Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence,
Rose Byrne, January Jones, Nicholas Hoult, Kevin Bacon,
Oliver Platt, Alex Gonzalez, Jason Flemyng, Zoe Kravitz
Australian Release Date: June 2nd, 2011
Australian Rating: M
Forget everything you ever knew about X-Men. Because it is best left behind when watching this film. Not that the movie itself was inherently bad, it was just difficult to get past all the inconsistencies. Call me an old school fan girl if you wish, but I just found this representation lacking.
This movie is meant to be a prequel to the other X-Men movies, not a retelling of the strong story of friendship and parting of ways of Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr. As such, certain liberties were taken to try and conform this story to the new take on the X-Men stories as portrayed in said previous movies.
Don’t get me wrong, for an action flick it had explosions, hot chicks and a half decent detailed storyline, not to mention some great acting (in the form of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender), but it was like the writers decided to take the story between Charles and Erik, and pick random characters from the X-Men comics to fulfil places that were created in their version for a character with their specific powers. As a fan of the original stories, I found this difficult to overcome. But for people more accepting than I, I can see how this could have been an enjoyable film.
Like I already mentioned, the acting of Charles (McAvoy) and Erik (Fassbender) was one of the highlights of this film. McAvoy really captured the enthusiasm, determination and moral leadership that Charles was known for in his youth, and Fassbender played the troubled, still-trying-to-find-his-solution Erik, that ultimately lead to his becoming the leader of a radical group whose purpose is to eliminate any threat to his people. Freedom fighters or terrorists. It is a fine line. But Magneto himself is not evil. This movie does do one thing right. It shows how Erik and Charles want the same thing, safe existence of mutant-kind, yet the differences in methods they believe necessary to achieve this. The main theme of this story is Coexistence vs. Replacement. Charles believes that mutants and humans can live side by side, harmoniously, while Erik has a sadly more realistic view – one which Charles’ thesis was based on – and that is that there can only ever be one dominant species. The rest of the acting was nothing spectacular, some of it was rather 2dimensional in my opinion, but the cameos from the previous movies were a nice touch.
Let’s ignore the fact that they had the wrong characters and created incredibly inaccurate character relationships for a moment, and let’s discuss some of the major issues in the story. I think they can be summed up by ‘speed’. I personally found that some of the major character developments happened way too quickly to be believable, and that the ending was very sudden. Take Charles Xavier and Raven Darkholme: what purpose did it serve to make them grow up as adopted siblings, then have her inevitably turn on him barely within a heartbeat? One night and a shared dream with Erik should not have been enough to make her turn her back on the decades spent growing up with Charles. That kind of change needed to grow and be shown, to be believable.
So, a brief overview of what they did incorrectly: wrong ages and/or nationalities for some of the characters; having Alex Summers at all (considering he is significantly younger than Scott); working so intimately with the CIA; but most importantly: Charles found Jean when he was working with Erik. She was his first real student, his prodigy. One inconsistency they corrected from the previous movies, however, was the age and alignment of Emma Frost.
I can accept, but still dislike, the idea that Marvel has multiverses, and that those stories are also inconsistent, but within a series they remain consistent, and so far, as much as I still enjoy watching them, these movies are inconsistent within themselves. I will be happy when Marvel Studios get the licensing back for X-Men movies. My vote would be for a screen version of the Ultimate series. It is modernised and somewhat simplified. If someone got that wrong I would be devastated. Although, the current casting department have done a generally wonderful job.
Final thoughts: a good story on its own, but they have taken something that they did not create and changed it, dramatically. Better enjoyed by people who barely know anything of the comics.
For those who loved the originals 🙂