Tuesday, June 7, 2011

X-Men: First Class ***1/2

Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Zoƫ Kravitz, Nicholas Hoult, Lucas Till, Edi Gathegi, Caleb Landry Jones

Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language)

Directed by Matthew Vaughn

Written by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn

* * * 1/2

A new layer of the X-men saga is revealed in “X-men: First Class” and with a host of fresh faces and familiar characters.  The story is set mainly in the 1960s, right in the midst of the reign of JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The evil plot of Sebastian Shaw, played by Kevin Bacon, sets the foundation for the first wave of X-men characters to come together.

The cast is lead by many talented actors; it is no mere action flick.  James McAvoy (think “Atonement” with Keira Knightley), playing Professor X, always brings a quiet dignity to his roles and 2010 Academy Award-nominee Jennifer Lawrence is a fierce Mystique with her real-girl figure and cherubic face.  Michael Fassbender (recognize him from this year’s “Jane Eyre” or 2009’s “Inglourious Basterds”?) is wonderful as Erik.  With his sculpted, moving performance, he practically dominates every scene he’s in.

The film stands out as one of the best in the X-Men series.  The script is solid and there are cameos from Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romijn.  “X-Men: First Class” is a fun, entertaining and mildly provocative kickoff to the summer blockbuster season.