I had the good fortune of being invited out to the media preview of this film yesterday in London and as a result, was tres excited, partly because I had a gut feeling that this film, the fourth in the X-Men franchise, would surpass the two predecessors (save, the first one which I rate because it was one of the first super hero movies out there and did a fair job). I didn’t ‘think’ too much about it either, because if it I had I might have wavered knowing that it was directed by Matthew Vaughn – and the jury is still out on Kick Ass and I loathed Stardust so yeh…
Anyhow, launching into the content. Twas good, twas very good and I can't speak for the die hard fans of the series but this will be winner for mainstream audiences for sure - and once more restore the super hero genre somewhat. The action sequences were brilliant without being thrown in there just for the hell of it, the performances by James McAvoy as Charles Xavier was right on point and even Michael Fassbender was intense, tortured (and witty!) as Eric (save for the blatant Irish accent creeping in at the end of the film but that’s really minor…) Special mention goes to Bill Milner, who plays the young Eric - his scene in the Nazi office - enough said.
The film doesn’t introduce anything new thematically, as it rotates around the concept of fear and hatred of the new and the misunderstood and questions of what evolution really means – it simply sets up (or rather builds upon, in reverse..?) the two opposing sides that will go on to be represented by Professor X and Magneto. And as most people know, I love going ‘back to the start’ and revealing what makes characters become who they are. Additionally, the pace carried the film well, considering it was over 2 hours long.
The film and the cast are all beautiful to watch, with solid performances from all, though its McAvoy, Fassbender and Bacon that do the heavy lifting. The score is intense but in parts I felt like it was doing too much of the work.The script was decent as well and there were only perhaps two lines that were lame in all, so for a super hero movie, that’s pretty damn good going.
While the mutant characters were engaging enough and felt fully formed, the film painted the rest of humanity as rather dim and grey - I don’t fault the movie for that really, it’s nigh impossible to show the full spectrum of people but those characters supposedly in power – generals and whatnots, just felt like puppets – but I think that was the point. Talk about ineffective humans – especially those in authority (and doesn’t that reflect reality? Ouch!)
There were great moments of levity, mostly through Charles Xavier’s lines but by far the best sequence was when Eric and Charles team up for the first time and begin recruiting – there’s a brilliant inside joke thrown in there that references the original movies – and it had everyone in the cinema laughing.
What’s more, on a more broad note, the film does keep that question hanging for you – what would you do if you were the more evolved version of the human species? It’s a probing enough question but not one that is overbearing to the content or properly explored - which is a wise move, considering all the other movies pick up on that. So you leave feeling you watched a more than decent superhero movie with fair creditability and lots of fun to boot - that surpassed no. 2 and 3 (which isn't hard but if you get stuck in a formula it could go stale and smell bad, like the Star Wars going back to the beginning nonsense. It didn't do that - it got a new lease of life). Plus, if James McAvoy is in it, there's something of worth there, surely?
VERDICT – 8.5/10