Movie Review: X-Men First Class

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Movie Review: X-Men First Class (2011)
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, January Jones, Jennifer Lawrence
Plot: Before Charles Xavier (McAvoy) formed the X-Men, he was a college professor with the ability to read and control minds. However, upon the discovery of others like himself, he begins putting together a team (with the CIA) to combat any mutants that may be a threat to the USA.

Enter Erik (Fassbender), otherwise known as Magneto, who’s on a killing spree to avenge what was done to him during WWII as a Jew in Nazi controller concentration camps. Turns out that Sebastian Shaw (Bacon) was using Erik to experiment and create his own team of evil mutants, called The Hellfire Club.

Through a chance occurance, Xavier and Erik meet and start recruiting other mutants to save the world. However, is this rag-tag group of teenage mutants able to take on a hardened group of mutants trying to start WWIII?


Let me start off by saying that, despite what you may have read, this movie is a reboot of the entire series. It contradicts things that have happened in both the comics (almost completely), as well as what has been identified as history within the movie universe. The other thing I noticed is that, this movie is essentially the X-Men Origins: Magneto movie that the studio wanted to make, but abandoned with the almost universal negative reaction X-Men Origins: Wolverine received. If you keep these two things in mind while watching this movie, it’s not so bad.

However, it does suffer some several pacing issues (especially at the end), and it doesn’t do what a good reboot (or “prequel,” as the studio would like to label this movie) should do, which is tell you something new about the characters. In fact, we don’t get to know any of the characters in this movie very much at all – and most of them are just there to be a part of an action sequence at the end of the movie, maybe saying 5 lines the whole movie.

What I liked about X-Men 1 and 2 (and thought was missing in 3) was that we really got to know the characters. Sure we mostly focused on Wolverine, but we got to know Jean and Rogue and Bobby and Professor X. And we got to know Magneto and Mystique, even though they weren’t in the flick as much. We understood their motivations and why they were doing what they were doing. In this movie, we don’t get any of the insight about any of these characters. At all.

This was so notable for me that I spent most of the movie trying to figure out why any of these characters were doing what they were doing. The only motivation we understand is Magnetos (revenge), and we understand that only because we’ve seen the other movies – which, again, are totally contradicted by almost every aspect of this flick.

Most of the characters feel like filler characters. Like someone needed more mutants in the movie to make more toys or a video game tie in. It’s unfortunate to see it. It’s like a trick to try to get the comic fans into the theaters so they can see their favorite characters on the screen – only to see them misrepresented by the screenwriter. Emma Frost still lacks her English accent. Moira MacTaggert apparently works for the CIA (and doesn’t have an accent either). There are a lot of differences between the story from the movies (and let’s not even compare it to the comics, because at this point we all know they are going to be – in many ways – radically different). Basically, they should have called it a reboot.

Ultimately I don’t regret having seen the flick, but it wasn’t my favorite X-Men movie by far. It was better than 3 (but let’s be honest, that movie was terrible), but no where near the quality of story telling or characterization as the original flicks.

My final thoughts: worth watching if someone’s rented it, but totally skippable in theaters.

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