I am a child of the 80’s, which means I was adopted by the 90’s and accepted by the new millennium. This means I had the blessing to enjoy the 1992 X-Men Cartoon. How can you not get hyped from this?
I was working in a comic-shop when Wolverine had the Adamantium ripped from his body. I was reading the Secret Wars, saw the Beyonder, Boom Boom, and Angel becoming Archangel all within my lifetime. While I am not as versed as many geeks on all the in’s and out’s and arcs of all the characters; I know most of them. I have my favourites, such as Kitty Pryde (thank you Pryde of the X-Men), Majik, Nightcrawler, Gambit, etc. Never got on the Wolverine band wagon. I’ve watched every X-Men movie in the theatre since 2000. I know the differences between the theatrical arcs, the comic arcs, and the animated arcs and can judge them safely and fairly independently.
How did we land on this one?
Bryan Singer, who gave us the original two X-Men films and the last one, returns to the directors chair and does his best to give each of the characters time. His choice to give each character development time and try to spend a few precious moments with each of the mains. It’s a trend of his and serves him well through this one, but not perfectly. I partially blame this on the four writers involved, which means this movie does hit the Rule of Three. Each writer has experience in the franchise, from Singer himself, Michael Dougherty (Trick R Treat, X-2), Dan Harris (X-2, Superman Returns), and Simon Kinberg (X-3, Fantastic 4). When I consider this and the sordid and combined history it explains a lot. Plot wise, the movie is a bit of a hot mess. It’s a little over the place, doesn’t have focus, and really should have been two movies to give everyone an appropriate level of development. There *is* development of characters, but mostly focused on the new ones that have to be introduced – of which there are (too?) many.
It makes sense though as we have had two full movies prior to get to know Magneto, Charles, Beast, and Mystique. We get the beautifully timed return of cinema favorite Evan Peters turn as Peter Maximoff, aka Quicksilver who had the best and most memorable moment from the last film. We are introduced now to those who will be expected to carry us forward into the next generation of movies for this franchise. Sophie (Game of Thrones) Turner as Jean Grey, Tye (Scouts Guide to the Apocalypse) Sheridan as Scott “Cyclops” Summers, Kodi (Let Me In) Smit-McPhee as Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner, and Alexandra Shipp as Ororo “Storm” Munroe. Each one of these young(er) actors does really good with the time they have on screen to give you the iconic characters we know and love; but at an earlier stage of their lives. I did easily see the people they would become in the people they displayed in this film.
A film like this is only as good as it’s villains and for that we go to Oscar (Poe from Force Awakens) Isaac as En Sabah Nur, best known to readers as Apocalypse. He does better than he has any right to as the legendary character. Though this is one of the points the script and direction fail. The actor delivers, but the other two elements fail him, giving so little to work with and so little ability to really “Act” when not being the exposition fairy. Which leads to another one of the problems as there is next to no development or even real idea of the secondary characters who were so painfully underused I wonder why they bothered to have them other than to say they did. The roles were well cast, but not utilized to full potential.
From a technical perspective, I am going to jump on my editors horse again. Hold. A. Shot. Learn it. You don’t need to cut every 12.5 seconds to keep it engaging. You don’t need to have sudden painful shifts to other locations for yet another introduction. You don’t need to have second unit returning to a single location shot, with actors clearly looking posed, that it takes you from the movie. There are a few beats like that in the film, they may be funny, they may just be confusing, but they change the tone and undermine rather than underscore the emotion of a beat you are trying to establish otherwise. Beyond the editing and camera work, the Make Up was top notch. He was *not* Ivan Ooze. 10 points to be struck from the Publicist House for using an unfinished effects shot in a PR piece making an otherwise blue character look silly. The CG was CG, but this had to be larger than life and most of what could have been practical is not feasible to even consider trying to be practical. It does suffer from pacing issues, and I have a sense studio interference played a hand in some scenes being added or kept.
It’s good! I enjoyed it. Much like I said about Civil War being an antithesis to Batman v Superman, this has many of the same characteristics. It has some flaws, but the whole piece when put together created an enjoyable mess. There were familiar characters with new faces, comfortable characters with old faces; and that is what makes this movie work. The characters we know and love were put on screen again. Not just on screen, but *right*. These very clearly were our modern mythology given flesh. We have our iconic legends with 5o+ years displayed as they should be , but in a way we haven’t really seen.
The action is solid. The acting is solid. It’s just a good, fun, popcorn movie. The movie earns it’s PG-13 rating though. There’s more violence here than I have seen in *any* X-film in the past sixteen years. This isn’t a bad thing, it reminds me of my 80’s movies a bit.
Do you Recommend it?
Yes. It’s good. You won’t get what you did out of Civil War here, but you shouldn’t expect to.
Will you buy it when it comes out on Blu Ray?
Should I stay to the end of the credits?
Only if you know your characters, otherwise meh.