Canister X Movie Review #98: X-Men: First Class (2011)
Written by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Runtime 132 min.
4.5 out of 5
After writing a thesis on mutation, university student Charles Xavier is approached by the CIA for his expertise on the subject as they’ve been tracking the villain Sebastian Shaw, who keeps mutant company. Once convincing the CIA mutants exist, Charles begins to form a team of mutants to go up against Shaw before he can execute his plans to start a third World War.
Loaded with thrills, excitement, stunning SFX, fun cameos and a strong story, X-Men: First Class is an amazing prequel to the X-Men films that won’t leave you disappointed.
X-Men: First Class is one of my favorites. It was also a good chance to kind of give the X-franchise a boost after X-Men: The Last Stand. What was cool about First Class is it takes place in the same universe on the same timeline and is indeed a true prequel to the X-franchise we all know and love. Yes, there are some continuity flaws, but overall the whole thing flows. Besides, any other bumps that need ironing out can always be fixed with the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past as, well, time travel fixes everything.
The two main characters in this are Wolverine and . . . wait, kidding, it’s Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and this story goes way back to when they first met and were even on the same team fighting for the same ideals. You got to see how that friendship was forged because their friends-yet-foes relationship was so prominent in the other movies that to make it the spotlight of this one was a smart move.
This is truly an origin tale as you got to see Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) in her humble beginnings, Professor X all the way back to when he was twelve; they recreated the Nazi camp beginning from X-Men for Magneto’s origin and then expanded on that—which kicked off the main plot of the movie in which Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) wants to use the mutants under his command to kick off World War III—and also how Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hault) becomes all blue and furry as Beast.
Like the other X-flicks, this movie is amazing at being an ensemble film where each character is given care, the right amount of time in the spotlight, each having unique relationships with the others, and who-does-what-and-why is clearly explained. As a storyteller myself, I find this kind of writing fascinating because it’s easy to fall into the trap of just focusing on one or two people and that’s it, the rest of the supporting cast being way too supporting and not enough of their own people. I think the secret was the X-Men—whether good guy or bad—were approached from the angle of family, the idea that as mutants their mutation was their common bond and it was all for one and one for all regardless of personalities or even if people got along or not. There’s even a bond between the heroes and villains of this flick because of their mutation.
The SFX were out of sight. The flying sequences were thrilling, the teleportations were amazing, the nods to the other movies—complete with cameos so watch closely—totally added to the world-building of the X-universe. That and the attention to the source material—using the yellow costumes from the classic comics, for example—and the overall story make this an awesome X-Men movie.
Man, just writing this review makes me want to go watch it again.