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June 10, 2011 > Movie Review: X-Men: First Class

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class

By Jennifer Gau

Ignoring its lackluster sequel and lukewarm prequel, the latest Marvel movie property gets smart and stylish with "X-Men: First Class."

Hitting all the right marks in terms of character, story, and exciting entertainment, the movie opens in 1944 when Erik (before he is known as Magneto), is separated from his mother by guards at a concentration camp. We witness a weak boy who thinks he is the only one in the world with special skills, and learns to channel his anger into great power.

The bulk of "X-men: First Class", directed by Matthew Vaughn, is set in 1962 when U.S. President John F. Kennedy is grappling with the Soviet Union amidst the Cuban missile crisis. A grown-up Erik (Michael Fassbender) is helpless, revengeful, and lonely until he meets geneticist Charles Xavier (James McAvoy). Together, they assemble a group of young mutants to save the world from World War III.

Meanwhile, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is trying to locate mutants to oppose Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) who plans to starts a nuclear war, spreading radiation to create more mutants. He believes that as a result of their increased presence, society will accept mutants as normal. His dialogue sounds strangely familiar to Magneto's sermon in previous X-men movies.

Also similar to previous X-men movies, special effects are spectacular. Each character is able to demonstrate their special skills without interruption: training, fighting, or just plain showing off. Particularly noteworthy are Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), a young Mystique battling her own self-image who befriends Hank (Nicholas Hoult) who also fears his own image. Hank becomes a victim to his own vanity and transforms into the Beast.

In spite of a few minor flaws, the performances are spot-on making X-Men: First Class a total pleasure, hitting all the action beats

Runtime: 1 hour 12 minutes
Rated: PG-13

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