"X-Men: First Class"

First of all, I had the privilege of seeing a screening of this film at the new Emagine in Royal Oak. The auditorium they put us in was their only large auditorium, I believe; it held about 350 people. There was ample aisle room, and the auditorium was very similar to Emagine Novi's "luxury seating," except more wood-paneled. It's a great theater, and I look forward to seeing more screenings there.

Now on to the movie ...

I have seen all of the X-Men films in the series and really enjoyed them, and I thought that this one would be good as well, especially since it is a prequel and takes place in the 1960s, with a whole new cast, although some of the mutants are mutants that we have already met in the other X-Men movies, just as a younger version of themselves. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy, "The Conspirator") and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender, "Jane Eyre") both find out at young ages, in completely different upbringings, that they are mutants. Xavier meets Raven (Jennifer Lawrence, "The Beaver") at a young age, who has the power to shape-shift human forms, and they grow up together, eventually lending their talents to the CIA. They meet Erik when he is trying to kill Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon, "Super"), who had killed his mother when he was in the Nazi Germany concentration camps in the 1940s. Shaw is a mutant as well, although Erik didn't know it when he was younger. Xavier vows to help Erik, and they bring together a band of mutants, all with extraordinary powers, to help capture and defeat Shaw and his group of mutants, who have been using their powers for evil.

Fassbender and McAvoy were excellent in this movie, but Kevin Bacon stole the show as the evil Sebastian Shaw. When the movie opens, we see Erik as a young boy, in a concentration camp, and Shaw is a Nazi who wants to exploit Erik's powers. Twenty years later, we find Erik in Switzerland, and we can see from a map on the wall that he has been tracking Shaw for the past twenty years. Bacon is excellent at playing a villain, and he does so admirably here. Other standouts were Jennifer Lawrence (the soon-to-be Katniss in "The Hunger Games") as Raven, known as Mystique in the later movies; January Jones (TV's "Mad Men") as Emma Frost, who can produce a diamond-type coating in order to avoid mind-reading; and Nicholas Hoult ("Clash of the Titans") as Hank McCoy, later known as Beast. All of the acting was superb in the movie, and they help contribute to an already fascinating plot.

Yes, definitely see this movie. It was non-stop action throughout (which helped to keep me awake, because the screening was at 9 PM), and the plot definitely holds your attention. We have a few cameos from mutants seen in the other movies, which are fun too. It is interesting to see how some of the characters in the series became who they are, including Professor X and Magneto, and how mutants like Raven/Mystique came to "use their powers for evil" like they do in the other X-Men movies, and hopefully there will be more X-Men prequels to come.

X-Men: First Class is in theaters today, June 3rd.

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