Well I got to watch the latest Xmen movie* this past Friday…
Without hyperbole, I say honestly this is THE best xmen movie we’ve had so far. If we were to rank the best comic book movies of all time: Superman, the Dark Knight, Spider-Man 2, the Avengers – this film is a serious contender for joining those ranks.
I say all this with no knowledge about the original source material too; though the movie was so good I ran to the bookstore immediately after and picked up a trade collection of the story (and might do a deeper compare/contrast once I’ve read it). Maybe it fails as an adaption, maybe it completely betrays the source, but as someone with only the most casual knowledge of the xmen (gleamed mostly from the 90s cartoon and the movies), this remains a good film.
Spoilers are not really a concern. If you have even the most basic awareness of story construction you can see where things are going. That doesn’t detract from the experience as each beat within the story is perfectly executed to make the journey absorbing. That said, part of what makes this movie stand out is the climax. No spoilers, but of late, most comic films have grand, action-packed, city destroying set pieces at the end. Not that there’s anything wrong with this in and of itself (yes, I loved the Avengers & Pacific Rim), but such can get tiring when you have it at the end of every-single-movie. Part of what makes this one refreshing is that there’s very little destruction and action at the end, but instead the movie hinges on a moral choice.
The actors are all outstanding in this, with many of them bringing great operatic moments to the screen. It brings to mind that comics may not be that separated from the Greek tragedies and comedies of old. I know some might be concerned that Wolverine is going to take over this movie like he sort of did the first 3, but don’t worry about that. In this he serves only as our viewpoint character so that we can see the worlds of past and future through familiar eyes. The main focus of the movie remains Professor X, Magneto, and Mystique, and the actors playing them prove more than capable of carrying the narrative.
Continuity wise, the only requirement is that you have seen Xmen: First Class. While there are treats and shout outs to the other movies (except for Wolverine: Origins, that’s pretty much forgotten) you don’t need to have seen them to enjoy this or follow the story. Heck you don’t even need to have seen 1st Class, but the impact of a lot of the emotional points is greater on you if you’ve seen the build up from the previous movie.
Oh, and we get to see Jennifer Lawrence a lot in the Mystique makeup. Hard to hate a movie that gives you that. 😉
EDIT: First, make sure you SIT THROUGH THE CREDITS! Sequel bait for the next film follows.
Second, if you’re looking for an in depth, more spoiler-heavy review, I recommend Doug Ernst’s take. He’s pretty spot on here.
*Yes, I know the director has some troubling accusations against him right now. But I have two values which I stand by: 1. Art, like children, should be judged apart from those who birthed them. 2. People are innocent until proven guilty. If the director is guilty, then let him be punished to the fullest extent of the law, even if that means he’ll never make another movie again.