Or as I like to call it, Wolverine 3: Groovin’ with the 70’s.
It was hard for me to write something about this movie because I’m conflicted. Well, not conflicted so much as I didn’t want to come off as though I’m ranting without just cause. It’s no secret that I’m no fan of Singer’s “X-Men” movies. In short, they’re weak and not X-Men movies, just mainly movies with people in some costumes calling themselves X-Men mostly. Pale comparisons to what I hoped would be a tribute to a great franchise. I would go to each movie hoping for a glimpse of what I hoped would be “the one” to really make me connect with this franchise only to be disappointed. Matthew Vaughn’s “First Class” movie finally started to get me excited. Matt showed a real respect and some semblance of love for the characters. Now, that’s not to say he didn’t fumble in his efforts in parts, namely that ridiculous and impossible way he killed off Darwin, but in general it was an X-Men movie I could finally respect. So to say that I was dismayed to find that he exited the film and Singer was back in the Director’s seat would be an understatement. However, I still hoped that regardless of his past fumbles, Singer would get this right.
Usually I will do a spoiler-free review, but instead I’m going to do a critique of the film so that I can make my case (agree or not) about what I thought he did right and where I feel he failed (miserably). So be warned, THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD!
In general, I thought adapting the classic X-Men story line (Uncanny X-Men #141 – #142 ) was a good choice. Time travel movies can always be tricky because sometimes the manner in which they time travel can be a point of contention. In the classic X-Men story, Rachel Summers (the daughter of Scott Summers and Jean Grey) used her massive psychic abilities to transfer the consciousness of the elder Kitty Pride into her younger self decades in the past to stop Mystique from killing Senator Robert Kelly, the catalyst that spawned the Sentinels and eventually the death of just about every mutant and human that could spawn a mutant in the future. In this case Singer used Kitty Pryde as the vehicle to transfer the consciousness of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to the past to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), the inventor of The Sentinels.
Kitty Pride’s new power
Ohhhh wooooow, he got this one so wrong that it pulled me out of the movie almost immediately. Sooooo, now Kitty has this new power to transfer consciousnesses into the past? So, in a clunky way to honor the comic book character, Singer & crew shoe-horn this completely unrelated [psychic] power into Kitty’s power set? There are people out there who are saying, “Well, mutants powers evolve. So her power could have evolved and given her that power set.” Okay, the only problem I have with that answer is – it’s bullshit. The whole “secondary mutation” concept was introduced into the Marvel Universe about 12-15 years ago (mostly in an effort to make certain limited characters more interesting) as a secondary component to their primary mutation. For instance, Emma Frost is a skilled and powerful telepath, but she developed the secondary ability to turn into an organic diamond form that cancels out her telepathic abilities. So she can either telepathically compel you or turn into her diamond form and whoop your tail and is virtually impregnable. These two power sets were in concert with her character. Another one was Siryn, the daughter of Banshee, she had the powers of her father to use her sonic scream to either fly or as a destructive, offensive weapon, but her secondary mutation allowed her to use those same sonics to compel or hypnotize people to do her bidding. The point is, the secondary mutations are in line or opposite with their already established power sets. So Kitty having phasing powers to now having EXPLICIT psychic/reality bending bending powers is ludicrous. So my only thought was that this was a bone thrown to the comic book fans to keep Kitty in the conversation somehow. Unfortunately, it’s had mixed results where many hardcore fans just saw it as unnecessary pandering or (as I see it) a totally unnecessary plot device. Plot-induced stupidity at its finest. Quite frankly, they could have EASILY used Charles Xavier in that role and made it more inline with the original source material, just replacing one powerful psychic with another. The scene could have EASILY been reconfigured with Kitty running through walls to bring Bishop (who is a known time traveler in the comics) to Charles in a separate room during the Future Sentinel invasion and – *scene*.
Speaking of Chuck, this was one continuity error that just confused me a bit. The one thing that was established per young Charles peering into Logan’s mind was that X-Men – The Last Stand (2006) happened, they didn’t just ignore it. Regardless of what you thought about the movie, the events of that movie happened and there were consequences. Specifically, the body of Charles Xavier was destroyed by The Phoenix (Jean Grey) and he transferred his consciousness into another body, per the extra scene at the end of the credits. So my point is, did the man’s body he took over morph into Charles’s body, complete with paralysis? Hunh? That makes no sense. In truth, it was just lazy, lazy writing. Obvious at that.
Wolverine Origins – Did it or didn’t it happen?
