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Film Review: Matthew Vaughn’s Entertaining, Stylish ‘X-Men: First Class’ Rocks

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CHICAGO – Matthew Vaughn rights the ship of mediocre superhero movies with the incredibly accomplished “X-Men: First Class,” the best Marvel Movie since “Spider-Man 2” and a film that proves that big blockbuster summer entertainment can be both commercially crowd-pleasing and intellectually complex at the same time. “X-Men: First Class” features a spectacular mix of well-choreographed action, revisionist history, themes of tolerance, and great performances. This will be one of the best movies of this season.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

“X-Men: First Class” has already drawn numerous comparisons to other films in the Marvel canon but the work that it actually echoes is Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins.” Like that film, Vaughn has approached legendary characters from comic-dom after two horrendous sequels (“X-Men: The Last Stand” & “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” as compared to “Batman Forever” & “Batman & Robin”) and tweaked the origin stories of well-known superhero icons. And he’s done so with emotional gravity, style, and remarkable ambition. Like Nolan’s superhero films, “X-Men: First Class” deals with serious issues (acceptance, tolerance, personal responsibility, abuse of power), but does so with the touch of a showman who knows entertainment is his primary objective.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “X-Men: First Class” in our reviews section.

The first act of “X-Men: First Class” brilliantly parallels the origins of a hero (Professor X) and a villain (Magneto). It will be decades before these characters become what they are to millions of comic and movie fans but the seeds are planted in youth. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) develops tolerance by studying genetic mutations and becoming well-known in his field. He uses his own mutation, mental telepathy, as a parlor trick to meet girls but strives to keep the fact that he’s a mutant secret while also protecting his friend Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).

Meanwhile, Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) is tortured in a concentration camp after revealing his ability to warp metal (“First Class” opens with a variation on the same scene as Singer’s first film). Erik is tortured by the man who will eventually serve as the villain of the piece, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), who we meet again years later as he has developed powers of his own and is trying to start World War III by using the U.S. and Russia against each other in a manipulation of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Shaw and his team (including January Jones as Emma Frost and Jason Flemyng as Azazel) can only be stopped after Charles, Raven, Erik, and Dr. Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) find others like them, including a girl named Angel (Zoe Kravitz), and the young men who would later be known as Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Darwin (Edi Gathegi), and Havok (Lucas Till).

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “X-Men: First Class” review.

“X-Men: First Class” stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Jason Flemyng, Nicholas Hoult, Caleb Landry Jones, Edi Gathegi, Lucas Till, Zoe Kravitz, Rose Byrne, Oliver Platt, and Kevin Bacon. It was written by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz and Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn and directed by Vaughn. It is rated PG-13 and opens on June 3rd, 2011.

X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class
Photo credit: Fox

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