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X-Men: First Class – review

X-Men – First Class

Ahhhh the X-Men are back and this time we get to find out how they all came to be.  The film opens with a scene from the first X-Men film as young Magneto bends the steel fence that barricades him from his mother in a Nazi concentration camp.  The film then goes on to show how young Magneto learned to unleash his powers at the hands of Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), an evil mastermind who is hell bent on…yeah you guessed it, taking over the world.  Shaw kills Magneto’s mother and he swears that one day he will get his revenge.

We then learn of Charles Xavier’s early days where he befriends a very young Mystique.  Even at a young age he welcomed in mutants in hopes of creating a better world.  Fast forward 15+ years we follow Magneto (now played by Michael Fassbender) as he scours the earth looking for Shaw and those responsible for the death of his mother and other Jews.  He shows no mercy.  This is the coolest part of the film.  Fassbender is a badass.  I would have enjoyed the film if it was just him running around smoking people the entire time.  We also learn that Charles Xavier has grown up to become quite the ladies man having just graduated from Oxford with his Doctorate.  James McAvoy takes over the role of Professor X here, and let me say that without Fassbender and McAvoy in these roles this film would probably be a complete flop.  They are entertaining as hell, especially how they play off each other.

This is where we start throwing all sorts of X-Men in to the scene, and at times it becomes hard to keep up. It seems that Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) who is a CIA agent is trying to track down Shaw as well and soon learns of his mutant capabilities and the mutants he has surrounded himself with.  She then sets out to find an expert in genetic mutations, Charles Xavier.

Xavier’s help is enlisted by the CIA and he soon begins to search out for other mutants to help him track down Shaw, and those who plan on destroying the world.  The first group of X-Men is soon formed, and they are a young brash, volatile group that need to learn how to work together to hone their skills.  Magneto and Xavier soon meet for the first time and there is an instant kindred connection between the two of them, but they have different ideas of how they should use their mutant powers.  They both agree they must stop Shaw though.

This is where the film goes off in a tailspin.  First of all I’m not sure that writer Zak Penn even payed attention to the first two X-Men films because there are some issues with how, and when Magneto and Xavier met, and also a little issue with a cameo that comes halfway through the film. (I won’t spoil it for you)  Too many X-Men are thrown on the screen, and while it’s fun to pick out who’s who, you start to get confused about…well who’s who.

The second half of the film fails from your run of the mill comic book plot.  The world is ending, let’s go stop the evil mastermind.  It’s something we’ve seen time and time again.  The dialogue soon gets extremely preachy and laughable at times, and the film definitely drags on for way to long pushing almost 2 1/2 hours.  That being said though, X-Men – First Class is entertaining, and for those who love the X-Men and love comic book films you won’t be disappointed.  It’s definitely nowhere near the caliber of X-Men, and X-Men 2 but it’s also nowhere near as bad as X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Grade: C+