Set in 1962, X-Men: First Class follows a young Charles Xavier who befriends a very angry mutant by the name of Erik Lensherr. The two, along with a team of young mutants, are enlisted to help the government stop a Darwinian dictator who is determined to start World War III.
X-Men: First Class is, in a word, a victory. With the incredibly short production time, and what had come before, the odds were most certainly not in director Matthew Vaughn‘s favor. But somehow, he managed to make a film just a notch below our beloved X2. Vaughan impresses with some truly outstanding action sequences and a firm grip on most of the characters, with only a select few coming up short. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy elevate the film. Into the hemisphere. They are perfect as the young Magneto and Professor X, respectively, and stand on equal footing with their elder counterparts, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. Their relationship is what drives the film, and it is both joyous and tragic to watch. Fassbender, especially, turns in one of the most riveting and, pardon the pun, magnetic performances ever seen in a comic book film.
Most of the actors are great, with Jennifer Lawrence making for a ravishing Mystique and Kevin Bacon being exceptionally uncomfortable to watch as Sebastian Shaw. Some, notably January Jones, Zoe Kravitz and Lucas Till, are out of their league and it shows.
The script drops the ball at certain points, however. Some characters are inconsequential, and their deaths or betrayals fail to make anyone care. The film’s tendency to rewrite canon established in the original films bothered a lot of fans. But while many of these retcons serve to strengthen the story, others are purely unnecessary and should have been left alone.
Final Verdict: Against all odds, X-Men: First Class managed to be more than anyone dared hope. A great story, spectacular action set pieces and some fantastic performances are more than enough to make you forget a few lackluster actors and script nitpicks. A truly great action film that has successfully revived the faltering X-Men name. Kudos to all involved.