When I first heard they were making X-Men: First Class, I had absolutely no interest in seeing it. The X-Men franchise, which started out great, had fooled me twice with X-Men: The Last Stand (which should have been my last stand) and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Then the trailers started coming out and I became intrigued. The more news I read and video I saw, the more I wanted to see it. So cheers to the advertising and PR campaign for the film. When the final credits rolled, I wasn’t completely disappointed but if I had gone with my initial feelings and caught it on Netflix, I wouldn’t have felt that bad.
The strength of the movie lies with the performances of James McAvoy (Charles Xavier) and Michael Fassbender (Erik Lensherr a.k.a. Magneto). The plot was kinda silly and the rest of actors (with the exception of Kevin Bacon who seemed to be having a great time playing the villain Sebastian Shaw) ranked from “okay” to “just reading their lines” (I’m looking at you, January Jones). Watching McAvoy and especially Fassbender almost made the whole thing worth it. The opening 15-20 minutes or so of Magneto hunting down Nazis like a one-man mutant version of Spielberg’s Munich made me wish they had just done X-Men Origins: Magento like they planned to before X-Men Origins: Wolverine tanked/sucked. By the end of the movie, you’re actually on Magneto’s side, partially because of Fassbender and partially because Xavier kinda comes across as a clueless dreamer and a dick (to Mystique at least).
One spoilery quibble. I had accepted coming in that they were throwing all comic book continuity out the window in this movie and I was mostly okay with that. However, when Sebastian Shaw killed Darwin, I was pissed. Not just because the black guy died first but because the very nature of Darwin’s power is he can’t be killed (or at least no one has figured out how to kill him yet). In the comics, Darwin has escaped death countless times. He’s even faced the Hulk and his body developed teleportation powers to get him the hell out of there. It shouldn’t have been that simple for him to die.
Also, how was this movie PG-13? Even though it was mostly bloodless, it was incredibly violent, particularly Azazel’s (Jason Flemyng) teleporting assault on the CIA compound.