Movie #72 2021: X-Men: First Class (2011)

Taking a break from the Golden Globe nominees to watch an old X-Men movie seems like something I would do. And that’s exactly what I did!

After seeing the first trilogy, I honestly felt so let down by The Last Stand but somehow not enough to put me off continuing on with it. Perhaps that was partly due to the fact that the franchise got a little bit of a refresh after the original films. That’s right, this is the start of a new trilogy… of prequels! Playing the characters as their younger selves required new actors (James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender being the main ones) and fills in the gaps of any questions you may have about these mutants if you’ve never read the comments. Primarily, the movie focuses on the days when Magneto and Charles Xavier first met, how they know Mystique and how they came to start their famous yet secret school for mutants.

So, did First Class offer any improvements on The Last Stand? A few… but it gets off to a massively slow start. Is it just me or is the first hour of this just kind of boring? Maybe my expectations were too high because I love finding out the lore and the background of situations like this, especially in superhero terms. However, the execution of the story was relatively poorly paced, specifically in the opening act.

It all amps up a little though once they drop in that classic plot device: the montage. And boy, do I love a montage. Thankfully, the one here in which our heroes rounded up all the young mutants was GREAT. A Hugh Jackman cameo, the introduction of Zoë Kravitz as Angel Salvatore, Magneto and Xavier team up… It all acted as the perfect catalyst not only to move the story along, but to also enhance the entertainment factor. Indeed, after the montage it all got a little more exciting. 

Conversely, setting the story alongside the Cuban Missile Crisis with strong references to the CIA feels as though it really should have been right up my alley, but somehow they manage to make the whole thing extremely tedious. It was fun to see the origins of the X-Men and the final battle was pretty cool, but the pacing of it was so sporadic and inconsistent that I found it very difficult to actually give a shit. Excuse my French.

At least there was a vast improvement on the CGI with this one. Visually, the effects are certainly more representative of the 2010s, and it’s all much smoother and better to look at than the previous X-Men movies. So all least not all was lost.

As for the new casting, they actually do a pretty great job for the most part, which is to be expected when Marvel are attached to production. There was just one snag for me and that’s with the villain of the affair. Sorry, but I just don’t buy Kevin Bacon as the horrendously uninteresting bad guy here. The rest of the main cast do a pretty decent job though as I already mentioned, to the extent that they made me actually want to continue with the franchise. (Damn it, even if I didn’t want to finish it, you know I would anyway. You got me there.)

On the whole, X-Men: First Class had the potential to be great, but ended up being annoyingly average. Meh.

X-Men: First Class is available to stream currently on Sky Cinema and Now TV, but a little birdie tells me that it will be making its way to Disney+ in the coming months.

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