Since I thought I remembered the movie pretty well, for my first home video viewing of X-Men: First Class, I chose “X Marks the Spot” mode, which interrupts the film with interview inserts (such as director/co-screenwriter Matthew Vaughn explaining his goals for the film) and behind-the-scenes footage (including some special effects tricks and the design concepts behind the credits). Other participants are production designer Chris Seagers, producers Bryan Singer and Lauren Shuler Donner, visual effects designer John Dykstra, and specialized crew to explain techniques.
I really enjoy this kind of enhanced presentation, since it’s a sensible addition that takes advantage of the technology and a significant bonus to the viewer who wants to know more about the movie. It makes the viewing feel new again. You know what’s going to happen, but you don’t know what else you’re going to learn.
I wish there’d been a lot more of them, though. After the first two, there’s a lengthy run without any — the third appears about 50 minutes in — so much so that I thought my player had quit showing them. (There are eight total, adding up to about 20 minutes of footage. Two are dedicated to the famous guest-star cameos.) They don’t do anything with the “groovy mutation” pickup scene, for instance, or any of the Magneto, Nazi Hunter bits or the introduction of Shaw, the Hellfire Club, Emma Frost, and the CIA agent in her scanties. All those elements seem like material ripe for comment. (Maybe I’m really wishing for the MST3K-like fangirl commentary track.) You can also view the segments on their own via the disc menu.
I’d forgotten just how much I enjoyed this movie, even more so on the second time through (where I could also pay more attention to that particular flavor of “boys together” camaraderie that makes Xavier and Magneto so delicious). I definitely recommend adding this to your collection. Putting superheroes in a retro-fantastic past with distinctive visuals and costumes was a terrific choice to freshen up the film genre. The 60s are a better time to believe in non-jaded young people with amazing abilities trying to change the world while finding their place in it.
The showpiece is over an hour of documentary, “Children of the Atom”, which covers in seven parts details of making the movie. (I’m pleased to see that this is also available on the standard DVD version.) It begins with “Second Genesis”, how the idea of the film came together, then “Band of Brothers” covers casting and character selection, including how and why they grabbed mutants from various parts of the comic history. Kind of neat to see actor Jason Flemyng, who plays the devil-looking Azazel and looks *nothing* like him without the makeup, since he appears much older.
“Transformation” covers makeup effects, specifically for Beast, Mystique, and Azazel. It’s easy to become numb to what the actors have to go through to portray these bizarre characters, so I found it shocking to hear how Jennifer Lawrence had to stand up and be airbrushed for 6-7 hours for the full Mystique makeup job. “Suiting Up” deals with costumes, particularly for the historical time period, while “New Frontier: A Dose of Style” covers sets and production design, which was Bond-influenced. Of course, there are also sections on special effects (“Pulling Off the Impossible”) and music score (“Sound and Fury”).
Other extra features include “Cerebro: Mutant Tracker”, a combination game/character info section giving clips and background for mutants from all the X-Men films; a “composer’s isolated score” option (which I don’t understand the appeal of); and 13 deleted and extended scenes (14 minutes total). That’s worth it just to see Charles make Erik appear in drag during the Angel recruitment scene. Can’t imagine why THAT was left out of the film.