NeoBaggins reviews X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
Bryan Singer returns to the series that took comic book movies in a new and exciting direction. 14 Years since the first X-Men hit theaters, the director is still full of surprises. Read my take on Days Of Future Past after the jump.
WARNING: SOME CONTENT MAY OR MAT NOT FALL INTO THE CATEGORY OF SPOILER
Not since 2006 have we witnessed the assembly of the original on-screen X-MEN. After the original X-MEN film, followed by its popular sequel, the series moved on to different directors. Now, after two solo WOLVERINE films and the revitalizing X-MEN FIRST CLASS, the X-MEN are home; with director Bryan Singer.
For a popular series that movie-goers are pretty familiar with, the X-MEN are very modest at the box office. But hopefully and much deserving, perhaps that trend will change with X-MEN: DAYS of FUTURE PAST.
DOFP is a unique movie that combines two great elements to create one great film. The first element is director Bryan Singer; responsible for the best X-MEN films from the original trilogy. The second element is the Matthew Vaughn directed FIRST CLASS; a bold idea that paid off in the form a good film with strong performances. And now, together; Bryan Singer has taken the original X-MEN cast and inserted them in a film with the FIRST CLASS cast, and with poetic efficiency. The concept alone is noteworthy as the director essentially creates X-MEN 4 and FIRST CLASS 2 simultaneously. And if that's not bold enough, the film dares to imply (to me) that every single X-MEN film, "continuity errors" and all, are indeed connected under one continuous story, possibly on different time lines. Other interpretations suggest DOFP actually eliminates certain films all together.
One thing is certain; Wolverine Origins and X2 apparently exist in the same canon as DOFP. But that's another discussion.
You would think all of this would be rather confusing with its time-travel premise, but surprisingly, the tale is laid out in a mostly easy-to-follow way despite the films scale. There are but two things I'm confused about. Maybe three.
The film opens to an action sequence that brings us up to speed as to where the X-MEN are in the future, or the present if you will. Deadly 'Sentinels' search a ravaged and dark world in an on-going effort to eradicate the Mutant populace. To make matters worse, these super sentinels cannot be defeated by force as they are advanced in absorbing any Mutant power, rendering them indestructible by versatility. And they are brutal, which brings us to the foundation of the plot; Our heroes must travel back in time to stop the super sentinel's from ever existing.
With a group consisting of Iceman, Bishop, Sunspot, Warpath, Colossus, Blink and Ellen Page's Kitty Pryde; our heroes fight an unwinnable battle where they are defeated then rebooted by way of time travel to try again. Up until this point, Kitty has been able to send a single Mutant back in time, a process where ones current consciousness is placed in their younger body at an earlier time, to warn the group of the impending sentinel attack. But the new plan requires Kitty to send a Mutant's conscious back several decades before the super sentinels were forged, a far greater challenge for her than sending someone back a few days- a process that would tear apart a Mutant's mind. So, Wolverine is chosen for the trip. Because he can take it.
Charles Xavier, Storm, Wolverine and Magneto are back and are working together to overcome the sentinel threat. Despite the missteps of X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, one can't help but smile at the return of the old crew.
In the standard tradition of the series, we are introduced to additional Mutants. This time around we have comic favorite: Bishop. His live-action debut brings us a character that is more closely visually adapted from the comics than the series is known for. For his stent in the film, he looks great. We also have Sunspot, a character whose power could have been adapted a little better. Here, he looks like the human torch when it would have been nice to see his flames emitting from a pitch black silhouetted. Still, he does his part in the thrilling team attack against the sentinels which include stunning visuals with the Mutant Blink as she and Warpath zip in and out of portals in a strategy to defeat their foes.
But the fun doesn't truly start until Wolverine awakes in his younger body, circa 1970. Hugh Jackman's portrayal of the Wolverine is consistent under all directors, but it soon becomes apparent that the Wolverine is at his best with director Bryan Singer. In DOFP, for the first time, Wolverine is a vessel, a component, a supporting piece of the puzzle rather than an overbearing focal point. Logan is not soul searching or preoccupied with his origins here. And I believe this is the most fun the character has been since the first X-MEN. With a wise crack here and there and of course his tendency to get into fights, Wolverine is tasked with convincing Charles and Eric that he is from the future and needs them to band together- a task that requires a delicate approach, skill and patience. The latter of which Logan admits is not his strongest suit.
For a CBM, performances are top notch for the most part. Most notably is James McAvoy as the young Professor X. With wit and raw emotion he portrays a troubled Xavier to tear-jerking levels. Couple him in a scene opposite the intense Michael Fassbender and you have near perfection. The actors are on their A game and with much material to work with.
This is not the Wolverine show as some detractors predicted. No, DOFP is skillfully balanced. It's Mystique's story, it's Xavier's story, it's Magneto's story, it's the story of Kitty Pryde, her team, and the preservation of Mutant kind. In some ways, Wolverine is a host, a narrator of sorts. Even a heckler with a few well timed wise cracks. We travel along with him as he plays his part in aiding the cause. Wolverine is very entertaining in this capacity and for a brief moment, when things shift towards the character exclusively, we get unique glimpse into Logan's mind that also sends the audience a message about the series itself. But like I said earlier, that's a different discussion.
Nicholas Hoult continues to give us the meek Hank McCoy and the ferocious BEAST. And you can detect a bit of duo chemistry between Wolverine and BEAST as they team up for a brief moment. Every character has his space and role to fill, and overall, Singer is in full control of the ensemble.
In an unforgettable scene after Logan has formed a small band consisting of Xavier and Beast, we witness action and spectacle in its highest form. But first, we're introduced to Quicksilver. The Mutant speedster is charismatic and funny. And no pun intended, but you find him likeable, quickly. Within seconds of his first appearance, he has the audience.
The effect used to display his unreal speed is an unexpected effect that has him zipping around the room with a soft wisp of wind. Another subtle, but nice touch is the hurried speed in which he spoke. But things become more interesting when the action is slowed down for our human eyes to see.
Without spoiling the scene with any details, I'll just say that the excitement and thrills of X2's Nightcrawler sequence are back and bigger.
We look forward to seeing more Quicksilver in future installments.
Peter Dinklage does his job as the ambitious Trask, tho he doesn't really reach a defined level of villainy. He seems like a man who thinks he's doing the right thing. Responsible for creating the sentinels and on the verge of discovering the element needed to create the super sentinels, Trask is a driven man with a purpose.
DOFP is a CBM epic in scope. It is dramatic as it is fun and emotional as it is exciting. The visuals are exceptional from its period piece sets and wardrobe, to the cold, dark, world of the future that awaits the X-MEN.
DOFP is the most ambitious of the series and more than likely will be regarded as the best among many fans, including myself. As of now, I just have to keep returning to the cinema to see it.
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