Sunday, June 15, 2014

X-Men Days of Future Past: A Review

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Directed By: Brian Singer
Written By: Simon Kinberg and Jane Goldman
Rated: PG-13
Time: 131 min
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, and Evan Peters
Plot: The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.

Comments: I grew up with the X-Men as a kid. I wanted to be Storm or Shadowcat. I fell in love with Gambit. I watched the cartoon. I read the comics. Life was good. But as a fan let’s just say we have been a bit underwhelmed when it comes to the movies. Sure it is great seeing your favorite characters, but you kind of walk out of the theater wishing you could go back to the old days. Some of the movies were okay while others have just been abysmal. However things kind of changed for me with X-Men First Class (save for Emma…January you phoned that one in). I dug it. I was excited to see how they were going to make me love the X-Men films again. When I started seeing Days of Future Past trailers I got excited again and so a group of us happily headed to the theater 6 months later.

It’s great to see a superhero film that has some great storytelling (betrayal, heroism, defeat, friendships, family, etc) and doesn’t rely on the superhero gimmick alone. The film begins in the future where mutants and humans with the potential for mutation have pretty much been wiped out by the Sentinels (a favorite Baddie of mine from the comics). You see a lot of your favorites die early on and things are so bad that Xavier and Magneto (Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan) have renewed their bromance. Their one hope, send Wolverine’s future consciousness into his past body and have him knock some sense into the younger versions (including Mystique) and stop the Sentinels from ever coming into being.

Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is actually quite likable and Jackman does a great job of reminding us why people love Logan. Then again so do James McAvoy (Young Professor X), Michael Fassbender (young Magneto), and Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique). Mutant politics can be a tricky thing as anyone who has read Civil War or a variety of other Marvel verse comics. And the cast does a great job navigating those tricky lines. In a way it is helping fix what Last Stand messed up because it is a great theme and storyline to develop.

While I may be a bit biased when it comes to James McAvoy (I have adored him since he was Leto II in the Children of Dune miniseries) he does a great job with Charles. Hank has been using the serum he uses to keep the Beast at bay on Charles. Good news: it allows Xavier to walk again. Bad News (or maybe it is double good news): he no longer has his powers. But it also means he is a defeated, bitter, drunk. He has lost his family of Raven and Erik and after the events of First Class you kind of can’t blame him for being a bit bitter. Betrayal is something that people never really deal with well. Redemption can be tricky. Charles spends a good deal of the film trying to find himself and slowly becoming the Professor X we all know and love.

Raven (Mystique) has her own journey, but it much more of a grey one. I have always loved Mystique as she has played both sides. And I think she understands both sides. This movie’s central plot also kind of revolves around her actions. Because she kills Trask and is captured, the future Sentinels have the power to mimic and combat any mutant power. This is what Wolverine is trying to stop, but he knows Mystique not Raven. We remember the teenager from First Class, one who made friends with others who were just like her. A young woman who finally felt like she belonged, but who was led astray. She’s seen her friends be killed and turned into trophies. She has seen people make her be afraid of who she is and others like her. Understandable that she might be a bit angry. Where Raven/Mystique goes from here, who knows. She’s set to forge her own path and I am curious on which side she will come up on in the next film.

Quicksilver surprised me as we all saw what he looked like months ago and shed some tears for a beloved character that just looked ridiculous. Now Pietro still looked ridiculous with a bad wig and fashion sense that I really don’t get, but I dug his character. Even Peters does a great job and I actually think they completely underused him. He is snarky, bored with the regular speed of life, and perhaps a bit too smart for his own good some times. While I still don’t understand why Magneto sent him away (he did break you out of a maximum security prison at the Pentagon, but sure could be no use to you as he saved your life from a bunch of bullets), I was pleasantly surprised how it all went down with him.

I also loved seeing Blink (she looked amazing…cosplay anyone and her effects were great), Bishop, Warpath, and so many more cameos that I was happy to see again and then not so much (looking at you Scott). The pacing was nice throughout, the CGI effects not too distracting, and while the film has its faults and glaring plot holes even as it tries to further tie together these last two films with the other X-Men films, I enjoyed it. I was entertained for two hours and may have let out a giddy little squee as we see Apocalypse and his horsemen in the end credits. If that is where they are headed in the films then you know my Amazon butt will be in the theaters when it comes out.

Rent/Cinema? Cinema. I loved X-Men: Days of Future Past. And as I’ve mentioned, although the film is nowhere near perfect, it is one of the best.

4/4 popcorns

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