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June 5, 2011

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class (2011)

Hey, look. We're sorry about that whole The Last Stand thing. Oh, and Wolverine? Yeah, we really don't know what happened there. Just, please, let us make it up to you. We'd like to extend a goodwill gesture. It has an origin story, and uh, oh, just to make sure it's good, we let the guy who made Kick-Ass direct it. I know, right? So, we really hope you'll accept our apology, and just for kicks, we'll throw in Kevin Bacon. We cool?

Buy X-Men: First Class [Blu-ray] or DVD

That's basically what it felt like the people at Marvel were saying when they served up X-Men: First Class. As for me, apology accepted. Origin stories can be great, or they can be ham-fisted attempts at explaining every detail of a character's being. This was very smooth and organic. Several origin questions are answered, and it all stays true to the preceding trilogy. This is not a reboot or remake. This is a prequel in the same line of films. This movie actually fits into the X-Men series quite well.

Here's what I loved in a few short paragraphs. The cast was perfect, but most of all, Michael Fassbender. You could not get a better Magneto. In fact, as much as I love Sir Ian McKellen, if they could have cast the other movies younger, Fassbender would have been my choice. He was possibly my favorite part of Inglorious Basterds, and now I really hope they come through with the Magneto movie that was once considered. I'd just hate to see it go the way of the Wolverine mess that had so much promise. You really get to understand Magneto's motivations here, and in my mind, he ceased to be the bad guy. I think a solo film could really dig into his psyche.

I also can't say enough about Kevin Bacon. That guy has to be the most believable actor on film. He's funny in comedies, once played a pedophile that you could feel for and is always a great villain. No exception here. When he first appeared on screen speaking German, I chuckled a little, but then I really listened to how good he sounded and how dark he got. It was just brilliant.

If you like the rest of the X-Men series, you will definitely love this one. It might actually be the best of the four. It has a great story, great action and characters you care about. It does a great job inserting the mutants into history, and it uses the Cuban missile crisis as a backdrop. It also has a few great surprises and an ending that leaves you wanting more. These ensembles don't often work this well, and First Class really sets the bar high for the upcoming The Avengers.

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