Sixties take on Superheros

X-Men: First Class

Mutants Rule in the Sexy Sixties

James Mc Avoy (Wanted) and Michael Fassbender (Centurion) star as the young Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr known as Magneto respectively in the prequel X-Men: First Class , director Matthew Vaughn’s stylish version of the origins of the mutants set in the early sixties and placed within the dramatic historical context of the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis, a homage to the earlier Bond films like Goldfinger and Dr No.

Complete with fabulous costumes and flitting between exotic locations from Vegas to Moscow to Argentina, X-Men: First Class is a superb reinvention of the X-Men franchise which was growing slightly weary after the 2009 film Wolverine. Featuring a varied and talented cast from Jennifer Lawrence, hot young star of Winters Bone, January Jones of the Mad Men series, Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) and Kevin Bacon as the irrepressibly stylish villain Sebastian Shaw who pits the Americans and Russians against each other in a bid to start another nuclear war.

The alliance and subsequent friendship of Charles and Erik is the basis for this X-Men story before they became arch enemies. Charles Xavier has had a privileged upbringing in England and studied genetic mutations at Oxford University while the down-trodden Lenshir was subjected to Nazi horrors in a Polish prisoner of War camp, where his powers over metallic objects catches the eye of the immortal mutant Shaw, who realizes that the are many more mutants on the planet, owing at least in this film to the vast amount of radiation used during World War II culminating in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Xavier has the power to read minds and soon with the assistance of a covert CIA unit is able to form a band of young and untrained mutants as they are employed along with Lensherr to stop Shaw from extracting more nuclear energy by starting another world war. January Jones recreating her Mad Men look plays a diamond mutant, Frost with elegance and grace a lethal sidekick to the evil Shaw, played with relish by Kevin Bacon who seems to be getting younger in every film.

X-Men: First Class is a designer sequel with a positively retro feel, made all the more spectacular by fast-paced action and breathtaking CGI. McAvoy and Fassbender compliment each other as Xavier and Magneto a younger version of the rivalry so beautifully created in the X-Men trilogy by veteran actors Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan, capturing a slight homoerotic love for each other which in a superhero universe can naturally never be fulfilled.

Watch out for a cameo by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Rebecca Romjin as the older version of Raven, known in the earlier films as Mystique. There is no Cyclops or Storm, but younger and sexier mutants Angel played by Zoe Kravitz and Havok played by Lucas Till more than make up for their absence. If viewers enjoyed the X-Men trilogy then this will surely go down well as an original, stylish and very retro prequel explaining a lot about the origins of mutants and the passionate rivalry between Xavier and Magneto which is the crux of the earlier blockbusters.

 

 

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