Rating: 3.5 Stars
The following review contains spoilers.
A wealthy businessman spends years searching for a cure for the mutant condition, and finally succeeds when his company finds a mutant with the power to suppress mutations. Distilling his ability into an injection, they believe they can permanently convert a mutant into a human. Though not all mutants believe their condition is a problem that needs curing, especially Magneto and his militant Brotherhood.
Meanwhile, years ago, Professor Xavier felt he had no choice but to insert psychic blocks into the mind of his student, Jean Grey, to prevent her blooming power – the most seen in any mutant to date – from overwhelming her. When Jean and her friends were almost killed at the end of the last movie, she moved past her blocks to access the power she needed to save them, and with that power an alternate suppressed personality, the Phoenix, has now taken control.
In both plotlines, the question is, can people with this kind of power be allowed to exist with no checks? It’s the same question a lot of X-Men stories ask, honestly, but this is one of the few instances where the X-Men themselves say: nope, not really.
We finally get a scene of the X-Men training together and taking out a sentinel in the Danger Room. I could have done without the deliberately confusing “not too distant future” chyron, but otherwise it’s a great representation of this type of scene from the comics. All the characters were actually using their powers – even Rogue taking some of Colossus’s power to turn metal and save herself – and it climaxes with the “fastball special” of Colossus tossing Wolverine at the sentinel.
The action scene where the X-Men and the Brotherhood converge at Jean Grey’s house is excellent, especially the way three different conflicts all intertwine and play off each other. Juggernaut is throwing Wolverine through the ceiling while Callisto smashes Storm’s face into a coffee table, all the while Professor X is trying to “fix” Jean, who refuses to go back to the way she was. All these things are happening at once and we’re bouncing around between them, until it all climaxes with the house itself being lifted into the sky and the Professor being disintegrated.
In the final action scene, Magneto is throwing flaming cars (courtesy of Pyro) at Alcatraz. That’s a pretty cool thing to happen in a movie.
There are a lot of mutants in this movie and they use their powers all the time. It feels like a bigger, fuller world than the previous X-Men films (although a lot of the mutants at the end seem to share the same power of running straight ahead and getting murdered by the X-Men; guess they ran out of time/money?).
Ellen Page is good casting for Kitty, and I liked (with one very notable exception below) her fight with Juggernaut a lot. Somebody still needs to make a great adaptation of either Kitty versus the N’Garai demon or Spider-Man versus the Juggernaut. The unstoppable monster versus the scrappy little hero that won’t give up. The scene in this movie isn’t that, but it briefly evoked that for me.
Thank God Rogue took the “cure.” You can talk about mutant pride all day, and you can say it’s a metaphor for any number of real world things, and in real life people are fine the way they are, but in the world of this movie her power is a real crap deal. It’s lifetime solitary confinement. It would have been completely insane for her to keep her awful powers if there’s another option out there. I also liked the sweet scene between her and Wolverine where he tells her he supports her decision, as long as she’s doing it for herself and not someone else.
I like Kelsey Grammer for Hank McCoy. His voice is perfect for that character.
Glob Herman is technically in this movie. That’s kind of incredible.
So we have this amazing scene at Jean Grey’s house, and Famke Janssen is finally approaching an interesting performance, and then in the second half of the movie they do nothing with it. She just stands around looking dead inside. What happened to the Phoenix from earlier in this same movie who used telekinesis to take Wolverine’s pants off? She had personality. She wanted things. For some reason she completely goes into pause mode until it’s convenient for her to wake up again at the end. She’s so much more interesting than Magneto here, and there’s tons you can do with the way these two old men both think they know what’s best for her and they just end up making everything worse, and the movie just doesn’t go for it at all. Then at the end they chicken out de-powering Magneto and on killing Xavier, and it almost feels like you’re cursed to live in the thumb of these old guys forever.
(Were the filmmakers big fans of Buffy, Season 6? The endings are very similar in a lot of ways, except in Buffy Xander doesn’t stab Willow)
Angel is positioned at the beginning like he’s going to be this big, important character, and he just does nothing of interest at any point. He’s a big blank. Also there’s no way a regular shirtless dude can jump through a skyscraper window like that.
The dialogue in this movie is not great. “In chess, the pawns go first” is a decent line, and then two seconds later after Magneto’s first wave is taken out, he says, “That’s why the pawns go first.” Wow, this movie thinks I’m an idiot.
“I’m the Juggernaut, bitch.” This is the dumbest thing ever. Also, Juggernaut’s whole costume is awful.
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Oh just shut the hell up, Mr. President.
Halle Berry is still the worst. Shawn Ashmore is not great either.
I really don’t need a love triangle between Rogue, Iceman, and Kitty. And the movie barely uses it so it seems like a waste of time. They make a repeated point of saying that Rogue is not getting the cure for Iceman’s sake, so then just leave him out of it.
For the “good guys”, the X-Men can claim the biggest body count in this movie by far, right? Even Beast is out there snapping necks.