Attempting to follow timelines and cast changes within the X-Men series is worthy of a three year university course, so we will not try.
All audiences need to know is the usual characters are back, with new and “old” faces mixed together to fill the normal cast list. Sophie Turner gets star title billing in this episode as “Jean Gray/Phoenix”. Gray remains the focus of the film after a daring space shuttle rescue goes badly wrong.
With “Phoenix” subsequently imbued with enormous power, it falls upon the rest of the group “Raven” (Jennifer Lawrence), “Beast” (Nicholas Hoult) and “Cyclops” (Tye Sheridan) to find a solution. Together with “Storm” (Alexandra Shipp), “Quicksilver” (Evan Peters) and “Nightcrawler” (Kodi Smit-McPhee) they emotionally wrestle for and against the danger from one of their own, an interesting premise.
As always the X-Men are aided by “Professor Charles Xavier” played by (James McAvoy) replacing Patrick Stewart. Every X-Men movie needs a nemesis and “Magneto” in the form of Michael Fassbender replacing Ian McKellen, makes an appearance with Magneto swapping sides as the situation demands.
As the story twists and turns the close knit group pull together against the dangerous foe closer to home, albeit abetted by the leader of another race led by “Vuk” (Jessica Chastain). Vuk of course wants the power for herself to enable her to do the usual stuff, world domination, a place to find a home and so forth.
As you would expect the effects are fine but the film fails to really take off, repeating many of the usual superhero beats but coming across as a poor facsimile. The acting is adequate for this type of film but it is difficult to invest any emotional energy in the characters, despite major events impacting one key “X-Person”.
Charles Xavier, always seen as the benign carer of his mutant charges, is seen here through a different lens. Portrayed as more interested in the President being on his speed dial and getting his picture on magazine covers, than questioning his own motives for what traumas he protects his mutants from.
“Beast” and “Raven” begin to doubt Charles motivations which provides interesting insights into the characters and one great feminist throwaway line but this avenue quickly jettisoned as the need for one or more massive set pieces falls due. As usual characters get thrown around despite being indestructible, with villains under the mistaken belief this will be an end to the fight.
Unfortunately the film failed to find a significant audience and it is easy to see why. Not a disaster by any means but with previous episodes taking the franchise in differing directions, one film to bring everything to a close was always going to be a tough sell.
A middle to low grade film in the X-Men series, not as bad as some and better than at least one. If you have watched the entire series, maybe worth two hours of your time.
Where to from here is another question….