Wednesday, June 11, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Mild spoilers within.

The X-Men attempt time travel. Trippy.

After the events of The Last Stand things have gone irrevocably bleak and holocaust-like. The last few surviving X-Men we know come up with a desperate final play, knowing that the events of the present hinged on one particular act in the past, they send someone back with a mission to prevent that act. And luckily for us, there's only one mutant who can survive such a journey, and therefore become the central character of the story -- Wolverine, of course.

He's the best. Even without his shiny metal claws.

And with Hugh Jackman at the center of your movie, especially as this classic character, you cannot go wrong. Never mind that un-killable thing, he's the only character sturdy enough to stay steady and unwavering as the complex plot shifts story lines around in a tangling mess hoping to emerge in the end with something pliable.

The focus is mainly centered on the young Professor X, going through a seriously uncharacteristically dark and difficult time as James McAvoy, and Magneto, Michael Fassbender, regular, normal, not-exactly-evil-but-definitely-misguided-and-rather-obtuse extremely complex and annoyingly likable Magneto. Also Mystique and Beast, characters who only became worthy of main-character attention once Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult were cast as them. In fact, if I were to order these characters by importance and screen-time, Lawrence would be second only to Jackman. And with her skill, that's how it should be. Peter Dinklage also gets a turn as a typical, but memorable villain.

And they all turn in fantastic performances as we've come to expect of them.

The rest are more of side characters, even the greats Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, and while their storyline in the future does feel disjointed as you might expect, the characters and their powers are used creatively, make up good scenes and add to the suspense. That one mutant who knew how to think with portals made those scenes worth it singlehandedly.

The plot moved along at a quick and steady pace, and was involving and concise, if, at times a little too weighty and dramatic. It never went too far down that path to cause damage, but I certainly preferred the more fun, upbeat scenes. Like, for an example, every scene featuring Quicksilver. (Evan Peters) His character was brilliantly done, and played for comedy, and now I'm wondering how Age of Ultron could possibly top this with their version of the character. (I'm sure they'll surprise me too.) Anyway, the best of Quicksilver was unarguably the hilarious slow-motion bit where he casually saves the day in a fraction of a second. Unfortunately, he was too super-powered, and had to leave after that so there could be an actual plot for the rest of the film.

Four cool dudes.

And from there the rest of the film not being as balanced with comic relief veered over into seriousness, but didn't have sufficient content to ground it. It was still action-packed, sharp, clean, sensible, and filled with fine performances, but it seemed to all add up to nothing we haven't seen four or five times already, just with seriously cooler special effects -- and awesomer actors -- and those really wide 70's collars. Which, I suppose, makes it all worth seeing again doesn't it?

There was only one thing that really bothered me; lack of momentum in the characters. The character arcs were all more like circles because everyone got their due development, and it was all great, but at the end none show any actual progress. With the exception of Charles, who did have a marked change in character from beginning to end -- but not from end of First Class to the end here, which is the same difference.

"A person's a person, no matter how mutated, and we should all live in harmony." Yes -- we know. Are there no other themes worth exploring?

All these things make me believe that this film sole purpose was to be a connecting piece to combine the old and the new of the franchise into one, so they can continue from there on a new path. And that it does fantastically well, but the side effect is that it doesn't stand alone very well. As a piece of the franchise it's arguably the best yet, crafted well and with few flaws, and certainly succeeds in pulling the franchise out of a very deep hole. I honestly think it could have been more ambitious though, to band together and move forward into the future it creates simultaneously. It doesn't reach so high, but everything it does endeavor to do it succeeds in doing convincingly, and is well past a worthy installment for both sides of the franchise; as it sets the stage for a brand new future.

14 comments:

  1. Since I am trying to avoid any and all spoilers, I skipped to the end of the review, but I am glad that you liked the movie. I can't wait to see it myself!

    -James

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    1. Good choice. Thanks, I hope you enjoy it, and I'll look forward to your review!

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  2. I LOVED this movie! SOOOOOO much. I know a lot of people were complaining over mild problems with it not going along with the comics or whatever, But I adored that movie. It might have been my favorite Marvel movie yet. next to the Winter Soldier.

