X-Men: First Class

 

20the Century Fox

 

Rating: PG-13

 

Reason for the Rating: Intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language.

 

Plot Summary: In an origin story, famous mutants unite to prevent world war during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

 

PopFam Recommends: Action-packed fun for parents and kids ages 12 and up.

 

OK, yes, January Jones (playing the formidable Emma Frost) does gratuitously prance around in her underwear for much of this movie, and yes, Rose Byrne also shows off her abs in a 1960s version of a Victoria's Secret commercial. Also, yes, this film makes no apologies for bloodless violence and (perhaps even worse) tinkering with the X-Men mythology so that the plot is occasionally out of continuity with previous films.

 

Still...

 

I have to admit that I enjoyed X-Men First Class very much. In fact, of the five X-Men films to date, I'd rate this one in the top two (or maybe the top three, depending on my mood that day). Of all the superhero movies to debut in summer 2011, this one, for me at least, stood above the rest. Why? Because there was an actual story going on. There were lives at stake and people I cared about and surprising twists and through it all, a clear view of what the future would hold for these characters we've come to love.

 

It is the 1960s, during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Professor Charles Xavier (Jame McAvoy) is a freewheeling swinger, not yet paralyzed from the waist down. Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) - the man who will become the fearsome villain, Magneto - is a ruthless Nazi hunter, out to wreak vengeance on the remnants of the regime that destroyed his family. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and others are youngsters just coming into their superpowers - and trying to find their place in this world.

 

Connected by Moira MacTaggart (Rose Byrne) and a common enemy in power-hungry mutant Sebastian Shaw (played with sneering glee by Kevin Bacon), Xavier, Magneto, and the others join forces to defeat Shaw and defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis at the same time. Along the way there are minor skirmishes, betrayals, and life-changing decisions that set the course of X-Men future-history for decades to come. Much, much fun!

 

What I liked about this film most was that, even though I knew where it would end, I was left guessing about how it would get there. Surprise me in a movie, and I love it - and that's what X-Men: First Class did. Additionally, the two lead actors, McAvoy and Fassbender played their parts with superb strength and realism. It was easy to believe these men had both super powers and flaws and a deep need for..., well, something in their lives. And, underwear fashion aside, January Jones actually did a very good job in the role of pragmatic, vindictive Ice Queen, Emma Frost.

 

There's plenty of action in this movie, and generally brutal (though bloodless) violence, including teens who explode and a slo-mo vision of metal passing through a man's brain. That, plus the nod to Victoria's Secret, would seem to make this film questionable for younger children and for immature or easily influenced teenagers. But if your teen is mature enough to separate reality from fiction, and to watch a movie without needing to imitate it, then X-Men: First Class will be a hit with any action and/or superhero fans in your family.

 

The Blu-ray edition of this film holds many great extras, including an extensive, 8-part beind-the-scenes featurette series, digital copy disc, deleted scenes, and a fun "mutant database" that allows you to look up your favorite heroes and learn more about them.

 

Let’s Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• Why do we need superheroes and superhero movies?

 

• Which mutant in this film is most like you? Defend your answer.

 

• What do you think makes a person a hero in real life?

 

• What part does God play in the making of heroes? Describe it.

 

--MN

 

Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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