New "X-Men" set to power back mutant film franchise

Thu Jun 2, 2011 6:18am EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The "X-Men" franchise is back in theaters worldwide this week after a two year break and set to adapt its superhero themes into box office muscle with a strong story, fresh crop of actors, zippy visuals and broad appeal.

The fifth film, "X-Men: First Class," will likely re-energize the series, guaranteeing more "X-Men" movies and making it the early contender to beat among a group of big summer comic book films such as "Green Lantern" and "Captain America", film experts say.

"This one will likely be among the top three performers of the summer because, just like a good old James Bond movie, it should appeal to a broad base of moviegoers -- even if they haven't seen the four previous films," said Deadline Hollywood columnist Pete Hammond.

"X-Men:First Class," is another spin-off prequel to the original movie adapted from the fictional Marvel comic series of the same name.

It focuses on the formative years of mutants Charles Xavier (played by James McAvoy) and Magneto, also known as Erik Lehnsherr, played by Michael Fassbender, in the days before they became mortal enemies.

The 20th Century Fox film opens in the German concentration camp Auschwitz in occupied Poland in 1944 with a young Lehnsherr, who is separated from his parents when he first encounters the villain Sebastian Shaw and discovers his powers for the first time.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn, another Briton, and with a reported production budget of $120 million, early reviews for the tale of misunderstood freaks have been glowing. According to aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has a rare 98 percent "fresh" rating.

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