X-Men: First Class is a very interesting character driven X-Men movie that feels a lot like a combination of action movie and coming-of-age story showing the history of the two friends, colleagues, and later nemeses: Charles Xavier and Eric Lensherr – later known as Professor X and Magneto. The movie gives you a short, but effective history of them and develops the characters well. It does a lot of really important things well: Gives a good meeting of Xavier and Magneto, portrays a solid if a bit short development of a very deep relationship between them, and shows the development of the relationship between Mystique and Magneto.
But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. First Class starts off with a brief showing of the two main characters’ childhood and their powers, as well as a brief introduction to the main villain of the movie. From there it skips forward a bit, and the real story begins. While it might be called a bit slow to start, I don’t see that as a bad thing. It gives the opportunity to really get to know the characters in a way most superhero movies really don’t. And the effect is pronounced enough that when the pivotal events at the end happen, even though fans of the mythology won’t be surprised, they quite likely will be brought to tears.
But while the story is truly well crafted for a superhero movie, what most people who go to a superhero movie are looking for are the special effects. While combat in this movie is limited to a few pivotal scenes, the combat that is there is truly spectacular and the special effects are fantastic, whether you’re looking at the weapon effects or the mutant powers.
The characters are all, save one or two, cast exceptionally well – and even everyone’s favourite Wolverine makes a cameo. From the personable and naive young Xavier, bright and hopeful for the world, to the tortured and cynical Magneto, to the self-conscious Raven – hiding herself from the world; every character feels relatable and exactly like one would want them to. The only real gap being the major villain who was portrayed in nearly all previous incarnations in a much different way.
As a sort of final statement here, this movie was good enough that it makes me wish the first X-Men movies weren’t made, not because they were bad movies per se; but because they did a few things very right, and one of those was casting Patrick Stewart as Xavier. Unfortunately, that means that it is going to be very hard to get people to think of anyone else as Xavier, so if this movie is the start of an X-Men reboot, we may end up running into the problems of trying to compete with Patrick Stewart, which is not an easy thing to do. But I really hope they do try. Because they’ve built a very solid foundation with this one.
Review written by: Sean