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mdtinney's Movie Reviews (315)

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X-Men: First Class 
Prequel or Reboot? You be the judge!
3.5/4 stars

This latest film to join the X-Men franchise injects new life and vigor into the saga. It is as much of a prequel as it is a reboot. From a strictly time-line point-of-view it is a prequel, being set in the early 1960s during the Cuban Missile Crisis. But from a storyline point-of-view, it is very much a reboot, with a whole new younger cast along with whole new interesting stories and relationships to involve them in. The film goes all the way back to the beginning in 1944, in Nazi occupied Poland (as it did in the 1st Xmen movie). Here, we are introduced to young Erik Lensherr. Erik is forced to watch his mother be shot right in front of him by Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). The uncontrollable rage Erik then feels unleashes his powers and he then goes on to trash every metal object in the room. However, he is unable to focus and use his powers against Shaw, and so the main plot of the film becomes Erik's quest for vengeance. In contrast with Erik's tragic childhood, we see the wealthy opulent lifestyle that Charles Xavier enjoyed. In this film, he meets young Mystique, and quickly adopts her as his younger sister. Cut to 1962 where the rest of the film takes place. Adult Erik, played excellently by Michael Fassbender continues on his quest for revenge against Shaw. In this film, he has not yet become Magneto. He is not the villain, in fact he is a character we all sympathize with. Inside he is still the traumatized boy who watched his mother get killed right in front of him. What I love about X-Men First Class is that it finally adds layers to Magneto's character, he isn't just a one-dimensional cartoon villain.
And James McAvoy breathes new life as young adult Charles. Here, the young Professor X is a dashing English gentleman who uses witty pick-up lines on pretty college girls and chugs whole pints of beer. His expertise on mutations is what leads to his recruitment to the CIA by Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne). And it is through the CIA that brings Charles and Erik's paths together. McAvoy and Fassbender have amazing on screen chemistry together, and this is clearly reflected in Charles and Erik's fast developing friendship. These two men are not just friends, they really see themselves as brothers. The casting for both Charles and Erik could not have been more perfect, you can definitely see how even decades later Professor X and Magneto stay lifelong friends even if they have opposite philosophies. The other relationship that must be mentioned is the romance between young Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and young Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). Their short-lived relationship is tragic yet poignant. It falls victim to self-hatred and the struggle for acceptance in a human society that all too often shows absolute cruelty to those who are different...........that is the key message of the X-Men and it is so beautifully played out by these two doomed lovebirds. From watching this film, you actually want Erik and Charles to continue being best friends without any of the tragedy and mutant-against-mutant fighting. But alas, we all know how it all ends, so the ending of film can't show anything different. You finally see how Charles becomes paralyzed, the whole lead-up to that scene is just epically sad yet beautiful at the same time. This was a wonderfully acted project and it also contains just the right amount of action scenes that we all love and demand from an X-Men film. I encourage you all to see it if you haven't already.


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