Written by John Delia
If you are looking for action and adventure then you will not want to miss X-Men: First Class, a top-notch production that thrills. The explosive storyline under the able direction of Matthew Vaughn contains all the explosiveness you would expect from a prequel to Marvel Comics’ famous X-Men.
It’s the beginning of the saga, and we find Magneto (Michael Fassbender) being haunted by the death of someone close him. Escaping the clutches of the evil Nazi war criminal Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), Magneto meets Charles Xavier (James McAvoy). The two make a pact of finding other mutants and helping them work for justice. When Shaw rears his ugly head with superpowers of his own, the world puts everything on hold in hopes for a miracle to protect them; enter the X-Men.
I love the screenwriting style of Ashley Miller (Thor) who brings so many dynamic characters to life with amazing superpowers, and in X-Men: First Class she presents some very realistic baddies along with her heroes. Directed by Matthew Vaughn who gave us the action-laden Layer Cake and Kick Ass, nothing’s held back on his radical style of introducing characters with pugilistic powers. Here he puts Lee’s characters to the test and comes up with a winner.
I would be remiss if I didn’t commend Kevin Bacon on his performance as the sadistic Sebastian Shaw. Putting all his energy into making the evil Nazi a heinous person makes the film work. And without his central antagonist being believable as the Joker (Heath Ledger) in The Dark Knight or the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) in Spider-man 2, X-Men: First Class would be just another movie.
Vaughn keeps the movie going at a fast clip, developing his mutants as he rushes along. With so much content one would have thought the film would exceed three hours, but the little over two hours works for him. When the film ended I wanted more of the powerful heroes and their extreme exploits. Perhaps we have not seen the end of this saga.
The film is rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image. Directly targeted at teens and twenties, X-Men: First Class hits the bull’s eye.
X-Men: First Class is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 35 mbps. The film has a rather bright look throughout. Primary colors stand out, making it very much the feel of a comic book movie. I found the film to be a bit over-bright at times, particularly the scenes with the bad guys. I’m not sure if this was an intentional choice or not. Black levels are very solid and provide inky blacks and several layers of sweet shadow definition.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is not always as aggressive as you might think. The front speakers fully dominate, but they do so with rich dynamic sound. There are some very nice sub moments that really give the action a little extra added punch. Dialog is always clear. The score blends wonderfully with the image to present an immersive experience that will keep your adrenalin pumping throughout.
X Marks The Spot: This is one of those Blu-ray exclusive viewing modes that allows you to integrate behind the scenes material during the film itself.
Cerebro Mutant Tracker: Fans of the comic will love this BDLive feature that allows you to check up on any of the many mutants in the X-Men universe. You must have your player hooked up to the internet to access this feature, but it’s well worth it.
Children Of The Atom: (1:09:49) This extended feature is a collection of 7 smaller features that you can access individually or use the handy play all function. It covers plenty of behind-the-scenes looks with full cast and crew participation.
Deleted Scenes: (14:07) 13 in all with a play-all option.
Matthew Vaughn might appear to be an odd choice to direct this feature. You might remember that he left production of the third film and many fans had thought he bailed on the project. Bringing back Bryan Singer was a stroke of genius but many have questioned Vaughn’s participation. Question no longer. He turns out to have been the perfect director for the project. One now must wonder what the third film might have been like had he stayed. But he didn’t, and the franchise hit a bit of a brick wall after that film. Now the series has branched off into these side projects like Wolverine and now First Class. There is an anticipated Magneto project still out there. It’s Marvel’s largest universe, and the potential is truly staggering. X-Men: First Class has a ton of…well…class.
Parts of this review were written by Gino Sassani