X-Men: Days of Future Past

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Release: Friday, May 23, 2014

[Theater]

If Bryan Singer’s latest addition to the X-Men chronicle is any indication of the summer of movies that awaits us, by the shortness of Peter Dinklage we are in for a good one!

In fact the cinematic event that Singer has recently finished polishing off is one so grandiose it might very well make the controversy that arose prior to its worldwide debut a day simply of the past. With any luck, the quality of this much-anticipated material will be enough to satisfy most blockbuster moviegoers’ palate in the coming weeks.

The last time we hung out with any mutants, it was starting to become a one-sided affair, and Logan, a.k.a. ‘the Wolverine’ seemed to be receiving more than his fair share of the spotlight. Even though at this point it’s been all but pre-determined by the studio that Hugh Jackman’s gorgeously CGI-ed biceps is what we need the most, we are inclined to agree. His understanding of the character, and his command of it has been a thrill to watch; his pain consistently strikes at the heart of the struggle of the X-Men. And despite getting to spend that much more time with his charismatic manimal in The Wolverine and X-Men Origins — it’s not really his fault his character seems to be the most compelling of those who possess the magical DNA — these considerably lackadaisical entries contributed greatly to the sense that the series itself was a dying breed. Even despite Jackman and a wealth of material still yet to be tapped.

It’s fine, though. A few steps may have been taken backward but it’s with great relief to announce that what this summer has in store for fans is something that takes leaps and bounds beyond anything that has come before it. Simultaneously a compelling merger of the mutants in their younger and older forms, and an action-packed adventure/fantasy in its own right, X-Men: Days of Future Past is thrillingly paced, hilarious and keenly self-aware; intelligent on a level the series has been clawing at but failing to breach thus far. To be fair, few films with stakes this high can afford to be all these things at once without sacrificing something.

Given the final product on display here, it’s unclear what Singer or screenwriter Simon Kinberg have had to sacrifice. We join up with the few surviving mutants who are now hunkering down in the side of a mountain as the world around them continues to deteriorate. A government-sanctioned program has spawned a third race of beings on the planet: sentient robots built with the sole purpose of targeting those with mutated gene pools. These are the creation of the sinister Dr. Bolivar Trask (Dinklage) and they are horrifyingly efficient at what they do.

The crisis has reached a point where reconciliation is all but impossible for either party, and it’s even begun to sap Professor X (Patrick Stewart)’s optimism for a future of any kind. Fortunately he’s still got one more trick up his sleeve, and that is in Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page)’s ability to project present consciousnesses of fellow mutants back in time into beings that existed back then. One snag: the critical time period we must go back to is 1973 — fifty years removed from the present, and this eliminates all mutants but Wolverine, as they won’t be able to physically or psychologically survive such a sojourn.

Wolverine’s task is to track down certain mutants in 1973. Yes, this will indeed involve the unenviable challenge of intervening during a period where a young and besotted Charles (James McAvoy) is having a bit of a spat with the similarly naive Erik Lensherr, a.k.a. Magneto (Michael Fassbender). He must organize everyone in an effort to prevent a renegade Mystique/Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) from her inevitable date with destiny, as the blue-skinned beauty has taken it upon herself to even the score with Bolivar, whom she seeks for his inexorable experimentation on her mutant friends.

There’s no room for error on her part, and ditto that for Wolverine, only with exponentially less room. Not only is he battling the conditions of the time period he’s reinserted himself into, he’s having to convince those around him that there’s a bigger picture they all must pay attention to; and this isn’t even to mention that his journeying into the past has a perpetual impact on his physical and mental tenacity. This is assuming nothing goes wrong on the other end, as well.

Days of Future Past stockpiles the thrills as its labyrinthian plot unfolds piecewise. Its similarly expansive cast is on fine form and at this point in the game its more than a little difficult to separate actor from character. Familiarity typically breeds contempt, but here it breeds a hell of a lot of fun. Comparisons to The Matrix and Marvel’s The Avengers aren’t unreasonable — the teleportation of Wolverine seems to mimic the connection between realities found in the former, whereas both scope and visual grandeur make the comparison to the latter all but inevitable.

Comparisons run amok with Bryan Singer’s new X-Men installment, but it’s as well a thoroughly well-made product on its own merits. It looks sleek and best of all, it doesn’t feel even one second over 90 minutes. The film is actually over two hours in length, and even has time to factor in an exquisitely rendered and considerably extensive slow-motion sequence, without ever feeling like it’s wasting ours. Now that is effective storytelling.

