Spider-Man and X-Men have always been my favourite comic book characters, but I have a deeper attachment to X-Men because of the awesome animated series that ran during the 90s. Now we have a film titled X-Men: First Class, showing us how this superhero team was formed. First Class is from director Matthew Vaughn, who previously directed the extremely violent superhero movie Kick-Ass. Vaughn’s X-Men is definitely more energetic than previous film adaptations of the material, and I enjoyed it immensely.
The entire cast, or should I say, the entire class, is great. James McAvoy, also known as the guy from Wanted, plays the mind-reading mutant Professor X. You don’t get a lot of back story to this character, which is a pity since he is the one that will eventually form the X-Men. There is, however, a very small smidge of romance going on between him and the Rose Byrne character, which is, I repeat, just a very small smidge. Rose Byrne plays a CIA agent who is not a mutant, and her characters feels quite redundant for the most part.
Michael Fassbender is Magneto, and he is without question the star of this film. Fassbender is exceptionally good as the magnetic powered mutant, and he has a slick retro coolness which made the character that much more captivating. There’s a great deal of time being spent on Magneto and his relationship with Sebastian Shaw, played by Kevin Bacon. Sebastian’s mutant power is interesting and you have to see it for yourself. The conflict between Magneto and Sebastian is riveting, and escalates to one of the most emotional and shocking climaxes in superhero movie history.
There are plenty of other mutants in this film, including the scaly blue-skinned Mystique. This shape-shifter is played by Jennifer Lawrence of Winter’s Bone, and is the most interesting character among the bunch of young mutants. There is a subplot involving her and Beast, but it didn’t really amount to anything in the end. One of the things I was looking forward to seeing in this prequel was the reason why Mystique is naked in the original X-Men trilogy. The reason for her fashion choice is in line with one of the morals being emphasized in this film, but I hope kids don’t start walking around without clothes after watching this.
January Jones of Mad Men plays Emma Frost, the mutant who can turn her skin into diamond. The CGI used to create her glittering body is very impressive, and does not look as cheesy as it could have been. In fact, most of the CGI and special effects in this film are top-notch and brilliantly executed. All the powers flying around on screen looks legit, and it brings back that feeling of awe when you first saw the X-Men in 2000. The score by Henry Jackman adds an extra punch to this dramatic story, and also reinforces the hard-hitting tone that Vaughn dishes out with full confidence.
What I like most about First Class is that all the mutants are making full use of their powers. You see Magneto using his magnetic abilities to kill people in violent situations, although nothing too gory ever happens. One of the kid mutants is called Banshee, and he learns how to use his sonic scream to fly. There is a red-skinned mutant similar to Nightcrawler, and I love the scenes where he’s teleporting all over the place and slicing people up. However, I was a little disappointed by the under-usage of Mystique’s power. Unlike in the previous X-Men films, we don’t see her shape shifting mojo being put to much use here.
When you are an X-Men fan that just want to see your favourite characters on the big screen again, it’s very hard not to love this film. I don’t think X-Men: First Class is as good as the original X-Men or its sequel X2, but it’s definitely more entertaining than X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So if you want a good action flick to heat up your summer, don’t be late for X-Men: First Class.