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"Peace Was Never An Option"
on 7 August 2014
This was a much needed revamp in the X-Men series after the luke-warm but successful reception of ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ and the disappointing ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’. It dispensed with the inclusion of dozens of mutants from the comics to please all die-hard fans and also removed the CGI heavy action and frantic story in way for a more well-paced, thought out and emotional story that plays out a REAL origin story of the two figureheads of the series: Professor X and Magneto.
With such a strong cast, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender embody the roles made famous by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in a way you really can understand they are the way they are when we meet them nearly 40 years later. Both actors show their dexterity in acting, from tapping into strong emotion and heartache but also warm friendship and humour as their relationship progresses and changes over the course of the film. A clever script and thought-provoking story make it all more relevant and gives them both something to really chew over in making their characters more than just cardboard copies of who they were, both actors create who they ARE in a wonderfully engaging way. And with great support from the wonderfully sly Kevin Bacon, the gorgeous January Jones and also ever likeable Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Holt fill the other important roles with great pathos and energy. Even our young mutant heroes in the likes of Zoe Kravitz, Lucas Till, Edi Gathegi and Caleb Laundry Jones are easy enough to like, even though are just token additions to add the action stakes. All characters seen are used to move the story forward, not just expendable and throw-away characters to please fans.
Special mention goes to a great and inspired cameo by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, something that is referred to once again in ‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’.
The film can feel a little long, but only because so much of it is spent on character development and narrative progression which is crucial to what director Matthew Vaughn wants from his film, in which that is to flesh out characters and gives us the reasons why they became the characters we met back in the original ‘X-Men’ film.
It’s a very clever and well thought out film, referred to as a blockbuster with brains, which is something why many action-heavy, CGI popcorn blockbuster audiences were wary of this film; intelligence in a blockbuster is a rare thing, but it gives fans of the series a reason to have faith in the future of the films, especially with the positive reaction for ‘Days Of Future Past’ as it lays foundations to build and develop on from a world more realistic and relevant than seen before with a cast that are strong, dedicated and understanding of the roles they are in.
The CGI action towards the end is a little touch-and-go in places, but still well staged with lots of time for the goodies and baddies to shine with their powers which makes watching the X-Men so much fun. It’s a strong film with an obvious underlying message of faith, family and friendship played out, and it’s all the better for it as it starts to strong, you can’t wait to see where it continues and thankfully we don’t have long to find out.