X-Men: First Class (12A)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

Review byMatthew Turner02/06/2011

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 132 mins

Impressively directed and superbly acted, this is a thoroughly entertaining superhero prequel that gets everything right, delivering thrilling action sequences, state-of-the-art special effects and an intelligent script that's both moving and funny. And best of all, it's in glorious 2D.

What's it all about?
Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass), X-Men: First Class begins in 1962 when young telepathic Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his adopted shape-shifting sister Raven Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence) are recruited by CIA agent Moira MacTaggart (Rose Byrne) in order to help locate energy-absorbing Nazi Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), a powerful mutant who's plotting to spark a war between the US and the USSR. Charged with assembling a team of mutants, Charles soon encounters metal-manipulating Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), who's obsessed with killing Shaw because he murdered his mother in a Nazi concentration camp.

Joining forces, the two men recruit a team of young mutants that includes agile brainbox Hank McCoy (Nicolas Hoult), insect-winged Angel Salvatore (Zoe Kravitz), sonic screamer Sean Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones) and energy-bolt throwing Alex Summers (Lucas Till). However, Shaw has assembled his own team of evil mutants – including icy telepath Emma Frost (January Jones), teleporter Azazel (Jason Flemyng) and tornado-chucking Riptide (Alex Gonzalez) – and the stage is set for a powerful showdown during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Good
Jane Goldman's intelligent, tightly-plotted script fizzes with great dialogue and strikes the perfect balance between powerfully emotional character moments and thrilling action sequences, while also injecting a welcome streak of humour. The integration of the Cuban Missile Crisis is a bold gamble that pays off brilliantly, while the 60s setting allows for an extremely cool James Bond vibe.

The performances are excellent, particularly McAvoy and Fassbender, whose friendship forms the emotional heart of the film, while Bacon makes a delightfully evil Bond-style villain. There's also strong support from Lawrence (who has an equally important sub-plot of her own) and Hoult shines as the soon-to-be blue-skinned Beast; in fact, only January Jones lets the side down, acting-wise, though she's so drop-dead gorgeous that a sizeable proportion of the audience won't notice.

The Great
Vaughn maintains a terrific pace throughout, which is no mean feat when juggling so many characters; he also throws in a handful of delightful surprises for fans of the previous films that it would be churlish to spoil here. On top of that, the effects are superb and the numerous action set-pieces are both imaginatively staged and genuinely exciting to watch.

Worth seeing?
In short, X-Men: First Class is aptly named – this is a hugely enjoyable blockbuster that gets everything right. Highly recommended.
X-Men: First Class 'Family Tree'

Film Trailer

X-Men: First Class (12A)
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Content updated: 16/10/2018 03:34

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