Having enjoyed the earlier cinematic outings of the X-Men (minus X-Men Origins: Wolverine which I haven’t seen) I went to see the new X-Men film last night.
It is mostly a prequel, with references to the later films (a blink and you’ll miss it glimpse of Storm as a child, for example) but it has also been described as a re-boot and it does change things slightly. For example, this film shows how Professor X was paralysed, but as my friends’ reminded me, in X-Men 3 there’s a flashback scene of him where he is considerably older than he is in this film but in the flashback he is walking. There are a few tie-ins to the later films such as unexpected and very short cameos from Rebecca Romijn (Mystique in the earlier films) and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine).
The film centres around the relationship between the young Charles Xavier (James McEvoy), founder of the X-Men, and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender, who is very good), who becomes Magneto. They are close friends but those who are familiar with the other X-Men films or the comics will know that they become enemies. Xavier considers that mutants and humans can co-exist while Magneto comes to believe that humans will always hate mutants and try to destroy them, and the only way to prevent this is to destroy them first. The film does a good job of showing the changing parameters of their relationship and how their viewpoints differ, whilst also explaining the backstory behind characters like Mystique, who is an important character in the other films, and lesser characters like Beast as well as those who appear in the comics but have not previously appeared in the film series (such as Havoc and Emma Frost).
As you would expect, it’s a high energy film with plenty of action and impressive special effects. The plot revolves around Lensherr’s desire for revenge on Sebastian Shaw, who killed his mother and experimented on him as a child in an effort to bring out his powers. Shaw is trying to get Russia and America to blow each other up in a nuclear war, as the radioactivity will kill humans and create more mutants. This culminates in the Cuban Missile Crisis, cleverly worked in as the scene of the final battle.