[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B006E09G1E][/pullquote] When George Lucas and Steven Spielberg released Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 1984, they successfully popularized the term ˜prequel’ being a film that predates it’s original in chronological order. Since then prequels have become an accepted selling point of a film and a way for film-makers to show you how popular characters became who they are. X-Men: First Class stands as the obvious prequel to Bryan Singer’s 2000 blockbuster X-Men.
In order for the action to fit correctly in chronological order, X-Men: First Class is set in 1962 against the back-drop of the Cuban missile crisis. Setting the film in that time gives the film a distinctive retro look which works beautifully. The plot centres around the charming Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) who is from a wealthy, but loveless background, and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) born from the torture of family loss and medical experiments in Nazi-run concentration camps. Together they form a CIA specialist team with other mutants in order to stop the films villain Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) who chews scenery with real joy as the leader of the nefarious Hellfire Club.
The three men form the basis of X-Men: First Class’ action and it is when they are on screen that we are engrossed. Special praise must be given to Fassbender, whose star turn as the future Magneto is a thing of raw passion and torment. It is a shame then that so much time is given to the lesser characters. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is a chore to watch and some of the lines she is given to perform sound flat and immediately snap you out of the story. Whilst the inclusion of a few mutants might as well be cut as they add little to the action, and their inclusion means that the film runs a little too long. Havok (Lucas Till) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) are intriguing characters, and the actors make good use of the limited screen time they are given and there’s even a cameo early on, that shouldn’t be spoiled, but gets the biggest laugh of the entire film.
Fans of the comic book series will know exactly who the other characters are, but it seems the director and writers are happy to drip-feed certain potential stories over the likely sequels.