Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
Jennifer Lawrence … Raven Darkholme/Mystique
Rose Byrne … Dr. Moira MacTaggert
James McAvoy … Professor Charles Xavier
Michael Fassbender … Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto
January Jones … Emma Frost
Jason Flemyng … Azazel
Nicholas Hoult … Hank McCoy/Beast
Kevin Bacon … Sebastian Shaw
Zoë Kravitz … Angel Salvadore
Lucas Till … Alex Summers/Havok
Morgan Lily … Young Raven Darkholme/Young Mystique
Oliver Platt … Man in Black
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Bad Hat Harry Productions
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|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
“Before he was Professor X, he was Charles. Before he was Magneto, he was Erik.”
While the X-Men films aren’t the best Marvel films, the first two installments were critically and financially successful. While the third and the spin-off “Wolverine” left much to be desired. Though this prequel is not as stellar as the first two, “X-Men: First Class” is a decent prologue which helps enliven the series which began over a decade ago.
The film remakes the scene from the opening scene from the first installment where Erik, later known as Magneto, is separated from his mother and bends the camp’s metal gate before being knocked unconscious. Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) sees the chaos below through a window. Knowing Erik is a mutant, Sebastian Shaw makes the young boy his experimental pawn when he determines that Erik’s magnetic powers are unleashed through anger and pain. Years later, Erik is a bitter, vengeful man who begins to hunt down his tormentor.
On the opposite side of the world, a young Charles Xavier catches Raven, stealing food from his refrigerator. He welcomes her, and she becomes his foster sister. While he becomes successful with his study of genetic mutations, Raven (later Mystique) becomes more and more self-conscious about her image and permanently masquerades as a normal-looking human being.
As its main conflict, the film uses the 1960s Cuban missile crisis, a scheme concocted by Sebastian Shaw to have humans declare a third world war, destroying themselves while the mutants rise in total supremacy. Erik and Charles end up working together stop the evil man, both with their own purposes.
The plot is clever in how Erik and Charles meet; their blossoming friendship is believable and an important basis for the mutual, albeit strained respect they share for one another in the latter films. The film has heart to it, and seeing their evolving friendship and eventual rift were vital in setting course for their later division. Charles dreams of a world where mutants are accepted, yet Erik knows they’ll always be feared. In this regard, the film was very successful.
With that said, however, the film has too many characters and not enough background information. Since the film’s main focus was Erik and Charles the remaining characters were horridly undeveloped. Though Mystique became this film’s “Storm” in hardly using her powers, she has the second best storyline in showing how her confidence and self-acceptance grew under Erik’s vision of mutant superiority.
Most of the female characters wear very revealing clothing, especially Emma Frost. There are several outfits of very short skirts, low-cut shirts, and scenes of women in either their lingerie or bras. During a scene in Las Vegas, an agent zooms his binoculars on women wearing lingerie and then on their derrieres. The female agent later goes “undercover” in her own lingerie. During one scene, Raven is undressed in Erik’s bed in an attempt to seduce him, but he remains very respectful, and they only kiss. Once she is confident, she walks unclothed; the camera then gives a close, revolving shot from her lower back to her breast.
There’s also some sexual talk. Charles Xavier flirts with a woman and she asks him if the seduction is working, and he tells her he’ll tell her in the morning. When a mutant’s large feet are made fun of, Raven comes to his defense and says, “You know what they say about guys with big feet.” She then comments on how small the teaser’s own feet are.
Although the beginning of the film had hardly any cursing, it increases by the end of the film. In all there are at least 11 uses of profanity: 1 ahole, 4 hells, 1 d_mn, 4 GD and one character saying, “go f__k yourself”. As with the other films, evolution is discussed, saying how humans came after apes, mutants calling themselves the children of the atom, and a woman commenting how Charles believes her to be sexier than the first sea creatures.
Though the violence is a common theme throughout, it remains mostly bloodless. Several people are shot or stabbed. One man gets his hand impaled. Some shootings and the impalement happened off-screen. Two soldiers’ heads are crushed by their helmets; some CIA agents are dropped to their deaths. During an interrogation, Erik pulls out the metal filling of a bank employee. Two characters briefly get strangled. And finally, one character gets a coin sliced through his head and is later floated through the air in the posture that’s often associated with Christ and his crucifixion.
Revenge is a heavy motif of the plot, but it’s never glorified. Rather, the audience gets to see and understand what later causes the division between Charles and Erik. In becoming Magneto, Erik never gave pretenses in wanting to kill Sebastian Shaw. Knowing this, Charles begs him not to, telling him how it will not give him peace. Likewise, throughout Scripture, Christians are told to not sin in our anger and how vengeance is in God’s hands (Romans 12:17-19). In doing this, we are heeding Paul’s warning in Ephesians 4:27 to “…not give the devil a foothold.”
I’m undecided as to whether or not I liked this film and do not personally recommend it. Overall, the film quality was drastically strengthened by the vivid performances of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. Though the other actors were talented, their characters were too limited. The film is marred, however, by some missing continuity, liberty from the comics and its objectionable content. If one still wants to see the film, I’d advise to wait until the DVD release.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
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