Hi. What's up. You wanna talk about the entire X-Men series in one giant review? Well, honestly, it doesn't really matter what you think because we are going to talk about it anyway. Ready or not, here comes a full review of every single X-Men movie to date. Now bear in mind this is not about to be a 17 page review so each individual review will be shorter than usual and will only have a final verdict score. No critique or anything. Additionally each movie will be reviewed from the perspective of the series as a whole. Now my viewing of the series was as follows: X-Men, X2: United, X3: The Last Stand, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Futures Past, X-Men Origins, and finally The Wolverine. However, the movies will be reviewed by order of release date, from oldest to newest. Ok so! Ready? Deep inhale, and let's talk about some mutants!
X-Men (2000): The first installment in the series accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do: it lays the groundwork for the series. The original X-Men is filled with many cliche moments and is quite predictable from start to finish, however the characters introduced are very interesting and well-played. Bryan Singer, the Joss Whedon of the X-Men trilogy aka its brainchild, does a phenomenal job with the casting here, mixing in new talent with seasoned veterans. The decision to make Patrick Stewart Professor Xavier, despite his fame in the Star Trek franchise was absolutely brilliant. And whoever decided to bring in Ian McKellen, despite the fact that he was in the middle of filming for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy at the time of filming for X-Men deserves millions of dollars. To pit these two legendary actors against each other is arguably the bedrock of the entire franchise. To some it's not Magneto versus Xavier. To some it's simply Ian McKellen versus Patrick Stewart. And it's worth a watch just because of this one fact. And they could've stopped there. But they didn't. We may not realize it now, but at the time of the first X-Men Hugh Jackman was a nobody. But he is a perfect fit for the character, very similar to Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man. Jackman is Wolverine. And Wolverine is Jackman. Casting Halle Berry, who at the time was at the height of her career, as Storm was also an excellent decision then. She has certainly faded over time but that's ok. Her presence is welcomed here. Really the only miscast was of Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, however this miscast doesn't really come into play until X3. However when it does it becomes the worst thing imaginable. The story also surrounds a young Anna Paquin (True Blood) as Rogue. She was ok, however her character is not really given a chance to develop here. She must have been panned by the fans because her role gets smaller and smaller in every movie after, to the point that I didn't even realize she was in Days of Future Past. But her character is very poorly written, and I didn't really understand what she could and could not do. As for the rest of the plot, there are an insane amount of corners cut throughout the 104 minute story. And when it was over I was like ok. Where are they gonna go next. I think if I watched this movie in 2000 I would've thought it was awesome because it was a different time for superhero movies. The Dark Knight trilogy had yet to revolutionize the way superhero movies were told so as a result you could really feel like there was a comic book-ey aspect to this movie, and nowadays it definitely hurts its cause. Ultimately it is rather forgettable other than setting up the characters here. And making you want to see X2.
The Verdict: 6/10 Above Average
X2: United (2003): Definitely the best of the original trilogy, X2 takes the X-Men in a unique direction with the addition of the villain Stryker. He makes the movie great, creating a believable and heartless character with some very interesting but realistic motives. While the uniting of the X-Men with Magneto (not a spoiler because after all this movie is called United which should absolutely imply this fact) is kind of thrust upon you, and is absolutely the weakest-written part of the movie, it was still a really cool and clever tactic to switch up the roles as much as the writers did. And to make it believable. Everyone returns, with Halle Berry the true benefactor of X2. She has a much larger role in X2 than she did in the original, and she shines in the spotlight. Bryan Singer, who returned to the director's chair for X2, realized they had something special with Wolverine and gave him a large huge huge role here, essentially making him the main character. I mean I guess you could say in the original he was the lead too but here the story is largely and noticeably about him. And once again Hugh Jackman does not disappoint. Man if only there was an origin story of Wolverine that could probably be really interesting....anyway, X2 is a good movie, definitely one of the better superhero movies of the pre-Dark Knight era. You ask me and there might be only one superhero movie from this era that's better than this, and that is Spider-Man 2. However there are some faults though. While the most obvious is the giant leap of faith in expecting us to simply just trust that everyone can put behind their differences and align with Magneto with very little exposition behind it, there were a few others. Obviously I'm not going to go into all of them, but the one I will say is that the Wolverine backstory felt a little too dominating to the rest of the story. A kind of minor complaint, but still a complaint nonetheless. Additionally I commend Singer on making this a full movie. No cliffhanger. Just a good beginning, middle, and end. I absolutely recommend this one to all newcomers to the franchise. Oh ya. It's 134 minutes. Maybe a little long, but not by much.
