capitalizes on one of the franchises distinguishing characteristics: depicting alienation. Eric Lehnsherr (Fassbender) – aka Magneto – is reestablished as the angry patron saint of the misunderstood outsider.

The film goes to great lengths to make this point. Humans – up to and including CIA agents – badger, bully and mock mutants. Later, the military attempts to blow them up. We get it: these are some disenfranchised people.

But should they unleash their anger and seek vengeance, or "be the better man" and help protect the very humans who loath them? That's the heart of the movie, with the first philosophy espoused by Lehnsherr and the latter by Charles Xavier (McAvoy).

After establishing their pasts – upper crust Xavier raised with fellow mutant Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and educated in genetics at Oxford, Fassbender a Jew turned into a killer by Nazis – the movie moves into the 1960s, where the two meet while chasing Fassbender's former Nazi tormentor, now called Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon).

They fail to capture Shaw, but both decide to join a new CIA operation and recruit mutants, including the brilliant Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Darwin (Edi Gathegi), Havoc (Lucas Till) and Angel (Zoe Kravitz). One of the film's flaws is that the group seems much more 2011 than 1962.

Meanwhile, Shaw has recruited the telepath Emma Frost (January Jones), the teleporting, demonic Azazel (Jason Flemyng) and Riptide (Alex Gonzalez).

Yes, it's a mutant a-go-go, and it all culminates in a big fight off the Cuban coast.

The high points include the aforementioned Messrs. Fassbender and McAvoy, who convincingly portray a complex friendship. Bacon seems to relish playing the nasty guy, and both Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romijn make nice cameos.

Low points include an underdeveloped relationship between Xavier and Raven, who becomes Mystique. Also – and this is to be expected with so many characters – motivations aren't always clear with every character and things get a little confusing about who said what to whom and why.

But ultimately it's what a summer movie should be – fun, action-packed, well-acted (at least at the top of the bill) and with just enough story to keep things interesting.

'X-Men: First Class'
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:57 pm

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303745304576361283545034572.html

JUNE 3, 2011

Surprise: A Newly Exhilarating 'X-Men'
Director Ayoade surfaces with fine, funny 'Submarine'; Plummer, McGregor illuminate 'Beginners'

By JOE MORGENSTERN

[FILM1] Twentieth Century Fox

From left, Michael Fassbender, Caleb Landry Jones, James McAvoy, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence and Lucas Till in 'X-Men: First Class.'

Preaching mutant pride with endearing fervor, "X-Men: First Class" proves to be a mutant in its own right—a zestfully radical departure from the latter spawn of a sputtering franchise. This prequel draws new energy from supersmart casting, plus the shrewd notion of setting the beginnings of the X-Men saga in the early 1960s. That allows the youthful mindbenders, forcefielders and shapeshifters, along with their earnest Svengali, Charles Xavier, to reshape the Cold War. (Did you really think it was a Soviet blink that saved the world from nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis?) It also gives the filmmakers a chance to play with such stylistic signatures of the era as split screens, Rudi Gernreich-like clothes and the beginnings of James Bond extravagance.

Watch a clip from "X-Men: First Class" starring Michael Fassbender, Caleb Landry Jones, James McAvoy, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence and Lucas Till.

The film, which was directed by Matthew Vaughn from a screenplay he wrote with Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Jane Goldman, begins these beginnings with a preface that takes place in a World War II concentration camp. There, a Mengele-like Nazi monster takes an interest in a Jewish boy with superpowers. No, not Einstein—he could have been an X-Man, but he was too old. This boy's name is Erik Lensherr, and he grows up in no time flat to be played by one of the main strokes of casting genius, Michael Fassbender: Erik will become the epitome of weaponized fury known as Magneto.
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Jennifer Lawrence: Unnerved by Taste of Fame
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That's the fun of prequels, of course—getting to see who everyone was way back when. The most enjoyable revelations include James McAvoy as the telepathic Charles, touching his forefinger to his forehead and seeing deep into others' brains; and Jennifer Lawrence as the blue-skinned Raven, a tender adolescent having lots of trouble in the area of self-acceptance. "I don't know what's gotten into you lately," Charles tells her. "You're awfully concerned with your looks." Kevin Bacon makes a marvelously despicable villain, Sebastian Shaw: His superpowers barely fit beneath the umbrella of towering evil. Rose Byrne's CIA agent, Dr. Moira MacTaggert, and January Jones's Emma Frost, pop in and out of the proceedings to lesser effect, notwithstanding Ms. Byrne's startling beauty and Emma's diamond-faceted skin.

Getting to see what everyone can do is fun too, but only up to a point in a repetitive section devoted to recruitment and training. Training sequences always feel familiar, whether the recruits are learning hand-to-hand combat with bayonets or how to focus their flames and beams on various targets. An especially laggardly passage is set at a secret CIA installation, where too many mutants temporarily spoil the froth.

"X-Men: First Class" launches its way onto the big screen - reviving the comic book film franchise. It's a prequel to the previous 4 films. In it we find out just how the mutant superhero saga started. James McAvoy plays the young Charles Xavier. Video courtesy of Sky News.

Still, these young prodigies must test their powers before they use them. Then, as the movie tells us, they've got to grow up and save their country, since the White House and the Kremlin have staked the fate of the world on a game of chicken over whether the Soviets will or won't deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba. (Lurid science-fiction? Alas, no, historical fact.) Fortunately for their country and the world, they are equal to the task. One of them even invents the extremely supersonic SR-70 Blackbird.

