Director - Bryan SingerStarring - Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen
X-Men is the oldest franchise that Marvel currently have in their ever expanding film universe. However it has been surpassed by the Avengers, both in their stand alone films and the juggernaut that was Avengers Assemble. Then Matthew Vaughn's prequel, X-Men: First Class (2011) shot some much needed life back into the series and things started to look up. But could the franchise keep it up? Now Bryan Singer, director of the first two mutant films, is back and has the mammoth task of combining both sets of actors and giving us a film more credible and entertaining than the dismal X-Men: Last Stand (2006).
Without giving too much away, the plot revolves around Magneto and Professor X (McKellen and Stewart) sending Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to 1973 to see... Magneto and Professor X (Fassbender and McAvoy). Their mission is to change history and prevent the war that will wipe out mutant kind. And thus we go from old cast to new.
James McAvoy plays a broken Charles Xavier with raw anger and sadness, far removed from the all-knowing calm figure of Stewart. He is a joy to watch as he struggles with his power.
Fassbender is also a wonder, never overplaying a role that could have led to scenery chewing of the highest order. The chemistry between both actors is amazing, I just wish they had more time together.
Jennifer Lawrence has made the role of Mystique/Raven her own (Rebecca who??) She is sexy, sassy and focused but has not yet grown into her evil persona of the original films, which means we can truly love her (for now anyway).
And onto Jackman. You just have to look at the posters to see he is supposed to be the star of the film and there is no denying that he has been consistently good even as the films diminished in quality. While he does play an important role in the plot, he sometimes acts as merely a foil for the new cast but what a foil he is. Special mention goes to Nicholas Hoult's Beast who has grown as a character even if his screen time isn't extensive.
I couldn't write a review without mentioning Quicksilver. I admit that when I first read about the character being included I was sceptical. I truly believed that Singer only did it to piss off Whedon and the folks at the new Avengers film. But Evan Peters is a blast as the super speedy mutant who, despite his limited screen time, makes every scene he's in his own. His performance is an obvious contrast to the serious portrayal that Aaron Taylor Johnson will probably give in Age of Ultron (if the mid-credit scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier is anything to go by). Also, there is a cheeky little nod to his parentage; brought a smile to my face.
The film itself is well paced... action and emotion in equal balance. The 131 minute run time passes by without feeling like it is starting to lag. The mixture of high quality digital and grainy 1970s film is used to great effect. As with most Marvel films, stay until the end of the credits for a peak into what lies ahead for X-Men.
There are a few niggles I have (at the beginning of the film Wolverine's claws are back to being made from adamantium which pretty much negates anything that happened in The Wolverine) but for the most part Singer brings back the familiar and fans can feel safe in his capable hands.
Rating - 8/10