Wednesday, May 28, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)


Title:  X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Director: Bryan Singer

Cast: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Nicholas Hoult, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Peter Dingklage, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, James Mardsen, Kelsey Grammer

So this is to be the end all be all of all X-Men movies, reuniting characters seen in all previous X-Men films, from the first trilogy, to X-Men: First Class. The story this time is based on the famous Chris Claremont/John Byrne storyline that ran through The Uncanny X-Men #141 and 142. Many comic book fans consider this storyline one of the greatest Marvel Comics ever made. I mean, it’s easy to understand why. A lot of important characters die, the whole idea that mutants are being wiped out like flies is a scary one, drawing parallels with fascism. It’s a story that touches upon many important themes. Racism, bigotry, xenophobia, you get the drill. So anyhow, here comes the film based on the famous tale; did it do it justice?

One of the greatest Marvel Comics ever made; The Uncanny X-Men #141!
                             
For those who haven’t read the story, Days of Future Past starts out in a dark distant future where giant dna-copying robots known as Sentinels go around hunting mutants and eradicating them from the earth, like cockroaches. The idea being that mutants aren’t so special anymore because these Sentinels can copy their dna, and as a result their powers. But wait! The X-Men have figured out a way to send Wolverine back in time to stop the anti-mutant hysteria that started way back in 1973, when the Sentinels where first created. Can Wolverine convince a younger Prof. Xavier to help him stop the events which lead up to the creation of the Sentinels?


Bryan Singer returns to the franchise he helped build with X-Men (2000) and X2 (2003). In a way, Singer has returned to fix the huge mess left by Brett Ratner with X-Men: The Last Stand (2006); a film that changed X-Men cannon by killing off important characters as if they didn’t matter. I can almost hear Ratner saying “Kill Prof. Xavier? Sure! Let the next guy deal with it, meanwhile I’ll have a movie that everyone will talk about because important characters die!” That next guy ended up being Bryan Singer, picking up the pieces, trying to make things make sense again, trying to make order out of chaos. So it’s no surprise that Days of Future Past has a couple of surprises in store for X fans! In many ways, it’s great to have Singer back in the helm. I mean, so far, he’s the director that has handled these films the best, so it’s kind of comforting to know the material will be treated with some dignity and respect.


In Days of Future Past there are so many characters appearing on screen at the same time, that unless you’re a diehard X-men fan, you probably won’t know who the hell is who at times. Who’s that guy with fire coming out of his chest? Or that mutant opening portals? I don’t know, but it sure is cool! That’s one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the X-Men comics, the multitude of characters, each with their own amusing ability. Having this whole mess of mutants running around using their powers and kicking the hell out of each other is fun times in my book. On this particular X-Men flick we get to meet many mutants we hadn’t seen before, like Quicksilver, whom you might have gotten a glimpse of during the final moments of Thor: The Dark World (2013). And by the way, speaking of Quicksilver, he was the one character everyone was all worried about. “He looks funny, he doesn’t look right” Whatever! He’s the guy who steals the movie! Quicksilver only appears for a short period of time, but damn, Quicksilver’s moment to shine is so cool that I don’t think the film every reached that level of awesomeness again. The film reached its peak somewhere around the middle of the film and it was all thanks to Quicksilver.


For all you comic book purists out there, well, you know they tweaked things around a bit. I guess the most notable change to the story is that Kitty Pride is not the one who goes back in time, it’s Wolverine. Every book to film translation suffers from changes for the sake of being more cinematic or exciting, so its understandable why they chose to make Wolverine the main character instead of Kitty Pride (like in the comics) or Bishop (like in the cartoons); considering Wolverine is the most popular X-Man ever, it kind of makes sense. In a sea of characters, some are bound to get lost in the shuffle and the one that got the least amount of attention in my book was Storm who is in the film for about 5 minutes total…or maybe less. Other characters only cameo and others you’ll see in some outstanding action sequence, and never see them again. But this is the nature of the beast. X-Men has always been a comic propelled by the idea that this is a group of super heroes and with so many characters in its roster, it stands to reason that the spotlight will shine on a different one with each story. In a future movie, who knows, maybe it won’t revolve around Wolverine so much. I mean, there are so many other characters to focus on. Still, with such a huge cast, I have to give Bryan Singer some props for not letting this turn into a total cluster fuck of a film.


At the end of the day, this film is a spectacle, a huge comic book movie with top notch special effects work, tons of action and many mutants to keep you entertained. Is it the best X-Men film ever made? I don't know, I guess time will tell on that one, but I will say that it's a very satasfying film. My only complaint would be that I wish they’d showed us more of the dark future world where the film starts out in. That part of the story is supposed to be very post apocalyptic, but alas we only get a glimpse of it. Aside, from that, I’m a happy geek boy with this movie. Of course the story brought to mind many time travel films, but the first I drew comparisons to was The Terminator (1984), because of the whole idea of going back in time to stop something from happening. By now everybody expects an extra ending at the end of all of these superhero movies. Disney has been doing this “extra ending” thing for a while now with great success. It’s a great thing in my book because it keeps the spirit of comic books alive. Comics have always been about the “to be continued” at the end of the comic, the cliffhanger to make you come back for next issue, or in this case, the next film. So yeah, now 20th Century Fox is copying this technique in their Marvel movies, and it makes all the sense in the world to me. Trust me, stay after the credits! Then go on the internet and find out who the hell Apocalypse is. Looking forward to X-Men: Apocalypse come 2016!

Rating: 4 out of 5


2 comments:

J.D. Lafrance said...

Fantastic review! I love how DAYS OF FUTURE PAST basically pretends that LAST STAND never happened, which is probably a good thing!

I really enjoyed this film and the Pentagon breakout sequence with Quicksilver was awesome. Joss Whedon really has his work cut out for him with his depiction of Quicksilver in AVENGERS 2. It will be hard to top what Singer did in this film!

Francisco Gonzalez said...

Agree J.D., that scene with Quicksilver was for me the best thing in the whole movie...can't wait to see this character again in Avengers 2, which I've just learned will have Josh Brolin playing Thanos! I mean, how cool is that!!

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