X-Men First Class – Movie Review
1940s Germany. A young Erik Lensher (he who will be Magneto) is torn from his parents as they are taken through the gates of a concentration camp. In his pain and anger, he attempts to tear down the gates with his power over magnetism. His power is witnessed by, and at this point a snicker rises and moves through the audience, Nazi Kevin Bacon.
Nazi Kevin Bacon (Sebastian Shaw) is a bad-ass and forces Erik into showing him his power in such a way that will ensure Erik hates Shaw for the rest of his days.
In contrast to Erik’s upbringing, we are then shown young, privileged Charles Xavier, in his mansion, and his opulence, as he catches Raven (she who will be Mystique) stealing from his kitchen. Charles tells Raven that she never needs to steal again and invites her to stay with him and be his best friend. Not sure how that conversation went over with the parents…
Flash forward to the 60’s, where Shaw and his ‘Hellfire Club’ are hell-bent on pushing Russia and America into a nuclear war, believing that Mutants will somehow survive a nuclear holocaust… don’t think about it too much. It’s at this time we learn that Magneto used to be a Nazi-hunting James Bond and Professor X used to use his powers to pull women in bars. And this is why we like origin stories.
In the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the two men will come together, become friends, and lead a group of remarkable youths against Sebastian Shaw and his cronies, Emma Frost, some guy with tornado powers and an evil, red Nightcrawler.
X-Men: First Class has some real strengths and some real weaknesses. The two leads were cast perfectly; Michael Fassbender as Erik is brilliant as is James McAvoy as Charles. The friendship of these two men, with their different pasts and opposing ideologies is exactly what fans want to see, and see fleshed out. But this is not the movie for fleshing out characters, and this is probably the main issue I had with it. It simply moves too fast, and tries to fit too much in, not allowing us time to identify with the people on screen, particularly in the case of the support cast. Scenes explain what they need to, maybe include a joke, and then we leap ahead.
I think a lot of people will like X-Men: First Class, and it truly is a prequel to Singer’s much-loved X-movies. There are some great scenes in this movie, some watchable actors, and a definite contender for ‘best line spoken in a cameo appearance’. It also promises a good reboot (preboot?) for the franchise. However, the pace of the film left me wanting more. I wanted more time for two great characters played by two great actors to interact. I wanted more time for their individual origins. I wanted more time for their friendship. I wanted more dimensions in the characters as a whole.
Hopefully, in the directors cut, there will be a long scene where Erik and Charles just play chess, drink, and giggle as they spy on the thoughts of Kevin Bacon.
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