Last night I finally got round to watching X-Men: First Class. I’d heard so many good things about it. I’ve always liked the Magneto / Professor X relationship and so expectations were high.
When it was over I raged for some hours and went to bed. I tweeted my irritation this morning and was encouraged to rant free by a certain individual who I’ll not name to protect his identity. However, you know who you are!
So why (according to me) was the film so bad? The actors were reasonable, the effects were fine and yet it somehow failed miserably to engage me.
Well here are a few reasons:
- There were too many characters that didn’t have any character. The bad guy’s sidekicks for example, barely said a word throughout the film. The supporting super team also had very little meaningful character development.
- The plot was awful. Why was the bad guy trying to start a nuclear war? I mean sure, he was well protected against radiation but the rest of mutant-kind wouldn’t be so lucky. And why bother anyway? If he was trying to shatter regular power structures to establish his own I might have swallowed it but he mainly just seemed to be doing it because he was bad.
- Too many ‘stupid moments’. By this I mean unrealistic stuff. Yes ok, we’re talking about a film starring blue people but within the confines of the film’s ‘reality’ things still need to make sense. For example, there’s a scene where ‘Angel’ (I think that’s her name, confusingly) is flying over an American warship spitting fiery bolts at the heroes on the ship. Not one marine shoots her or even at her, not one. Ridiculous! And don’t even get me started on the whole gliding whilst doubling your weight…
- Hard to care. I really didn’t like any of these characters much. And there were a heck of a lot of them not to like.
- Professor X. Ok he is very powerful, that’s cool but if he can speak directly into people’s minds why did he freeze that poor agent just so that he could speak to Moira without being noticed!
- Metaphysics? So there’s a part in the film where the White Queen can sense Professor X using Cerebro, moreover she is aware he is ‘reaching out’, to the point she can deduce he’s trying to recruit other mutants. Really? That seems like a stretch as it is but then later she doesn’t notice the Professor possessing a guard five feet away from her.
- The whole, “place between anger and serenity” thing…
It made me think about the previous X-Men films which were far from perfect but more charming somehow. I think they are at heart, simpler. The first film focuses primarily on Wolverine and his relationship with Rogue and Professor X, Jean Grey and the others. His character arc is tied to the main plot and by the end of the film both he and Rogue have come on a journey.
Batman: The Dark Knight, which I love is also much more tightly focused. It also has people acting in a psychologically interesting way rather than a “wouldn’t it be cool if this happened!” or just using walking cut-outs to paste super powers onto.
So in summary, X-Men: First Class, was a poorly plotted, weakly characterised, inadequately thought through ode to disappointment. It makes me angry because they clearly had a budget and the means to do something amazing.
If you like comics I advise you not to see this.