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4-0Recommendation: Was it worth the wait? You bet your mutant ass it was. Days of Future Past may stack up to be one of the most heavily anticipated films of the year, and the final product is well-equipped to handle the challenge of living up to lofty expectations — expectations made so by frequent and repeated failure to get things right before. It deftly handles a dense amount of material by seamlessly connecting stories together, with a focus on the shadow games played by Mystique and Wolverine. Enthralling to newcomers and rooted firmly in the ethos of the comic, 2014 may well have brought us the definitive X-Men movie.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 131 mins.

Quoted: “Maybe you should have fought harder for them.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.alternativemovieposters.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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37 thoughts on “X-Men: Days of Future Past

  1. Pingback: Top That: Ten Actresses Who Clearly Love Their Job | digitalshortbread

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    • Thanks kindly man, I think you’ll have some fun. I know I did and now YOU know I did. 😀

      Quite a lot going on here that’s for sure, but it never gets difficult to follow. At least, I didn’t think so. And the incredibly high critical and audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes seems to confirm this. Summer 2014 off to a good start!

      • Well, unlike Godzilla, this turned out to be a far better experience. Smart, sturdy & extremely well-balanced, it’s the first great summer film of the year.

        Reviewed it nearly a week ago, forgot to notify. Do pass by whenever you feel like.

      • Sweet! Thanks so much for the reminder, I really do need those as I’ve been doing a pretty poor job as of late making my rounds. I’ve been going through multiple blogs and Liking and commenting on like 10 posts a piece! 😉

        Heading on over now

  3. Good review, I liked how the different movies got rolled into one and it didn’t turn out to be a mess haha. I think my favorite performance is McAvoy and the best surprise is the use of Quicksilver.

    • My sentiments exactly man. There was much potential for too many stories intersecting and a narratively disjointed mess could well have been what we had on our hands, but instead we get a cohesive, entertaining and a considerably bleak look at a potential future without humans or mutants. A great story, and one of the world’s greatest allegories continues strong!

      I Look forward to Apocalypse for sure.

    • Perfectly summed up friend, it’s a rare kind of blockbuster that panders to general audiences and appeals to fans, even if a lot of liberties supposedly were taken. This is the way you present a big-budget action flick.

      I suppose The Winter Soldier is another good example, but I just didn’t get sucked into that the way I did here. There is just so much to like here, esp. the concept of the younger/older versions of Magneto/Professor X meeting face-to-face.

  4. I have actually read that the biceps of Wolverine are not CGI….but I find that incredibly difficult to believe unless he is ingesting a fair bit of steroids into that butt that he likes to proudly show off so much haha. The story is that The Rock gave him a few lessons on how to eat properly and such before one of the X-Men flicks a few years back. The guy was a monster in this flick!

    Loved your #Weareallfucked hashtag dude!

    • hahahah great theory dude. great theory. Care to test it by offering proof? haha nah. I won’t call you out.

      And I suppose I wouldn’t be that surprised to learn his body is really that ridiculous for this movie. I am aware Jackman went through some crazy regimens, but damn. Some of the veins in his arms are just. . . .like. . . . Schwarzeneggar is over here having fits.

  5. Excellent review mate. This should definitely be applauded for its ambition – though it’s hard to think where else it could’ve gone after a decade and a half of films. More importantly, DoFP meets the ambitious target set out. Much entertainment!

    Adam.

    • I suppose Days of Future Past is the only logical place we could have gone, right? 🙂

      I have never been the biggest X-Men fan — which is not to say I have biases against the comic at all, I am just not well-versed in its universe — but this one captivated me. Simply captivated me. I actually debated bumping this up to the full 8/8, but then thought that might be just a bit too sensational. haha!

      Gotta know when to scale back one’s enthusiasm, even if the movie you just saw fully and totally surprised you.

  6. I think it’s impressive that writer Simon Kinberg fashioned a screenplay that was able to make use of actors from both the original trilogy as well as the prequel First Class. He had to alter X-Men history quite a bit in the process but I’d say most of those changes were for the better anyway. Great review!

    • Yep. I came in with a great fear that this was going to be one convoluted movie. That and there would be too many X-Men vying for attention, and although in some weird way I would have almost preferred chaos (we see arguably too much Wolverine in this franchise, if you ask me) over the way this story goes down, Bryan Singer’s handling of this weighty material is pretty damn impressive.

