Movie Review: X-Men First Class

Movie Review: X-Men First Class

X-Men: First Class

PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image.
Genre: Action/adventure, Science fiction/fantasy, Sequel, Prequel, Adaptation
Running Time: 2 hours 11 minutes

Set in the era before Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr became mortal enemies as Professor X and Magneto, this prequel follows the two former allies as they lead a team of mutants on a mission to save the planet from nuclear annihilation. Charles and Erik were just young men when it began to appear as if the world was spinning out of control heading for destruction. As the Doomsday Clock ticks faster and faster toward World War III, the time comes for the superheroes to take action.

But, in the process of saving humanity, Charles and Erik also clash.

Of course this all sets the stage for many years to follow. Professor X would lead the X-Men in the fight for good, as Magneto and the Brotherhood spread chaos and destruction throughout the land.

Before They Were Enemies

In 2009 the makers of the X-Men franchise brought us a movie called Origins centering around the superhero Wolverine. That was supposed to set the stage and tell the story of how the famed X-Men came into existence. But, in an attempt to yet once again re-invent and re-imagine the ever-popular comic book series come to big screen fame, the creators have gone even further back in time. Now we discover an even younger Professor X and Magneto. Actually, X-Men: First Class tells the story before the pair were arch-enemies and before the mutants had even revealed themselves to the world. In this prequel we discover Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr as best friends working together with other mutants – some familiar and some new – to prevent nuclear Armageddon.

In the midst of saving the world – a huge rift is opened between the men which of course leads to the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.

X-Men: First Class is really an attempt to reboot this ever-popular Marvel comic book franchise. Matthew Vaughn directs this latest X-Men flick adapted from a story by Bryan Singer in which we go back in time to before the X-Men were superheroes. When the X-Men first started showing up on the big screen I must admit I was in no rush to see the movies. But, over time, this franchise has grown on me. I always have – and continue to – applaud those involved in this franchise with managing to maintain a balance between story line and special effects. When you’re dealing with mutant superheroes crossing the line into a special effects extravaganza would be easy. However, as with past movies, X-Men: first Class does not cross the line into nothing more than glitzy effects.

When it comes to cast members – the familiar faces of Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry and others are missing. However, the new stars – including James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr who later becomes Magneto and Jennifer Lawrence as Raven do well. Also, be sure to watch for a quick cameo from Hugh Jackman. While the die hard X-Men fans may cry foul for the appearance of Jackman it did provide a fun quick comic relief moment.

Lots of Action – But What’s Next?

X-Men: First Class does not lack for action. As expected there’s a lot going on here when it comes to action as our Marvel comic book superheroes discover who they are and also set out to save the world. The writers do a pretty good job of introducing the familiar X-Men characters to us as well. While some of the lesser known mutants who come and go in this movie are at times weak, they do not in anyway take away from the main focus of this movie…

Establishing how the X-Men and the Brotherhood came into existence.

But the question remains – Did those involved with this reboot prequel do enough to relaunch the franchise? Time will tell and it will be interesting to see if they can pick the story up from where it leaves off here and bring us something new down the road. After all, much has already gone before so the true test revolves around new story lines that are believable and don’t interfere with the existing X-Men timelines already in place. If the past has told us anything – fans of comic book heroes are very picky when it comes to maintaining timelines and not polluting the original concept.

When it comes to length, X-Men: First Class clocks in at a little better than 2 hours. Even with the action, there are times when this movie drags. For the most part the slow portions are found in the somewhat long set up and introduction of the three main characters – Charles Xavier, Erik Lehnsherr and Raven. While I do understand why the set up was needed, I’m sure if the producers tried a little harder they could have found some extra baggage at the beginning of the movie to trim. That would have in turn tightened up an overall good movie. Honestly there were times at the beginning of the movie I was ready to write it off. But once the storyline picks up, X-Men: First Class turns into a a fascinating superhero action flick.

As for the rating this is a hard movie to really pin down. Keep in mind this movie does carry a PG-13 rating. That means it is not for the really young. Yes it is about comic book superheroes, but it does have a PG-13 rating for a reason. However, at the same time, I must admit X-Men: First Class is not over the top. While there is action and violence, once again, there seems to be a balance as those involved in the production of the movie tried to walk a fine line between just enough and too much. While I almost put this movie into the not family-friendly category I settled on cautionary family-friendly. This revolves solely around the fact that many X-Men have come before this one. In comparison to what’s gone before, there’s really nothing any harsher here than what’s found in the earlier movies.

The bottom line is – parents – keep in mind that X-Men: First Class is a PG-13 movie and it’s probably best viewed with the 13 and 14 year old crowd with a parent.

Enjoy the show!
Dr. Rus

About the Author

Dr. Rus has 30+ years experience in the field of communication. He takes this experience, and his passion to encourage others to positively effect their environment, when providing insight and movie reviews.