‘X-Men: First Class’: The Reviews Are In!

'McAvoy and Fassbender are a casting triumph,' EW's Lisa Schwarzbaum writes.

Now that we’ve introduced you to the mutants of “X-Men: First Class,” movie reviewers are saying you might want to take that relationship to the next level. Heralded as the best installment in the franchise since the Bryan Singer-directed “X2,” Matthew Vaughn’s take on the “X-Men” story is said to be both smart and action-packed.

At the top of the pile of praise are leads James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, whom reviewers are commending for their roles whether they liked the film or not. The rest of the supporting cast, from Jennifer Lawrence to Kevin Bacon, are receiving plenty of love as well. Dissenters might find flaws with the movie’s pacing or the way it strays from the previous films’ and comics’ mythology, but the underlying message is that this is the summer blockbuster that fans have been waiting for.

The Story
“Fortunately for the film, the missile crisis puts an end to the dramatic lull. As soon as war threatens, ‘X-Men: First Class’ regains its momentum, and then some, with Strangelovian twists — a circular war room, a rogue vessel that can’t be reached — and a climax that uses newsreel clips of President Kennedy on TV to lend credibility to an exuberant rearrangement of history. This fifth episode in the series isn’t a masterpiece — one puzzlement is the uneven cinematography — but it’s summer entertainment of a very high grade that leaves you with an appetite for more of the same with the same core cast. And a couple of uncredited cameos turn the neat trick of being revenants from the future.” — Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal

The Leads
“To get to the headline immediately, McAvoy and Fassbender are a casting triumph. These two have, yes, real star magnetism, both individually and together: They’re both cool and intense, suave and unaffected, playful and dead serious about their grand comic-book work. I hope movie-studio telepaths reteam the two in the future.” — Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

The Legacy
“In fact, 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.” — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

The “Bond” Connection
“In all but name, ‘First Class’ is a Bond movie, from the Cold War scheming of rival superpowers to the script’s plethora of glamorous or treacherous locations — right up to the end, with an animated credits sequence very much in the spirit of Maurice Binder’s work on the Bonds. Above all, it [features] a handsome, platinum-jawed agent: Erik [Lehnsherr, portrayed by Fassbender], with Sean Connery’s aplomb and Daniel Craig’s ruthless determination. (In this context, the more thoughtful, sedentary Charles Xavier [McAvoy] is M to Erik’s Bond.)” — Richard Corliss, Time

The Final Word
“It’s remarkable how many things ‘First Class’ gets right, whether it’s the decision to have characters speak different languages as the film’s frequent globe-trotting dictates, or the casting of Fassbender and McAvoy, who bear no resemblance to their respective older counterparts (Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart) but perfectly capture Charles and Erik’s symbolic might-vs.-right dynamic.” — Justin Chang, Variety

Check out everything we’ve got on “X-Men: First Class.”

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