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Xtremely Gifted Students

| Leisure by Arnold Leibrandt

Embark on a mission to hunt down and stop an evil scientist

X-men: First Class (2011) is the latest superhero prequel instalment to the popular marvel comic-book movie franchise, the X-men. (SPOILER ALERT)

The film is set in the early 1960s during the Cuban Missile Crisis and follows the early lives of future mutant leaders Charles Xavier/Professor X (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender).

The movie starts in a concentration camp in German-occupied Poland where scientist Dr. Schmidt (Kevin Bacon) discovers a young Jewish boy named Erik - who appears to be a mutant - who is unable to harness his full potential.

Dr. Schmidt then decides to kill Erikís mother in front of him in order to send him into an enraged state, and therefore enable him to reach his full potential of his mutant ability. After that Erik is turned into Schmidtís lab rat, where a group of scientists constantly prod and probe him and perform strange tests on him for a good part of his childhood.

While all this is happening, on the other side of the world in Oxford, England, a young Charles meets up with another young mutant shape-shifter named Raven, and takes her in as his sister.

Fast forward twenty years, and Charles has just graduated from university and is approached by a CIA agent and asked to help track down and stop a suspected terrorist named Schmidt.

Erik, now a grown man, is also looking for Schmidt, but for a completely different reason; Revenge.

Everyone then comes into contact with each other as they all try to stop Schmidt, but he manages to get away.

This is when Erik and Charles meet and decide to team up with each other and the CIA to recruit young mutants and train them to start a team that can take down Schmidt.

Things are not all fine and dandy when Schmidt finds out Erik and Charlesís plans and attacks them unexpectedly, and not only that but some of the mutant team members turn their back on the team and the government refuses to continue funding them.

Now Erik and Charles have to regroup, build a new team, train even harder and somehow stop Schmidt before he starts the next World War, and by the way, Schmidt has some superpowers of his own.

The film is the fifth in the franchise and is the second prequel to be made. If youíre a true die-hard X-men comic book fan you are probably torn by this concept. This is because on one hand you must be excited that the X-men franchise is still going even after X3: The Last Standís (2006) dismal ending where for some ridiculous reason everyone including Xavier dies.

On the other hand, the fact that the franchiseís original trilogy ended the way it did should have been left alone. Instead, because the trilogy was released a few years before the great twenty-first century craze of the superhero 3D movies, the producers are now trying to milk the series for everything itís worth by pumping out prequel after prequel and sources reveal thereís more in the pipeline.

On a more critical level, however, the film had a pretty large budget but for some reason the end product seems a tad on the cheap side, with no big-name actors other than McAvoy and with a training scene thatís so cheesy it looks like it was stolen from a 1980ís teenage coming-of-age movie.

The storyline on the other hand is quite strong, with no flaws or holes and it clearly shows the complex relationship between Charles and Erik that was not elaborated on in the other films.

Although there arenít many big names in the film, all the performances are good with some exceptional work from veteran actor Kevin Bacon; he speaks some impressive German in the beginning of the film as well.

The special effects in the film are quite good and are definitely a step up from the previous instalment, X-men Origins: Wolverine (2009), but itís disappointing that a telepathic dream battle sequence in the film was scrapped after the release of Inception (2010).

Fans of the original trilogy will be happy to know that both the director from the first two films and the director from the third film both played a part in this edition, so the style of the film is very similar to that of the originals, it just looks significantly cheaper.

The film had a very good opening weekend and finished at number 1 for that week, only to be knocked down the following week by the far superior Super 8 (2011).

It received many positive reviews from professional critics and made an impressive profit at the box office, so people must have enjoyed the film.

However, as much as I found it entertaining it still lacked the punch needed for a real superhero movie. It also felt quite dragged out in some parts and was overall quite average.

So if youíre a fan you pretty much have to go watch this film, but be prepared to be disappointed; it isnít all that the trailer makes it out to be.

Starring: Kevin Bacon and James McAvoy

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Source: www.bizpremises.co.za