Thank you Bryan Singer. After a rejuvenating and largely successful reboot from Matthew Vaughn with X-Men: First Class two years ago, Singer brings the entire universe of this Marvel juggernaut together in one of 2014’s most exciting and intelligent films. This is a playground where Spider Man and Godzilla just can’t play around in and that is action packed excitement with sharp storytelling and a strong fingerprint from the director. There are few directors that can make this tale of mutants living scared and desperate in the human world so compelling and the man at the top of the short list is Singer. Brett Ratner, you are not on the list because the last all together part, X-Men: Last Stand, felt less like a movie and more like a bad paint job over a large canvas. After a pair of fun if hollow feeling solo Wolverine missions, Singer brings the Hall of Fame ass kicker Hugh Jackman back into the middle of this time travel based story.
The film opens in the distant future where major cities are destroyed and a group of machines called the Sentinels are leading the destruction. We see a small group of mutants hiding out in a tiny corner in Russia and their body count is dwindling. So, the wise Charles Xavier(Patrick Stewart, looking younger in each successive film) and Eric Lensherr(Ian McKellen) decide to send Jackman’s Logan/Wolverine back to 1973 to prevent a murder and that starts with the retrieval of the young Charles(a truly moving James McAvoy) and the young Eric(played effortlessly by Michael Fassbender). The key is preventing the radiant yet deadly and misguided Raven/Mystique(Jennifer Lawrence, sexy on fire at the moment) from doing something literally catastrophic. Hopefully, in doing so, the Sentinels program never gets off and the mutants aren’t wiped off the face of earth. That’s it folks. It’s just time travel. So much has been made over the last week about the confusing aspects of this story and it’s best for some to simply go with the flow.
Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg(who has penned every X-Men adventure) have crafted an intriguing world that places the mutants as the victims of an oppressive society and has them facing extinction. They combine that with the usual flair of action and special effect dazzle, but the key to these films being great is the heartfelt touch and intelligence Singer brings to the production. The man is a true genius.
The cast is excellent. Jackman gets into freakishly good shape every time he puts on the claws and his transformation and ability to inject true witty comedy into a tragic character is flawless again. Stewart and McKellen are old pros hanging with the kids here and they acquit themselves nicely. As many fans who see Stewart as a Star Trek legend, he will always be Professor X to this film addict. Fassbender doesn’t really act so much as he does effortlessly slip into a character’s skin. He is one of the best actors out there today because he doesn’t overplay anything and his work here is astounding. Playing a younger man with a power to bend metal to his will while deciding how he uses that particular power, Fassbender is putting on a clinic.