The good: It was a surprisingly fun setting. The evil mutants doubled as Bond villains, and it was fun to see a movie with US vs USSR again, it’s been a while. There was some good usage of the characters – Professor X in his early days, before he had all of his gravitas and lost his legs and Magneto as the ultimate Nazi-hunter were both really interesting. As a side note of Things I Enjoy – this was superheroes as urban fantasy, with hidden powers and secret societies waging a shadow war that is paralelled by the Cold War; this movie’s failures tended to be due to an excess of ambition rather than a lack of imagination, which I appreciate. Magneto and Professor X recruiting mutants from a strip club is one of the funniest things I have seen on the big screen in a while, and there are some hilarious cameos. The special effects really show the improvement you would expect due to the time since the other X-men movies… Magneto is particularly awesome.
The bad – Well, there was just too much stuff there, I think. You have the bit where we learn that super powers are real and are introduced to Charles and Erik (Professor X and Magneto), even see their childhoods and early adulthoods. Then, you have the bit where Charles and Erik team up to recruit mutants and start their own super team to combat the evil version. And then they teach their team to be awesome, learning lessons of their own along the way and forging a brother-like bond. Then, you have an epic showdown between the two teams, and a bunch of things that set up the series this is a prequel to. Thing is, I think this is all way too much to put in a normal-length movie. Parts felt rushed or packed in, and this isn’t just a viewer thing – the time that passes in the movie is a bit short for all the stuff that happens (it’s only a few weeks). Also, it seemed off – Xmen 1-3 are clearly set in modern-ish times… why did the basic framework for those movies have to be laid down in the 1960s? Makes it seem like not much happens in those 30 years.
The ugly: January Jones is far from ugly. But I really think she is too much on the skinny / bobble head side to play the White Queen. I know she’s real and the comic book pictures aren’t, but I don’t feel like she quite pulled it off – her look is extremely modern if nothing else, which seemed out of place (though, to be fair, you could say this about other characters, too). They made Mystique’s makeup much weirder looking with something like acne-scarring or scales more prominent on her face so she was much less of a thrill than Rebecca Romijin-Stamos, but I guess that was so they could make the point of her being unattractive (though a shape shifter is an odd choice for such a lesson, especially one who looks like she does in the first three). The Beast is a very pretty boy with very ugly feet who eventually turns into someone who is wearing a cheesy costume that he seems to have trouble talking in.
The weird – I liked Kevin Bacon in this, but for the record Burgandy thought he was too self-spoofing and distracting. I thought it was very confusing to have another winged mutant named Angel, when you already have Archangel (who appeared in the third X-men movie and was known as Angel in his early days), but apparently there really is another Angel in the comics who looks like the Angel in this movie, so fair enough, I guess. The whole premise is pretty weird – James Bond Xmen, more or less. I actually really liked it and heartily endorse seeing it on the big screen, but when I finish it seems like I have more negatives than positives. Still, it was good fun!