Fortunately for the film, the missile crisis puts an end to the dramatic lull. As soon as war threatens, "X-Men: First Class" regains its momentum, and then some, with Strangelovian twists—a circular war room, a rogue vessel that can't be reached—and a climax that uses newsreel clips of President Kennedy on TV to lend credibility to an exuberant rearrangement of history. This fifth episode in the series isn't a masterpiece—one puzzlement is the uneven cinematography—but it's summer entertainment of a very high grade that leaves you with an appetite for more of the same with the same core cast. And a couple of uncredited cameos turn the neat trick of being revenants from the future.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:58 pm

http://blogs.indiewire.com/spout/archives/2011/06/02/xmen_cast/

“X-Men: First Class” and the Pros and Cons of Today’s Ensemble Action Movie

On my way to the press screening of “X-Men: First Class” this week, I was reading Claude Brodesser-Akner’s article on “Blockbuster Economics” in the new issue of New York magazine. It’s pretty basic stuff if you know today’s film industry in the slightest, but it was appropriate to peruse and think about ahead of and during such an ensemble-dependent action movie. More than a decade ago, in what I’m certain was my first paid assignment as a film critic, I wrote (rather amateurish and naively, I admit) about the death of the traditional action-hero movie star in a piece for READ magazine (r.i.p.) reviewing the first “X-Men” film, “Mission: Impossible II” and “Gone in 60 Seconds.” It addressed the rising interest in Hollywood in ensemble-based action movies as opposed to solo vehicles for guys like Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis and Cruise. Brodesser-Akner now looks similarly at the shift, but more on how money influenced the genre rather than what the protagonistic spread does for the films themselves.

While it’s certainly possible for an overload of major characters, such as what happened with “X-Men: The Last Stand,” part of what I loved about the “X-Men” comics is how teeming in teammates it was/is. Mind you, I got in around 1991, when the group was so big they had divide into two separate factions (and two separate titles), not to mention all the outlying mutant team titles of the era (I assume there are possibly even more now). But I kind of saw it as a soap opera where multiple narratives were going on at the same time and you could focus on and prefer this or that character and maybe have less regard for others. Maybe Robert Altman should have done an “X-Men” movie as his sell-out comic book film instead of “Popeye”? Anyway, at its best moments, mostly early on, “X-Men: First Class” evokes this sense of plentiful plots (including the romantic sort) while also playing with the comics’ mix of camaraderie and disjointedness within the attempt to unify so many characters for team-based missions.

I have to say, I’d actually prefer multiple “X-Men” movies coinciding and intersecting than the “Avengers” film continuity that’s currently going on, partly because the latter’s individual episodes should be able to function on their own and rely on that old-fashioned solo action-hero angle. And in spite of the list I wrote two years ago, I prefer this sort of movie/prequel, which has trumped original plans for a strict Magneto solo “Origins” film as well as most that I had proposed (including this Mystique idea), to the “Wolverine” series kind. But then, again, due to my appreciation for the team dynamic of the X-Men universe, I never in the first place liked how the Wolverine character became the comics’ and then film franchise’s unequaled BIG STAR.

Of course, by the end of “X-Men: First Class,” moviegoers will be demanding that Magneto spin-off, especially if it involves Michael Fassbender continuing his James Bond meets Simon Wiesenthal thing (a favorite scene in an Argentine bar also calls to mind “Inglourious Basterds,” which allows Fassbender to somewhat avenge his own character in that film). But thankfully his Anakin-ish antihero-to-villain arc does not warrant a solo outing. Still, Fassbender is undoubtedly the Hugh Jackman of this prequel, and it should prove to be another step in his own star-making (Brodesser-Akner notes how he’s already made the attempt at a pay leap with the upcoming “Alien” prequel). His Magneto is also the Wolverine of the film right down to the flashbacks of being experimented on and the way he forms a bond with Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), who is clearly the Rogue in this easily paralleled story.


This isn’t just because, like Anna Paquin, Lawrence has already been recognized by the Academy (for only an Oscar nomination, though, not a win), strangely the only one in an ensemble made up of very acclaimed (and at least Golden Globe-nominated) acting talents like James McAvoy, Rose Byrne (who is now, between this, “Insidious” and “Bridesmaids” the best multiplex-friendly actress of the year), Oliver Platt and Kevin Bacon. Okay, so the Globe part isn’t so notable since January Jones also was nominated twice, though she’s really not distractingly terrible here, like you’d expect. No, the real link is in the film’s address of a “mutant cure,” reminiscent of the one introduced in “The Last Stand,” and how it relates to both Rogue’s and Mystique’s boy issues. Meanwhile, it is kind of interesting that as Havok, Lucas Till gets to sort of evoke both Cyclops (the character’s younger brother) and Wolverine, who are rivals in the original trilogy, giving him a likely unintended inner-conflict.

Not all of the “First Class” cast is first rate, although just as the stronger talents are at times only as good as the very cheesy script allows it’s mostly in the weak writing of the supporting characters that hinders their remarkableness. As Darwin, Edi Gathegi might as well be portrayed by “Not Another Teen Movie”‘s Deon Richmond and get the X-Man nickname “Token Black Guy” (or, also appropriate: “Red Shirt”) and speak in stupid stereotypical slang while also being cut-to whenever there’s mention of the words “slavery” or a moment for considering the coinciding civil rights movement of the film’s time period. As Angel, Zoe Kravitz (daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet), is definitely not hiding any talent comparative to her “modern-day counterpart” (or, original trilogy match), Ben Foster. And while villain Sebastian Shaw’s (Bacon) henchmen aren’t as hokey and badly performed as Magneto’s are in the first film, they’re not really allowed to speak either, which is a plus. Then, there’s Caleb Landry Jones, who I’ve labeled “drunk Ron Weasley.” As Banshee, he’s either brilliant or terrible, I can’t yet tell. And since I haven’t seen him in anything else except his one scene in “No Country for Old Men,” I have little reference for his talent so far.


