The great thing about prequels is that
it includes everybody. You don’t
necessarily have to be a big fan of the “X-Men” comic book series to
understand what’s happening---and, hopefully, it doesn’t disappoint the
die-hard fans too much if the backstory doesn’t meet all their high
It does, of course, feel comic-book-ish,
because it is. The early narrative
bumps and skips along almost as if we’re progressing by quarter-panels
rather than video. It feels like
there are big gaps in the character development, but remember, this is about
the action; the plot is just a vehicle. And,
because of CGI technology, we can be almost as creative as a comic-book
drawing in demonstrating the super-powers of our action heroes.
But, we’ll like them better if they’re a little human, too.
It’s just that they’re so many of them that our synopsis has to
“The Professor” is James McAvoy, a
“mentalist” with the power not only to read people’s thoughts, but
convey his own thoughts telepathically. He’s
eager to work with the military, but desires to use his powers for
peacemaking, not domination. Erik
(Michael Fassbender) endured the ravages of a cruel Nazi torturer, Sebastian
(Kevin Bacon), so his metal-bending skills, as “Magneto,” come with a
load of anger and desire for vengeance. MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) is the CIA
agent who doesn’t have any superpowers at all, but serves as valuable
liaison to the always-suspicious government bureaucrats.
Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) can easily morph in appearance, but is
insecure about her “natural” state (like a blue character out of
“Avatar,” except creepier), and becomes enamored with Magneto for his
unconditional acceptance. Then
there’s Angel, who has cute little fairy wings, but breathes fireballs,
and the brainiac who fixes a self-help potion and turns into a Beast (hate
when that happens). There’s Banshee
with the rock-splitting voice and
with the adaptability to survive almost anything, and Havok who can hurl
thunderbolts but needs practice with his aim (there’s a moral there
somewhere about refining whatever skills you may possess).
Let’s see, on the bad guy side, Sebastian has henchmen, too:
Azazel, the disappearing devil who can transport others with him
(well, that would explain Luke 4), and Riptide, who can create a tempest at
will (which would explain Mark 4), and Emma, who also has telepathic powers,
and is an ice queen, besides.
a lot of characters to keep straight, and part of the struggle is about who
will join up with whom (well, you have to have both good guys and bad guys,
because they define each other, right?). Since
this context is the 1960’s, we get to jump in on the Cuban missile crisis,
and either try to save the humans, or help them wipe each other out so the
mutants can take over, but either way, you have to choose which side
Ah, comic books.
We can make up all manner of fanciful tales, let our imaginations
soar, and then when the story is over, walk away with conscience clear and
mind uncluttered. You could do a lot
worse at the movies.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor,
United Presbyterian Church,