X-Men: First Class
I’ve always enjoyed the “X-Men” movies, despite having no interest in the comic-book source material and, especially in the case of the third film, “The Last Stand”, only a vague idea of what was happening onscreen. My expectations of Matthew Vaughn’s prequel, “X Men: First Class”, were fairly low, however, largely because of middling reviews. And yes, the plot (super-villain pits the super-powers against one another) is over-familiar, some of the smaller special effects are somewhat under-whelming, and there appear to be a couple of jarring anachronisms for a film largely set in 1962 (although a premature mini-skirt or two is probably a minor quibble given the script’s rewriting of the history of the Cuban Missile Crisis). The performances, though, are flawless (as far as that’s possible in a film about mutants with superpowers), and despite a somewhat disjointed start, the film gradually compels as we hurtle towards the explosive and poignant climax. The protagonists’ predicament – whether to fulfil your potential and embrace difference, necessitating a turn to the dark side; or to take the moral high ground, keep your head down, and risk annihilation – has a clever contemporary relevance, especially given the concentration-camp element of the narrative. Despite, or perhaps because of this, it’s jolly fun.