The Verdict: 7.5/10 Almost Great
X- Men: The Last Stand (2006): We go from the high point of the original trilogy, to quite possibly the low point of the entire franchise. The Last Stand suffers from an absolutely horrible script from start to finish. There's still good performances to be had, as clearly all the actors do their best with the material they were handed, but the writing is just. So. Bad. It infuriates fans of the comic book series, and leaves people who haven't read the comics like myself on the side of the road to wonder, "What? WHO'S IDEA WAS THIS?" Between this and Origins the franchise very nearly died. And while some may wish for Marvel to get the rights to these characters again, I for one am extremely glad we have the three latest films in our lives. Fortunately, due to the ending of Days of Future Past, there's literally no reason to watch this film at all, as Director Bryan Singer has a clever way of wiping the existence of X3 (and Origins, for that matter) out of the X-Men timeline. Finally, the other reason this film was as bad as it was was the reliance on actress Famke Janssen. She plays Jean Grey, a pivotal character in this story. Only problem is Famke Janssen can only hit one note when she acts: she can be very charming. But as soon as you ask her to do anything else she falls apart. I really don't know how this actress became as prominent as she did in the early 2000s, but here she is asked to portray the biggest character ark in this story, and she fails in spectacular fashion. And it's only 104 minutes long. Simply a convoluted mess. Just skip this one, guys. It doesn't exist in the timeline anymore, after all.
The Verdict: 3/10 Bad.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009): Skip this one too, while you're at it. The boys over at Fox thought that they could get an "origins" franchise going for X-Men after concluding the original trilogy, as they planned to give Wolverine, Storm, and several other prominent characters a background film all to themselves. Well, this idea lasted for one film and proved to be a total disaster. There are so many problems with this film. While Hugh Jackman is as good as ever as The Wolverine, and there are a few decent action set-pieces, once again we got to witness a terrible screenplay over this 107 minute disaster. The biggest mistake of this film, and really of this whole franchise, however, was its treatment of Deadpool. A fan favorite, so many people were looking forward to seeing Deadpool finally show up in a film, and even more were excited over the fact that Ryan Reynolds was cast to play him. Well, what we got was a character so poorly written and wasted that a non-comic book fan like me didn't even REALIZE it was Deadpool the first time I saw this film. His role is so hopelessly squandered that there were likely tears coming out of the theater from the diehard fans that had been waiting to finally see Deadpool for years. The terrible reception of this film immediately killed any hope of more origin stories, and if The Last Stand didn't mark the low-point of the franchise, then this film certainly did. Fortunately it's all uphill from here.
The Verdict: 3/10 Bad.
X-Men: First Class (2011): Ohhhh was the franchise rejuvenated with this film. So, here's some insight into myself. While many people will say their favorite part of this franchise is Wolverine, I completely disagree with this. I believe the best part of the X-Men franchise is the relationship between Magneto and Professor Xavier, and this relationship is at the forefront of First Class. It also helps that these characters are played phenomenally by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. I would argue these actors are just as great at playing Professor Xavier and Magneto (respectfully) as Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan are playing Professor Xavier and Magneto. There's a chemistry to these actors that makes this film incredibly enjoyable. In addition, director Matthew Vaughn actually employees some creative editing in the training montages of the film to make something very enjoyable out of something that would typically be boring. The big loser of this film, however, is Jennifer Lawrence. She is woefully underused as Raven, especially since she ends up being a pivotal character in the story of Days of Future Past. Granted she wasn't the Jennifer Lawrence we know today in 2011, but she is a damn good actress who could've easily carried a few more scenes than just the "Oh, you're beautiful in blue." storyline we get. Actually, all the female characters in this film are pretty underused given that one is played by Jennifer Lawrence and another is played by Rose Byrne. But that's ok because the main storyline here between Magneto and Professor Xavier is executed flawlessly throughout the 132 minute film. I would honestly recommend watching this film first if you're getting into the franchise for the first time and know nothing about X-Men. Get the backstory between Professor Xavier and Magneto, then watch the original X-Men, then X2, then Days of Future Past. Then think about checking out The Last Stand, Origins, and The Wolverine.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
The Wolverine (2013): Sooooo I'm not as high on this film as others are. The Wolverine started out with so much potential. There's a very interesting premise, and Japanese culture is integrated exceptionally well into 136 minute flick, but....the film squanders this interesting premise and all semblance or renown for this culture with a TERRIBLE third act. That's right, I said it. The third act of this film divulges into cliche, knick-of-time escapes, where it seems like every Japanese man imaginable except one has forsaken their honor for a quick buck. I literally just crossed my arms and waited for the film to finish during this final act. First Class sent this franchise to new heights, but they were somewhat reigned in by The Wolverine. I can't help but feel like this film was the "cash cow"' film of the franchise. After all, the events of this film were erased when Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer wiped away the events of The Last Stand at the end of Days of Future Past. (Because this film clearly and obviously takes place after The Last Stand) It's hard for me not to be cynical with this film. At this point I would recommend it to people who really like Hugh Jackman and The Wolverine, (as most X-Men fans do) but don't go in expecting a masterpiece. Expect a lot of Wolverine, no mention of any of the other X-Men until the post-credits scene, and a disaster of a third act. You do that, and you'll be fine. Aaaaaand cue the fanboy hate mail.
