The X-Men series gets another reboot (following 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine) under the skilled directorship of Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, Stardust). This time, we learn the back story of arguably the two most interesting characters of the X-Men gang: friends Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr (who will grow up to be good guy Professor X and bad guy Magneto, respectively).
Beginning in the 1940s, we see young Erik being discovered as a mutant by an evil German (Kevin Bacon) who wants to harness his moving-stuff-with-his-mind powers, even if it means killing Erik’s mother to do so. Telepathic Charles, meanwhile, has an easier time of things growing up in his family’s mansion, where he meets and befriends shape-shifting Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) when she breaks into his home to steal food. Fast forward a couple of decades and Erik (Fassbender) is searching the globe for the man (Sebastian Shaw) who murdered his mother, while Shaw himself is up to more misdeeds with a band of mutants, plotting nuclear war as part of his plan to take over the world. Charles (McAvoy) and Erik are recruited by the FBI to help stop him, and along the way they get to train other mutants to learn how to use their skills for good so they can fight against Shaw and attempt to save the world.
A deliciously fresh spin on the characters of Charles, Erik and Mystique, this action-packed adventure has a James Bond feel to begin with, and by the climax has become something of a cold war thriller, with the Cuban missile crisis as a backdrop to the onscreen thrills. Fans of the previous movies will love the clever references to the characters and films that have gone before, the sly humour and the twisting plot, and there are some spectacular action sequences to keep younger audiences amused. That said, this is aimed at teens rather than younger kids – under 12s could be bored in the more ‘talky’ bits and may grumble at the subtitles used in the Germany-set prelude, while parents may not want under 10s to see the violent parts. But for those old enough to buy their own ticket, this is definitely a fun blockbuster and the best adventure for those intriguing X-Men since the original movie.
Is X-Men: First Class suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Note this received a 12A certificate for violent scenes. Younger children will be upset by the death of Erik’s mother and they may also find some of the mutants’ appearances and violent actions frightening.