So, as previously insinuated, last night I got to go to an early screening of X-Men First Class. It was pretty much like watching a regular movie, except the trailers were terrible and there was a 45 minute wait between sitting down and actually seeing anything on screen.
But as for the movie itself? Having spoken the friends I watched it with, I guess it sort of depends on what kind of movie-goer you are.
I for, instance, thought it was the best X-Men film committed to film. Yes, better than the first two. The reason for this is simple; I felt that the first two films were more about Wolverine than they were about the X-Men. Logan was the character who we were introduced to, who went through the major character arc, and who we spent the most time with. At least, it felt that way. This movie isn't that. It's about the formation of the X-Men, about the choices these men and women have to make about a world that hates and fears them, but it's mostly about two men who are destined to become the greatest of enemies and perhaps their only true friends.
Erik and Charles are handled masterfully, and their interaction on screen is believable and engaging. And while Charles moves from a young man to a Professor, it is overshadowed by Erik's journey. While there is a main plot involving the Hellfire Club and the Cuban Missile crisis, it's all framed by Erik's character arc. Watching as he becomes the man he's destined to be, you can't help but understand, if not agree with him.
There are plenty of little asides to fans of the comics and of the previous movies, and they are well executed. You lose nothing from the movie by not realising these small detours, but it's nice that they're their for the more committed fans. It's laugh out loud funny at places, and the action scenes are excellent, as are the effects.
My only issues with the it are that some of the supporting characters aren't as fully realised as I would have liked. They're played well for the most part, but their arcs seem to lack subtlety. It's difficult to complain really, as they're are a lot of them, and a movie is only so many minutes long. Oh! And Moira McTaggart! That's a great big weird thing. She's literally Moira in name only, which begs the question, why not use someone else, or even better someone new? It seemed odd that they felt the need to shoehorn her into the movie with a character that has virtually nothing to do with the original. Why not just create a new character? Still, for her low screen time, she's played very well by Rose Byrne.
The "evil" mutants suffer from the same problem as the good ones, in that their characters aren't fleshed out. It's actually worse as they get even less screen time. Virtually none if you remove the scenes where they aren't kicking someone in the balls. The exception to this is Sebastian Shaw, who is not bad as played by Kevin Bacon, and Emma Frost, who is Betty Draper. I'm a big fan of Mad Men, but January Jones doesn't seem to display any kind of acting as Emma Frost beyond being Betty Draper. It kind of works, in that Emma is a rather cold hearted bitch (Marvel are clearly not ones for subtlety when it comes to surnames), but it did make me wonder if Jones can act, or is simply playing the same person over and over again. With more exposure that should become obvious. But for this film she is servicable. And yes, I am shying away from puns involving the terms exposing and servicable, which I feel compelled to make given the White Queen's attire.
Overall I think that this is an excellent film, and it will be joining my DVD collection, even while the original films didn't. Of the three guys I watched it with, one agreed with me, while the other two thought it was as good as the first films (well, the first two. The third is universally despised amongst us). So I guess it's either a return to form for the franchise or the best of the bunch.
PS: There's no scene after the credits. Seriously. We waited through it all and nothing. Which frankly, is an improvement. I always hated that about Marvel films.