For the most part, however, the ensemble is very strong for reasons slightly laid out in the New York magazine piece. Most of the actors are relative unknowns, at least in terms of multiplex-marquee-celebrity, because they’re cheaper. But they’re also either new or have been plucked from a pool of actors whose talent is greater than their name recognition, because maybe they’ve been honing craft rather than careers. The biggest name in the movie going into production was definitely Bacon’s, yet even he was never quite a movie star (even with “Flatliners,” he was credited on the poster below his “X-Men: First Class” co-star Platt, who was a real nobody at the time). He’s awesome as a maniacal, world-domination-bent bad guy, even better than his sleazy “Super” villain earlier this year. And I dare say more fun than Ian McKellan’s antagonist of the first three “X-Men” movies.

I kind of believe overblown movie star-dom, at least in the non-contract era, ruins good actors, that is until they go and re-display their talent in a small part in a “Magnolia” or “Dreamgirls” or star in a humbling smaller movie like an “Adaptation” or “The Crossing Guard.” So often, ensemble action movies are a good place for young talent on the rise in more ways than economically. Among the many things “First Class” has in common with J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” reboot is the way it casts great performers who are probably best suited for supporting or ensemble parts anyway. Many of them are more like fledgling character actors or team-player stage-style thespians than the type to be the next Cruise or Willis, let alone Stallone or Schwarzenegger.

Not that it’s that new a concept. Look at what Jerry Bruckheimer did in compiling the ensembles of “Armageddon” and “Con Air” nearly fifteen years ago (and maybe “Gone in 60 Seconds” later). Or, for that matter what ‘70s disaster films did with declining/aging movie stars. The latter was likely more costly than the idea was worth and the former very much proves that the ensemble concept doesn’t necessarily work with awful writing and directing applied to it. Also, back then it was still thought that a star in the front seat (Willis and Cage, respectively) was necessary. Here, “First Class” benefits from a good action director, Matthew Vaughn, who is not necessarily an actor’s best friend (he couldn’t get any of them to speak those cardboard lines better?) but who is good at maneuvering them like game pieces on the screen and in the story.

Big picture editing-wise, the film both hits and misses as far as juggling different goings-on at the same time, however. Early on, the cutting from one character’s arc to another’s is perfect. But that’s mostly because the film doesn’t really break up scenes, just storylines. Later, during the film’s climax, inter-cutting between continuing events is a bit sloppier, and it’s disrespectful to certain (preferable) pieces of the plot and their characters, who keep getting interrupted. It’s worth noting that one of the film’s editors is Lee Smith, who regularly works with the less-action-deft Christopher Nolan. At least here you can tell what’s going on in each abruptly cut-away-from sequence.


I’ll finish up this meandering think piece with a final note on what I find a bit ironic with ensemble action movies like this: while gathering photos for this post I had great trouble finding group shots. In fact, it was hard finding publicity photos not featuring characters by themselves. And of course, now major ensemble-based tentpoles like “X-Men: First Class” have to release solo character posters, which highlight individuals rather than the ensemble. This movie even has separate character-specific trailers such as the Mystique one way up above and the compilation video of Banshee’s, Beast’s and Havok’s directly above. It seems rather contradictory to what the movie is doing, uniting these great actors and characters. Surely it gives everyone’s agents satisfaction, but it also likely falsely promises both them and their client notions of movie star trajectory most of them don’t deserve and, in this day and age, won’t achieve.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:21 pm

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2011/06/02/x-men-first-class-solid-action-film-that-just-happens-to-be-about-superheroes/?test=faces

Star-Studded Cast Gives First-Class Performance in 'X-Men' Prequel

By Justin Craig

Published June 02, 2011

With spectacular effects and an engaging story, “X-Men: First Class” is a standout period adventure film that just happens to be about superheroes. And with Marvel seemingly throwing all of their early summer marketing weight behind “Thor,” the film could prove to be the sleeper hit of the blockbuster summer season.

Unlike most superhero films, “X-Men: First Class” does not take place in present time. The setting is 1962, moments before the Cuban Missile Crisis. Dropping a genre film in the middle of a historic event immediately and successfully adds depth, substance and plenty of story.

Despite being an origin story, it unfolds less like a superhero film and more like an epic James Bond adventure. The villain, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) plots and connives his way around the globe in a nuclear submarine with his endgame being the Cuban Nuclear crisis and World War III. His assistant is the sultry Emma Frost (January Jones), who is essentially a Bond girl with a skill. And who better to hunt them down than Magneto, superbly played by Irish star Michael Fassbender.

James McAvoy (Charles Xavier/Prof. X) and Fassbender are the glue that holds the film together. McAvoy’s Professor X is a more relatable character than Patrick Stewart’s in the original trilogy. He is still as much a genius, but maintains his boyish charm and an accessibility that has yet to have been afforded to X’s character.

Fassbender similarly takes his character to a new place, trading the campiness of Ian McKellen’s Magneto and focusing more instead on Erik Lehnsherr’s anguish and tragic past.

But the standout performance in the film is Kevin Bacon. The prologue features Bacon as a frightening Mengele-esque Nazi doctor who becomes a seemingly invincible super villain. It was an inspired choice to cast Bacon in the role of Sebastian Shaw, and the audience gets to see a completely different side of the actor.

One of the best parts of the film is watching the mutants find themselves. X-Men has always touched on issues of acceptance and the notion of "the other," but director Matthew Vaughn (“Kick Ass,” “Layer Cake”) takes his time in letting the audience feel the characters’ revelations and ultimate fear of rejection. It’s an ambitious task for a superhero film, but the breakneck speed of the plot allows Vaughn to accomplish it well.

The film is not without its faults. Most notably, the obnoxious and overbearing musical score during scenes that might have been more powerful had they been done with less volume.

Overall, Vaughn and his team did their homework and gave Marvel’s “X-Men” franchise a real winner.

