In 1962 as young men, Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr (later to become Professor X and Magneto) meet when they are both on the hunt for a former Nazi doctor who wants to start World War III. Together with the US government, they form a group of mutants to fight the doctor (going by the name of ‘Shaw’) and the mutants who are loyally following him. Charles and Erik become firm friends but the consequences of their differing views on how to deal with Shaw threatens to destroy everything they care about.

X-Men: First Class (2011) – Director: Matthew Vaughn

Is X-Men: First Class appropriate for kids

Rating: 12

Running Length: 132 mins

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon

Genre: Comic Book, Action

 

REVIEW

X-Men: First Class’ is the fifth movie in the ‘X-Men’ franchise, which at the time of writing currently stands at six movies, with the seventh, ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ being released in 2014. Acting as a prequel to the first three ‘X-Men’ movies, this film tells the story of how Professor X and Magneto became lifelong friends as well as bitter enemies. The chemistry between McAvoy and Fassbender is very natural and believable as are their motivations as two people who have come from completely different backgrounds. Fassbender in particular is excellent as he portrays a concentration camp survivor with a calm exterior which barely conceals his rage and one track mind of bloody vengeance against those responsible for his suffering.

Other than fine performances from Nicholas Hoult (Hank/Beast) and Jennifer Lawrence (Raven/Mystique), the supporting cast are rather forgettable and lack the depth of people who are struggling to deal with having mutant abilities in a world which is full of prejudice and paranoia. The villains are especially disappointing, Azazel and Riptide barely get any lines and Shaw (played by Kevin Bacon) is very inconsistent. He is introduced as an evil Nazi doctor who wishes to experiment on a young Erik to find out more about his abilities but it is later revealed that he has abilities of his own so it is unclear why he was so obsessed with Erik. Also, other than the concentration camp scene, there is very little to define him as a former Nazi.

The lack of character development doesn’t spoil it too much; it just feels like there is something missing. Overall, ‘X-Men: First Class’ is a very enjoyable action packed movie which explores the history of the X-Men well and is a good stand alone movie for anyone who hasn’t seen the other movies in the series.

IS ‘X-MEN: FIRST CLASS’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

The opening scene is set in a concentration camp, a boy is forcibly separated from his parents and struggles against the guards to get back to them but gets knocked unconscious when one of the guards hits him on the head with a rifle butt. The boy is then standing in a doctor’s office, being asked to move a coin with his abilities. Unable to do this, the doctor brings in another character who is very close to Erik, telling him that unless he moves the coin, this person will be killed. Erik tries but still can’t do what he is asked and the doctor shoots the other character dead. Devastated and angry, Erik manipulates all the metal in the room, crushing the helmets of the guards. The hold their heads and cry out in pain for several seconds before dropping to the floor. While this is happening, the doctor is very happy that Erik is using his abilities and laughs at the destruction around him.

One scene is set in a bank manager’s office. Erik, who is now older, shows the bank manager a gold bar. He explains that ‘This gold is what remains of my people. Melted from their possessions. Torn from their teeth. This is blood money’. Children who are unaware of what happened in concentration camps may find this dialogue distressing and they could also have questions about this part of history. Erik then attacks the bank manager, pulling a filling out of his tooth. Shortly after, Erik visits a bar in Argentina and the two men there turn out to be former Nazi officers. This scene becomes very intense as Erik reveals that he was a former prisoner. One of the men has a knife, Erik reads the inscription and says ‘Blood and honour. Which would you care to shed first?’ Erik then stabs this man in the hand and he yells in pain. Erik then kills all three men who are in the bar (including the bartender).

There are also several sexual references throughout the movie. When Charles is flirting with a co-ed in a bar, she asks him how his seduction technique is working for him. He replies, ‘I’ll tell you in the morning’. One scene is set in a casino and several women walk in wearing nothing but underwear. A government agent who is following someone in the casino removes her outer clothes in order to join the women. She enters a large room where it is made clear that the women are there to entertain men. There are several booths around the outside of the room, these are used to be more private as one or two men sit at each table and a woman in each booth closes the curtains around them.

Charles and Erik use a device invented by Hank called Cerebro to locate other mutants. This leads them to a strip club where they find Angel. She goes to give them a private dance, however they soon make it clear that they are not interested in seeing her dance. They ask her to show them her ability and she undoes her top. This is shot from behind her and it looks as if she has removed her top, however she is then seen from the front and she is still clothed.

A female character flirts with a Soviet General and unzips her dress. She is then seen on a bed with him in just her underwear as he moves his hands all over her body. The camera moves away and she is actually sitting by the side of the bed, using her abilities making him believe that she is there with him. A female character tries to seduce a male character by lying naked in his bed (although the covers hide any nudity).  He tells her to leave, saying ‘maybe in a few years’. She asks him to pass her a robe but he refuses, wanting her to embrace her true form. He then sits with her on the bed and kisses her but it is unclear whether they become intimate.

Most of the violence in this movie is very ‘comic book’ in nature, however there is one stronger moment of violence which could be quite distressing for children. A character has a coin pushed slowly into their head. It is shown in close up as it goes through their forehead and then out the back of their head, covered in blood. This character’s body is then shown floating in the air, with blood trickling out of the wound and is dropped to the floor.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

X-Men: First Class’ is a very good origins movie which fully explains the history of the characters who have previously been shrouded in mystery. The movie is well paced and there is plenty of action to keep the audience hooked. We feel that this movie should be appropriate for kids aged 8 and over but would recommend an adult to be present on the first viewing in case any reassurance is needed.

  • Violence:  3/5
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5
  • Fear Factor: 2/5 (some scenes involving Erik can be quite intense)
  • Sexual Content: 2/5       
  • Bad Language: 3/5 (mostly mild cursing and blasphemy. One strong word is used)
  • Dialogue: 3/5
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of murder, revenge, prejudice, Nazi Germany and Concentration Camps, friendship, overcoming adversity, accepting one’s true nature and appearance and understanding people’s differences.

Words by Laura Record

X-Men: The Ultimate Collection [Blu-ray] [2000]


New From: £13.73 GBP In Stock

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