Wednesday, May 28, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Days of Future Past
Get out your time travel and energy guns, we're reviewing X-Men: Days of Future Past!

In order to stop homicidal robots called Sentinels from destroying all of humanity, a ragtag band of mutants including Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), and Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) and stopping the future before it ever happens!

I really enjoyed X-Men: First Class. Though, before I saw it, I didn't think it was going to be any good. But it surprised me! And then when advertisements (especially some really terrible ones) started popping up about this one, I had my doubts. How could they make it as good as First Class when they're trying to tie it to the original series AND ALSO making another movie with Wolverine as the center piece?

Well, somehow they managed to pull it off! In fact this may be my new favorite X-Men movie. The fights are fun, the story is mostly cohesive, the characters are great, and it's not centered around Wolverine as much as I feared it would be!

That's a weird thing to be excited about, right? Less Wolverine? But First Class is the only X-movie that wasn’t primarily about Wolverine, nor did it have giant gobs of him in it. Hugh Jackman is great, and he continues to be amazing and funny as Wolverine, but we don't need more Wolverine. The original DOFP story has Kitty Pryde going back in time, and while it makes sense here to have Wolverine go back to bridge two movie world generations, it still sucks that we ended up with less Kitty Pryde. Especially since Ellen Page is awesome! Thankfully, she's the one who sends people back. Though that seems to be a convenient new power for her(I suppose because bringing in a small name like Kiden Nixon, who actually has time-manipulation powers, woulda been too hard), I mean, at least she's sort of an integral part as a result, even if it’s a stretch to make her fit that role in the plot?

Actually, not to get too much into spoiler territory, but the main thrust of the movie is based around Mystique, which is great because I LOVE Mystique and love Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of her. She gets a lot of cool action scenes and plenty of time to show off her amazing mutant ninja skills as well as awesome shape-shifting. Story-wise, it's a bit problematic because she acts as a macguffin that everyone is trying to find or control, and her loyalty still seems to be wavering between being Prof. X's student or Magneto's soldier/student. Both are trying to control her with their own message when I really just wanted her to say "Fuck both of you!" and have her do her own thing. The story seems to be all about her, with everyone else acting around her, which has some good and some bad in it. It's complicated.

Speaking of Charles and Eric, I’m hugely disappointed with how white the 1970's storyline is. Sure, in the future they have Storm, Warpath, Blink, Sunspot, and Bishop, but the main characters of the past are Professor X, Wolverine, Magneto, Beast, and Mystique. I'm tempted to call Mystique a woman of color because she's literally blue, but since she's played by a white woman and identifies most as a white woman when she's not in mutant form, she's as white as the rest. With main bad guy Bolivar Trask, that is – well, that’s a lot of white guys. And they’re white guys dealing with EMOTIONS that they're experiencing, with and about other white guys. But hey, there's also Quicksilver! (Also white) Apparently they killed off all the supporting cast of First Class between movies (except for Havok because heaven forbid you kill off an important white guy) and that really annoys me. It is crazy that a movie set mostly in the period of racial upheaval with a story ABOUT a group of people being hated by the normal masses is SO white. It brings back memories of Darwin getting killed in First Class, which is STILL especially annoying because the bad guys treat Mystique's powers like Darwin's. Hey, maybe don't kill off the black guy with invincible adaptive powers in the first place?

But all of those problems (which seriously need to be addressed) aside, it is a really fun film. The story is fun and progresses nicely. Not to get too into spoiler territory but I LOVE that it effectively fixes X-Men 3. That's something that needed to be done a long time ago. It's a pretty good time travel story, even though it probably doesn't make any kind of sense. I really like how they go back and forth between the past, trying to solve the problem, and the future, trying to buy enough time to solve the problem. That's really interesting.

The fight choreography is REALLY GOOD. Easily the best fighting of any X-Men movie and I think it has basically every kind of X-Men fighting you could want from any of the other X-Men movies. There's a super swanky jailbreak scene, there's all of Quicksilver, who is pretty perfect and hilarious, there's Blink doing science with portals and the rest of the future team, there's Mystique's cool mutant kung-fu, there's more secret agent Magneto, and yes, even Wolverine gets some claw action. And two types of sentinels! Giant robots are always appreciated. There is A LOT of action, and it's all fun to watch. And also SUPER VIOLENT. With all of that and the swearing, I'm surprised this isn't an R-rated film. We're talking people's arms getting ripped off and dudes getting ripped straight in half. But I guess it gets by because all of them were in their 'powered' form and it technically never happened because of time travel? Not a kid's movie is what I'm saying. They act like a team and use their powers together and it's super awesome to watch! And thankfully the 3D is pretty good. This might be the first movie of the summer that I'd say it's worth it to see in 3D.

All the character work is really well done. McAvoy, Fassbender and Lawrence really act their butts off. McAvoy does a great job of selling how broken Charles is, and Fassbender still has that suave-yet-murderous look. And Evan Peters is surprisingly perfect for his role as Quicksilver. The only one I was disappointed by was Dinklage as Trask. He's good, but we never really find out why he hates mutants so much. It seems like a waste of his talents. But considering how many characters are already in this with two massive storylines, I find it hard to believe they'd have time for more.

So yeah, Days of Future Past. It's mostly very good.

THE GOOD: GREAT action scenes, lots of cool mutants, cool use of powers, fixes X-Men 3, Lots of Mystique, Wolverine not central focus, good 3D, good story, great characters and acting.

THE BAD: Killed off non-white supporting cast, 1970's era is too white, can be SUPER violent, Kitty Pryde not main focus, lots of white dudes for a movie about diversity in the 70's.

THE VERDICT: $$$$ I mean, it is really good. Like SUPER good. The only reason it doesn't get a perfect 5/5 is because of how diverse it SHOULD be. This is an X-Men film made in 2014! Set in the 1970's! Why are we only seeing white men?? THIS IS THE X-MEN DAMMIT. This is the one superhero team that should be all ABOUT diversity in race and gender. Hopefully they get it right for the next one and bring back all those super cool POC mutants on the future team.

MOVIES LIKE IT: X-2: X-Men United, X-Men: First Class, Time Crimes, The Avengers, Looper

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: The movie starts off with the future team of X-men fighting a group of future sentinels, a very diverse team that consists of Blink, Kitty, Bishop, Sunspot, Ice-Man, Colossus, and Warpath. SUPER diverse. Anyways, the fight is over, which didn't amount to anything, and then to progress the REAL story, Wolverine, Professor X and Magneto show up. DON'T WORRY GUYS THE WHITE GUYS GOT THIS. The rest of you can go die violently now I guess.

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