- Composed by Henry Jackman
- Sony / 2011 / 60:15
The fifth film in the X-Men franchise, First Class tells the story of the young Magneto and Xavier and how all of their exciting adventures began. It’s been generally very well-reviewed, certainly much moreso than the previous two entries in the series. Musically, it has been an odd journey for those X-Men. They began with slightly bland, but enjoyable enough, backing from the late Michael Kamen (who was reportedly forced to tone-down his original theme-driven score on the scoring stage); a large step down came for the second instalment, boosted by the use of Henry Mancini’s theme from Lifeforce but weakened by everything else in the music; John Powell’s popular score for the third film was a step back in the right direction, a step negated by Harry Gregson-Williams’s forgettable Wolverine. Based on that pattern… this one should be a winner, right?
Based on the fact that I haven’t actually said anything about it having passed the half-way mark of this “review” tells you all you need to know. Actually, Henry Jackman’s music opens very impressively on the album, with a vaguely Elfmanish, heroic piece starting proceedings – not terribly memorable, but stylishly done and very listenable. It’s downhill all the way from there. It doesn’t matter how many times I listen to it – it’s still hard to think of anything complimentary to say about it. It would be hard to honestly describe it as awful – it’s simply so unmemorable. Who knows, maybe it fits the film like a glove (after all, nothing says Kennedy-era America like synth pads and drum loops) but it’s just interminable on album. It keeps sounding like it might be about to go somewhere, but it never does. There’s never a sense of a dramatic journey, and compositionally it’s all pretty banal, so it’s hard to imagine many people returning to it at all after an initial listen. The opening track and all of its later variants earn the score an extra half star, but that’s probably being rather generous. * 1/2