So far, there’s NOTHING that states that this particular story didn’t happen. William Stryker was introduced as a minor villain in this flick and in one scene where Mystique’s plan to initially kill Trask was foiled by Xavier, Magneto, Hank and Logan, Stryker was shocked to see Logan’s bone claws and it was a foreshadow of things to come once he gets his hands on him. So there’s some concern that he won’t have the adamantium claws in future films because at the end of the movie, Mystique posing as Stryker, rescues Logan from the bottom of the Potomac river. This is a silly concern because there’s no way they’re going to honestly under-develop their prized property Wolverine. So I fully expect him to have his shiny pig-stickers in the new reset X-Men universe. However, what this does mean is that The Wolverine (2013) has been made null and void. Which is too bad because it was the other X-Men movie I actually respected and found to be generally good. I especially love the introduction of Yukio and the potential of future movies with them together. (kicking rocks)
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the incredibly terrible and pathetic way this movie dismissed the First Class cast. Outside of Mystique, Hank (Beast) and a brief appearance by Havok, the rest of the cast was remanded to the trash heap as deceased test subjects at that the hands of Trask while developing his mutant detection system that would be implanted to each of his Sentinels. I’m not sure if there is some history between Vaughn and Singer, but it seemed almost spiteful in how they were treated, and quite frankly I didn’t much care for it. I get the fact that this was a silent war and that there were mutant casualties, but how they were so callously dismissed just left a bad taste in my mouth. It was Singer’s film though and he built up his core cast and he wanted them to be front and center. I get it, but I didn’t respect it.
Wolverine – The Time Traveler
If they were going to use Wolverine instead of Kitty to go back in time, then how they explained this was actually kind of smart. I felt that the notion that the human mind can only go back so far before it snaps was plausible for the story. Thus, using Wolverine whose healing factor would constantly repair his mind while traveling back decades made some sort of sense. In fact, it was the one point in the story that made the most sense and I was okay with. Credit is due here.
Probably the two best new characters in the movie. When I saw Quicksilver’s image on the cover of Empire Magazine, I just knew this was going to be the stupidest character ever. I was convinced that I was going to hate every moment he was on the screen. BOY, I WAS WRONG! His introduction had me laughing and the way they explored the use of his powers was almost genius. His scenes were scene-stealers and I was kind of bummed he wasn’t more prominent in the film. His involvement in Magneto’s jailbreak was probably on par with Nightcrawler’s attempt to kill the President in X2. Pure, exhilarating, fun. This is probably the only time I will say this, but – The Avenger’s Quicksilver has some big shoes to fill and I hope their Quicksilver is to this task because this movie set the bar high for his character. I even like the hint (while not confirmed) that Magento may be his father as he is in the comics. A nice touch.
The other character I liked, while she needs/DESERVES to be flushed out more, was Blink. In the future, she serves as the remaining X-Men’s resident teleporter and how she used her powers was fantastic. I’ve loved her character since she was reintroduced in the comics during The Age of Apocalypse story line years ago and subsequently in the Exiles comic series once AoA ended. She first appeared in the pages of X-Men during the “Phalanx Covenant” where she heroically sacrificed herself. Then during AoA, she was revamped and was able to use her powers in more interesting and more lethal ways. Either way, I hope to see more of her in the reset X-men universe in years to come. They have a goldmine on their hands with these two characters.
En Sabah Nur
At the end of the credits, there was an extra scene where they introduce us to a character standing on a sand dune with thousands of followers chanting “En Sabah Nur” who is pscionically moving the pieces of an Egyptian pyramid around like a Tetris puzzle. Then we get a side pan of a young man, with grey skin and red eyes and four men on horseback on a distant sand dune in the background (his four horsemen). This was the teaser to the next X-Men flick, The Age of Apocalypse by showing use a young En Sabah Nur (Apocalypse), probably thousands of years ago in the past during his rise. I’m not going to get into a long history lesson on Apocalypse because there are a lot of sites you can find (namely Marvel.com) that have already done this for you. My only gripe is that this was probably the most underwhelming major character reveal I’ve seen in any Marvel movie. This was not a Thanos-type reveal at the end of The Avengers. At least in that movie, they made an attempt to capture the grandeur of the bringer of death. It looked like a last minute thrown-in scene with cheap effects. Specifically they didn’t even try to put any of the characteristic marks on the boy to give us the sense of dread you’re supposed to feel when you gave upon the first mutant. I was disappointed and have been ACTIVELY telling people to just go home and don’t waste your time waiting for this scene. It’s not worth it, in my opinion. They didn’t even try and that saddened me. However, I hope by the next movie they’ll put forth more of an effort to make him look as menacing as he truly is.
Okay, that’s it…..
I literally have about a dozen more substantial issues with this movie (not nitpicks) that I could go into but this post would end up being way too long. Listen, if you love this movie, then I don’t begrudge you that. In fact, enjoy this latest installment because Singer put a lot of spectacle and sizzle in this movie. There were some great performances by Fassbender, McAvoy, Dinklage and Lawrence, so I want to state that they made something more out what I consider a substantially broken movie. However, after seeing substantially more complete and poignant films like Captain America – Winter Soldier, this felt more like a SFX/Writing 101 class where I’m more used a Master’s program at this point. So, I’m hopeful for this franchise as it has now reset the universe (voiding out X1, X2, X3 & The Wolverine movies) and can start fresh, but I don’t trust Singer’s vision with this franchise anymore than I did with the Superman franchise. All I know is, I could have waited for this on HBO and I just may wait for the next one depending on how I’m feeling after the first reactions come in with AoA – but I’m not sure I can trust that either at this point.
The only movies I enjoyed less were Wolverine Origins and Last Stand at this point.
And I’m out.