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X Men: First Class - Movie Review and Analysis

via twitchfilm
"The storyline almost makes you believe that mutants are very much real and can actually exist." 

It seems as of late movie theaters are hitting us with its best shot by releasing highly anticipated movies week by week. First with the fourth installment of Pirates of The Caribbean and then The Hangover 2 (notice the sequels, is there any original ideas out there Hollywood?). Although both got poor reviews both were commercial hits at the box office. This week's offering takes it one notch up: its anticipated and its really good.

X- Men: First Class, a  prequel to a series with abundant stories to tell, brings it all the way back to how it all began. It centers around the coming out of mutants and a time before the idea of an academy of mutants was conceptualized. Set in 1962, the story is introduced through Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr (who becomes Magneto), who becomes great friends through a common goal: Sebastian Shaw, a mutant with the power to absorb energy and transfer (plus he's bent on world domination but that is just an after thought, just kidding). All grown up, Erik seeks revenge for his mother who was killed by Sebastian Shaw during the Holocaust. Charles on the other hand makes a name for himself as a brilliant mind coming out of school and becomes recruited to assist the CIA to stop Sebastian Shaw from starting a nuclear war. Together they start recruiting and training other mutants to help fight against Sebastian Shaw and his evil colleagues.

via wired
 On this particular film, what makes this movie compelling is the integral part of real historic events play on the story. Erik was in the concentration camp during the Holocaust where his mom was killed. The Cuban Missile Crisis is the event that Xavier and his team were called to stop. John F. Kennedy even makes an appearance. All of this woven into the storyline almost makes you believe that mutants are very much real and can actually exist. Oh and scientific explanation is included in the movie if you weren't convinced enough.

"The struggles in each character evaporates the line between hero versus villain and instead shows a conflict of interest that is neither good or bad."

What makes X-Men brilliant, not only in this movie but as a whole series, is the foundation it is built on: heart. Sure it has the kick and punch of every other superhero and big budget special effects but what drives this superhuman beings to kick ass is a purpose that is human. The movie is very character driven. Xavier wants to prove that mutants can work side by side with good and defend against evil. Erik is looking for vindication for his mother. Even Sebastian Shaw for his very human need for power and nature of greed. As separate individuals, the characters face their own challenges as to what it means to be a mutant. Each of their morals and beliefs are challenged as to whether they will ever be treated as equals. Am I going to fight against or with humans? Do we need to form our own society, a community of mutants? Do I want to be human? In this sense, X-Men is a symbol of the human struggle of being different and the need to belong. Does being different mean empowerment or weakness? A disadvantage or advantage? The struggles in each character evaporates the line between hero versus villain and instead shows a conflict of interest that is neither good or bad.

via collide

Particularly on this movie, the title X-Men: First Class is a double entendre. First Class being the first time mutant powers are treated as a skill that can be trained and improved which lays the ground works of what the academy of mutants will be about. The second meaning, the more subtle one, takes on the hierarchy mutants face and if not treated as equals, who reigns supreme?

Speaking of firsts, director Matthew Vaughn (also director of Kick-ass) decided to pay its respect to its predecessors by including playful references from previous films. Rebecca Romihn who plays Mystique in the previous installments appears when Erik jokes he'd consider a relationship with Mysique when she's 20 years older to which the current Mystique (played by Jennifer Lawrence) transforms into. What arguably serves as the biggest comic relief is Hugh Jackman's appearance as Wolverine  when Erik and Xavier goes out to recruit mutants. These cameos add something to the film and serves as treats for the fans. It reminds you as a viewer how rich in stories this series is with the amount of the spin-offs and sequels that have come before it.

via oocities

With the combination of different factors X-Men: First Class doesn't just rely on the action scenes and top notch special effects typical action movies have to offer. It doesn't lose its heart amidst the explosions and provides viewers a complex storyline to follow. It overcomes the challenge of ensemble casts and lets each one shine by letting their stories interweave with one another. Even more it pays respect to its predecessors by spreading references from sequels that came before it  throughout the story. It grounds itself by referencing historic events and has an underlying theme that deals with basic human issues. You almost believe they could exist and really, how many fictional movies can convince you that?

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