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    1. Wow, second only to The Winter Soldier is very high praise! I'm glad you liked it so much! :D I haven't read the comics at all, but it seems practical that they'd deviate from them, to keep things interesting and original!

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    2. I love it the first time I watched it but something I noticed is as I watched it more and more there was some things I picked apart like what has the sentinals been doing these last 3 xmen movies before first class? Why didnt they touch on why professor x is alive? stuff like that. still love the movie though. The winter soldier is still my pick for the summer.

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    3. Yeah, there did seem to be some holes. But still nothing to keep it from being enjoyable. It's in a lot better place now than it was after The Last Stand, so I'd say it'd definitely worth a few plot holes. Yeah, I think The Winter Soldier is the best film of the year... so far!

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    4. The question about the Sentinals is a good one! As for Professor X being alive, we know he transferred his consciousness to another body before Jean killed his body in X-3 (as it shows in the stinger), so I assumed he found a way to build a new body or something, though I would have built one that could walk...

      But overall, loved this movie. Absolutely my fave so far this summer.

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    5. It's a stretch, but works for me. I'm just very impressed they managed to revive it at all! And then with such overall style and quality.

      Glad you liked it so much Hamlette!

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  3. I loved this movie! Great review. :) That scene with Quicksilver in the kitchen was just plain awesome, I was just grinning and laughing all through it and I keep replaying it in my head and laughing to myself. :) Good point about how Wolverine is the only character that's 'steady' enough to handle being the main character in a plot like this, I hadn't thought of that. My favorite scene was the Professor talking to his younger self. (And I love the music during that scene, I believe it's called "Hope," it's so beautiful.)
    Wasn't the Time in a Bottle song perfect?! :D

    xx

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    1. Thanks! Yes, that scene was hands down my favorite scene of the movie. I want to see it again just to see that part. :D Thanks, and it's good that the filmmakers apparently realized it too. He was the perfect support for the film. Oh yeah, that was a cool and trippy scene, I was wondering what was going on there when I saw part of it in the trailer, and it turned out good!
      Yes. Yes, it was. :D

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  4. I finally got round to seeing this movie today! I have to say I didn't enjoy this movie as much as First Class (which is hands down my favourite X Men movie). I don't think this movie was as well-paced as that movie was. Also I was hoping that there would be a lot of Erik-Charles interaction in this movie and we didn't really get that. But I definitely still enjoyed this movie. James McAvoy was fantastic. Fassbender, Lawrence, Jackman & Hoult were all great. Quicksilver was a lot of fun. Your point about Quicksilver was my favourite part of your excellent review :D Yes, their mission would have been so much easier if only he'd come along! Why didn't Wolverine think to invite him?! Oh wait, because the movie would have been over in about 10 minutes. That's why.

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    1. Oh yay, I'm glad you enjoyed it, even if not as much as First Class. I agree, First Class' plot seemed more concise and clear-headed. I think I probably like them equally for different reasons. I was hoping for some interaction with Raven and Hank and was also let down! But yeah, I noticed that too. It was like the filmmakers were afraid to commit to anything solid between characters because they didn't know where the next movie was going to go in that area. Haha, thanks! :D And that would have been boring, so I guess we'll have to forgive them!

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  5. While I disagree with you on a few points, I am glad that you did enjoy the movie. I will say that it is the type of movie where you need to know what happened in the past six movies to catch everything like the passing reference to Striker’s son Jason, or feeling the weight of *SPOILERS* Iceman’s first death during the beginning of the movie, which actually left me in shock for a few minutes (THE Sentinels CRUSHED HIS HEAD). Mystique’s change of development as a character was great too. Now you have Magneto, Xavier, and Mystique with three different philosophies on how to advance the mutant race.
    Good review. :)

    -James

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    1. Yeah I've never been a big fan of X-Men in general, and didn't re-watch the previous films in preparation so I'm sure I did miss a few things. I didn't catch that reference, but (spoilers) I did like Iceman in the other films, so he death did shock me pretty good! I never cared about Mystique either until she was played by Jennifer Lawrence. Maybe I'll take the time to re-watch the others, and see if that helps my enjoyment any. :)
      Thanks!

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