Australian Council on Children and the Media

X-Men: First Class

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Not suitable under 13, PG to 15 (Violence, Disturbing scenes and films)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for X-Men: First Class
  • a review of X-Men: First Class completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 1 June 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes
Children aged 13 - 15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: X-Men: First Class
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Action violence and infrequent coarse language
Length 132 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

X-Men: First Class is the fifth of the X-Men films and a prequel to the first X-Men film. The film is set in the 1960s and focuses on the relationship between Professor X/ Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto/ Eric (Michael Fassbender) and the origin of their groups, the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. The film shows scenes from the childhood years of both men in flashback.

Eric’s experiences as a Jewish child during the war have caused him to become a Nazi hunter. He meets up with Professor X/Charles Xavier when they are both after the same man, an evil mutant called Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) who was the Nazi who killed Eric’s mother.

The pair, with CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), set out to recruit teenage mutants to their cause and hunt the group of mutants led by Shaw.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The Nazi extermination of Jewish people; genetic mutation; nuclear war; super powers

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains intense stylised action violence throughout with minimal depiction of blood and gore, and occasional scenes of more brutal violence. Examples include:

  • Emaciated Jewish adults and children with numbers tattooed on their forearms are herded into Polish prison camps by armed German soldiers. When the young Eric is separated from his parents, both Eric and his parents become very distressed, shouting out and reaching out to each other while German soldiers hold them apart. One soldier uses the butt of his rifle to club the young boy over the head and he falls unconscious to the ground.
  • A German doctor takes out a pistol and points it at Eric’s mother who is standing next to Eric, threatening to shoot her if the boy does not display his supernatural powers. The doctor does a slow count, then pulls the trigger. Witnessing his mother’s murder causes Eric to go into an uncontrollable rage, unleashing his powers. The metal helmets on two soldiers implode as if being crushed by an unseen hand, with the soldiers screaming in agony and collapsing dead on the floor.
  • In a knife fight between Eric and three other men, we Eric fixes a man’s hand to a table top with a large hunting knife (we see a clear image of the man’s impaled hand and the knife sticking out of the hand). Eric then uses his powers to force one man to shoot another, pull the knife out of the man’s hand and hurl it across the room to stab another man in the chest. We see the knife fly out of the man’s chest to re-embed itself in the first man’s hand and table top. Eric then points a gun at the man and shoots him.
  • Eric uses his super powers to make barbed wire come alive and attack a soldier, the wire wrapping its self around the soldier and dragging him away.
  • Eric uses his super powers to restrain a female mutant. The rails of a brass bed appear to come alive and wrap themselves around the woman’s arms and neck, and the woman transforming her body into a diamond. Eric questions the woman, the brass rails tightening around her diamond neck and cracks forming in her diamond throat.
  • Battles between groups of opposing mutants involve both sides unleashing their powers against the other. Mutants spit fire balls at each other, hurl bolts of energy and sound waves, stab with swords, punch and kick. Mutants with long tails use these to attack others.
  • Machine guns and rockets are fired with buildings exploding and firestorms sweeping through buildings.
  • US and Russian battle ships fire their weapons at a group of mutants standing on a beach. Eric uses his powers to suspend the missiles in mid air before they reach the beach. Eric then reverses the missiles and sends them back towards the ships.
  • In a fight between Eric and Xavier, Eric punches Xavier in the face, while a gunshot meant for Eric is deflected and hits Xavier. Eric uses his powers to extract the bullet from Xavier’s back.
  • Eric attempts to strangle a woman, but releases her after Xavier reasons with him.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are a number of scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five, including the following:

  • A woman transforms into a young girl with yellow reptilian eyes and blue scales.
  • In a concentration camp we see a room with a wall covered in all manner of surgical saws and knives as well as meat cleavers and machetes. The room is a cross between an operating theatre and a torture chamber.
  • In several scenes throughout the film a man transforms into a swirling sandstorm.
  • A young man sticks his head into a tank of water and the sides of his neck transform, with gills appearing. Later we see the same man’s skin transform into a rock like substance.
  • The mutants are scary in appearance. One has red skin and a barbed tail, another has feet that resemble hands and another resembles a large blue, werewolf with sharp fangs.        .
  • A man’s foot and hand changes shape growing hair and turning blue to resemble an ape-like or beast-like hand and foot.     

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Xavier making reference to a woman being a little more sexy than sea creatures.
  • We see a woman wearing sexy clothes dancing in a sensual manner on a tabletop. Two men approach the woman and ask her “How would you like a job where you get to keep your clothes on?” One of the men then says “We’ll show you ours if you show us yours” (the statement was actually meant in reference to super powers).
  • A young man and woman flirt with each other as the man is taking a sample of the woman’s blood. She tells him, “When guys ask me out they’re usually not after my blood”.      .
  • We hear a young woman make the statement “You know what they say about the size of a man’s feet”, she then looks at a young man and says “Yours are kind of small”.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Women wear tight and revealing clothing in a number of scenes.
  • Male patrons at a casino sit in cubicles and women wearing lingerie enter the cubicles and close the curtains.
  • A woman wearing sexy clothing approaches a man in uniform and undoes his belt and zipper. When next we next see the couple, the soldier is sitting on a bed with the woman straddling his lap, they have their arms wrapped around each other and are kissing.
  • A young woman with blond hair lies in bed with her naked shoulders and back visible. Eric approaches the woman and we see her transform into a blue-skinned, yellow-eyed mutant. Eric calls her “an exquisite creature” and reaches over the bed and kisses her on the lips.
  • A naked woman (in mutated form) walks into a room and stands in front of a man, who appears embarrassed. The woman’s skin has a bumpy, somewhat scaly, appearance that partially obscures her nakedness.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • In a couple of scenes we see a man smoking a cigar.
  • A man asks a woman if she has been smoking those “funny cigarettes”.
  • People drink beer and champagne at bars and parties.
  • A man drinks beer from a yard glass with people cheering him on as he drinks the entire contents.
  • We see a hypodermic syringe injecting an experimental drug into a man’s foot and in another scene see a needle being used to extract blood.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language  and name calling in this movie, including:

  • old fart, swear to god, goddamn, go fuck yourself, Jesus, my arse, freak, bad arse 

In a nutshell

X-Men: First Class is an action adventure film targeting an older adolescent and adult audience. Parents are cautioned that the film contains adult themes, scenes and images that may disturb younger viewers.

The main message from this movie is that its OK to be different: difference should be celebrated and is something of which to be proud.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with older children include:

  • Altruism - Charles’ main purpose in life was to protect, and promote the best interests of, mutants.
  • Self sacrifice - we see a number of teen mutants sacrificing their own safety to protect others.
  • Compassion/selflessness - as a young boy, Charles displayed both compassion and selflessness when he offered assistance to another.

Parents may also wish to discuss parallels between the persecution of mutants in the film and the persecution of various minority group in the real world.

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