Posted: 04 Jun 2011 11:13 AM PDT
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The X-Men movie franchise gets back on track under the directorship of Matthew Vaughn (who also had an influential role in writing the screenplay) with the excellent X-Men: First Class delivering a highly entertaining movie with an engaging storyline.
As with the first X-Men movie the opening scene is in a Polish WWII Nazi concentration camp. It is what happens here to a young Eric that allows the viewer to understand his subsequent actions throughout the X-Men series and it gives the screenwriters a platform to conjure a storyline that will engross the audience for the entire movie.
Throw in the arch villain Sebastian Shaw played by Kevin Bacon who delivers an intensity of ruthless evilness to match his megalomanic ways and the strong opening storyline that shapes the lives of both Shaw and Erik (Magneto) and the audience is left sat with baited breath as the drama unfolds.
The two stand out stars of X-Men: First Class are James McAvoy who plays a thoroughly engaging Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender who portrays his character of Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto with an intense magnetism worthy of his metal bending mutant powers.
So far there has been an X-Men origins movie that concentrated on the character Wolverine but First Class is the real 'Origins' movie regarding the X-Men as we learn of the circumstances that initially brought together the mutants under a common but divided goal.
Eric has seen the atrocities mankind is capable of and you are never quite sure if he has lost complete faith in man or it is a deep rooted mistrust that can be managed by the articulate Charles Xavier.
The movie has a James Bond esponaige essence to it and the first half is fantastic viewing as we follow the paths of Eric and Charles until they finally meet while both separately pursuing the villainous Sebastian Shaw.
Set mainly in 1962 the screenwriters have used the Cuban Missile Crisis as the catalyst for the X-Men to reveal their mutant powers while battling to maintain world peace and avert a nuclear war. Matthew Vaughn has seamlessly intertwined a seemingly unlikely storyline with real historic world events and carried it off with a style and panache that indicates we could be witnessing a future oscar winning director in the making.
My only criticism of the movie would be the section where all the young mutants congregate as this loses some of the momentum previously built up with the excellent opening. Gradually the movie regains its cutting edge as the ultimate battle between the rival mutants looms with both camps making painstaking preparations to prevail.
The focus on the close relationship between Eric and Charles Xavier enlightens us to the bond of friendship they once shared as both men follow their destinies leading to their parting of the ways. The irony that Eric eventually turns into everything he despises does nothing to mask the intensity of the role he carries with aplomb.
Indeed, the concentration of Fassbender in the role of avenging the wrongs inflicted upon him as he reveals the darker side of his nature showcase a talent that will have Hollywood directors ringing his agent for years to come.
X-Men: First Class is a fitting name as this really is a fantastic movie.
If you thought the X-Men movie franchise was dead then think again as X-Men: First Class has reinvigorated the comic book movie genre. With a compelling storyline delivered by actors at the top of their game this movie is sure to revive interest in the X-Men story.
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