X-Men First Class is an X-Men reboot, directed by Bryan Singer and a period film, set in the 60s’ in the height of the cold war, focusing on the first rendition of the X-Men and how they came to be, while we also see a younger Charles Xavier a Erik Lensherr as former friends before they became enemies. First Class has Hugh Jackman returning but an almost entirely new cast, including James Mcavoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, January Jones, Kevin Bacon.
The film represents re-invigoration for the X-Men franchise and was the breath of fresh air fans of the franchise needed after The Last Stand and Origins and the setting really works, initially you may wonder how interesting an X-Men film set in the 60s’ could be but the plot is great, seeing younger Xavier and Magneto especially was great. Spearheaded by Mccavoy and Fassbender who are brilliant in their respective roles, Mccavoy embodies Xaviers’ calmness and sense of morality, while Erik is far more forceful and always prefers action to dialogue, seeing the two iconic characters actually work together was also fun. It was great seeing different mutants previously not seen in an X-Men film as well including Havok, Darwin, Angel, Azazel and Emma Frost. Simply showing more, varied mutants is a good thing as their abilities were on show and look great on screen, with First Class having some great special effects on display.
The younger cast of mutants also play their roles well, Jennifer Lawrence especially as Mystique and Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy, bringing a believable relationship to the story, Mystique represents fear and self doubt among mutants, she wants to fit in and be accepted for who she is like Hank and they bond over that. This runs alongside Xavier and Moiras’ relationship, also present but not that important in the long run. Though interestingly, Xavier and Eriks’ relationship is the biggest part of the story and sets the foundations for future events and the future of the X-Men itself.
The film is very well directed and the film speeds along, not because the pacing is bad but because it’s a joy to watch and does away with the cheesiness of Origins and The Last Stand, giving us cool mutants with a decent share of screentime and a formidable villain in Sebastian shaw (Kevin Bacon). Shaw seemingly has good intentions but a wild disregard for innocent life and ulterior motives, Bacon plays him very well and makes quite a menacing bad guy, his powers being essentially unstoppable, you do wonder how he’ll be beaten, which is a testament to the films great writing with twists and turns and things you definitely won’t see coming.
The action is great, although not as action packed as X2 or The Last Stand, the action is shot well and always serves the plot, while the set pieces in the film are big in scope and some of the best scenes in the X-Men franchise, Magneto levitating a submarine out of the sea and Azazels’ attack scene for example. The film still works and is a great film without massive or extended fight scenes and is a compelling watch.
And the final third is great, a good conclusion to the film setting up the X-Men universe as we know it, the emotion is there and it hits well, Mccavoy and Fassbender really selling the former friendship turned sour between two men of very different ideals who grow apart but still respect each other as individuals. Battle lines are figuratively drawn between Xavier and Magnetos’ followers, First Class ends on a great note, leaving room for things to come.
. Cast is fantastic, especially Mccavoy, Fassbender, Lawrence
. Set pieces in the film are great
. Plot is engaging, well written