I went into this film a little hesitant. I’ve written articles about how X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: First Class were both disappointing but The Wolverine managed to win back a bit of that reputation. Director Bryan Singer was back on the team, after directing the first 2 X-Men films, plus we get the stellar cast from First Class, so I had a hesitant optimism about this project.
It worried me a bit though when we learned all the characters that would be appearing, from both timelines of the series. Would characters like Iceman and Colossus get a decent amount of screentime? Would the movie be too cluttered?
Imagine a future where mutants are hunted down and either killed or experimented on. A small team of mutants has managed to survive, led by Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Ian McKellen). Other standout mutants include Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry), Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), and Iceman (Shawn Ashmore). As mutant-killing robots called sentinels charge into their base, their only hope is to send someone back in time before these robots were created and stop their invention. The only one who is able to survive that is Wolverine because of his healing ability.
When Wolverine wakes up in his body in the 1970s, he must seek out a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and rescue a young Erik/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) from prison. He recruits help from the mutants Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters). They have to find and stop the shapeshifting mutant Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) before she assassinates the creator of the sentinels, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage).
This is the best X-Men film we’ve ever seen.
In terms of great actors here, we have an incredible abundance. They don’t always get a lot to do, but they do well with what they’re given. Even the new characters in the future timeline manage to work, though they don’t get much substance. Fassbender and McAvoy (again) perfectly pair, just as Stewart and McKellen do. Lawrence steals the show as Mystique, with some incredible action sequences. And Jackman, as usual, completely embodies Wolverine and it’s a sad thought that his tenure as the character may soon be up.
So suffice to say, we get some great character moments. McAvoy especially delivers a very grounded and deep performance, being the emotional core of the film.
But really, you see this movie because you want some amazing mutant action sequences and this movie delivers them. The opening scene, in a horrible future, features our fully-fledged X-Men team fighting at the sentinels. While these fight scenes might not be too long, I think they better show the dynamics of the X-Men as opposed to the “group” action scenes in the earlier X-Men movies. And while mutants like Blink and Bishop didn’t get (m)any lines, they kicked ass in these scenes and it was great to see some cool collaboration, like Blink opening a portal and Colossus leaping through it to gain momentum. Generally just really cool stuff in the future timelines. The action scenes in the past are also pretty cool, highlighted by probably the coolest scene in the movie where Quicksilver rescues Magneto from his plastic prison. I had a lot of reservations about Quicksilver but man, was I wrong. He stole the show and I’m actually excited about what he’ll do in the next installment, X-Men: Apocalypse.
Speaking of X-Men: Apocalypse, the post-credit teaser introduces us to that film, so maybe familiarize yourself with that villain so that you get the references. Check out my video here to learn about him.
What doesn’t work?
The only complaint I really have, that’s substantial to this movie as a film, is that I love these characters so much that there’s just not enough room for them all. But I felt more connected to characters like Blink and Bishop, because I was invested in their situation, than I did with characters like Banshee from First Class or Angel from X3: The Last Stand. It’s not about lines, it’s about how well it works in the movie as a whole. And while this movie nailed it, giving us both great individual characters and also some incredible “team” moments, I just wish there was more time for characters like Storm, Iceman, and our new characters like Sunspot and Warpath. Check out my video on the potential spinoff film/tv series X-Force here and see which of these characters might get another chance at the big screen!
Watch the video here for a spoiler-filled discussion on the movie!
Part of me loved this movie because I remember the magic of seeing X-Men when I was young. To see these characters come together again is perfect. It’s like a reunion tour of your favorite band and we luckily get to sit front row and they play the set we’ve always wanted. Of course, there’s characters we wish we got more of, but I left the theater feeling incredibly satisfied. We have great performances mostly by McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence, and Jackman, but we also get some of the most true-to-form team battles that is almost exactly like I’d imagine from the comic books. Overall, exactly what I wanted.