Tuesday, May 27, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! God damn...this is how an X-men film should be!

X-Men: Days of Future Past – 5 out of 5

Bryan Singer has returned to the comic franchise he started all those years ago and his aim is to right the wrongs that Brett Ratner brought to the franchise with The Last Stand—all those horrible, Cyclops dying off-screen/Juggernaut/Ben Foster as Angel wrongs. Having Kelsey Grammer kick ass as Beast wasn’t enough to make the film watchable and all the effort that was put into the franchise, like Matthew Vaughn making a fantastic prequel that proved you don’t need Wolverine to tell a great X-Men story and, speaking of Wolvie, getting a Logan sequel that isn’t a non-stop cheesefest or a vicious rape of a beloved comic character (*Cough—Deadpool—Cough*), these examples just weren't enough to erase the damage that Ratner did. The only resolution was using time travel and one of Chris Claremont’s quintessential comic stories to give this franchise the kick in the pants it needs and the glory it deserves.

For funsies, here's a pic of me and Iceman with
a Sentinel behind us.

In the future, advance robots called Sentinels hunt down mutants and any mutant-loving humans. With their kind on the verge of extinction and the world coming to ruin, Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Kitty Pride (Ellen Page) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) devise a plan to undo the damage that has been done. Using her powers, Kitty will send Wolvie’s consciousness into his younger self in the 70s and must convince a broken Charles (James McAvoy) and an angry Erik (Michael Fassbender) to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating the man who instituted the Sentinel program and ended up dooming society with his death at the hands of the shape-shifter; Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). With the protection of X-Men Iceman, Colossus, Bishop, Blink, Warpath, Storm and Sunspot, Wolverine is sent back to aide a young Professor X, Magneto and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) as they try to stop the bleak future that destroys mutant kind.

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The weight of the future of mutants weighs on Xavier's shoulders...and the fact that
the X-Men haven't had running water for showers in years.

The X-Men have quite the past (no pun intended) with their film franchise. I’ve been a fan of the mutant superheroes protecting a world that fears and hates them since the late 80s/early 90s when I first discovered their comics and, later, the 90s cartoon. Since then, I’ve been a fan of the books but never really thought I would get to see their exploits brought to the big screen in a way that delivered in the same fashion the comics did (remember, there was a dark past to comic book adaptations). In 2000, Bryan Singer did what I thought was impossible and brought the mutants to the silver screen. Was that film the best representation? Eh, not really but I still enjoyed the film. Sure, people like to bitch about the fact they were in leather outfits and not the colorful spandex from the pages and sure, Wolvie wasn’t the short furball we knew him to be but, for the most part, the characters felt like a decent translation and the film was adequate (with the exception of Storm’s notoriously awful lightning/toad line).

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"Mind if we dance with yo dates?"

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Fassbender just has the look of a guy who knows he's awesome.
X-Men would be followed up with what I thought, at the time, was the best X-Men film. X2 had everything it needed: Great action, more mutants, and a deeper dive into the X-Men’s lore. The franchise could have stopped there and I would have been fine but Fox pushed themselves off the deep end and released the embarrassingly bad X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006. Sure, Beast was cool but everything else about it felt like Ratner was pulling down his sweat pants and was taking a greasy shit over what Singer started. Things only got worse when the first Wolverine spinoff came out. While I admit that film has a terrific opening credit sequence and the first half of the film is fantastic, the movie quickly becomes unhinged. However, the franchise decided to head to the beginning and show a less Wolverine-centric story and focus on a young Professor X and Magneto with X-Men: First Class. When this film came out in 2011, I was hesitant to see it because of the lingering memories of Origins and X3 but the film was fantastic. Then the Wolverine sequel was brought out and that film felt like an apology for Origins. It started to seem like Fox was taking this cash cow property seriously and Days of Future Past is just another notch upwards in the “What level of Awesome is X-Men” graph.

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YES!  He's ice-sliding!  But he's not making ice-based puns...can't win 'em all.
He needs study material.  Quick, someone get him a copy of Batman & Robin.

