Well, I should just start off by saying that X-Men: First Class is all class. It is an absolutely brilliant action movie, with a great cast that bring a huge amount of fun to the proceedings, and with nods to the films that have come before, even if continuity-wise they come after.
Much like the Star Trek reboot, the X-Men: First Class story is not about exploring anything deep. Far from it – the characters are unburdened with the woes and trials and tribulations of mutant-hood that bogged down the characters in the other X films. These characters are driven by very straight forward and obvious, but no less powerful, motivations.
Eric, played by the furrowed brow of Michael Fassbender, is the man seeking revenge on Sebastian, ex Nazi and megalomaniac, played with an amazing relish by the man everyone knows one way or another, Kevin Bacon. Eric’s quest is helped by the fact he apparently knows every language ever spoken and his not inconsiderable gift with things ferrous. He encounters James McAvoy’s telepathic Charles and his blue-skinned sister (a really good Jennifer Lawrence as Raven) and they then recruit some other people to help them take Kev down. And that’s really all there is to it.
To say the main three men dominate the story and what passes for development is not entirely true: Rose Byrne as CIA agent Moira gets to run around in skimpy underwear for a bit, and the always awesome Michael Ironside bares his mighty gnashers and masticates on the plywood ship around him during his brief appearance as a US Navy Captain. There are other brief cameos that also make an impression: Hugh Jackman gets to play the only character that swears and the gorgeous Rebecca Romjin pops up for a second or two.
But, as good (or passable, in some of the minor characters’ cases) as the thesping talent may be, the real star is the non stop action story, shifting from Germany to Russia to the USA to Cuba all very swiftly and with a minimum of problem.
To be honest, the only problem I had was how it ended. I will try and avoid any spoilers here, but stop reading if you want to know nothing whatsoever. I mean, why didn’t Charles just let go? And I have to say, come the final showdown, I was actually on Eric’s side – those pesky homo sapiens deserve to die, as they all seem to be complete bastards (except those who wear great underwear under their regular clothes) and really aren’t that nice. I am not really sure if that was the moral of the story, but it is what I came away with.
But mostly what I came away with was a wonderful feeling of having watched a really great and entertaining film. Sure, it may not even try to be mildly deep, but it’s a huge amount of fun and that’s really all I wanted.
Verdict: X-Men: First Class is a first class effort, outstripping Thor and even the Iron Mans in its enjoyability. The film proves that people are both evil and stupid, and that girls always go for the bad boys. But Kevin Bacon gets to prove his evil chops, and the whole X-Men franchise gets a great new film to add to its belt. IX.5 out of X