X marks the spot

Undated Film Still Handout from X-Men: First Class. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Fox UK Film. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews
Undated Film Still Handout from X-Men: First Class. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Fox UK Film. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews

X-Men: First Class (12A)

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Rose Byrne, Jason Flemyng, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz, Lucas Till, Caleb Landry Jones, Edi Gathegi, Alex Gonzalez.

Director: Matthew Vaughn.

Running time: 131mins

VERY good things come to those who wait.

After the sinking ship of Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and the pounding headache of The Hangover Part II, the omens were distinctly ill for this summer season.

Thankfully British director Matthew Vaughn, who lifted spirits last year with the deliciously foul-mouthed Kick-Ass, repeats the feat with this exhilarating, action-packed prequel based on the hugely popular Marvel Comics.

After the lukewarm reception to spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Vaughn delivers a sleek and satisfying opening chapter that establishes the mythology of the iconic characters and provides tantalising glimpses of where the series can go next.

The film opens in Poland 1944 with young Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) unlocking his devastating power of magnetism thanks to the provocation of sadistic concentration camp commandant (Kevin Bacon).

At the same time in Westchester, New York, young telepath Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets shape-shifter Raven Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence).

Fast forward to 1962 and Erik is hunting down the commandant to exact revenge for his parents.

It transpires that the German officer has re-invented himself as power-hungry globe-trotter Sebastian Shaw, who intends to spark nuclear war between Russia and America aided by mutant sidekicks Emma Frost (January Jones), Azazel (Jason Flemyng) and Riptide (Alex Gonzalez).

Standing in his way are Charles, Raven and five gifted mutants — Angel (Zoe Kravitz), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Darwin (Edi Gathegi) and Havok (Lucas Till).

At first Charles and Erik work together to defeat Sebastian, their common enemy.

However, a grave rift opens between the mutant leaders, lighting the fuse on the brutal and bloody war between the X-Men and Magneto’s brotherhood.

X-Men: First Class is a terrific reinvention, adhering closely to the comics to appease fans while entertaining cinema audiences with a tight script, snappy editing and directorial brio.

The only quibble is Fassbender’s wavering accent.

Rating: HHHHI