4 out 5 stars
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:22 pm

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ent/movies/mobile/7592580.html

First Class revisits the birth of the X-Men
By AMY BIANCOLLI FILM WRITER
June 2, 2011, 3:31PM

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

Movie Type
Action/Adventure, SciFi/Fantasy

MPAA Rating
PG-13
for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language

Running Time
131 minutes

Directed By
Matthew Vaughn

Cast
James MacAvoy, January Jones, Michael Fassbender, Oliver Platt, Rose Byrne

Written By
Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz

Produced By
Gregory Goodman, Simon Kinberg

Released
Jun 03, 2011
(Nationwide)

Distributed By
20th Century Fox

Official Web Site

Belief suspension is compulsory for any superhero flick, and mine is pretty flexible. You want me to believe a guy can rotate a radar array with his brain waves? That another guy can read minds just by massaging his temple? Fine.

I'll even believe that a man (rather, an annoying teenage boy) can fly by screaming. But my fantasy-support system crashes in a heap, I'm afraid, when asked to believe that someday, James McAvoy actually matures into Patrick Stewart. Deepens his voice. Acquires stentorian Shakespearean gravity. And, umm, loses all his hair.

Pro forma bald jokes appear in the screenplay for X-Men: First Class, the fifth movie in the Marvel mutant franchise and the first since 2009's overwhelmingly blah Wolverine. This new entry, directed by the energetic Matthew Vaughn of Kick-Ass, is never blah. Uneven, occasionally silly — true, but it's still an improvement over 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand. As much a reboot as a sequel, First Class zips back to the origins of Professor X, the goodly telepath played by McAvoy, and Magneto, the telekinetic friend-slash-antagonist played by broody leading man Michael Fassbender (Jane Eyre).

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

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

By then it's 1962, the eve of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Bacon's nasty Nazi scientist has acquired a perfect American accent and a yacht full of bad mutant sidekicks in his world-conquering, crackpot quest to squish humans like insects. You know what? This is starting to sound a lot like a James Bond movie. It's starting to look like one, too, especially when Bacon retreats to his war-room in double-breasted suits with a fabulously dim gun moll played by January Jones. She's Emma Frost, a mutant telepath who shape-shifts into a gazillion-carat diamond. (And yes, she has the same blank expression whether she's mouthing dialogue or just staring mutely while her brain does the talking.)

The Bond business is good fun, especially when Magneto sneaks on board to confront his creator. Had Fassbender stripped to a tux, I would not have been surprised. But then X-Men: First Class moves on to the less-thrilling matters of CIA politicking (Rose Byrne plays a sympathetic agent), U.S.-Soviet tensions and a worldwide mutant-recruiting effort in which Professor X and Magneto enlist the "first class" of pimply young mutants. These two are harder to swallow as friends than enemies - their bonding seems forced, their chemistry sparkless - but they're easier to take than the screaming teen. And more believable, by a long shot, than Xavier's hair.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:23 pm

http://exclaim.ca/Reviews/Film/x-men_first_class-directed_by_matthew_vaughn

X-Men: First Class
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Film breadcrumbsplit Jun 02 2011
X-Men: First Class - Directed by Matthew Vaughn
By James KeastX-Men: First Class is a reboot in a superhero movie culture that's full of them (see: Hulks, Spider-Men), but rather than simply restarting a series begun only 11 years ago, X-Men: First Class takes a minor Marvel comics spin-off as the basis for a whole new, and arguably better positioned, X-Men series.

This is a pre-prequel, returning to a time when Professor X was simply Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), a brilliant young man with a full head of hair and emerging telepathic ability. Erik Lehnsherr (Inglourious Basterds' Michael Fassbender, who's awesome) has had a much tougher path ― the concentration camps of World War II ― to his emergence as Magneto. Recognizing their common, mutant-y differences, X-Men: First Class gives Lehnsherr his tragic back-story and moves fairly quickly into the "getting the band together" chunk that's always part of such superhero origin tales.

The band in this case include Xavier's shape-shifting childhood friend Raven (aka Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence), inventor Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult, from the UK Skins, who's much more effective before being saddled with kind of tragic blue Beast make-up) and a few other peripheral X-people, including Angel Salvadore (played by Zoë Kravitz). They're pitted against baddie Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and his hot psychic sidekick, Emma Frost (Mad Men's January Jones), while the '60s setting allows for a cold war tension/nuclear panic plotline.

X-Men: First Class (also a return to this world for Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn, who was hired and then quit as director of X-Men 3) is a good and familiar example of this type of film. It's too long, but the action is well handled, the introductions are, for the most part, effective and the special effects are cool. It's also kind of boring, which is inevitable when it comes to a universe whose mythology is so familiar to casual comics fans, or even viewers of other X-movies.

Yes, Charles Xavier is going to end up in a wheelchair; of course Magneto's human-disdaining Brotherhood will clash with Xavier's kinder, gentler team; we know what side Emma Frost ends up on ― and that robs the film of a little bit of tension. (When Spider-Man reboots again next summer, will anyone be shocked by the sight of a radioactive spider?)

So within that context, what works in X-Men: First Class is that by rebooting at a time when all the principles are much younger, this cast have more of a future than, say, Halle Berry returning as Storm did. (It also invites uncomfortable continuity questions, like how 20-year-old Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique in 1963 becomes Rebecca Romijn's 30-year-old Mystique in 2000; I'd like to say fan boys won't be asking these questions, but that would be a lie.)

In Michael Fassbender, they have an actor with great presence and gravitas appropriate for Erik Lehnsherr's heavy personal burden, though it would have been nice to give James McAvoy weightier material than the bald jokes. Jennifer Lawrence proves that she has big budget star quality to go with the quiet indie film chops she showed off in Winter's Bone.

But in casting January Jones as Emma Frost, First Class whiffs on a major opportunity ― as a powerful psychic with a penchant for skimpy lingerie-ish outfits, Frost is an often contradictory and fascinating character whose shifting loyalties and thirst for power have made her a fan favourite. While January Jones has the look, she's a cold fish of an actor, which makes her perfect as Betty Draper and fairly useless in any other context. Without her dynamic force of will, Frost becomes little more than a sexual bauble for Sebastian Shaw to occasionally bat around, and given her potential involvement in future storylines, it's a waste of one of the most powerful women in the X-universe.

