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Long before ol’ Wolverine
Met Professor X’s team,
Long before young Rogue and Jean
And Cyclops fought Magneto’s scheme,
There was Erik Lehnsherr.
He saw an evil man named Shaw
Shoot his mother as a test
Of his response to what he saw,
Violent, yes, but it impressed
And sparked a misadventure.
Psychic Charles Xavier
Grew up with Raven (soon Mystique).
Close as siblings, these two were,
Even though she was a freak,
Hiding with disguises.
Moira, with the CIA,
Is searching for a fishy clue.
She perceives, to her dismay,
Shaw and other mutants, who
Present some new surprises.
She and Charles then present
Mutants to the CIA,
Concerning them to some extent,
But one man gives them his okay.
Soon they’re at a base.
Apprehending Shaw and friends
Doesn’t go as they had planned,
Yet, as their encounter ends,
Erik tries to make his stand
To kill Shaw and give chase.
Vengeance has to wait a bit.
Charles and fierce Erik meet;
Friendship soon grows out of it
As they get back on their feet.
Soon they are recruiting.
Finding mutants left and right,
Both soon have a young, new team.
Shaw attacks one fateful night,
Claiming mutants are supreme.
There’s much death and shooting.
Charles’s home is where they flee
To train and exercise each gift.
Erik helps Mystique to see
Her “beauty,” which provokes a rift
Between both Charles and her.
Shaw and friends are planning, though,
To start the Cuban Missile Crisis,
Forcing an uneasy show
Of rival nuclear devices.
World war may occur.
Charles and his mutant team
Fly to Cuba in a jet.
All of them defeat Shaw’s scheme
By extinguishing a threat.
Shaw is soon exposed.
As the good guys fight the bad,
Flying, beaming to and fro,
Shaw taunts Erik, who is mad,
And takes vengeance on his foe.
Shaw is now deposed.
Erik quickly has Shaw’s minions
And attempts to prove his power.
Charles has diverse opinions
And stops Erik in his hour.
Erik brings him pain.
Charles’s legs are paralyzed,
But he founds his mutant school,
Which he knows must be disguised.
Erik, though, has plans to rule
And starts his own campaign.

X-Men: First Class offers a compelling look at Professor X and Magneto in their youth. The beginning and straining of their friendship are the backbone of the film, and James McAvoy as Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr do an excellent job as younger versions of the roles previously embodied by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan. Other roles are either well-cast (Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast, Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique) or pretty flat and just an excuse for cool special effects (Zoe Kravitz as Angel, January Jones as Emma Frost). Kevin Bacon is decent, though not particularly memorable, as the villain Sebastian Shaw, though his comeuppance is both gruesome and well-deserved.

One thing that somewhat bothers me is the way this film fits in with the original X-Men films and the comics. There are references to the previous movies, such as the father of Colonel William Stryker from X2 and the opening scene of young Erik in the concentration camp. Yet, now that we know that Beast and Mystique were attracted to each other and especially that Charles and Mystique grew up together, I must ask why there was no indication of this in the first three films. Plus, there’s that big eyebrow-raiser in the horrible third movie: the scene in which Patrick Stewart’s Charles is seen walking, even though his paralysis is shown to have happened here when he was young. Who knows? In addition, Alex Summer/Havoc is the younger brother of Scott Summers/Cyclops in the comics, yet the filmmakers threw him in First Class (as perhaps Scott’s father) just because they could.

As typical of X-Men films, there are lots of characters and subplots, but First Class feels somehow edgier than the previous ones. Yes, there is the angst of the more youthful characters, but there are also profanity, quite a bit of comic book violence, and many scantily clothed women, all of which were totally unnecessary. There’s even a great unexpected cameo midway through that is rather spoiled by the lone F-bomb in the film.

Overall, X-Men: First Class doesn’t hit all the right notes, but it hits the most important, namely the relationship between Professor X and Magneto. It’s an impressive beginning to the rebooted X-Men trilogy and makes me eager to see X-Men: Days of Future Past this summer.

Best line: (Hank, as Charles is testing the Cerebro headgear) “You’re sure I can’t shave your head?” (Charles) “Don’t touch my hair.”

Artistry: 5
Characters/Actors: 6
Entertainment: 8
Visual Effects: 9
Originality: 8
Watchability: 7
Other (language, sex, violence): -6
TOTAL: 37 out of 60

Next: #247 – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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