Below the break: Professor X as Obi-Wan Kenobi: these are not the mutants you are looking for.
The movie is an uber-origins film, as it starts with a key event that we saw before--Magneto as a boy using his powers for the first time as he is separated from his parents at a concentration camps--and then shows what happens next. It effectively parallels Magneto's life with that of Xavier, who was quite spoiled and comfortable. While Magneto spends his early 20's pursuing revenge, Xavier is pursuing his studies and women. Indeed, one of the fun parts is to see Xavier before he became so uptight. Both parts are played very well by their respective actors--Fassbender (from Inglorious Bastards) and McAvoy. The movie does a better job here of showing how they grow to be friends and then adversaries. You want scream at Charles for teaching Magneto how better to deploy his powers (size matters not? um, no, not that lesson, but close).
The bad guys are Sebastian Shaw, the black king of the Hellfire Club, Emma Frost, the white queen, and assorted minions. Emma was often in lingerie in the comic books as were the female folks at the Hellfire club, so the heaps of scantily clad females was quite, ahem, canon.
The movie contains heaps of other folks, mostly mutants, with some characters that were new to me and perhaps to the mythology, several out of time/place (Moira is no longer a Scot, Banshee is no longer Irish, and Alex Summers is now much older, presumably, than his older brother, Scott Summers). I did not mind deviations from the canon (always bothers my wife more than me). There are lots of recognizable folks in secondary and tertiary roles--Oliver Platt in an unamed role (credits have him as Man in Black), Michael Ironside as the leading admiral), and so on.
The new young mutants are a fun bunch, with varied powers and amusing personalities. We even get some more origin stories with Mystique and Beast breaking each other's hearts and ours.
The X-man origin story in the comic books is about Magneto confronting the new team over missiles in Florida. This movie has the bad guys trying to cause not just the Cuban Missile Crisis but a nuclear war. Our heroes endeavor to stop this in a pretty well staged scene of destruction and mayhem.
I left lots of Star Wars elements playing out here: these are not the soldiers you are looking for, size matters not, there is good within you, and so on. Not a bad thing at all.
It was a good, good ride, and it had some significant emotion heft. Magneto and Charles did not fall into bro-love over a weekend (unlike Thor and his ladyfriend), although the training period of the mutants was truncated. A few cameos added quite a bit to the show.
What would the gawker formula give the movie? Remember, it is: Origin Story + Meaningful Conflict) X Awesomeness of Powers - (The Number of Villains X The Number of Sidekicks) ÷ Amount of Time Spent on the Love Interest = The Quality of the Movie.
- Origin Story is a 9, with Magneto's, Charles's, and then some. Indeed, the origin story hits us bigtime towards the end.
- Meaningful Conflict is 10: nuclear war plus brother vs. brother. Not bad.
- Awesomeness of Powers: Magneto is pretty powerful, and Charles is still extending his. Plus we get some banshee action and Shaw is pretty impressive: 9
- Number of villains: 2 main ones plus a few henchfolk: 2
- Number of sidekicks: If each X-kid is a sidekick, we have four: Havok, Beast, Banshee, and Mystique.
- Amount of Time on Love Interest: 1.5 (Moira is not a love interest until the end, Mystique only a bit along the way with a rotating set of possible partners).