Movie Review: X-Men: First Class (English) 130

The success of the prequel, X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009 seems to have prompted the movie makers to shift focus to prequels. In First Class, the story goes back even further and traces the lives of Professor-X/ Charles Xavier and Magneto/ Erik Lehnsherr, their friendship and their eventual fallout.

Although the X-Men trilogy had done good business in the last decade, prolonging the same would have meant more battles between Xavier’s X-men and Magneto’s Brotherhood of mutants on their differences on how to deal with humans. But, in a prequel, the story can be altered; which is conveniently explained as a ‘reboot’.

The film introduces us to young Erik Lenhsherr who loses his parents during the holocaust. The rage triggers his mutant powers of magnetism which the Nazis seek to tame. Cut to his adulthood, a grown up Erik (Michael Fassbender) seeks revenge. Simultaneously, we are shown Charles Xavier’s (James McAvoy) opulent childhood, his gift for mind-control and growing up with Raven/ Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).

Set in the 60’s during the Cuban missile crisis, it involves a fictional plot with Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) who is keen to trigger World War III and usher in a mutant rule. We are shown that Shaw was formely the German official who spotted Erik’s powers and is a mutant supervillian. The CIA seeks Xavier’s help to tackle Shwaw. Erik and Xavier’s paths converge as they join hands to thwart Shaw.

In a way, the story belongs to Magneto. He’s not shown to be a villain but someone who carries scars of the holocaust which, in a way, hasdesensitized him from connecting with humans. Fassbender’s lone-wolf portryal, michavellian approach, styling and a Cold War backdrop bear an uncanny resemblance to James Bond flicks. Needless to say, he’s done exceedingly well to carry off his role.

James McAvoy is credible as the mentor to his creed and also helping Erik harness his powers sans rage. Curiously, barring Xavier’s British accent, none of the others, especially Erik & Shaw seem to speak with an accent reflecting their ancestry. Other characters like Raven, Emma Frost or Hank had the potential but weren’t emphasized.

As much as the story took its liberties, the end couldn’t have been anything else. Magneto had to turn against humans and Xavier had to end up in a wheelchair. The problem is that the ending looks rushed and hardly spends much time on the ‘why’ of things, and that too parting ways when their mentor, Xavier was badly hit.

First Class also differs from its predecessors since it doesn’t rely excessively on special effects or high octane thrills associated with this genre. Still, it has people flying, disappearing, a bit of fire, ships and people levitated, etc., all without a minute being wasted. It offers enough to satiate action-hungry fans. In all, it’s a worthwhile watch.

Rating 7/10: Quality acting and a fresh story!