The Score: X-Men: First Class

Friday, Jun 3, 2011 4:25PM

Written by J. Bachelor

THE SCORE
THE SCORE 8/10
Watch Trailer
  • X-Men: First Class
  • James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender
  • June 3, 2011
Rotten Tomatoes 7.4/10
Dallas News 80/100
Washington Post 3/4
Pop Matters 9/10
Film Blather 80/100

Beginning today, audiences around the country will get a glimpse of how it all began as X-Men: First Class powers its way into the summer movie arena.

First Class tells the story of a young Magneto and Professor X, whose opposing views toward humans and mutant coexistence would not only cause a rift in their friendship but would eventually lead to the creation of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, a mutant academy.

Prequel, reboot, or preboot? While scholars in the field of superheroism are invited to discuss the movie-vs.-comic-book cosmology of X-Men: First Class until they turn as blue in the face as Mystique, to a casual fan like me (who loved X-Men and X2, then chafed at X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine), the newest addition to the X-marked movie franchise fits in any of the above three categories just fine. (Entertainment Weekly)

In a recent interview, Michael Fassbender, who plays Magneto, explained how his character would be introduced to the class.

At the start of the movie we get introduced to him as a boy, who is played by Bill Milner, who is a fantastic actor. I've watched a little bit of what he did and it's great. So you start in the concentration camps with him and then it sort of jump-cuts to 20 years later. It's the early 1960s and Erik is a grown man. And he's on a quest to get Sebastian Shaw. (IGN Movies)

Set primarily in the 1960s, the film uses discrimination towards mutants as a metaphor to reflect the racial tension prevalent of the era.

We get a series heroes and villains, the good being made up of Xavier, Raven, Magneto and Angel (Zoe Kravitz), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Havok (Lucas Till), Darwin (Edi Gathegi) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and the bad centering around Shaw and his minions Emma Frost (January Jones), Azazel (Jason Flemyng), and Riptide (Álex González). In between the usual sovereign grandstanding and war room machinations, we learn of the growing prejudice against the mutants, the various problems and personality flaws of the new recruits, their reluctance over revealing themselves to the world, and the growing bond between Charles and Erik. As tensions rise both internationally and internally, divisions will grow, forcing everyone to choose sides and declare/debate loyalty.(Pop Matters)

Actress Rose Byrne, who plays Dr. Moira MacTaggert, agrees that the film's underlying message is as powerful as its big budget action sequences.

"I think it's that universal theme of being in the minority, whether if it's because of your religion, sexuality, ethnicity, whatever it is. I think it's a really powerful metaphor for that, but done in a really fun and entertaining way. I love the notion of being able to show your true self as a mutant. Raven's whole inner turmoil about how far she can go being blue, how far Hank can go being Beast, that idea I really love. Everyone goes through that I think, how much of your true self do you show to the world without feeling insecure, you don't have to be a mutant to relate to that."(Flicks and Bits)

While some critics feel that First Class is nothing more than another passable installment into the X-Men franchise, others cite it as a thrilling cinematic experience that sheds new light on Hollywood's favorite team of misfits.

McAvoy and Fassbender, two smart, elegant heartthrobs who are usually more at home in a very different kind of literary adaptation, bring a frisson of intimacy to their scenes together. They don't seem like lovers, exactly (though it's not hard to imagine a Magneto/Professor X slashfic site springing up in this movie's wake). They seem like good friends separated by a genuine ideological rift: Should mutants enlist themselves in the cause of serving humanity, or break away to form a militant separatist society? By the movie's end, the ground has been laid for a worldwide man vs. mutant battle that will no doubt unfold in the next X-Men installment. May the best humanoid win--as long as Fassbender and McAvoy get another chance to shed their helmets, lock azure gazes, and cry.(Slate)
"First Class" happily delivers on the escapism and rich narrative texture the best of its predecessors have promised. With action, atmosphere and mixed feelings to burn (not to mention a few jokes about shaving Xavier's head), it seems well on its way to giving the well-traveled "X-Men" franchise a resuscitating breath of genetically superior, nuclear-powered life. (Washington Post)

Preview the trailer for X-Men: First Class below:

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