Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some fam
Here are the positive aspects of X-Men: First Class: the special appearance of the vintage blue and yellow X-Men costumes; Pan Am postcard-replicating shots of Cuban beaches with destroyers in the distance; the pleasantly zaftig Mystique; the stupidly nonchalant cameos from character actors Oliver Platt and Michael Ironside; the swarthy, leisure-suit-wearing evil henchmen; Kevin Bacon as a deranged Nazi scientist (much more on that later); and footage of John F. Kennedy pronouncing Cuba as "cuber." The rest is a tale told by an absent Stan Lee, full of blue people and acne, signifying contractual obligations.
As has been the case with the various versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and zombie films, the X-Men comics and adaptations have used fantastical scenarios to point up societal issues. Depending on how you look at the fight for mutants to live peacefully among normal humans, one could interpret their fight as that of the civil rights movement, or of the plight of the poor blacklisted men and women of the McCarthy era, or of the current fight for LGBT people to finally attain some semblance of equality in the United States. Unfortunately, no matter how you slice it, the ciphers being used to expose humanity's follies are still guys in furry blue costumes or silly devil makeup.
As has become custom in this drought of franchise extensions, I can only inform you that - to paraphrase - for the followers, no explanation is needed; for the uninitiated, no explanation will suffice. The film opens in Poland, 1944, as it did with the first and probably best X-Men film. A young Magneto is being dragged away from his mother, as she is being rounded up in a camp. It is here when, in a moment of intense emotional anguish, he discovers his control over metal. Meanwhile, in New York, a young Professor X finds a young Mystique attempting to steal food from his fridge. A fast and lasting friendship is born!
We then find Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) in 1962, as the Professor attends Oxford in the study of genetics, and Magneto scours the Earth to find the evil Nazi scientist (Kevin Bacon!) who killed his mother. Professor X winds up tracking down Bacon at the same time as Magneto, as an aid to the CIA. It is here when we discover that Bacon is also a mutant, with the seemingly unbeatable ability to absorb energy in all its forms (punches, bullets, explosions) and redirect it at his enemies. To stop Bacon and his nefarious doings, Magneto and Professor X must band together to assemble a still larger team of rag-tag mutants. Multitudinous and tedious scenes of people sitting around explaining what powers they have follow.
OK, I will admit that, when Kevin Bacon showed up onscreen with his Nazi coins and German-talkin' self, I let out an embarrassingly excited sound. Most of the joy that is to be had in this movie comes from such brief sounds. There are a handful to be found, but the rest is endless fluff. Who knows? Maybe that's not the worst thing. - Two stars