The superhero prequel X-Men: First Class imagines a reality in which mutants, led by Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), played a critical role in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Fascinating stuff, and a pretty cool concept. It’s the execution here that’s the problem, and I hold Kevin Bacon to blame. Cast in the role of scientist and fellow mutant Sebastian Shaw, Bacon is worse than a villain; he’s someone you don’t even like watching. Oscar nominee (for Winter’s Bone) Jennifer Lawrence has the opposite problem; she doesn’t make much of an impact as Mystique, the shape-shifter who will grow up to look like Rebecca Romijn. The action and special effects here are cool, and I did like the revisionist history angle. But the metaphors were less a turnoff when they were more subtle, like in the second X-Men movie (seems no one learned from the last X-Men film). So I’m giving X-Men: First Class a B.
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