Wednesday, November 23, 2011

X-Men: First Class: Target Exclusive Combo Pack

After a 2011 summer filled with big hits (Harry Potter, Thor, Fast Five, Captain America) and equally-large duds (Green Lantern, Hangover II, POTC IV, Cowboys & Aliens), I was glad to see X-Men: FC hit a solid homerun. While a critical success, the film did not make it into the top 10 summer films by box office receipts; yet, that shouldn't keep you from seeing it. Unlike Transformers, FC had a solid story and great acting. Unlike Green Lantern, FC's special effects, story, actors, music (you get the idea) were far better.
Like most summer films, FC was released in several different formats. Luckily, all of them boast the same special features, so your decision is really based on packaging. I chose the Target Exclusive Combo Pack because it represented the only real quality American release (See my steelbook tirade below). The slipcase is durable cardboard, and the etching on the front cover is finished with a glossy coat. Slip off the case and you're presented with the standard tri-pack case which still feels heavy in the hand. Sadly, the hope of an interior artbook is replaced with glossy instructions to download the digital copy and 10 X-Men digital comics. Nice offer by Marvel on the comics, but what ever happened to a nice artbook with images and notes from the director? Also, the cover underneath the discs is devoid of art.
Even with these glaring interior issues, I still recommend this version without hesitation. The case is descent, the film's high-def image and sound are top notch, and the special features are good enough; I would rate this American release a top one for the summer. However, I continue to worry about America getting shafted with weak steelbook releases (see Jurassic Park) or poor slipcovers (see Thor and Captain America). In FC's case, we've learned that UK, Germany, and even Asian consumers are being offered high-quality steelbook releases. Until American releases match those of other countries, my reviews will continue to mention this lack of respect and affect my review of the packaging.
If you enjoy the film, I suggest you buy this version. If high-quality releases are more your thing, seek out the secondary market and be prepared to pay for it.