X-Men: First Class is a solid but not exceptional entry into the world of superhero movies. But it's also symptomatic of a culture that knows how these kinds of tales start but has shown little or no confidence in telling stories embedded in that world. For that reason, be wary of investing too much into these characters, or at least these iterations of them, because X-Tweens: The Early Years can't be far away.
(Fox)
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:24 pm

http://www.tampabay.com/features/movies/new-movie-for-june-3/1173233

New movie for June 3

And you thought the other X-Men movies had star power. Well, let’s add Kevin Bacon and January Jones to the mix.

New movie this week

X-Men: First Class

The gist: This latest spinoff/prequel/franchise-milking shows how Professor X and Magneto got their start, among others. Judging strictly from the trailers, they either subvert or escalate the Cuban Missile Crisis. And yet they were still spry enough to be in Bryan Singer's original movie three decades later! PG-13

The cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, January Jones, Rose Byrne, Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and Lucas Till.

The buzz: Surprise, nerds, this installment is done well, so fork over your money and shut yer gob, bub. "It's remarkable how many things First Class gets right, whether it's the decision to have characters speak different languages as the film's frequent globetrotting dictates, or the casting of Fassbender and McAvoy," the Associated Press lauds. And let's not forget Jones as Emma Frost, mmmkay?
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:24 pm

http://www.awn.com/blogs/ricks-flicks-picks/x-men-first-class-2011-12

Rick's Flicks Picks on AWN
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (2011) (***1/2)
By Rick DeMott | Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Class is the key word in the title of this film. The series is back in the same class as the first two. The inherent issue with bringing the X-Men to the screen is the amount of characters. This film simplifies what has been addressed in the previous films by putting Professor X and Magneto at the forefront.

The story begins in the '40s. Erik Lehnsherr is a young Jew taken from his parents and forced by Nazi scientist Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon, FLATLINERS) to use his mutant powers to control metal objects with his mind. Meanwhile, a young Charles Xavier lives a privileged life in New England, which allows him to nurture his telepathic abilities. One night he finds his mother in the kitchen, but it turns out that it's not really his mother, but a blue shape-shifting mutant girl named Raven (Jennifer Lawrence, WINTER'S BONE). Charles takes in the mutant as a kid sister.

Grown, Erik (Michael Fassbender, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS) hunts Nazis, primarily looking for Shaw. The paths of Xavier (James McAvoy, THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND) and Erik cross when Xavier leads a CIA driven attack on Shaw and his mutant Hellfire Club inside their submarine. Charles saves Erik from drowning and eventually convinces him to join his team, funded by the CIA, which has the goal of finding other mutants. Erik doesn't trust the government agents Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne, BRIDESMAIDS) and the man in the black suit (Oliver Platt, 2012).

Charles wants to work with the humans and integrate mutants into the larger society. His slogan is "mutant and proud." This is easier for him because he lived in luxury with a power that is hidden. Raven (who takes the name Mystique) uses a good portion of her energy just to mask her natural blue skinned appearance. Erik was tortured for his powers, which has made him bitter and angry. Charles helps him find balance between rage and peace, where his powers are the strongest.

These mutants meet up with others like them. Dr. Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult, A SINGLE MAN) is a brilliant young scientist who also has hands for feet. Like Raven he spends a great deal of time hiding his physical mutation. The two form a bond and Raven is pushed and pulled between Hank's desire to find a cure for their physical differences and Erik's attitude that one should embrace their differences. Hank and Raven's story serves as the perfect subplot to Charles and Erik, because it mirrors it and expands on it as well.

The rest of the mutants are pretty much associated simply by their powers and appearance. For the X-Men there is: Darwin (Edi Gathegi, TWILIGHT), who has the power to adapt to his environment; Angel (Zoe Kravitz, THE BRAVE ONE), a former stripper who has fairy wings and can spit fire; Havoc (Lucas Till, BATTLE: LOS ANGELES), a mutant whose control of his energy bursts matches his name; and Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones, THE LAST EXORCISM), who can ride through the air on his sonic scream. For the Hellfire Club there is: Emma Frost (January Jones, TV's MAD MEN), a telepathic to match Xavier who can also turn her body into diamond; Azazel (Jason Flemyng, HANNA), a teleporter who looks like the devil; and Riptide (Alex Gonzalez, MILK), who can conjure tornadoes form his hands.

The tale is an alternative history where Shaw uses his power to control energy and Frost's powers to control minds in order to push the U.S. and Soviet Union into nuclear annihilation. In Shaw's mind the radiated nations will not affect mutants, giving them Earth for their own. How the story weaves itself into the history and politics of the 1960s is ingenious. The philosophies of Xavier and Magneto match the struggle between Martin Luther King Jr. and a more militant response to civil rights well. And you can't slight the swinging '60s setting giving justification to get Jones and Byrne into their underwear.

McAvoy and Fassbender are perfectly cast. McAvoy impressed me the most, because he gets Professor X just right. He plays the character as a sophisticated man of science who wants to use his wealth to better the world. The only reason Fassbender impressed me less was because he had the flashier role, which I knew going in he would master. He brings great emotion to the character, which allows the audience to sympathize with him while we disagree with his actions at the same time. The other real standout is Hoult as the tortured nerd. Think a mad scientist crossed with Bill Gates.

At one point, Shaw proposes to the young X-Men they must join him, because if they are not with him, they are against him. Where have we heard that before? Shaw is a torturer. He created Magneto, who now wants to take out his resentment on humanity. Professor X wants to take the higher ground, wanting to win the hearts and minds of the world. He understands that change takes time and that you can't force it upon people. Don't worry the film isn't preachy, but I'm just saying there is something more here than your average summer entertainment.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:24 pm

http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/06/02/film-review-x-men-first-class-3-5-stars/

Film review: X-Men: First Class (3.5 stars)

Keep on reaching, Magneto! Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy star in X-Men: First Class.

