The latest X-Men extravaganza is a feast for the comic book
superhero fan. It begins
innocently, with an 8-year-old girl riding in a 1970's car with her
parents, who want to listen to a song by Glen Campbell, “By the Time I
Get To Phoenix” (yes, we get the ironic title).
But the little girl discovers she has the mental capacity to change
the radio channel from the back seat, so she does.
This causes her mother, the driver, to be distracted by changing
the radio station back, and, you guessed it....car wreck (the first of
many crash scenes). The little
girl, now orphaned, has to live with the grief and the guilt, and grows up
to be, not surprisingly, a conflicted young woman.
Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is grateful for the “gifted” people
who took her in and raised her, but when she finds out they lied to her
about a critical detail, she abandons them and seeks truth elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the X-Men are enjoying a particularly co-operative
relationship with the United States government, and when a space shuttle
gets into trouble shortly after entering the stratosphere, it's the X-Men
who get called to go rescue the astronauts.
Except when they arrive there, they discover that there is a
powerful force field assailing the American space shuttle.
We're told it's a spark of the energy field that created the
universe. (We'll leave the
implied theology to the professionals.)
Jean Grey gets zapped with the energy field, and it strengthens
her, but it also makes her able to resist the blandishments of her old
X-Men team, and wander off in search of her new identity.
It doesn't take long for a group of aliens cleverly disguised as
ordinary humans to find Jean Grey, and begin courting her to come over to
their side, against the X-Men. What
they fail to tell her is that they also intend to take over Earth and
populate it with their race of beings, by eliminating the humans.
So, once we've established the save-the-world scenario, we're ready
to do battle. The special
effects are remarkable, even down to the accompanying choreography.
With all the instrospection about deciding what kind of person
you're going to be, it begins to sound a bit like “Star Wars” meets
“Paradise Lost,” but Director Simon Kinberg keeps us close to the
action sequences, so we don't have to think too much about the
metaphysical. Those who are
not familiar with the particular characters, or their special attributes,
only have to wait a while, and all the X-Men will get a chance to show us
their stuff. It's just that
some will turn out to be more effective than others.
Director Kinberg also knows how to end with a winsome, charming
scene, after the smoke clears from all the carnage, in which two would-be
protagonists seem to settle their differences over a friendly game of
chess. Wouldn't that be a good
way to resolve conflict?