X-Men: First Class
Ignoring the 4th installment of the X Men series, Wolverine, director Michael Vaughn, takes us to where it all began, in the 5th episode which is a prequel to the mutant saga.
Set in the 1940s, the era where the Third Reich ruled Poland. Dr. Schmidt (Kevin Bacon, Hollow Man, Mystique River) shoots the mother of young Erik Lensherr, in order to allowing Eriks rage to take over and display his mutancy.
In the same time, in a well settled, Westchester County, New York mansion, young Charles meets homeless Raven, a shape shifter, impersonating his mother. Thrilled to see someone different like him, Charles, a telepath, invites Raven to live with his family.
Later, in the 60s, adult Erik (Michael Fassbender, Inglorious Basterds, 300) is now on a Nazi hunt, in an attempt to find Schmidt and avenge his mother. Charles (James McAvoy, The Last King of Scotland, Wanted) now studying mutation for his thesis, along with his waitress sister Raven (Jennifer Lawrence, Winters Bone), is approached by CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Bryne, Troy, Insidious) to help nail down Sebastian Shaw (Bacon) who along with his mutant army of Azazel (Jason Flemying), Emma Frost (January Jones) & Riptide (Alex Gonzalez) is planning to start WW3 by instigating a war between USA & Russia over Cuba.
Erik, Raven & Charles join hands to start Division X for the CIA under their operative (Oliver Platt, Kinsey, Frost/Nixon). A team of young mutants is recruited by the trio to fight Sebastian / Schmidt, an energy absorbing mutant himself.
X-Men: First Class, is in a different league as compared to its predecessors. Whilst the first 2 films by Bryan Singer were dark and realistic in their tone, Bret Ratners X-Men The Last Stand was more gimmicky. Gavin Hoods Wolverine was more of an attempt to encash on the spinoff. But the manner in which Michael Vaughn (Stardust, Kick Ass) approaches the subject is fantastic. Reminds one of the way Christopher Nolan handled the Batman franchisee and turned it on its head with his versions of Batman Begins & The Dark Knight.
The buildup of Charles to Professor X & Erik to Magneto is fantastic. The bond that is shared between the duo, makes their separation so much more painful. But in terms of characterization, Erik played by Fassbender, takes the cake and the film. Whilst McAvoy enthuses charm and vulnerability to his Xavier, but as Raven puts it, there is no pain in his life due to his mutancy, unlike a Hank or Raven, who have to hide their true selves. Whereas from the word go, one can feel and hence emotionally connect with Erik and his justification for becoming Magneto. The relationship shared between Erik & Xavier crosses all barriers, emotional and financial, to bond as brothers. The manner in which they go about recruiting their team, their sharing of Eriks pain is beautifully shown. Loved the scene, when Hugh Jackman, reprising his role as Wolverine tells Xavier to fuck yourself. More than special effects, the emphasis is more on the characters.
Amongst the rest of the cast, Kevin Bacon is chilling as Schmidt / Shaw. January Jones looks sexy but has no scope to act. Rose Bryne & Jennifer Lawrence are commendable.
According to me, it is one of the best movies of 2011 and the best X Men by far.
Does it have The Y Factor:Yes