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X-Men: First Class (***)
directed by Matthew Vaughn
written by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz and Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
with story credits to Sheldon Turner and Bryan Singer,
based on the comic book created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Principal Cast
James McAvoy -- Charles Xavier
Laurence Belcher -- Charles Xavier (12 Years)
Michael Fassbender -- Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
Bill Milner -- Young Erik
Kevin Bacon -- Sebastian Shaw
Rose Byrne -- Moira MacTaggert
Jennifer Lawrence -- Raven / Mystique
Beth Goddard -- Mrs. Xavier
Morgan Lily -- Young Raven (10 yrs)
Oliver Platt -- Man In Black Suit
Álex González -- Janos Quested / Riptide
Jason Flemyng -- Azazel
Zoë Kravitz -- Angel Salvadore
January Jones -- Emma Frost
Nicholas Hoult -- Hank McCoy / Beast
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

X-Men: First Class X-Men: First Class is my favorite film of 2011 so far.

In two comic books, both with a cover date of Sept 1963, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created two new superhero teams, The Avengers and The X-Men. The Avengers was Marvel's answer to DC's Justice League of America, a team-up of their most famous solo characters. The X-Men was something else entirely, all new heroes attending a school for mutants. Jack Kirby based the story loosely on Wilmar Shiras's book Children of the Atom, one of my favorite science fiction books. (In the book, the mutants have enhanced intelligence, not super powers.) And The X-Men was, at the time, one of my favorite comic books.

The film gives its own original version of the origin of the super-team, and the light-hearted interplay between the super-teens and their only slightly older mentors is the heart and soul of the movie. It's a strong story, grounded solidly in the 60s, but the humor and the characters, especially Professor X, are what make it a delight.

In the comics, the original X-Men were Ice-man, The Beast, Angel, Marvel Girl, and Cyclops. X-Men: First Class picks from that list only The Beast to be part of the original team. Other original X-Men in the movie universe include Havok, from the Neal Adams era, who is Cyclops' nephew and has similar powers, Banshee, created by Roy Thomas, and Mystique. created by Chris Claremont. The main villain is also borrowed from the Chris Claremont era: Sebastian Shaw of The Hellfire Club. And, as in the very first X-Men comic book, Magneto is a major player.

The writers do a good job of ignoring the comic book mythos and fitting the prequel into the film mythos. There are probably contradictions between X-Men: First Class, Wolverine: Origins, and the first X-Men trilogy, but I didn't spot them.

Hugh Jackman's cameo is my favorite scene.

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Copyright © 2011 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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