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X-Men: First Class DVD Review

“X-Men: First Class” is the best film of 2011 thus far.

The plot: Set in 1962, the main story involves The Hellfire Club leader Sebastian Shaw trying to start WWIII with the hope that mutants will rise to power. Only Charles Xavier, Erik Lensherr, and other mutants can stop him. The film also explores the friendship between Charles and Erik, the origins of the X-Men and Brotherhood, the origin of Cerebro, etc.

After the sloppy “X3” and the downright unwatchable “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” I thought the “X-Men” franchise was on its last legs. Without Bryan Singer’s involvement, it was clear that the franchise lacked the creativity and excitement of the first two films. Thankfully, the folks at Fox brought Singer back as a producer and brought in the talented Matthew Vaughn to take over directing duties. The result? One of the best comic book films of all time and the best film of 2011 so far.

No one was more surprised than me to see that “X-Men: First Class” hit all the right notes. Everything from the smart, thematically rich story and the clever historical setting to the well developed characters and exciting action set pieces will have you on the edge of your seat from the opening frame to the last frame. There’s never a dull or wasted moment here which is a real rarity for ANY film.

Part of the reason the film works so well is that it feels like a proper prequel/origin tale. Many prequels seem like laborious cash-ins on hit films, but that’s not the case here. The movie’s James Bondish vibe, global locations, new characters, and new cast give it a fresh feel.

On the subject of the cast, there are some spectacular performances to be found here. First of all, James McAvoy knocks it out of the park as Charles Xavier. He never tries to imitate Patrick Stewart and manages to make the character his own. It was really fascinating to see his take on a young Xavier to be honest. Likewise, rising star Michael Fassbender impresses as a young Erik Lensherr/Magneto. It’s not hard to see why Hollywood is falling for this guy because he’s the real deal. The two biggest surprises, however, are Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw and Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast. Bacon really shows off his range as the truly evil and murderous Shaw. It’s hard to think this is the same actor from “Footloose” as you are watching his performance here. As for Hoult, he’s bound to get more attention from Hollywood as he gives a subtle, layered performance as the bad-ass nerdy mutant scientist. Last, but not least, keep your eyes peeled for a cameo by a certain “X-Men” character. It’s a short little scene, but it’s one of the best cameos you will see.

Summary: Buy “X-Men: First Class” on DVD or Blu-ray.

Video/Audio:

The 2.35:1 widescreen picture quality looks fantastic on an upconverted DVD player. On an average player, it merely looks good. If you have a Blu-ray player, I’d opt for the Blu-ray disc.

3 reasons why the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track rocks: 1. The rousing score by Henry Jackman. 2. The sharp sounding dialogue. 3. The intense action.

Extras:
* Fox trailers.
* “Children Of The Atom: Second Genesis and Band Of Brothers“- These featurettes cover how the project and story came about, Matthew Vaughn and Bryan Singer’s work on the film, the script, characters/mutants, the casting, etc.

September 14, 2011 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , , , , , , ,

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