Here we go again! In case you’re keeping score at home, this is the fifth X-Men film in the very lucrative film franchise, with four more on the horizon. If you hadn’t seen any of the previous films, you’d be lost with the multiple characters, storylines, and inside jokes. Plus, kiddies, in this film there are even MORE mutant characters to add to your playbook!
Note: Watching X-Men: First Class is required watching before you see this movie.
In a dazzling plot that bounces around time-lines, but oddly enough makes perfect sense, we start with a very bleak, very sad distant future. Robotic “Sentinels”, designed to absorb a mutant’s DNA and kill them, have all but wiped them out, including most of mankind (their programming went a bit wacky). Our X-Men heroes who survived: Storm (Halle Berry), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Magento (Sir Ian McKellen), and a few others have managed to secretly hold up in a Chinese mountainside fortress. All seems lost when Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) has a radical idea. She can mentally send someone back in time to 1973 when Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) murdered Bolivar Trask (the wonderful Peter Dinklage) who designed the Sentinels. She was then caught and her DNA was used to make the ultimate killing machines. If that chain of events can be stopped, maybe the future can be altered.
Got that? Good! Logan (aka Wolverine) volunteers to go to back to ’73 and finds a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) who can walk again, thanks to a special serum made by Beast (Nicholas Hoult), but it also took away his gift of mind-control and left him a bitter, angry man. Through some convincing, the three set out to free an incarcerated younger Magneto (Michael Fassbender) who’s being held deep underneath the Pentagon. For that hat trick they’re gonna need speed. They find it in a wise-ass, super-speedster teenager called Quicksilver (terrific Evan Peters) who helps in the unbelievable rescue.
Once freed and told of the disastrous future, Eric (Magneto) joins up to stop his old partner, Mystique. But at the crucial moment in time, all plans go haywire as Eric decides he’s got a better idea: kill Mystique instead! Well, that was a bad idea. Mystique escapes after Eric tries to kill her and that leads to the Sentinel robots (1.0 version) being approved and readied for operation. Worse yet, Trask is still alive and the future hasn’t been changed.
This event breaks up the team with Eric and Mystique off on their own separate agenda’s that Charles can’t figure out, but it looks like Eric has had it and wants his war with humans after all while Mystique is hell-bent on killing Trask, no matter what the cost. The ending is an exciting ping-pong “butterfly effect” between the past and future X-Men and their respective lives. For all you X-Men fans out there, you’re gonna love the epilogue!
Director Bryan Singer (who directed three of the five X-Men movies), scores another winner here with a damn nice screenplay by Simon Kinberg, based on the comic book storyline by Chris Claremont and John Bryne. We have the “old” X-Men mixed with the “new” X-Men for a great mash-up, bringing back the same actors to reprise their roles, which is always a treat. There is SO much more story here that I had to condense my review for space, but trust me, it’s worth the price of admission to see this one. Singer knows how to set the stage and bring us up to speed with the story without convoluting the plot with unnecessary side stories or down times. It’s just pure entertainment with some outstanding action scenes. One thing is for sure, he knows how to cater to the fanboys.
Some great performances here are lead by Jackman, who has made his career out of playing the clawed mutant. McAvoy has some pretty impressive scenes with Fassbender; they both have such great chemistry together. New kid on the block Peters is just terrific as the rascally Quicksilver, whose character will also be a crossover hero in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron next year. Topping the list is Peter Dinklage as Trask. Jettisoning his Game of Thrones curly hair for a 60’s hairdo, aviator glasses and a porn-stache he is just riveting in his all-too brief scenes. The man just exudes ‘cool’.
12 Monkeys (1995)
This is a time-travel movie that makes it looks SO anti-glamorous and painful, that you’d have second thoughts about going back. Director Terry Gilliam, who brought us such gruesome apocalyptical movies like Brazil, gives us another taste here with Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt in a wild and horrific view of the future… one possible future…
James Cole (Willis) is a convicted criminal living in 2035 Philadelphia which, like the rest of the planet, has been wiped out by a virus. Everyone lives underground, but scientists have perfected a time travel machine and send Cole back in time to find out who has the virus and stop them. But the machine isn’t all that perfect, and the scientists accidentally send Cole back six years too early. Oops! Cole tries to leave a voice-mail on a number monitored by the scientists in the future, but will that even work? Struggling to get what little info about the attack they had in the future, Cole has to track down the “Army Of The 12 Monkeys”, a radical terrorist organization thought responsible for the virus.
But being a criminal, a bit loopy in the head, and saying, “I’m from the future”only lands him in a mental institution and under the care of Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) . There he encounters a fellow wacko named Jeffrey Goines (Pitt), with whom he escapes, but not before he is “snatched” by the future scientists and accidentally sent to WW1, shot in the leg, and then bounced back to in his own time. Cole then kidnaps Railly and forces her to take him to Philadelphia where they learn that Goines is the founder of the Army Of The 12 Monkeys, but they’re not the source of the virus!
When the police approach Cole about the kidnapping, POOF! Cole vanishes again. Railly finds evidence that Cole had been telling her the truth about his time-travel, by way of a photograph from WW1 in which Cole appears, and the bullet in his leg that’s a vintage caliber! When Cole pops back, Railly springs him and they both race to the airport to find the person who’s carrying the virus. The ending is a confusing hodge-podge that only Terry Gilliam could dream up.
Startling, daring, surreal, and darkly comedic, this movie is based on the 1962 French 28-minute black and white featurette called La Jetee. The nightmarish screenplay, written by David and Janet Peoples, compliments Gilliam’s signature direction, which is always unique and often disturbing. Willis and Pitt are at their finest with some performances that many hadn’t seen from them in the past, especially Pitt’s manic and crazed inmate Goines, for which he spent time in a real institution for study.