X-Men: First Class
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this exciting X-Men prequel/origin story has plenty of action as the heroes and villains battle it out using their wide variety of special abilities, many of which can be deadly. Though overall the film has a bit of a retro feel due to the 1960s setting, there are big explosions/attacks, as well as hand-to-hand battles and a few intense death scenes -- including one in which a boy's mother is killed in front of him and another in which a coin becomes a lethal weapon. The threat of nuclear war hangs over most of the movie. Expect moderate drinking and smoking; female characters sometimes appear in their underwear, skimpy costumes, or less, though there's no actual nudity. Language is infrequent but does include one use of "f--k." The movie includes weighty discussions about morality, self-acceptance, and fear of the unknown and -- staying true to the original comic books -- makes comparisons between the Holocaust and how people react to the presence of mutants.
What's the story?
James McAvoy stars as Charles Xavier, a powerful telepath who recruits a band of fellow mutants -- each with unique abilities -- in this prequel to the popular X-Men franchise. After a World War II-era opening sequence, the bulk of the story takes place at the height of the Cold War in the early 1960s, as Xavier teams up with another powerful mutant, Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), to track down the nefarious Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Shaw and his colleagues are trying to kick off a nuclear disaster, while Xavier and the newly formed X-Men (including Xavier's childhood friend/foster sister, Raven/Mystique, who's played by Jennifer Lawrence) try to prevent World War III. Meanwhile, Erik may be pursuing his own agenda.
Is it any good?
Although X-MEN: FIRST CLASS isn't perfect -- it's a bit too long, some scene transitions are abrupt (it can feel like you're being handed classified intelligence dossiers left and right), and the dialogue has its bumpy moments -- it's more fun to focus on what's right. The brilliant casting, for starters, especially when it comes to McAvoy and Fassbender. Compared to the others, they're practically conducting a master class in thespianism, regardless of the movie's otherwordly plotlines.
And the story is both an exciting action yarn and a weighty debate about racism, genocide, and good vs. evil. By explicitly linking the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany (Erik is a concentration camp survivor) with ordinary folks' growing fear of mutants -- a theme that has always been part of the X-Men story, from the comic books' earliest days -- the film asks whether the heroes actually have a duty to protect the world. Parts of that debate can get heavy-handed, but it does help elevate the X-Men films beyond standard superhero stories.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the movie's messages. What do the mutants' struggles have in common with other challenges that people have faced? Why do people tend to fear what is different?
What does the movie say about revenge? Is Erik justified in his pursuit of vengeance? Do the ends ever justify the means?
What distinguishes the "good guys" and the "bad guys" in this movie? Do any of Shaw's arguments make sense?
|Theatrical release date:||June 3, 2011|
|DVD release date:||September 9, 2011|
|Cast:||James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Michael Fassbender|
|Studio:||Twentieth Century Fox|
|Run time:||132 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language|