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June 3, 2011
Review - " X-Men: First Class "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Crisis, complete with archival footage of President Kennedy and a historical twist that makes this feel like something out of a
comic book version of a Tom Clancy novel.

X-Men: First Class brings together many of the powerful, laws of physics defying mutants you've met in previous
installments as well as a new "class" to give the scenery a bit of that fresh feeling. Particularly fun to watch was Jason
Flemyng as a demon-like teleporter named Azazel and I really liked the dynamic between Lawrence's Raven and Nicholas
Hoult  as Hank McCoy (aka Beast). Though, this wasn't much of a surprise, we're talking about the three best talents among
the supporting cast.

In the lead roles, McAvoy as Xavier, Michael
Fassbender (Jane Eyre, Inglourious Basterds)
as Lensherr and Bacon as Shaw are each
perfectly suited for their characters' demeanor
and motivations. McAvoy's eyes have that
weathered and concerned look necessary as
Xavier's hope for peaceful mutant and human
coexistence drives him. Fassbender's ability
to tap into the inner conflict Lensherr is
dealing with culminates in a moment between
him and McAvoy that will sell any doubter,
even if it conjures memories of Yoda trying to
get Luke Skywalker to raise his spaceship
from the Dagobah marshes.

Finally, Kevin Bacon is pure villainy and not
in that smarmy way we've necessarily come
to see Bacon in the past, but in a whole new
sense of cool, collected and confident.
Our first introduction to Shaw, as he chats up a young Erik Lensherr, features Bacon speaking in German, a detail this film
does not shy from as English is never the decided native tongue of each of its worldly characters. The timing on Bacon's
delivery is childishly menacing and a sign of things to come.

There is also a bit of an issue with the film's frenzied pace. As you may have been able to tell in my opening introduction to
the story, this film rarely stops for a breather and when it does, such as the training montage, it's like pulling hard on the
E-brake. It's as if the script finally called for a bit of needless character exposition so the film takes a short rest stop to fulfill
the requirement before getting back to business.

Where the film does score big points is in the
way director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Layer
Cake) embraces the story's 1960s setting. Not
only are we talking about props and set
decoration, but the look of the film is unlike
anything I can remember seeing from a modern
day superhero movie. It's stripped down about
as much as it can possibly be, outside of the use
of CG when necessary, giving it a grittier more
filmic look rather than the pristine digital quality
that tends to shine a film up beyond any sense
of realism. The bouncy, almost retro TV score
from Henry Jackman (Kick-Ass, Monsters vs
Aliens) also adds to this feeling.

For what it's worth, X-Men: First Class is a fun
and enjoyable film with winks and nods that that
will benefit those familiar with the previous
installments. It also continues to reinforce the
positive message of the X-Men storyline, that of accepting people for who they are rather than categorizing them as
anything but human, which I think is not only a solid moral message, but something that adds a point of entry for each
X-Men: First Class
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
SDtarring:  James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Caleb Landry Jones,
Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, January Jones,
Nicholas Hoult, Jason Flemyng, Oliver Platt and Lucas Till

Taking us back to the start of the mutant storyline, the film begins in
Poland 1944 where a young Erik Lensherr (Bill Milner) is separated
from his mother at Auschwitz. As she's taken from him, the pain wells
inside, calling power he has no idea how to control as the metal gates
bend inwards before he is knocked unconscious. Shortly thereafter
we are introduced to Sebastian Shaw (played to absolute perfection
by Kevin Bacon). Speaking in German, Shaw chides Erik into showing
him the powers he possesses, but is unable to coax it out of him until
he kills his mother, a move that unleashes Erik's power as well as
decides his future.

Flash forward 18 years and meet Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) a
burgeoning geneticist and surprising playboy as he uses his
knowledge and powers of telepathy to pick up ladies as well as find
others like him. At his side is the familiar face of Mystique (played by
Rebecca Romijn in previous installments) played here by Jennifer
Lawrence (Winter's Bone) and referred to as Raven.

Switching gears yet again we find ourselves as part of a stakeout as
CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) is spying on an Army
colonel. What she ends up seeing sets this particular story in motion
as Shaw is attempting to manipulate the U.S. government into starting
World War III, a decision that will ultimately lead to the Cuban Missile
The film, however, isn't without its issues.
Outside of Lawrence and Hoult, I wasn't
particularly impressed with the rest of the
young actors playing the group of mutants
Xavier rounds up for his cause. Zoe Kravitz
is particularly cringe-worthy as the winged
mutant Angel Salvadore — though her
character's stripper introduction is perfect
— and on Shaw's side I'm beginning to
think we've seen the best January Jones
("Mad Men", Unknown) has to offer as her
performance here is more about stripping
down to her underwear rather than
actually acting. Although the diamond
effect was very cool. Alternatively, there
are a couple of cameo appearances and
two words from a familiar face that should
have X-fans cheering.
Rumor has it that movie going fans for the
X-Men can expect two more X-Men
movies… this should be great reboot.

This was a good movie with a much more
serious tone to it and I also believe that
everyone who is a fan is really going to like
this. I believe Marvel is doing right by the
characters and bringing the drama to the
series that it deserves. Paying to see this
movie is money well spent.