      At no point was I bored, left to check my phone or start glancing around the room. THis was just a good old-fashioned good time. Thanks!

  7. Fantastic review! I thought this was a damn fine film that was put together exceptionally well! I had so much fun with it and thought it to be a brilliant entry to the series!

    • Our feelings are samesies!!!!

      X-Men was a total blast, and my original apprehensions about a potentially convoluted storyline with too many characters talking over one another was extinguished very quickly here thanks to the great pacing, great acting and great drama at hand. Those sentinels — damn them!!!

      • Truly, they managed to work with ALL of them sufficiently… a lot of other movies could sit back and take notes from this one!

        Sheesh those things were hectic!

  8. Good review Tom. It’s definitely up there with the better X-Men movies. And I hope that feeling continues on through the next few or so installments.

    • For sure man, I really hope the momentum can be supported. Apocalypse is going to be fascinating given the way things stack up here. But beyond Apocalypse I hope we don’t get additional Wolverine spin-offs (which I am pretty sure I read something saying we will. . .)

  9. It was soooo good. I hope they never make another just because the plot came full circle, the XMen franchise redeemed itself, and you should always end on a high note. That’s just me. My favorite scenes envolved Quicksilver. His Jim Croce ‘Time in a Bottle’ scene was the best thing I’ve seen in years. Great review 🙂

    • I think this still has a lot of distance to travel in terms of the story., but in terms of this feeling like a good way to bring both sides together I’ll definitely agree to that. Yet at the same time, I can understand not wanting additional follow-ups. . .Days of Future Past seems to be a high note. One wonders if this same high can be duplicated again. 🙂

      Oh yes, that scene was absolutely brilliant. Had me laughing really good there. Thanks Cindy. 🙂

  10. Excellent, excellent review, Tom! You really do have a way with words, my friend. I particularly enjoyed “by the shortness of Peter Dinklage.” Hahaha. So happy to see we are 100% in agreement. I think I still like X2 just a teeny, tiny bit better, but this one was thoroughly enjoyable. And hey, thanks for that pingback! You’re the best! 😀

    • Well, I do what I can! I’ve been bad about linking to other great posts so I’m going to try and do that more.

      And thanks, hahah I actually struggled over this review for quite some time so I appreciate the compliments. In the end, with all of these, I just had to go with my gut feeling when writing and boy did I have a blast with this! It may have taken so liberties with the X-Men comic, but this was done for the sake of making a more coherent, entertaining film! It was so good.

      *High five!*

  11. “thrillingly paced, hilarious and keenly self-aware; intelligent on a level the series has been clawing at but failing to breach thus far. To be fair, few films with stakes this high can afford to be all these things at once without sacrificing something.”

    YEP! Great review, Tom. I loved this film. Want to see it again!

    • Awesome Fernando. Awesome. I agree, it was great. A real treat to help launch into the summer of blockbusters (rolls eyes).

      Speaking of eye-rolling, I saw Fogs doing this on his blog but i’m not sure how. how do you do the eye-rolling emoticon? I know this is so random, but I so want to use these in my comments sometimes. Fogs used it all the time and they are really funny. Not sure if you know how to create these emoticons?

  12. Good review. I liked the film, I mean I have some problems from a total comic nerd point of view but yeah its good.

    The visuals and 70’s timeline worked really well and the acting was really good. Quicksilver steals the show.

    This wasnt greatness but Apocalypse might 😀

    • Bah! I balk at you, good sir! And I discard your opinion into the trash can right beside me. 😉

      Nah, that’s fair dude. I felt there were one or two moments of absolutely cringe-worthy dialogue, so this movie was not free from error. I just had too good of a time with it to stop and analyze more. Plus, I struggled like hell to complete this review. This is version like #100, so there’s no telling if what I might have put up before would have been more analytical or “accurate” than this one. I feel like it might.

      Either way, Singer got a lot right. I’m glad you enjoyed it too. I think for me not having read any of the comics helped me to overlook certain flaws that you may have found.

      • I’m a huge X-men fan. I think that’s why I’m also so hard on the movies because I always feel like they could do better. I left the theaters with a sour taste in my mouth after I watched this movie. It’s not a true X-men movie in my opinion. It was decent, but that’s it.

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