20th Century Fox
The Summer blockbuster is an entity engendering shock and awe in its own right. All of the big bucks, bombast and braggadocio still boils down to a mandatory human factor, requiring that we as an audience are able to identify with the emotions beneath the energy. Bad comic book adaptations meander and muddy what can be our dreams and fantasies of adventure and heroism, good versus evil.
The X Men films have articulated these ideas into fantastical efforts of pop style and historical substance, thanks to Brian Singer and his singular vision as an artist. Brett Ratner and Gavin Hood ably carried the torch with The Last Stand and Wolverine, and promising director Matthew Vaughn is an appropriate choice to father the newest installment. His virile ventures into the Brit crime saga, Layer Cake, as well as his magical fantasy film, Stardust, prepared him for what may just be the most ambitious X Men outing thus far.
X Men:First Class is refreshing, emotional, visceral, hokey, middling and riveting. Vaughn launches his origin film as a scattershot superhero saga which reshapes world history, and it is both daring and riveting. The beginnings of Professor X, Magneto and the X Men is alternately top notch and scattershot, a good popcorn flick that could have been great. A lot of its success relies on its fresh cast, fronted by the incomparable James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, who elicit a homoerotic charge as Xavier and Magneto. Henry Jackman's score is searing, underlining Vaughn's bizarre trajectory of the Cuban Missile Crisis, heavily influenced by Hans Zimmer's iconic theme from Inception.
The third act drags, not holding up its end of the bargain. But for what its worth, a better superhero picture this Summer is highly unlikely.