X-Men - First Class (2011)

Film: X-Men - First Class (2011)

This is the fourth film in the X-Men series I have reviewed, and I wasn't expecting much since such series generally run out of steam and I had read some critical comments about this one. So it came as a pleasant surprise to discover that it is at least as good as the other films in the series - which is to say, very good indeed by comparison with most superhero movies.

For those unfamiliar with the way this film fits in, it is a prequel to the others and describes the beginning of the mutants' story when they were still young (and are therefore played by different actors). The story begins in 1944 with a young Jewish boy in Germany who subsequently becomes Magneto, while at the same time in the USA Charles Xavier is meeting the girl who becomes Mystique. The remainder of the story is set in the early 1960s when the existence of the X-Men first becomes public, concluding with the Cuban missile crisis which nearly led to World War III (with archive clips from TV of that period included).

The film takes its time in developing the main characters and showing their back-stories, plus their uneasy relationship with the CIA before their existence becomes public. This adds far more depth to the story than you find in most such films and makes the dilemmas which the mutants face towards the end of the film much more credible. I found it engaging throughout, with the "human" story of the mutants never being drowned out by the inevitable spectacular CGI depictions of super-powers and battle sequences.

Incidentally, further to my discussion in my earlier blog post on Inglourious Basterds about the definition of alternative history, this film is right on the borderline: while the X-Men get involved in the missile crisis the broad outcome is not changed, which is the main criterion for identifying alternative histories.

(This entry is cross-posted from my science-fiction & fantasy blog.)
I didn't watch any preview trailers, nor did I want to be aware of any spoilers. I was fortunate to see it in the theater, and I thought it was very entertaining.

Of course I am a tremendous fan of comic book superheros, and I've known about the X-Men since the 1970's.


I hope to see the Sentinel robots in the next X-MEN movie.