Chris Knight Jun 2, 2011 – 4:01 PM ET

The latest superhero back story/reboot/sequel is a revelation. I mean that foremost in the sense that it is surprisingly, even shockingly good; secondarily, that it reveals much about the motivations and characters of the superhuman mutants that populate the story; and finally in the old-fashioned sense of “the reveal,” when the camera pulls back to show us something new.

Director and co-writer Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Kick-Ass) is a big fan of the revelatory pullback, which he uses for dramatic, comedic or chilling effect — and sometimes, giddily, for a mix of all three.

A good early example finds Erik, a young Jewish boy, being interviewed by a Nazi doctor (Kevin Bacon, nailing the accent) in 1944 Poland. Erik has shown the ability to move metal objects with his mind; Herr Doktor wants a demonstration. Most of the scene takes place in front of wood-panelled walls and filing cabinets, but a sudden cut shows us the other half of the room, a surgery that looks more like a slaughterhouse.

After this brief prelude, which also introduces another mutant, Charles Xavier, on the other side of the world, the action moves to the 1960s. Erik has grown into Michael Fassbender, whose Nazi-hunting proclivities were also on display in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. He lives for revenge.

Charles (James McAvoy) is a little more laid-back, attending Oxford and trying to pick up girls with a carefully practiced line about “groovy mutations.” Add the fact that he’s a telepath who can literally feel your pain, and you have a kind of young mutant Bill Clinton. His platonic right-hand gal is Raven (Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone), whose own groovy mutation allows her to change appearance at will. Her natural form combines auburn hair and blue skin with a sexy tread pattern.

Erik and Charles are destined to become Magneto and Professor X, played by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, respectively, in 2000’s X-Men and its sequels. Their meeting in this one is brought about by that handy if well-worn plot device: shared interests.

Seems Erik’s childhood nemesis, now going by the name Sebastian Shaw, is trying to engineer nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. In one of the film’s intentionally funny bits of exposition, Bacon stands in front of a world map and slaps a red nuclear-missile cut-out over the island of Cuba, looking like a deranged TV weatherman.

Shaw has been collecting his own band of misfits, including Azazel (Jason Flemyng), a Lucifer look-alike who can teleport. His favourite bad-ass trick is to grab someone, transport them a few hundred feet in the air and let go. Also on the evil payroll, January Jones as Emma Frost, whose diamond complexion makes her look like one of those expensive Victoria’s Secret bras. She can also read minds, but she doesn’t usually have to.

Charles and Xavier find themselves recruited by the CIA’s Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne, keeping it straight after Bridesmaids) and hunkering down in a covert CIA research base — helpfully identified by the on-screen title COVERT CIA RESEARCH BASE. A breezy, mutant-recruitment montage introduces Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Angel (Zoë Kravitz), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Havok (Lucas Till) and others, and ends in a pitch-perfect cameo punchline. It’s another example of Vaughn’s ability to juggle the dramatic and comedic beats of the story. (There’s even a nod to Professor X’s future baldness.)

The success of X-Men is difficult to pinpoint exactly, but it seems to come down to grounding. We never meet a new mutant without learning his or her power, as well as just enough background to put on a trading card. Rather than use their powers solely for good or evil, they often psych up for the mundane, the way a champion weightlifter might hoist a case of beer.

It’s also in the details, like the mutants’ CIA-provided lounge, kitted out with a pinball machine, jukebox and Op art; or a throwaway but beautifully framed shot of Erik and Charles playing chess on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Maybe it’s the dialogue. “I believe that true focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity,” Charles tells Erik, finding his inner teacher in a scene that would make Yoda green with envy.

There’s highbrow praise as well. During the Cold War, when the United States and the U.S.S.R. raced to make ever-bigger missiles, they were backed by whatever German rocket scientists they had been able to pluck from the ruins of Germany: “Our Nazis versus theirs,” in the none-too-subtle language of the time. X-Men: First Class creates a clever contemporary parallel of good versus evil mutants, along with certain humans who think they’re all too dangerous to let live.

At its simplest, though, X-Men is just a cracking good adventure, featuring the best backdrops, technology and wardrobe the ’60s could offer. As a story of the founding of the mutant academy, First Class delivers on the double meaning of its title, twice.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:25 pm

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/03/136829667/for-x-men-franchise-a-first-class-reboot

For X-Men Franchise, A 'First Class' Reboot

by Scott Tobias
Class Of '62: Michael Fassbender proves his blockbuster mettle as Magneto in X-Men: First Class, a swift and stylish relaunch that lays out the Cold War-era origins for Marvel's superheroes.

Class Of '62: Michael Fassbender proves his blockbuster mettle as Magneto in X-Men: First Class, a swift and stylish relaunch that lays out the Cold War-era origins for Marvel's superheroes.

X-Men: First Class

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Genre: Action
Running Time: 138 minutes

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

With: James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon, Michael Fassbender, January Jones, Jennifer Lawrence

(Recommended)

June 2, 2011

There's much to admire about X-Men: First Class, a combination reboot and prequel for a three-film mutant-superhero series that peaked with its rousing second entry, then hit the wall in a by-the-numbers adventure that languished between workmanlike and perfunctory. Yet it's not the artistry of X-Men: First Class that's particularly striking; though it's finely crafted, the film feels less the product of a visionary director than of the Marvel movies machine working at maximum efficiency.

What's really awe-inspiring about X-Men: First Class is akin to what's startling about watching a sideshow strongman lift a refrigerator over his head. Just re-energizing a moribund franchise would be enough of a burden, but director Matthew Vaughn and his battery of screenwriters have also been tasked with rebuilding the entire X-Men universe from scratch.

Origin stories can be deadly — we're looking at you, Star Wars prequels — because they're about setup more than follow-through. By that measure, X-Men seems especially perilous, given its many dozens of specialized mutants and the convoluted allegiances and rivalries among them.

