It’s summer again which once again means a glut of brainless genre sequels, each one designed to slowly suck the will to live out of the audience in an utterly depre…hold on, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
It’s not quite that bad (there have been some genuinely good summer releases over the last few years) and X-Men: First Class doesn’t quite hit the sickening lows of Scott Pilgrim / Transformers 2 (nor X3) – but it never quite lives up to its promise. The problem is that the first half hour (which has little to do with X-Men) is far more interesting, better directed and paced than the one and a half that follows. It’s not a bad film, but it isn’t a good one either, it’s just a missed opportunity.
The problem seems to be that whilst the start is all pithy and light, the second half struggles to steer itself in the direction of established canon rather than gleefully ignoring it and exploring the ideas set up at the beginning. This is never more apparent than the finale which along with some truly awful CGI (weightless, plastic and awfully lit) ditches everything that came before it in order to ensure that everyone ends up in their allotted place.
I’d categorise this as a bad film if it weren’t for the frankly superb opening thirty minutes, all James Bond suaveness (someone needs to get Michael Fassbender into a tux pronto – there’s an effortless charm that could be put to better use) and sixties hipness. Also these sections are the only ones with a genuine sense of threat (it pushes the extremes of the 12 certificate at this point) and the sense of pacing is nothing short of superb – it’s a better film without the X-Men.
Leave till DVD when you’ll feel less aggrieved that it never lives up to this promise.