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Early Reviews: X-Men: First Class Earns Top Grades

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 31, 2011 at 10:34AM

While some of us were gallivanting around the south of France, others caught screenings of Matthew Vaughn's crack at the X-Men franchise, First Class, which boasts an appealing cast led by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence and --for starters--strong reviews. The movie opens wide on Friday.
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Thompson on Hollywood

While some of us were gallivanting around the south of France, others caught screenings of Matthew Vaughn's crack at the X-Men franchise, First Class, which boasts an appealing cast led by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence and --for starters--strong reviews. The movie opens wide on Friday.

Todd McCarthy, THR:

"...roughly the first half of this massive and very well cast origins extravaganza is arguably the best hour of Marvel Comics-derived filmmaking among the torrent of it that's cascaded across screens in recent years. Audacious, confident and fueled by youthful energy, this is a surefire summer winner for a wide global audience."


Louise Keller, UrbanCinefile:

"Although the filmmakers have packed far too much into the storyline, there's first class action, superb special effects and a nice sprinkling of humour in a plot whose heart rests in the bond between Professor X and Magneto…Charismatic and enigmatic, Fassbender is superb as Erik, who is driven by hatred and an insatiable appetite for revenge…The politicizing of this prequel changes its nature considerably, taking it from its roots of fantasy action to a political thriller set at the time of the Cuban missile crisis but with Bond-style overtones. This is good for a debate all by itself."
Thompson on Hollywood


Katey Rich, Cinemablend:

"McAvoy and Fassbender are the undeniable center of X-Men: First Class,..Vaughn and his bevy of fellow screenwriters knit these characters so well into the real world that you don't need to know Beast from Banshee to understand their motivations. That's a rare, rare thing in comic book movies, particularly when elsewhere in the Marvel movie universe every film seems to be geared not toward its own characters, but toward a larger mythology that requires hours of research to understand. Though it is certainly the kickoff of a new franchise, and lugs around a story more sprawling than it needed to be, X-Men: First Class feels spry and self-contained, a blast of colorful and passionate enthusiasm with just enough weight to matter. It feels phenomenal to have these mutants back."
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David Poland:

"Basically, [Vaughn] made a Bond film with good guys and bad guys alike who just happen to have super powers…Vaughn has been a little denuded here. He is great at filthy fun. But still, he shows that he has the chops. Look for the masterfully artful effects sequence early in the film and some of the great ways Vaughn has his characters manifest their powers. And while it makes you wonder how much better X-Men 3 could have been, it also makes you happy that he didn’t do an X-film until he had the opportunity to do it his way fully."

Brendon Connelly, BleedingCool:

"All in , First Class is a damn fine superhero movie. More geared, I would suggest, to the more mature fanboy as opposed to some of the aspartame-crazed comic book capers that tend to pop up on the boxes of Happy Meals."

[Images courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox]

This article is related to: Box Office, Directors, Franchises, Genres, Headliners, Video, Reviews, Summer, X-Men, Sci-fi, Sequel, Action, Trailers


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.