I was pretty lukewarm on this film during most of its development. It was only the more recent character centric trailers that really peaked my interest. I think after the last two films we all largely got our expectations lowered. Does it fit in with the X-men movie continuity? Does it stay true to the characters, if not the events, of the comics? Is it a good film at all?
It is, without a doubt, a good film. Here is my spoiler free version: If you enjoyed the first two films, you will enjoy this one as well. This is a proper origin story for the X-men and it mixes drama with action very well. These are the characters you know and love.
Now, it's time to get specific. While I'll do my best to not give away too much, if you want to go into the film blind, you need to stop reading now.
Singer's influence on the film is palpable, down to the beginning scene starting out almost identical to the first scene in the first film. From there, we basically get X-men Origins: Magneto mixed with X-Men Origins: Professor X, and get to see a lot of other mutants, both old and new to audience members. There are cameos, but I'm not about to spoil that for you. I'm sure someone else will, this is the internet after all.
While there are some mild contradictions between this and the other films (Xavier is 24 when he meets Eric, not 17 as he said in the first film) they are mild errors and not wild inconsistencies like we saw in X-men Origins: Wolverine. Any long running series has its flubs (Data speaking contractions in Star Trek: The Next Generation comes to mind) and I consider any of them here pretty excusable.
As a nerd beyond being a comic book geek, I found it fascinating to see this post cold war interpretation of cold war events. I'm afraid I'm not enough of a history buff to tell you how well they got their facts straight, however, the film strongly suggests an alternate universe due to mutant involvement in the whole affair, so you probably shouldn't worry about that too much.
While I would have liked to see some of the younger mutants get a little more screen time, it's quite clear that this movie is all about Charles and Eric. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender inhabit the roles fantastically, and if you can get over the fact that they look nothing like Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, you'll be fine. Their chemistry together is fantastic, and they did a great job of showing both their deep friendship and the way the two of them disagree. It is the emotional core of the film, and I loved every minute the two of them were together on screen.
I didn't notice any glaring errors in how the other mutants were treated for the most part. I still disagree with Beast's early appearance - he should be much more apelike beyond his feet in order for him to have proper motivation to want to cure himself. As it was in the movie, he could just put on some clunky shoes and no one would ever know. It's also a shame that this Alex Summers clearly can't be Scott's brother, but given how poorly Scott was treated in the other films, I guess it doesn't really matter. I hope we get to see more of these two in future films, if they get to make them.
I was a little taken aback by January Jones' voice. I've never watched Mad Men so I didn't know what to expect. She has a fairly high pitched voice, which is not how I've ever imagined Emma to be. Despite this I think she inhabits the role well. I don't know if people who love the character will be as happy. I've personally never seen her as anything other than a meddling bitch, so she seems right to me here.
I feel like I might have more to say on repeated viewings, and believe me, there will be many more. I'll probably see it in the theater at least one more time if my parents want to go.
As an aside, as I left the theater, I noticed another group of people who had also just seen the film. They were all talking positively about it, but more than anything I noticed that one of the men was wearing a Marvel heroes shirt, and one of the women an X-men shirt. Both of these people looked to be in their 40s. I don't think I have the proper words to describe how happy that made me. To go from the little girl who was a weirdo for loving these characters to seeing people older than me loving them enough to come to films and wear shirts of them proudly fills me with a lot of happiness. I even saw one woman of about 70 who came to watch the film alone. Awesome!
This is sort of the end of my X-men Marathon, and sort of not. What I mean by that is, while this is the end of the sequential posts, this is not the last X-men review I will be doing by a long shot. Since there were many more posts I originally wanted to do, I plan on doing them sometime in the future. This will include more X-men: Evolution, more comic book and crossover reviews, and a look at the various collector's items and unique X-men merchandise I've gathered over the years.
This will also quite likely be the very last marathon I ever do. I originally had another one planned for next year to coincide with the release of The Dark Knight Rises, but the problem with sticking to one topic for so long is it isn't so interesting for those who don't care about that particular topic. Not to mention the insane amount of preparation it requires to read/watch/play so many things one after the other like that. So I will be handling it more like what I've been doing with Harry Potter and the Monsters vs Aliens Challenge, more like a recurring theme rather than a marathon. I've got some others planned besides X-men and Batman, and I think it will be a lot of fun. I hope you'll come back to check them out!