Sunday, June 1, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Director: Bryan Singer
Cast Headliners:  Hugh Jackman, James McAcvoy , Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, many many others

Original Release Date: May 23rd, 2014

            Within movies, the superhero world that is one of the longest running and iconic is the X-Men. These “mutants” are born with incredible powerful abilities and the franchise has gone all over the place (really , it’s quite shocking the same franchise can contain X-Men Origins: Wolverine and also X-men: First Class)  but has maintained a core of the deep issues these characters face.  It’s very reassuring then that the newest entry, X-Men Days of Future Past,  is a stellar greatest hits of mutants and successfully mashes up both of its storylines to move the saga towards a form of epic conclusion it deserves.
            The movie is interesting as it serves as both an “X-Men 4” and a “X-Men First Class 2.”  The plotlines from both previous separate series films are continued forward as well as elements from 2013’s The Wolverine and even references to Origins: Wolverine.  While the film has solid storytelling and pacing, because of its intricate web of references to past entries in the series it recommendable only to those who have seen all 6 of the preceding X-Men movies.  The best part is that this gargantuan task works.
            It’s great to see familiar faces return to the dark future of a post-apocalyptic world where mutants have been rounded up and killed by the incredibly cool “Sentinel” robots.  Old friends Wolverine(Hugh Jackman), Professor X(Patrick Stewart), Mageneto(Ian McLellan ), Storm (Halle Berry), Kitty(Ellen Page), Colossus(Daniel Cudmore) and are the resistance, assisted by newcomers such as the portal creating Blink, energy using Bishop, and agile Warpath.  This future storyline would have been cool enough as its own movie; there are some incredibly intense action scenes of the crew surviving against the Sentinels.  The stakes are incredibly high however, and there are some emotional final stands made.  Again and again the last X-Men alive are slaughtered only for Kitty to use her time powers to go back and warn the group of where the next attack will be. A more permanent solution arises in sending Wolverine not back to just weeks ago, but years to his younger body.  The future or “present” era only appears sporadically through the film and the shift is sometimes jarring. But it is redeemed by the veteran cast members all giving performances just like the old movies, if not even further aided by the desperate atmosphere.
            1973 is where Wolverine arrives, the year Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) killed Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) and kickstarted the Sentinel program.  These three have some of the most screen time, and this is good because they are powerful characters and actors. Lawrence is great as the now more villain-like Mystique, however she does have random awkward “funny” lines or two.   Because of the Magneto/Professor X/Wolverine/etc dynamics it also feels like Dinklage’s Trask is underused.
            What works once again are the younger characters of the 1973 era.  Director Bryan Singer has done a good job taking over the reins of the feel of the more fresh younger cast, and its even complemented by funky music. The ageless Wolverine fits perfectly alongside the young Professor X (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and Beast (Nicholas Hoult).  It’s a riveting twisting and turning plot, but it’s held together by the great dynamics between this group.  There are some tense standoffs between Xavier and Erik, and its mostly impressive how each character has their own individual story add to the overall “stop the Sentinels from screwing over the world” story.
            There are some great visuals and action set-pieces. One can really tell that this has the highest budget of the series; there are some jaw dropping moments of spectacle.  The most cool sequence involves new character Quicksilver (Evan Peters) who has the ability to travel insanely fast.  Where a neat enough scene would have been to see him merely quickly take out enemies,  the best idea ever was to see how HE sees the world: in slow motion. This moment is a snazzy combo of awesome and hilarious. 
            One of the complaints would be that Quicksilver is only featured in a small segment of the overall film. Since the movie has so many characters, it’s understandable but the shuffling overwhelms at times, like the two simultaneous time periods.  Its flaws also play into the timeline, which is understandable since the franchise is so messed up. Luckily, this solves everything with some…things. Still doesn’t explain flaws such as why the Toad in this movie has messed up skin and goggles fused into his head while the one from X-men “1” looked totally different.  This is just one example of the luckily handful of plotholes. But that’s to be expected from time travel, things might get messy.
            X-Men DOFP managed to capture the greatest characters, stylistic elements, and reasons to love the past legends of these characters.  It’s quite a ride, it’s not perfect, but it has a lot on its plate. It manages to both be a tribute and a finale to everything that has come before and fill in the gaps, and yet it also paves the way for a tantalizing new world of possibilities for the future.  8.64 out of 10

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