X-Men: First Class is another thumbs up chapter in the comic-book movie franchise. The first 30 minutes are rousing, and after two plus hours we get the chance to discover how two incredibly powerful minds end up on very different ends of the same spectrum.
What Worked: ‘Class’ is a pure origin story where we follow a young Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr into their evolution to Professor X and Magneto, respectively. The challenge was two-fold: first, take enough time to demonstrate how young men with super-human abilities develop not just their powers, but a code that will define how they view their place in the world–and do so such that we are invested in their evolution. Given the decades of stories we already know about them, this was no small task. And the movie delivers. Big time. Second, was finding two actors who could match the gravitas of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan. Once again, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, respectively, rise to the occassion. This movie would have failed had they not been as terrific as they were.
What Didn’t: ‘Class’ was a bit long, dragging in places. And the secondary and tertiary characters fell pretty flat. They didn’t necessarily have to shine, but I found them to be almost too silly for the larger story going on around them. I would have liked to have seen a bit more mojo there. In addition, Kevin Bacon’s villain starts out strong, but is surprisingly absent for most of the third act, which I found a bit disappointing, given his role in the larger story.
Final Thoughts: While not quite as entertaining start to finish as the first two X-Men movies, ‘Class’ more than holds its own, and delivered an origin story that could have easily been a waste of everyone’s time. A worthy effort.
My Score: 7 out of 10 Stars