Friday, September 2, 2011

X-Men: First Class DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Marvel Comics’ Mutant Prequel Released on DVD

X-Men: First Class is an origins episode devoted to the derivation of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr’s (Michael Fassbender) superpowers and to these archenemies’ emergence as Professor X and Magneto, respectively. The film opens during World War II inside a concentration camp where we find Erik being pressured at gunpoint by a Nazi scientist (Kevin Bacon) to demonstrate his ability to move a coin without touching it.
However, when he fails to comply, the sadistic Dr. Shaw callously shoots the boy’s mother to death right on the spot. Enraged, Erik is suddenly able to summon his superhuman magnetizing skills to kill a couple of guards but the perpetrator manages to escape. Understandably, the trauma of witnessing the murder leaves the kid obsessed with exacting vengeance on the perpetrator.
At the same time of Erik’s internment, 10 year-old Charles is growing up in New York City with a silver spoon in his mouth. There, the orphaned heir to a family fortune has been learning how to harness his own special gift, namely, mental telepathy.
Fast-forward a couple of decades and Erik is still trying to track down Dr. Shaw on a trail which is taking him from Switzerland to Argentina to Miami. Meanwhile, Charles is just returning to the States after earning a Ph.D. at Oxford where he majored in Mutantology.
Their paths intersect soon after the CIA seeks Dr. Xavier’s advice about assembling a top secret team of genetic anomalies to neutralize the efforts of an evil counterpart bent on world domination, who is none other than the diabolical Dr. Shaw. This initially makes pacifist Professor X and revenge-minded Magneto easy allies, until the former’s peaceful nature comes in conflict with the latter’s personal agenda.
Unfolding against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, X-Men: First Class takes considerable cinematic license with the truth, though very cleverly weaving myriad Marvel characters into factual events in a most entertaining fashion. The upshot is a fanciful, revisionist history suggesting that mutants might have played a pivotal role in the resolution of an infamous Cold War incident.
What’s next? How about a flick where the D-Day assault on the beach at Normandy is led by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality and brief profanity.
In English, French and German with subtitles.
Running time: 132 Minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: “Children of the Atom,” an 8part, behind-the-scenes featurette.

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