Let’s not play coy here; there was the real risk that Days of Future Past could have been absolutely terrible. The original comic is so amazing and so coveted in the history of comics that even the changes made to the story for the adaptation—like sending Wolverine and not Kitty Pride back (but that decision actually makes logical sense) and having Trask be the target of assassination and not Senator Kelly—could have easily destroyed the film and would have sent the internet fanboys in an uproar bigger than anything DC is doing right now (like casting their new Batman, bitching about Wonder Woman's boobs not being big enough, or giving a subtitle to a film...seriously, it doesn't take much for fanboys to express unbelievable irritation on the internet). However, bringing back Singer (whether you like him or not) was probably the best decision and he was able to not only keep the spirit of the pages alive but make up for the lost time and faith that was obliterated thanks to the third film. Furthermore, using the time-tested tradition of time travel, the franchise was able to undo a lot of damage and then proceeded to seed the new fertile ground for not only the upcoming film taking place in the First Class generation (and finally getting to see Apocalypse hit the big screen) but for future adventures with the original cast, as well.

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I guess you can say that Mystique is doing the...magnetic slide?  Eh?  Eh?

I'll show myself out.

DoFP is super plot heavy and carried the risk of being too much story for an adaptation of the works that my mother called “funny pages” when I was growing up. However, being that we are in the golden era of the comic adaptation, we are able to have this super serious and emotional X-Men tale and have it taken seriously by the masses. Singer does a tremendous job of keeping the story and plot unraveling at a pace that feels like Wolverine is truly caught in a mission against time (no pun) and is capable of unfolding all these elements without the movie getting too bogged down, boring, or feeling like there is a major lack of action. And that brings me to my next point…

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"Mind if we dance with yo date--dammit, the Sentinels beat us to it."

The action scenes in this film are hardcore and exciting. Whether it be the scenes in the future where we seen Blink’s awesome use of portals, Sunspot flaring up and roasting some Sentinels, and finally seeing Iceman use his ice slides or seeing Mystique swing around for some fast pace kicking and flipping or seeing Magneto completely unleashed and take control of the 70s Sentinels and ripping an entire baseball stadium out of the ground, this movie does not hesitate to be thrilling and doesn’t hesitate to showcase the mutants’ mighty abilities. The action never gets stale because, thanks to the large cast and diverse mutants (which, itself, could have been a factor that, if done wrong, could have easily killed the film), each fight and action sequence is unique. Whether it be the scene-stealer of a sequence with Quicksilver (Evan Peters) flashing around or the slow methodical approach Magneto took to all his acts, the film and Bryan Singer knew how to make an X-film that never rested on a single formula and proceeded to make a movie that was as multi-faceted as the comics.

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We laughed at the glasses and headphones and the fact he was dressed in silver...
but then Peters and Singer shut me up with this scene.

Finally, the cast is just plain epic in this film. It’s easy to worry that with so many big names that it would be easy to have some overshadow others—in a sense, this sort of happened, since most of the action occurs in the 70s rather than the future and, because of his popularity, you have to have Jackman as Wolvie up front and center—but, in a broader sense, every character felt like they had their place and weren’t there as a nod-and-a-wink—as we’ve seen in other X-films. Every single player, whether it be Dinklage as Trask or even including William Stryker (Josh Helman), each character had their part in the bigger picture and every actor in those roles were incredible. Not to mention, it was just cool seeing some favorites like Blink, Bishop and Sunspot get a chance to appear in a film.

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Bishop, mudda-fuckers!

Even though Days of Future Past does a decent job of cleaning up some of the continuity errors that this franchise has become synonymous with, it does open up a few more…like how William Stryker goes from this in the 70s…

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It's hard to look cool carrying a clear, plastic gun.

…to this just a short time later…

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"The seventies got extremely tough on me right after the Sentinel debacle."

…to this by X2?

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He's smiling because he didn't have to wear that silly makeup.

Or how Bolivar Trask goes from looking like this…
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If I had my way, that 'stache would make its way to Game of Thrones.

…to looking like this in X3.
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"I was born a small, white man..."

Of course, that character is just named Trask and is never explicitly revealed to be Bolivar Trask. Despite this, and some other inconsistencies, X-Men: Days of Future Past is the invigorating kick in the pants that the X-franchise was looking for and really needed. Rebooting the franchise through the use of time travel opens up new adventures for both the young and old class. With its great story, killer action, dynamite special effects and a cast of ultra-talented people, Days of Future Past makes the future bright for the X-films. This is, without a doubt, my favorite X-men film to date.

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