Whether it’s foolish or not, I’ve always shown brand loyalty. When I decide I like something, it takes me a while to turn my back on it, even if the quality declines. I’m also a sucker for advertising. Hence, I will probably have an iPhone for the rest of my life; I don’t care if the Samsung Galaxy is superior. I’m loyal to my favorite movie franchises too. Quite simply: I like X-Men. I’ve seen every installment in the franchise, and I can admit that a few were subpar (X-Men 2) – but that’s not going to stop me from seeing the latest entrant upon its release. I enjoyed 2011’s X-Men: First Class and eagerly anticipated a return to the prequel format that showcased the likes of a young Professor X (James McAvoy, Trance), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender, The Counselor).
Director Bryan Singer (Jack the Giant Slayer) returns to helm the latest iteration of the popular franchise, and I thought his efforts were mostly successful. The familiar themes are present, yet they felt more relevant than trite. The mutants have always been characterized by the juxtaposition of ostracism and duty, with some vehemently loyal to protecting a species that welcomes them with one hand, yet pushes them away with the other. However, Magneto and his ilk have a darker ethos, perennially mistrustful of the so-called benevolence of mankind. They know that fear defeats loyalty and love nearly every time, and would rather not give humans an inch, lest they take a proverbial mile.
The movie begins in an apocalyptic future, where the tenuous bond between mutants and humans has been irrevocably broken. The powers that be have crafted a method of ruthlessly efficient eradication of mutants, and the species is essentially helpless, barely staying one step ahead of their predators. A government scientist named Trask (Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones) has enabled the reverse engineering of Mystique’s DNA, creating an adaptable killer who can snuff out mutants easily. The only way to ensure mutant survival is to go back in time and change the events of history so that the government does not develop this deadly technology.
The movie’s plot was entertaining and relatively simple, which I appreciated. McAvoy and the remaining cast were compelling and demonstrated great chemistry. Jennifer Lawrence added complexity to her role, humanizing her mutant character and making her a sympathetic figure in the face of persecution. There are always deeper psychological underpinnings at work in this franchise, if one chooses to explore them. Again, I find it interesting that so many mutants crave acceptance from the very institutions that seek to destroy them. I thought this was a fine addition to the franchise, and I wasn’t disappointed. Writer Simon Kinberg (This Means War) crafted a clever script that will allow an infusion of new life into the series, opening up tons of creative possibilities that were previously non-existent. I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, but since the movie involves changing the events of the past, it means that history can be re-written: for the X-Men and for everyone. Solid, fun movie. Grade: A-