Peace Was Never An Option
Based on the short comic book run by the same name, X-Men: First Class follows the young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and the young Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) during their adolescent and young adult years. When the Hellfire Club, led by Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), decides to start WW III in order to destroy all normal human life, it's up to Charles and Erik to gather a group of mutants who can stand against him and his lovely but deadly right hand woman, Emma Frost (January Jones). The only question is, who should the mutants really be worried about fighting? The Hellfire Club or their own government?
Directed by Matthew Vaughn, First Class is the first Marvel movie to utilize a period piece setting for its popular characters. The setting, which is when the X-Men were first introduced to the world by Marvel Comics, completely fits the tone of the civil rights movement and what it means to be considered an actual citizen of America. It also covers the broad topic of what it's like to be a young person who is different and going through changes that no one understands, but almost every X-Men story does that nowadays.
The movie overall is well paced, has some awesome and dramatic moments both with Charles and Erik, and lets the world see a more fantastic and less extreme version of the X-Men. The shining part of this film however is the outstanding performances by McAvoy and Fassbender, who I think played their characters even better than Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen did. Not that Stewart and McKellen didn't give great performances, I just think that they had the disadvantage of not being the story's main focus.
That being said, the best parts of this movie are the parts where Charles and Erik argue or collaborate for the greater good of mutant kind. The scenes where Erik goes on a rampage, hunting down the people responsible for his parents death, is the kind of comic book action that makes you want to pump your fist in the air.
The style of the movie feels very much like a mixture of Mad Men and James Bond with the X-men flair thrown into it. The supporting cast wasn't a bad group, but many of the characters felt rushed or lacked depth. It's to be expected with an action movie, especially one that relies on special effects, but the main characters are all well played and make the movie authentic. Kevin Bacon's role as Shaw was actually quite entertaining, and I would love to see him play more roles similar to this one.
The only thing that might put people off is the fact that this movie is set in the film version of the X-Men universe, so the actual source material characters are no where to be found. Instead of having Cyclops, Ice Man, Angel, Beast, and Jean Grey, the X-Men consists of Banshee, Darwin, Havok, Mystique, Beast, Magneto, and Professor X. Considering they wanted to stay true to the audiences of the movies, it wouldn't make sense for them to try and start it all over with the characters being born in a different decade.
Some of the aspects of the film I didn't like were that they called a character by the wrong name, Pixie, who was called Angel in the film, and that the character of Banshee was just so horrible. The scenes where they teach him to fly, which really comes out of nowhere, were goofy and very cheesy. The only other thing that was weird was that many of the villains never spoke. Azazel and Riptide (who they never mention by name once or has a single line of dialogue) are basically just present for special effects and have nothing to contribute to the story.
That being said, it's probably the best X-Men movie I've ever seen. It's a wonderful start to the official summer blockbusters that are going to be filling the theater.