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X-Men: First Class (2011)
"X-Men: First Class" takes the risky move of retaining the early-60s setting of the original comics and ultimately comes out all the better for it, as the growing chasm between future enemies Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is smartly set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Though the film ultimately falls short of greatness (among other things, it fails to bring anything fresh to the well-worn philosophical ground established in the original trilogy and has the tendency to sag in its talkier sections), director Matthew Vaughn's stylish visuals and solid performances by leads Fassbender and McAvoy give it the juice it needs to be good - which is a far better outcome than anyone had a right to expect.
- Chris Eggertsen