The year of the superhero continues. First we had the disappointing Batman v Superman then the excellent Civil War and now the latest X-Men instalment that falls somewhere in between the other two. It’s not the 2 star mess many reviews have suggested, it is better than Batman v Superman but does suffer from slight superhero fatigue. I’m a big fan of superhero films but even my enthusiasm is waning.
This marks the 3rd of the new wave of X-Men films after First Class and Days Of Future Past that have moulded the X-Men characters around historical events. Whilst this film is predominantly set in the 1980s it loses the historical events of the previous two films.
Many witty reviews have predictably opened with the almost self aware quote from Sophie Turner‘s young Jean Grey after sneaking out to see Return Of The Jedi. “Well, at least we can all agree, the third one is always the worst,”. This is an easy swipe to make and after an initial poor reaction my expectations were low but I found myself enjoying it.
This film opens with an Egyptian imprisonment of the powerful villain Sabah Nur or Apocalypse. This mutant can hop from one body to another taking new powers as he goes and seeks to be treated as a God. Oscar Isaac is hidden behind the prosthetics, but his grandstanding and desire for power over the world make him an old fashioned but intimating character. He is not a complex layered character, he is a powerful being out of time seeking to regain his status at whatever the cost.
We are then flown through a number of characters gathering at James McAvoy‘s professors school for the gifted including Tye Sheridan‘s cyclops then Jennifer Lawrnece‘s Mystique as a lone mutant freedom fighter.
The main criticism of this film is its impenetrable story and characters to the newcomer. At least the two previous first class film are essential viewing as the large ensemble cast relies on your recognition of the characters. This does lead to some characters appearing as traits rather than fully rounded individuals, especially two of the Apocalypse’s four protectors/followers Angel and Psylocke. However the brilliant Quicksilver (Evan Peters) steals the film with another great scene that abruptly but effectively tonally shifts the film.
Early on we are re-introduced to the excellent Michael Fassbender as the settled and family friendly man. He will inventiably be dragged into the action but the emotional trigger for the reformation of Magento is a turning point for the film. If this emotional scene hits a cord and evokes a reaction the rest of the film will carry weight for you. If it is too predictable and unnecessary then the rest of the film will drag.
This is a solid X-Men film from the series guru Bryan Singer and a worthy third edition that will prove difficult for newcomers. It is not the mess that was X-Men: The Last Stand and leaves the series on a high note.