Director: Bryan Singer
In the future, mutants and humans alike have been enslaved by sentinels; robots designed to protect from the "mutant threat". Developed by a scientist (Dinklage) from the DNA of Mystique (Lawrence), the sentinels are able to adapt to and absorb their enemies' powers. Professor X (Stewart) and Magneto (McKellan) realise that the only way to beat their indestructible foe is to send Wolverine (Jackman) back in time to enlist the help of their younger selves (McAvoy & Fassbender) to stop the creation of the sentinels.
Wolverine takes centre stage here, in Jackman's sixth outing as the comic favourite, bristling with the rugged machismo of the character with whom he has become synonymous. The younger Professor X and Magneto drive the majority of the plot, but the biggest flaw of this movie is its lack of space to let the other characters breathe. While Evan Peters' addition to the cast as Quicksilver was an amusing new facet to the X-Men universe, several new characters were given screen-time over established and beloved characters, who barely had a line between them. Ian McKellan barely said a word and poor poor Halle Berry, who was sidelined in X-Men 3, was sadly sidelined again here. The two Professor Xs get a moment on screen together, but with the two timespans running separately from each other, with only Wolverine passing between them, I feel it was a bit of an opportunity missed. Time travel opens up so many possibilities for narrative and character and while the whole film hinged around this theme, it wasn't used to its full advantage and the film ended up mostly following the First Class X-Men, Wolverine and then just throwing in a series of cameos for good measure.
While the final act is suitably exciting of course, with set pieces galore and SFX aplenty, unfortunately the film does suffer from a massive sag in pace in the middle, sometimes bogged down by the sheer quantity of elements it tries to include. I take my hat off to Singer for trying to mend the franchise whilst acknowledging both its past and its reboot and in *some* of the film Singer manages this adeptly, but he just doesn't manage it for the whole film. Despite its 131 minute runtime, it still feels hurried and rushed, with focus settling at points you don’t want it to. It delights and frustrates in equal measure and while it earns marks for its sheer ambition, it loses them again for its execution. It has long been debated whether Singer’s explosion into cinema with The Usual Suspects was actually just a stroke of good luck... And this does nothing really to further the argument either way. But Singer + Wolverine + the wider X-Men universe does seem to be a winning formula and despite its flaws, this is a good effort for a genre that has become increasingly tired and formulaic.