Monday, May 26, 2014

Review 268: "X-Men: Days of Future Past"

Every hero, every power will unite.

X-Men Assemble!

      Geez. This is a tough one. I mean, there are just so many characters in the movie. I honestly don't know how to sum up this story quickly. Well, here goes. X-Men: Days of Future Past is a 2014 superhero film based on Marvel Comic's X-Men. It's the seventh total X-Men film, this one designed combine the original trilogy, the standalone Wolverine films and the prequel all into one complete continuity. Therefore, the film serves as a direct sequel to X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: First Class and The Wolverine. Directed once again by Bryan Singer (Superman Returns) and written by Simon Kinberg (This Means War), the film follows Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) as he's tasked by Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) to return to the 1970s and prevent a terrible future. As Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) sends him back and fellow X-Men *takesdeepbreath* Storm (Halle Berry), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Bishop (Omar Sy), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Blink (Bingbing Fan), Sunspot (Adan Canto) and Warpath (Booboo Stewart) protect him, Wolverine travels back to recruit Professor X (James McAvoy), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters) to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Trask (Peter Dinklage) and accidentally helping to create the mass-murdering Sentinels. There, that wasn't too bad.

Something Old, Something New

      If there's anything I'm really happy to report on when it comes to the new X-Men movie, it's that now, after seven movies, I finally know what my big problem with this story is. See, when a new movie comes about, I really don't try to isolate myself from other critics until I write my reviews. It's kinda impossible to when I end up review a majority of these movies months after release, but a lot of times it just helps to hear other people's thoughts as a way of getting mine going. Sometimes they even point out something I never thought over, regardless of if I agree with them. Case in point, a film critic I follow (Moviebob, if you're interested) pointed out that the X-Men movies have been using the same basic stories for the last seven films. X-Men rally against something that hates their existence or something that threatens the people that hate their existence. And with that, the reason I've never been able to outright love one of these movies became clear. They all really are the same story and it's a story that I personally don't find that interesting. I mean, sure, it's the X-Men's main story, but you'd think they'd talk about something else after seven movies and 14 years.
      Unsurprisingly, Days of Future Past is much of the same thing. Even with the whole time travel gimmick nothing much has changed. Despite reuniting the old cast, the film really is just a direct follow-up to First Class with Wolverine thrown in.  And now, with Singer back and the helm, the series loses the little bit of progress it made in First Class. The X-Men's costumes are back and looking more dull and generic as ever and while the action is better this time around (Someone played Portal since the last movie he made), the heroes never do get to do anything that cool with them. The series is still stuck somewhere between Marvel's comic book faithfulness and DC's dark and grittiness and it's not a great limbo to be in. The film never commits and many moments stop short of being awesome for the sake of grounding the story once again. Hell, the film literally drops a stadium of the White House... and then proceeds to end the action then and there.

Slow It Down

      Quicksilver's spot in the limelight is easily the most comic book like moment and probably the best moment in the movie. The character's fun and the scene is great. And sure, the movie's not bad at all. It's just not anything special. The cast is mostly good. A lot of the actors have just been brought back for a line or two or to sit and hold their hands near Hugh Jackman's ear in Ellen Page's case. Jackman's still good as Wolverine, though even he's starting to look bored. McAvoy is the best as the now jaded Xavier and easily makes the most of his role. Fellow First Class members Fassbender and Lawrence are pretty obviously done with the X-Men series though. Lawrence especially is weak. The film seems to put a lot on her shoulders since she's now Hollywood's sweetheart and she seems like she couldn't care less.
      And perhaps the most impressive thing about this movie is how it really is the biggest retcon of a movie franchise ever. And that fact sure shows. The story is well aware that the only parts that matter are the 1970s parts. The film rushes through the story of the original X-Men without much care. Most characters only get a few lines and even fewer of the new characters even get names. And it's too bad really. A whole other film could have been made about the war with the Sentinels and the film just glosses over it in as frustrating way. Key questions go unanswered, like how Xavier is back in his body. Or how Kitty Pryde suddenly gained time-travel powers. Or how Professor X and Magneto got Wolverine at the end of The Wolverine seemingly to send him back. And yet here, not only was the plan never to send him back, but the film makes no mention of any of what happen since The Wolverine or makes use of that awesome Wolverine costume he got, making the story of the original cast seem even more like a lazy way of fixing the previous films mistakes. Or, namely, the mistakes of the films not made by Singer. Huh...

She really wants out of this movie.
The Verdict

      X-Men: Days of Future Past is mainly letdown thanks to it's sameness. The film is nearly interchangeable with Singer's other two X-Men films and that's not really a good thing. Not only does the film return to the old, boring serious ways of the original film, but Singer skips over a lot of the interesting stuff in the film, leaving tons of unanswered questions. On top of that, many cast members just seem bored. However, the film is still solidly entertaining, thanks many to the cast of First Class mostly saving the day. Plus, with better action than before and a story that'd be interesting even if you weren't trying, the film is another solid entry in the series. Though hopefully we can start moving forward. X-Men: Days of Future Past gets 4 and a half stars of of 6.

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