12A – 132mins – Action/Adventure/Drama – 1st June 2011

One problem that every prequel has to overcome it the ability to keep interest despite us knowing the eventual outcome of the movie. If you have seen any of the previous four films then it’s quite probable you can piece together how this movie is going to end and how the characters are going to turn out. This therefore needs to be compensated for and is done so successfully by the introduction of plenty of new characters to keep our interest and the actual discovery of how two men who used to be friends come to be enemies.

X-Men: First Class follows the exploits of the first mutants to be discovered, primarily that of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto (Michael Fassbender). It begins with a 12 year old Charles meeting Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and their friendship as they grow up and a young Erik undergoing the hardship of Nazi Germany and the anger that this instils in him. Moving forward, Charles graduates from Oxford with his PhD in genetic mutation and is brought into the US government to help with a mission to locate someone whereas Erik is hunting down the man responsible for separating him from his mother during the regime twenty years earlier.

Both of their paths then cross when we discover they are after the same man, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and the mutant henchmen that he has surrounded himself with. Erik and Charles team up to recruit new mutants to teach them to use their mutations in order to prevent the Cuban missile crisis from unleashing the next World War and bring Shaw to justice.

The two main plots of this movie are based on finding out about the relationship between Charles and Erik and the actual storyline tied into the Cuban missile crisis and an impending world war. The trailers emphasised that this was the film where we could witness the beginning of the X-men and it doesn’t fail to deliver with a good script not only providing the answers but achieving them with a well crafted dialogue.

As with most of the action movies nowadays, the action sequences are both impressive and well shot using a multitude of CGI effects especially during the final scene which was a particular highlight. The acting was also first class (poor pun intended) with McAvoy and Fassbender leading the way, their characters playing off each other perfectly but by no means outshining the rest of the cast.

Placing the whole film during that of the Cold War was a great choice by director Matthew Vaughn and co as it provided not only an impressive backdrop but used these historical events to enforce its points. In fact Vaughn impresses once more leading to a film that makes you invest in the characters before building to a action packed end.

In comparison to it’s Summer sequel/prequel compatriots it has certainly taken the lead as the best so far and in terms of where it sits with the other 4 X-Men movies, well I’d put it in the top 2. Worth a trip to the cinema? Definitely, especially if you were already a fan of the franchise.

Rating: 7.4/10


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