Twitter Plot Summary: Uniting the two X-Men casts, Wolverine is sent back to 1973 to prevent a horrific future from taking place.
Five Point Summary:
1. The future looks a bit grim.
2. 70s Wolverine is a win.
3. Quicksilver is a boss.
4. Stadium plus White House.
5. Everything nicely tied up.
After the disappointment that was The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, there was plenty of work to be done to improve matters for the X-Men franchise. That was successfully completed by the Matthew Vaughn helmed X-Men First Class which went back to the 1960s and rebooted the franchise with a younger Charles Xavier and Magneto in the form of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. Fast forward to 2014 and not only has Bryan Singer returned to the director’s chair of the franchise that helped kickstart Hollywood and the public’s love for comic book movies, but also unites both his original cast and the younger bunch that were introduced in First Class. On paper it’s an epic production to say the least.
The plot has the potential to be incredibly confusing, as is typical of most time travel-related plots. It’s to Singer and company’s credit that the time travel ramifications are explained clearly and are no more complicated than is absolutely necessary. To sum up – giant robots called Sentinels (who have the power to absorb mutant abilities and use them) have taken over the world and it’s down to the last group of mutants to make one final stand by sending Wolverine’s consciousness into his younger self in 1973 to stop this future from ever taking place.
There are a couple of areas which could warrant improvement. Trask’s motivations for wishing to wipe out the mutant gene are never made clear and isn’t anywhere near as villainous as you might expect him to be. Whilst not wishing to draw too much attention to Peter Dinklage’s height, it seems an odd casting choice if you’re not going to explore this in the film. Still, he is at least a somewhat sinister presence without ever verging on becoming a stereotypical, moustache-twirling villain. So that’s good.
There’s much less of the future cast than some would perhaps like, turning up as they do in what amount to extended cameos. In particular the grumblings of franchise fans will be most notable regarding the new mutants – Blink, Bishop etc – who get to show off their powers but don’t have opportunity to introduce themselves properly. Still, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has opportunity to freshen up his character which is an important step to take given that he’s now on his 7th appearance in the movie universe.
On that note it’s incredibly dark and pushes the boundaries of a 12A rated film. Characters are ripped apart and brutally killed, there’s an F-bomb and a plethora of S-bombs for good measure, and the young Charles Xavier is off his face on drugs that give him back the use of his legs. Throw in some obligatory social commentary by contrasting the mutant problem against the Vietnam War, and the obligatory “everybody loves Mystique” angle established in First Class, and you’ve got a story that works on a number of levels.
On a more positive note, the finale manages to make amends for the plotting missteps in The Last Stand whilst also setting up the notion that the timeline is fluid and, without wiping out the continuity of the previous films, does at least allow certain amendments to take place in future McAvoy/Fassbender X-movies if they are required. It also turns out that the X-Men universe version of Quicksilver is a hugely entertaining addition to the cast, with a scene that apes the Nightcrawler sequence from X-2 but played for laughs.
It’s gratifying to see the X-Men franchise reassert its position after a couple of missteps, but it seems that mixing things up and focusing on period piece stories is doing the business. They’re still not perfect films – not yet anyway – but we’re most definitely heading in the right direction.