Although the third X-Men movie was a success financially, it was panned by critics and even the most die-hard fan boys agreed that it was not as good as the two previous installments. So what does a studio do when faced with the fact that you still have a marketable and successful franchise but the last film featuring this franchise wasn’t so great? You reboot! Hence, X-Men: First Class.
X-Men: First Class is a worthy addition to this franchise and comic book films in general. The acting is solid (for the most part), the story is interesting and (most of) the actors were well-chosen for their roles. The origin of the X-Men is cleverly placed smack in the middle of the Bay of Pigs fiasco as Professor X and the other X-Men try to save the country from nuclear annihilation. The writers, including director Matthew Vaughn, also did a great job of mixing in references to other X-Men characters that weren’t featured in the movie giving the die-hards a little extra something.
Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X, is played by James MacAvoy this time around and he does so with a confident charm. Jennifer Lawrence plays a young Mystique and brought with her some of the chops she displayed in the excellent Winter’s Bone. Playing the villains are Kevin Bacon and January Jones as Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost, respectively. Bacon clearly had fun playing a sociopathic and homicidal bad guy with a desire to start World War III. Jones, on the other hand, makes for a convincing case that she is actually a robot. Her performance was so wooden and boring it was distracting and made you think that she has zero range as an actor.
Easily the best part of X-Men: First Class was Michael Fassbender playing Erik Lehnsherr, better known as Magento. Fassbender was intense, engaging and commanded your attention every scene he was in. His expressive features and natural charisma are in full effect as he wrestles with trying to do good while only wanting revenge and taking out his anger on humanity. Witness the scene where he walks into a bar in South America looking for men responsible for killing his parents; chilling and utterly watchable. If they ever end up making a Magneto film, Fassbender is the only choice to play him.