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Class is in session! The TSL review of X-Men: First Class

Perhaps you were thinking that this was just going to be another superhero reboot, you know, like Superman or Batman. Much of the focus this summer has actually NOT been on X-Men: First Class; it's been on Thor, Captain America, and Green Lantern. But what may surprise you is that this movie is pretty good.

No, wait. It's good. Okay, it's great!

X-Men: First Class releases today, June 3rd, in the US theaters and stars James McAvoy as the psychic mentor, Professor Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Eric Lensherr, also known as Magneto, the master of magnetism. Joined with them, an assortment of other stars, some you know and others new, create the makeup of a new species of people, homo superier, forming the basis of the first coalition of The X-Men.

First: What's Wrong?
If you're a big comic book reader or a fan of the X-Men, the first thing that will hit you are the continuity issues and the inaccuracies. The actual first class of the X-Men consisted of The Beast, Iceman, Angel, Cyclops, and Marvel Girl. Of all these mutants, only Hank McCoy, the blue-furred Beast remains. Instead, you'll be meeting Banshee, a boy who screams with power, Darwin, a mutant whose body instantly adapts to its environment, and a host of other uniques. Notably, you'll meet Havok, the brother of Cyclops, and Mystique, at a younger age.

All in all, the story is not going to fit into the original X-Men comic book series. After all, in X-Men #1 (1963), Magneto was the villain. Here, he starts off collaborating with Professer X.

Character Development (3 out of 5)
The development of the characters may have been a bit weak. Personally, the main focus is on Professor X and and Eric Lensherr. They develop a bit of a back and forth and steal the show. (But it's not going to win any awards or anything.) You'll get to know the other mutants and see what they do, including a bit into their backgrounds, but nothing too in depth.

Plot (5 out of 5)
Personally, I saw the plot as something much better than the other three X-Men movies. And I have to say, part of this is because they centered it in the 1960s, around the Cuban Missile Crisis theme. Working on the threat of possible war, the X-Men are assembled to help avoid a crisis. It's perfect because it allows full warfare style use of abilities (like the blowing up of missiles), while also having one on one fights and uses of abilities. Basically this follows my belief that superhero movies in older settings have it easier; they don't have to worry about certain technologies or complicated, modern-day threats.

Action (3 out of 5)
Although there are a good amount of power uses, this is not a two-hour, moment-to-moment, grind of battle. There's a lot of action in that the characters are natural with their powers; it's a part of them. But if you wanted Punisher: War Journal, you're barking up the wrong tree. Still, I don't think you'll feel let down; the action that's provided is quite good.

CGI (4 out of 5)
Anyone remember Ang Lee's Hulk movie? Well, don't worry; that's not going to happen here. While a carefully trained eye can say "that's a bit of computer animation", it's almost seemless and on the edge of what's capable today. In truth, the director Matthew Vaugh made some great decisions in how he applied the script, carefully laying out scenes where the special effects would blend in perfectly.

Overall: 4 out of 5

X-Men: First Class is a great movie. Personally, I liked it better than the other three in the X-Men franchise. Starting it off in 1962 really added a great plot element: that mutants have been among us for awhile, working inside and outside of the government. Combined with the excellent special effects and CGI, you'll see a flick packed full of interesting and conflicting moments. And although the character development is average, this is clearly a surprise -- a welcome one -- for the avid comic book enthusiast. Well done!

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