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X-Men: First Class!!! A First Class Offering!

After two lacklustre offerings (in X3: Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine), X-Men: First Class explodes on to the screen with a face melting goodness not seen since X2. It is a triumphant return and a return to form in the X-Men franchise.

Set in the 60’s amidst the Cuban missile crisis, X-Men: First Class depicts the early days and the inception of the X-Men. As such, we see the origin of the friendship between Xavier (Professor X) and Erik (Magneto), destined rivals. Being an expert in mutants, Xavier is recruited by the CIA to assist in capturing a suspected mutant threat in the form of Sebastian Shaw and his Hellfire Club – a band of mutant miscreants. It’s Shaw who wants to stimulate a third World War in an effort to attain mutant supremacy. However, the CIA and the Xavier’s new team of young mutants are hot on their trail and attempt to thwart his plans in causing nuclear strikes. Meanwhile, Erik has his own agenda and seeks the blood of Shaw for the murder of his mother, killed when they were held in a German concentration camp.

What makes the movie work is its attention to the story and character building – it’s not just a summer blockbuster movie full of big flashes and loud explosions. It’s a movie with a clear direction. Come to think of it, besides a short sequence in the middle and the finale scene, there were no really long action scenes. The action is really kept minimal, used when needed, yet is still engaging. It’s a testament to good human (or mutant) drama.

However, the one thing that I wish they hadn’t done was split Xavier and Erik up so early. Clearly, they are going to be making new movies after this one, so why rush it? In the books and other X-Men media, their friendship is spoken of in such high regard. It would have been cool to see them take on other missions together and have maybe a trilogy of movies that would build up to the eventual division. As it stands now, they’re friendship was predicated on about a week’s working relationship. Sort of weak.

Perhaps this relates to the impatience of Hollywood, I mean, I had a similar problem with Thor last month. It seems things are rushed when they don’t need to be, opting for the quicker cash grab. Let things rest, let it breathe.

The movie was helmed by Matthew Vaughn who directed two other greats in Stardust and Kick-Ass and is no stranger within the geek circles. It’s almost sad to think that he was originally attached to X-Men 3 – he could have made it into something great, instead of the crapfest we received.

X-Men: First Class is the first great blockbuster movie of the season (if you don’t count Fast Five). Catch it in theaters now. Later geeks!

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