Monday, May 26, 2014

Movie Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

1st Review!

Eh, wasn't too bad.


Elaboration is probably required.

It's kind of sloppy, but then, every movie in the series so far has been kind of sloppy. The problem is that the character arc of every plot is shared between one to three characters. Everyone else gets to come along for the ride and occasionally show off their portion of the special effects budget. This leads to important characters being underwritten and unimportant characters being offered more screen time than they deserve. X-Men has always worked better as a television series because it allows the focus to drift between characters and give everyone time to develop and grow and change. A two hour movie doesn't offer that opportunity.

I'm being harsh. First review, I should be more positive. But at the same time, some parts of this movie are straining the part of my brain that judges things. There are so many inconsistencies between this movie and its predecessors. It gets frustrating when the movie doesn't even try to answer any questions the audience might have. But I will address those in a spoiler section. For now...

The future. Anti-mutant fervor has reached a tipping point resulting in the formation of the Sentinel Program. These machines round up, or execute, any mutants they find. Forced to work together after decades of antagonism, Magneto and Professor X along with their respective comrades have drawn together one last plan to keep the extermination from occurring. By sending Wolverine's consciousness back in time through his body, he can bring together Erik Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier in an attempt to keep the Sentinel Program from ever starting.

Aesthetically, this movie does a lot right. For starters, the Sentinels look really good, past and future versions alike. The mutant powers are all really pretty, getting enough time between them to satisfy the variety that's promised in a movie like this. James MacAvoy and Michael Fassbender have just as much chemistry here as they did in First Class matching up well with the real life documented friendship between Ian Mckellen and Patrick Stewart. Also, we finally get to see Professor X in a floatie wheelchair! I don't know why but that's very important to me.  

This time around, the story finds its center in Mystique, now something of a sister to Professor X whereas previously she snuck into Cerebro in order to kill him (continuity!). Having the mutation that allows her to transform her image into that of anyone she's seen (including their clothes?), her DNA is decoded and used to create the new breed of Sentinels, after she is captured for the murder of Bolivar Trask, played by Peter Dinklage, and the Sentinels original creator. Unfortunately and ironically, Jennifer Lawrence seems to want to rip off her blue skin. It's an unenthused performance made even more lackluster by the continually outperforming Michael Fassbender. Of course the only reason he can pull best performance here because his future-self and co. seem to only exist for exposition and one scene that stretches the already loose rules of just how time travel works.

I liked this movie. In the scheme of current Marvel films out right now it's definitely better than The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It's probably superior to Godzilla as well, if only for the severe faults with that movie's human characters. Thankfully, despite Wolverine's prominent place in the plot, he enjoys the background as more interesting characters get to take the stage.  

If you're one of those people that needs some sort of rating for immediate reference, 6.5/10. The movie does a lot of things right, a lot of things wrong, and doesn't do a lot of things it should at all.


If there's one thing that really spoils the mood, it's confusion. It makes time travel movies especially difficult to pull off because of just how difficult it is to keep track of everything that changes or transforms. Hence, over the course of these movies, it gets difficult to ignore the fact that as new changes take hold the old continuity gets harder to reason. Why would they establish that Mystique grew up with Professor X while in the first movie, she tries to kill him? Quicksilver gets his first full appearance here (not counting a cameo appearance at the end of Captain America 2 where he's played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and is probably the most entertaining thing about this movie, but where does he go after he breaks Magneto out of the Pentagon?  

Where did Wolverine's adamantium claws come from if they were chopped off in his last movie? How does Kitty Pryde send Wolverine's consciousness back in time when it's never established prior that she has that power? Trask, for all his goings on about how mutants are the enemy, never gets the opportunity to offer any reasoning for his worldview. Seriously, is X-Men Origins canon or isn't it? All these questions and more, not to be answered in X-Men: Days of Future Past. 

As for the stinger at the end of the credits. That was Apocalypse, the first mutant. Born in Egypt as En Sabah Nur (what the Egyptians before him are chanting), augmented by alien technology, he has control over every molecule in his body which allows him to turn any part of it into a weapon he might require. He also possesses a genius understanding of biology which allows him to alter any being he so chooses to an image or creature he designs. His view of humanity is entirely Darwinian, believing that only the strong can survive while the weak must perish. Magneto's views are comparable, but Apocalypse holds his views over the entirety of the universe. This is the canon of his history in the comic books. I doubt they'll port the alien technology over to the films especially given this movie-universe's disconnect from the Avenger's, but they'll likely keep him just as powerful. And yet somehow Wolverine will be the one to stop him because marketability.   

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