The Verdict: 5/10 Average
On another note, this film is getting a sequel because of course it is, but I was surprised to hear Hugh Jackman announce that The Wolverine 2 will be his last film due to corporate directive and not his own decision. This is very surprising to me. Just like Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark and Chris Evans/Hemsworth are Captain America and Thor, Hugh Jackman is The Wolverine. There is no other character, least in the X-Men franchise, who's actor is synonymous with their character. So, after The Wolverine 2, either Wolverine dies or Fox tries to get another actor to play him. If they chose the later, it's going to be a disaster. You heard it hear first, folks. We'll see if my prediction comes true after 2017.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014): Ohhhhh it's beautiful. Days of Future Past is not just the best movie of the X-Men franchise, it's quite possibly the best film of the entire superhero genre that isn't named The Dark Knight. Days of Future Past makes you feel something that almost every other superhero movie fails to make you feel: dread. You actually feel dread in the final act of this 132 minute masterpiece. The way this film accomplishes this is by its spectacular use of time travel. Days of Future Past incorporates time travel in an incredibly convincing and effective manner, and successfully integrates two stories and two very different timelines into one giant film. The side-characters are used very well, (I liked Quicksilver FAR more here than in The Avengers 2-yes I'm reviewing this after the release of Avengers 2) the acting in both timelines is at the top of its game, (when the weakest performance in your film is from Jennifer Lawrence, you've done a good job) and the overall atmosphere is just incredible. (Dem costumes dough) The only major complaint I have with the film is how underplayed Peter Dinklage is. His character is essentially a one-note villain, and I know Dinklage is capable of so much more. However when the movie falters here, it more than carries its weight with the relationship between Magneto and Professor Xavier. Carried over from First Class, this dynamic is perfectly well-written. Save the relationship between The Joker and Batman, this dynamic is easily the best dynamic between two characters in a superhero movie. Honestly, this film is sooooo good that it's worth watching X-Men, X2, AND First Class all before watching this film in order to really appreciate it. And I assure you: it's worth every second.
The Verdict: 9.5/10 Damn Near Perfect
Well, there you have it! The mega review of the X-Men series I started almost a year ago is finally finished. Once again, thank you so much for reading! You're awesome. If you read this entire review, pat yourself on the back from me. If you skimmed it, then pat yourself on the bat with only one finger for me. Kay? Kay. Thanks again and I'll see ya next time from inside the wonderful world of my mind!
http://nomoremutants.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/cropped-X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Full-Cast-Promo-Photo.jpg (full cast photo)
http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/underwire/2013/07/x-men-origins-wolverine-0.jpg (X-Men Origins)
http://wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/80450F/comicsalliance.com/files/2012/09/xmfc39.jpg (First Class)
http://images.sequart.org/images/Hugh-Jackman-in-the-Wolverine-2013.jpg (The Wolverine)
http://www.yellmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/xmen-photo-2.jpg (Days of Future Past)
https://41.media.tumblr.com/32aa5cae56e869405d3482f7fcaa3d67/tumblr_nrh9j3IqXE1uziueyo1_500.jpg (final picture)
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