It's a headache just to consider the logistics of squeezing all that business into one movie, but the small miracle of X-Men: First Class is that it pulls off this herculean feat without breaking a sweat. Rather than feeling hampered by the need to introduce the likes of Magneto and Professor X to an audience that knows them through three previous blockbusters — to say nothing of comics, video games, action figures and other ancillary products — the filmmakers seem to have seized the opportunity to start fresh with a new cast and a cleaner, stronger mythology.

Harnessing a wealth of pulpy energy from real human events, X-Men: First Class cleverly incorporates the X-Men into a shadow history of the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis. But first, it turns to the ultimate pulp villains — Nazis — to raise the stakes all the more. Flashing back to Auschwitz, it recaps the tale of young Erik Lensherr, who discovers the powers that will later transform him into Magneto when Nazi doctor Sebastian Shaw, played delectably by Kevin Bacon, guns down his mother. From that moment on, Erik's anger and impulsiveness will contrast starkly with his future friend and eventual nemesis Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, who manages his telepathic powers with intelligence and restraint. (Sometimes to a fault.)
Fassbender (left), Caleb Landry Jones, James McAvoy, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence and Lucas Till are all mutants — but not always on the same side.
Enlarge Murray Close/Twentieth Century Fox

Fassbender (left), Caleb Landry Jones, James McAvoy, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence and Lucas Till are all mutants — but not always on the same side.

Jumping ahead to 1962, with James McAvoy as Xavier and a mesmerizing Michael Fassbender as Erik, the film brings the two mutants together in an effort to avert global catastrophe. After a postwar lay-low in Argentina, Bacon's Sebastian has assembled a team of mutant ne'er-do-wells, including the telepathic Emma Frost (January Jones in brittle Mad Men form), and sets out to provoke a U.S.-Soviet nuclear conflict that will thin the ranks of ordinary humans. Recruited by the CIA for a "Division of Mutant Powers" aimed at countering the threat, Xavier and Erik put together a mutant army of their own, mainly stocked with young, unrefined talent — mutants we'll come to know, but before they're called such names as Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Havok (Lucas Till).

On top of everything else, X-Men: First Class introduces an experimental serum designed to turn the mutants into ordinary humans — but really, the Cuban missile crisis is effective enough at stoking the identity issues built into the X-Men mythos. As evil plots go, the idea of escalating Cold War tensions in an effort to eradicate humanity is pleasingly outrageous, but it also complicates the mutants' struggle to integrate with other people or reject them entirely. This division among the mutants will likely be central to future X-Men movies, and First Class sets the table swiftly and clearly.

In the end, that clarity is the film's greatest asset, because it's a giant contraption built from an awful lot of moving parts. That Vaughn and company have time to sprinkle in witty references to X-Men marginalia — and delight, too, in the shagadelic details of the swinging '60s — speaks to the integrity of their blueprint. With X-Men: First Class getting the heavy lifting out of the way, the sequels will presumably cut loose — but it won't be easy for them to have this much fun doing it. (Recommended)
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:26 pm

http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/movie_reviews/b245168_movie_review_x-men_first_class.html

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class a Surprisingly Swingin' Good Time

Thu., Jun. 2, 2011 12:58 PM PDT by L. Thompson
January Jones, X-Men: First Class Murray Close/Twentieth Century Fox
A-

Review in a Hurry: The prequel none of us thought we wanted turns out to be more of a fun time than anybody expected. A return to form for the X-flicks, this semi-prequel/reboot remembers above all else to be fun, without any gross bastardizations to the source (like the portrayal of Deadpool in the Wolverine movie).

It also allows Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy and January Jones (among many others) to increase their degree of proximity to Kevin Bacon, who plays the villain.

The Bigger Picture: Best not to worry exactly how this new movie fits in to the existing cinematic continuity, as it features some crowd-pleasing, deliberate shoutouts to the Bryan Singer films while also containing significant contradictions.

Probably the best way to look at it is as a Star Trek-style alternate timeline; First Class opens with the same scene that began the original X-Men, then veers in another direction that suggests what Marvel comics fans might recognize as a "What if...?" tale.

Setting the story back in the '60s doesn't make for as much change as one might expect. The X-Men are still technologically way ahead of the rest of the world, and have their blackbird jet years before anybody else. But you know what decade it is by two major signifiers. Villain Sebastian Shaw (Bacon) has a swinging sense of decoration Austin Powers would envy, while his master plan to create the Cuban missile crisis and accelerate it into nuclear war is total retro-Bond baddie. It even builds credible tension despite the fact that we know how it all worked out.

Meanwhile, we get the usual Malcolm X-MLK allegory between Charles Xavier (McAvoy) and his newest friend Erik (Michael Fassbender), both of whom will be Professor X and Magneto by movie's end (not really a spoiler, folks, seriously). Placed back in time, the debate over violence versus integration feels more specific to civil rights, while talk of atomic power having brought the mutants into being is a nice throwback to sci-fi movies of the era.

Perhaps surprisingly, the dominant relationship onscreen is the dynamic between Xavier and Mystique (Lawrence) who in this telling are adoptive brother and sister. She's also a bit more modesty-prone than her future self, but it's her arc that's more important than that of Magneto, who's pretty much out for blood from square one (and not without good reason—audiences may well cheer the deaths of his first few victims).

Other standouts in the cast include Lucas Till as psycho-jock Havok, and Nicholas Hoult as the ironically punished Beast. Less impressive is January Jones as Emma Frost, whose periodic morphs into a human chandelier make more of an impression than the lines she delivers. Fans of character actors, meanwhile, will see a veritable who's who among the armed forces brass: Michael Ironside, Ray Wise, Glenn Morshower, James Remar, Rade Sherbedgia...as far as movie militaries go, these guys are decorated veterans.

