The first X-Men film was followed by two sequels and a spin origin story based on Wolverine (who in the previous instalments is played by Hugh Jackman). Now five years after The Last Stand and two years after X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a prequel to the entire series looking at the events of how Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Professor X (James McAvoy) became enemies. The film starts off in a German concentration camp in Poland and we witness the death of Eric's (who would soon become Magneto) mother at the hands of Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) from then on Eric swears to avenge his mother's death. The action zooms to the 1960s, right in the heart of the Cold War, a secret organization called The Hellfire Club is playing Russia and America against each in order to start World War Three which will in turn destroy the human race and allow mutants to rule the planet. Dr Charles Xavier/Professor X recruits a small band of fellow mutants to stop the world's destruction.
If one was to wear their cynical hat then X-Men: First Class is nothing more than a money grabber but while this has some element of the truth X-Men: First class is still an efficiently made, mostly entertaining, superhero flick. For 130 odd minutes it is a pretty serviceable summer blockbuster that achieves its aim and that aim is to entertain. The set pieces build up to becoming more and more GCI infested (not a good thing) and more and more preposterous (the missile sequence for example is a step too far into utter stupidity). Luckily however these crazy physic defying action sequences do not employ the shaky camera method thus allowing the audience the privilege of actually knowing what is happening. The film is produced by Bryan Singer (the director of The Usual Suspects) and directed Matthew Vaughn who also directed Kick-Ass and Stardust which are both superior movies to X-Men: First Class. That's not saying X-Men First Class is a bad film, it isn't, but at a running time of 130 minutes the film feels overlong and while X-Men: First Class is a competently made movie that is all it is; Competent but nothing special or memorable. There are further problems such as the high number of characters. As there are too many characters the film does not know what to do with them and some are left to be cardboard cutouts. Thus while the action sequences remain impressive as a spectacle they lack tension due to the lack of any real interesting attributes among the lesser characters. Also the death of a lesser character has no impact upon the audience.
The two man central performers involved counter some of these flaws, James McAvoy makes a charming and likeable central figure and his relationship with the equally impressive Michael Fassbender is great one and is the central point of the film. While the rest the cast are satisfactory in their roles they are not distinctly memorable. While, on the other hand, Kevin Bacon's German accent is ludicrously poor and he also makes a very tame villain and January Jones' is doing nothing but looking rather attractive (which she did rather well, so well done Mrs Jones). While X-Men is indeed watchable entertainment the film lacks the campiness and the humour of Thor, also X-Men may not be as enjoyable as Thor but is a great deal more entertaining than the mind-numbingly boring The Green Lantern and it's on a par with Captain America: The First Avenger. However that's not to say there are no laughs in X-Men: First Class but there are relatively few laughs for the genre, this may be perhaps Vaughn attempting to balance this humour with a more meaningful social commentary on aspects of racism and prejudice. The film, on occasions, does this rather well Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) feels that she cannot be her usual self otherwise she would not fit into society and becomes frustrated at Charles Xavier's lack of understanding as his mutation will allow him to fit into society as it is one that can be kept hidden. There is also this idea of enslavement that these mutants might be subjected too; this divides the 'mutant' population over a course of action but yet Vaughn only scratched the surface with this issue.
Occasionally the script is quite wooden but X-Men First class remains watchable entertainment, the creation of prequel may create plot holes for the rest of the series but it is a return to form after the less than welcoming praise for the third instalment of the franchise and the negative reaction to X-Men Origins. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are great in the lead roles and Vaughn does his job and creates a film that successfully entertains its audience. However the movie's highlight lasts but five seconds with an amusing cameo that even the non X-Men fans (like myself) would find to their liking. A sequel to First Class is likely and Vaughn looks set to return. The sequels, without a shadow of doubt, will be financially successful. However this just seems like they are milking the franchise for all its worth. Hopefully, they are just as entertaining as First Class but there is definite room for improvement. Also, I feel it's important to add that if you were to write a history dissertation according to the X-Men franchise, you would fail.3/5.