This film spans a period from 1944 through 1962 and introduces us not only to the first class of mutants trained by Charles Xavier, but also shows us how he and Erik Lensherr, enemies in the original X-Men film back in 2000, met and became friends. We get to see how they connected and how they worked together, at least initially. We see how it was mutants who ultimately helped to prevent the Cuban Missile Crisis from turning into global thermonuclear war.
We also see how it was mutants who also almost caused that to occur.
And in the process we meet several mutants anybody who has read the comics would know, and some that either were created for this film or else came about after I had stopped reading Marvel Comics back in the day.
Of the mutants we meet, the one I was happy to see but who also didn't make sense to me was Alex Summers, whose codename is Havok. In the comics, Alex is the younger brother of Scott Summers, who is known as Cyclops and whom we see in the original three films. If Alex is around in 1962 AND he's an adult, how can he be the younger brother of a guy who's at MOST about 25 in the original film? I don't remember where, but I seem to recall that for the films the character was ultimately planned to be Scott's father rather than his brother.
The one that I was least impressed with, and who felt weak was....well, I can split it between three: Angel, Riptide and Darwin.
|Wasp, from the Marvel comics|
Riptide was...well, lame. He can create spinning air...yay.
And Darwin had potential, but (SPOILER ALERT) he gets killed off way too soon.
With all of the mutants that Xavier finds, I'm not sure why he chose the ones he did specifically to make a team to face off against Sebastian Shaw and his Hellfire Club.
|Sebastian Shaw, Kevin Bacon|
Now, let's talk about that character: Kevin Bacon is a fantastic actor, and I was glad to see him in this film. And I liked the level of malice and Machiavellian manipulation he brings to the character. But I wasn't that thrilled with how they altered his abilities.
In the comics, Shaw's mutant ability is that he can absorb energy in any form and use it to increase his strength, endurance and healing abilities. Basically, anything that hits him super charges his batteries.
But in the movie Shaw's ability is to absorb power and then project it in a more controlled manner but still the same as Havok. While it was interesting, I just didn't buy it. Shaw's ability is that he can absorb power and then turn it into a pure physical and direct attack. I guess for a film that's more interesting than just having him punch a hole through metal or similar attack, so I can overlook it in that regard.
|Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique|
And the attraction between her and Hank made very little sense. Unless she's attracted to men with intellect (in which case, I'd like to give her my number) it made very little sense for her to go after him just because he has freaky feet.
And when he turns into the hairy beast later, well, I would have liked that to have been done by Raven slipping a little something into his injection to, maybe, teach him a lesson about what is and isn't beautiful. Because, quite frankly, I think that when Hank told her that her blue appearances wasn't "beautiful" that I would have been on HER side in teaching him a lesson.
Because, quite frankly, she was GORGEOUS in blue.
On the acting side of things, everybody turned in good performances. Fassbender sometimes went a LITTLE over the top while exercising his powers. And why did Xavier have to keep touching his temple? In the comics he never does that. My buddy, Lon, posted this to me on Facebook about that:
Hint : The dude constantly putting his fingers to his temple is the telepath. He may have done his method research on Cyclops by mistake and thinks Prof X has a button on the side of his head.That completely cracked me up. But I'll give him a pass, since Tony Shalhoub, James Roday and Simon Baker also do the same move when they're exercising THEIR mental powers (and Simon Baker IS "The Mentalist").
Also, I'd be remiss if I left out mentioning the well-placed and amusing nod to "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" in the film. That scene made me laugh out loud. Which was another aspect of the film I enjoyed: the sense of humor. References to Xavier's future baldness, for example, permeated the film without beating us over the head. Little quips between characters that were there for people familiar with the comics was nice.
All in all this was a very well-done film. Sure there were some weak parts in the second half, and some of the timelines don't quite match up. But still, on our buy it, borrow it or don't bother scale, I'm going to rate "X-Men: First Class" a buy for super hero movie fans and fans of Marvel Comics, and a borrow for action film fans and for people who enjoy a super hero film in general.