Overall, though, it's Fassbender's coming-out role as a true movie star—rather than blending into the character, as he's done so well in Hunger and Inglourious Basterds, he exudes leading-man charisma. Director Matthew Vaughn did this for a pre-Bond Daniel Craig in Layer Cake, and he knows what he's doing now.

The 180—a Second Opinion: There's one uncomfortable climactic moment of similarity between this and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, above and beyond the use of significant historical nuclear crisis. Mercifully, it is handled better this time.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:26 pm

http://www.examiner.com/sci-fi-movie-in-rochester/x-men-stars-to-appear-on-rochester-tv

X-Men stars to appear on Rochester TV

June 2, 2011 3:19 pm ET

Mike DiGiorgio

Rochester Sci-Fi Movie Examiner

The promotional tour for X-Men: First Class comes through Rochester Friday morning with a scheduled appearance by stars James McAvoy (Charles Xavier) and Michael Fassbender (Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto).

The two actors have recorded an interview with 13WHAM News This Morning on Rochester’s CW, airing on Time Warner Cable channel 16 and over-the-air channel 13.2 from 7 - 9 a.m. McAvoy and Fassbender talk about the film itself, and what it’s like to play roles already played by heavyweights Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan. McAvoy tells a story about a golf cart mishap he’d previously been quoted as saying he wouldn’t talk about. Coincidentally, X-co-star Rose Byrne appeared on the same broadcast earlier in the week to talk about her role in Bridesmaids with Rochester native Kristen Wiig.
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X-Men: First Class, directed by Matthew Vaughn, is a prequel to the X-Men trilogy of movies. Like the Star Wars prequels, TV’s Smallville and even Broadway’s Wicked, it shows the early friendlier relationship between two characters (Xavier and Magneto) who we know will become deadly enemies. It’s in theatres June 3rd.
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Post by Admin on Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:27 pm

http://www.mercurynews.com/movies-dvd/ci_18185942?nclick_check=1

Review: A classy 'X-Men: First Class'

By Colin Covert

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Posted: 06/02/2011 12:00:00 PM PDT
Updated: 06/02/2011 03:56:11 PM PDT

20th Century Fox Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender, left) who will become... ( 20th Century Fox )
In Theaters This Week

There are so many things going right in "X-Men: First Class" that you can almost overlook its glaring faults.

A richly layered, intelligently worked-out prequel, the film melds a dozen back stories, globe-hopping thrills and historic political confrontations, yet it never packs too many sardines into the tin. And it has a mature confidence rarely seen in comic book fare, with powerful drama and throwaway wit in perfect balance.

"First Class" gives a fresh start to the X-Men story line, with its mutant heroes alienated from human society. Director and co-writer Matthew Vaughn introduces his parallel protagonists with swift, sure strokes. In a World War II prologue, young Erik Lehnsherr, who will become Magneto,
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discovers his telekinetic powers at the hands of a sadistic Nazi scientist. Half a world away, Charles Xavier, the future Professor X, is raised amid wealth and comfort, using his telepathic gifts to calm and help an outcast girl.

The seeds of the characters planted, the tale skips ahead two decades. Erik uses his powers to hunt down the Nazis who killed his parents, executing them without remorse. "I'm Frankenstein's monster, looking for my creator," he tells one fugitive war criminal before dispatching him. Charles, a young college lecturer, turns his empathetic skills to advantage in his extracurricular womanizing.

Neither is a clear-cut villain or hero, and when they meet, their differences are simply philosophical disagreements
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between close friends.

The duo are recruited by the CIA to locate others of their kind who can help combat Soviet aggression. As they gradually encounter younger peers, Charles envisions a world where mutants and humans peacefully coexist. Erik sees humans as persecutors and mutants as the next step in evolutionary progress, as superior to garden-variety humans as Homo sapiens were to Neanderthals.

Their true natures are tested by a power-mad mutant bent on inflaming U.S.-Russian tensions into a nuclear holocaust. The film races ahead like a thoroughbred thriller, with every action sequence logically motivated by the story.

The tale is ideally served by returning to the early 1960s. The film's production design has a sleek retro allure; the look of the U.S. war room is a direct nod to "Dr. Strangelove," and the costumes are slim-cut, hip and sexy, if slightly anachronistic (miniskirts and long hair on men were still years away). Setting the action at the dawn of the civil rights movement and feminism gives the story social and political significance that's relevant even now. When one closeted mutant on the CIA payroll clarifies why he has kept his powers secret, he explains, "They didn't ask, I didn't tell."

A film so dependent on character dynamics needs fine actors in its top-line roles.

James McAvoy is superb as Charles, playing the patient, good-humored idealist with delicacy. Michael Fassbender is coolly charismatic, rueful and lethal as Erik. The actors are both in their early 30s, but McAvoy still carries some baby fat in his cheeks, while Fassbender has a lean, wolfish look. Over the course of the film they round up five teen mutants, who are thinly characterized, and the shape-shifting Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), who appears to be a blonde, blue-eyed angel because she uses her camouflage abilities to hide her natural appearance.

The biggest problem with the film is the nemesis. Kevin Bacon plays Dr. Schmidt, the concentration camp physician who unlocks Erik's rage, and thus his magnetic abilities.

From the moment he appears on-screen, speaking ill-accented German, Bacon strikes a false note. He's equally unconvincing in the 1960s chapter of the film, reincarnated as a lounge lizard Bond baddie named Sebastian Shaw. Dressed in mod splendor and swilling cocktails, his performance drips oily excess. He's also saddled with an illogical and unexplained transformation. Somehow he has acquired mutant powers of his own, which punctures a crucial plot point that humans and mutants are on separate evolutionary tracks.

Still, the four-way faceoff between heroic and evil mutants and the U.S. and USSR during the missile blockade is as taut and thrilling a showdown as we've seen in months. In almost every important regard, the new "X-Men" is first-class indeed.

'X-Men: First Class'

*** 1/2

Rating: PG-13 (for violence, language and some sexual content)
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and January Jones
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Running time: 2 hours, 11 minutes
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