X-Men: First Class (2011) – Matthew Vaughn

 

Sometimes to go forward, you need to go back, as we learn in the next X-Men film as I journey through the Sci-Fi Chronicles book. Continuing its cue of using great actors, Vaughn recasts the characters we’ve already been introduced to as we go back to 1962 and the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

We follow Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), his closest friend, and confidante, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) aka Mystique as they join forces with Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) aka Magneto as they seek out fellow mutants, to teach and guide. But rifts and conflict arise, driving the friends apart, as Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) has plans of his own, involving the lovely Emma Frost (January Jones) and Azazel (Jason Felmyng).

From the off, I knew this one was back on track, as we revist the 1944 opening of the original X-Men film, and see what happened to Erik immediately afterwards, all while Charles encounters Raven for the first time.

The casting, and the change in time period work to the film’s benefit, and the production value of the film is top-notch. This one gets it all right. There are nice moments, and a cool cameo (kept brief enough to be enjoyed), and a strong story.

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X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, l-r: Kevin Bacon, January Jones, 2011, ph: Murray Close/TM and Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

Kevin Bacon is incredibly menacing, and the rest of the cast bring their A game as well, it’s wonderful to see McAvoy and Fassbender to assume the mantles worn by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, they seem to be having just as much fun as the previous duo, and you can see how the characters McAvoy and Fassbender play will evolve into the ones played by Stewart and McKellen.

In the first 15 minutes there are more emotional moments and character development than in the past two films, and they are poignant moments at that. Magneto hunting down the Nazi, Shaw, responsible for the events and pain in his life, Charles quoting lines we know from the first film as a pick up line, while dealing with Raven’s longing to be loved, and accepted for who she is.

Using these emotional blocks to help build the story works perfectly, and the story is as captivating as the visual effects on display. X-Men: First Class ends up being a fantastic film, entertaining, good story, great actors, and epic in scope.

It’s an extremely well-cast film, taking its time to give them their character beats, and emotional moments. It races along to its conclusion as we see friendships torn apart, sacrifices made, betrayals and alliances.

This is a series of films, that when left in the right hands, continues to get better and better. Makes me excited for X-Men: Apocalypse next weekend!

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