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With quite the beautiful special effects and a good enough story to spend a little more than 2 hours with, while it may lack the emotional punch of many Marvel films, it is undeniably entertaining.
Review (with Spoilers)
My love for the X-Men was not born due to the comics, or even the cartoons, it was the video games. So, off the bat, let me say while I may know characters faces, and a bit about their background, largely I am quite oblivious to the various universes and stories. So walking in I didn’t know much besides fairly recent news stories dealing with Rogue’s part being cut, to Kitty seemingly being the one who was supposed to go to the past. Outside of that, though, I was a clean slate. Making the movie quite the experience, even if sometimes confusing and surely with details lacking.
Characters & Story
Sometime in the future, the sentinels have almost completed a genocide of not only living mutants, but those who would be the mothers/ fathers, or even grandparents of them. Not only that, mutant allies are killed. But, there remains hope. Said hope is entrusted in Logan/ Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) who, through Kitty Pride (Ellen Page), is sent 50 years back in time to try to make the reconciliation of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy/ Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender/ Ian McKellen) happen far before both are senior citizens.
Along this journey, though, there is a need to address Mystique’s (Jennifer Lawrence) position in all that happens, as she seems integral in either the destruction or salvation, of mutant kind. All because of her interactions with one man: Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). The precursor to William Stryker (Josh Helman), who may not hate mutants, but surely is aware that with their rise comes mankind becoming obsolete, or downsized in the grand scheme of things. So, live or die, that is Mystique’s decision, and with Logan having a limited time to change the past, catching and changing the mind of a highly elusive woman, with Xavier’s help, of course, is quite the task.
With this being a Marvel movie, especially X-Men, the biggest bit of praise first has to go to the special effects team. Between the fights against the sentinels, the transformations of Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Mystique, as well as watching all mutants involved exhibiting their powers to varying degrees, it left me in awe enough to forget to take down notes at times. Also, as most Marvel movies have, there is a good use of humor, though it, unfortunately, isn’t seen throughout but only in certain sections. Quicksilver (Evan Peters), for example, probably left the biggest impression on me because his interactions with Logan, Magneto and Xavier were hilarious, and definitely a highlight of the film. Peters way of delivering lines almost seemed Deadpool like.
But, if you were to focus just on the story, and set aside the special effects and jokes, I’m slightly sad to say that the veterans do a far better job at bringing some sense of emotion to the story than the newcomers. Naturally, the genuine friendship between Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart makes the Magneto/ Professor X saga more than some reimagined Malcolm X vs. Martin Luther King Jr. Their complicated history is masterfully crafted by McKellan and Stewart to the point they eclipse the other actors for their performances have various degrees of emotion, while everyone else seemingly only exhibit fear or self-loathing.
And with that said, being someone who increasingly has watched Marvel films, I have to say I found it odd that the film with the largest amount of misfits, and those that have suffered, didn’t lead to stronger performances. Which isn’t to say they weren’t good, though more so adequate, but perhaps with McKellen and Stewart there, using their veteran experience on how you could get a point, or feeling, across without overdoing it, in comparison it just makes the other actors look just good enough. Take for example the two major relationships in the movie: Young Xavier and Magneto, and Young Xavier and Mystique. Considering all that happens in the past is what is supposed to build toward the future, be it lost chemistry, or perhaps too many special effects to take into consideration, I found it hard to get lost in characters interacting and sensing a serious connection between them. Making it where the film leaped from the past to present, it was like dealing with a bright enough light bulb to one which was luminous.
Which to me was weird since in First Class there was good chemistry. But in this film, there lacks consistency. Like a flickering light bulb you know you just put in, you know what should happen and that it worked in the past, but don’t understand why things aren’t working now. And while I must note time constraints make it so long heart to hearts aren’t possible in the film, I do feel like this was perhaps one of the few Marvel films, for me, which probably focused more the action and effects than it did characters and the story.
Overall: Worth Seeing
Though I must admit I felt a bit disappointed that the movie lacked a sense of heart, the drama of impending doom, watching Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart interact, as well as seeing all my favorite mutants, push this toward being a “Worth Seeing.”. For really, what comic book movie is really trying to aim for Oscar nominations? They are purely aimed at entertaining and keeping the franchise’s name out there. And while I feel this film may not inspire someone to develop further knowledge of the X-Men universe to spoil the sequel, it is certainly good enough to keep you loyal.