‘X-men’: Prequel cheesy but well-acted fun

2011-06-06 00:00

PREQUELS have always been something of a money-making Hollywood scam in my mind, and while I’ll generally go along with the unbelievable when it comes to superhero movies, there are always a couple of things that just don’t sit quite so well — in this particular franchise it’s James McAvoy as a younger version of Patrick Stewart.

That said, McAvoy as Professor X and his co-star Michael Fassbender as Magneto are pivotal in X-Men: First Class.

They give the film its superior moments, and without them, the whole effort would surely crash. Kevin Bacon as the uber-baddie is also a standout.

With its origins in the Second World War, the story begins with Fassbender’s dark history, where as a child he witnesses the death of his mother at the hands of a vicious Nazi scientist (Bacon), who then takes him under his wing and helps him develop his mutant talent for controlling metal.

Contrast that with McAvoy’s home in Westchester County, where — as a young boy Charles Xavier — he meets a fellow mutant Raven, raiding the fridge in his mansion.

In her natural state she’s blue and scaly with auburn hair, and insecure.

She matures into Jennifer Lawrence’s character — sad and smart.

By 1962, the Russian-U.S. tensions have escalated, JFK is on the tube and we’re led to believe in the film that it’s the man we’re all connected to by six degrees (Bacon) who is behind the imminent war.

The premise is that radiation (which caused mutation in the superheroes in the first place) will convert the human race into mutants.

Let’s not be deluded here: there are some uniquely cheesy moments in this superhero movie, which feels more Bond-esque than Dark Knight.

But it’s fun, bold and ably guided along by director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) and hosts a top-notch cast. ***

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