Almost 13 years after Chris Reeves last outing as Superman, comic book movies were really… not that cool. Sure, there was Blade but that was like more for adults. Well in 200, that all changed when filmaker/director Bryan Singer decided to take a group of misunderstood mutant known as the X-Men and propel them to the big screen. Gone were the campy yellow skin tight suits, swapped in favor of campy black leather suits. No longer were comic book movies “just for kids,” now they were complex and useful for exploring real world issues. Basically, X-Men changed the face of comic book movies forever.
And here we are, 14 years later, with 6 X-Men based movies in our belt, and enough Hugh Jackman shirtless to last us a lifetime. Except there’s one tiny problem: nothing fits. See, X-Men: First Class rebooted the series in 2011, but it didn’t fit the timeline of the original X-Men trilogy, as well as messing up the roster a bit. Then came X-Men Origins: Wolverine which we’re all trying to forget about. And unfortunately, like Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, it just keeps coming back!
Anyways, in an attempt to get everything straight and retcon and anti-retcon and show of Hugh Jackman’s muscles, Singer decided to once again get in the director’s chair for another go at his X-Men universe, using the magic of: TIME TRAVEL!
It all starts in some year in the future and well, mutants aren’t exactly having a vacation. For one, the Sentinels (giant robots sent to kill mutants) got all their design advice from watching Tron, and the rest of the world looks like those scenes in The Terminator where they’re like crushing skulls and stuff because everyone is dead. Did I mention the Sentinels could totally change to whatever they needed to change into? So the mutants, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Erik Lehnsherr (Ian McKellen) are all like “ahh we’re gunna die!” when they find out Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) forgot to mention she can totally send people back in time. It’s a natural extension of her being able to walk through walls or something.
Well this is good news for the team cause the reason they’re in this mess is because Jennifer Lawrence (as Mystique) killed someone, sparking a revolution that made everyone hate her, but also made the bad guy’s plans a reality. So if someone could go back in time and stop her from killing Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), the future will change and we can all finally breathe easier knowing X-Men: the Last Stand didn’t actually happen. But it’s all Lawrence’s fault, as usual.
So Magneto and Xavier decide their best person for the job is posterboy Wolverine (still Hugh Jackman), who get’s to go back in time and try to get young, totally hippie, wannabe-heroin-addict Xavier and angst-ridden, evil, angry Magneto back together to stop Mystique once and for all.
Oh yea, and the future Sentinels are totally still after the future peeps, so Wolvie’s gotta work fast before everyone else dies too.
Now, this movie had 2 options: it was either going to be freaking awesome and tie everything together and be all cool and stuff, or it was going to tank with all the majesty of a drowning waterbuffalo. Thankfully, it lands squarely in the former, with only a few minor exceptions.
The action in this is easily, EASILY the best of the X-Men series so far. In the future fights, you have people like Sunspot (Adan Canto) and Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) hitting with their very opposite powers. Bishop (Omar Sy) is just awesome, but easily the best part about the future battles is Blink (Bingbing Fan), because it’s just so mind boggling. She can throw portals. I mean, how cool is that? And the filmmakers don’t let that go to waste. She’s throwing portals all over the place, making Sentinels hit each other, helping fellow mutant Warpath (Booboo Stewart) ambush Sentinels, and just generally being totally BA.
In addition to the future fights though is the 70’s Paris brawl. Here’s the rundown: Magneto vs. Mystique. Mystique vs. Trask. Trask vs. all mutant. Beast vs. Magneto, Xavier vs. Magneto and Mystique. Wolverine vs. his flashbacks and future Kitty Pryde. Beast vs. Mystique. Trask vs. Xavier. The human populace vs. all the mutants, etc.
Basically, it’s a huge brawl spanning all of the major characters, and it’s awesome.
In addition, while it may have seemed that this movie was filled with just TOO MANY MUTANTS AND OTHER PEOPLE, it didn’t distract from the movie.
Okay fine, so Quicksilver (Evan Peters) is only there for one scene. And Storm (Halle Berry) doesn’t really get to do much. And let’s admit it, Rogue (Anna Paquin) was just there for like 5 seconds. But despite all that, the movie is able to focus on the core crux of the characters without getting TOO sidetracked by the other mutants. In addition, it makes the X-Men world feel more complete, more real. Like hey, there are actually more than 5 mutants in this world! And even if they get like less than a scene (see: Toad [Evan Jonigkeit]) it just serves to add to the world. And heck, maybe even reintroduce them further down the line…?
In addition, the characters are all very real (or as real as they can get being in a world where super powers are like a normal thing). The drama between Charles and Magneto, Magneto and Mystique, and Mystique and Charles makes a very interesting dynamic that, while it could be explored more fully, is nevertheless done very well.
Rating: I give it a Print. It’s a good movie, easily the best of the X-Men universe, and a good launching-off point for a better, more cohesive world. Now if only they’d get to that Deadpool movie…