Friday, May 23, 2014

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” – The film we’ve all been waiting for.

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to 10:00 AM on Saturday mornings because that was when the X-Men cartoon aired. I loved every episode and saw them all several times, but the ones that really stuck in my head were the two Days of Future Past episodes and the arcs that followed. So, when I heard that they were making an X-Men film with the same name I screamed “FINALLY!” and melted into a puddle. Okay, maybe my reaction wasn’t quite so dramatic, but my level of excitement was somewhere between finding money on the street and a giant nerd orgasm.

Initially, I had two problems after hearing this news. The first was obvious – how the hell was I going to be able to wait months until the release? Imagine if someone told Cleveland fans that the Browns were going to make the Super Bowl that season, but told them in July. How many of them would lose their minds waiting to see that? The second was a much more difficult problem that I actually had control over – I wanted to know how they were going to do the story (would it follow the comic books, the cartoon, or would it be a new version?), but I didn’t want to spoil the movie by watching trailers. So, I took my own advice – I watched the initial trailer and avoided the rest like the plague. And, wow, am I ever glad I did because this is the X-Men movie we’ve all been waiting for since the original was released fourteen years ago.

(I’m going to try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but I am going to name every mutant who has more than just a cameo because I’m a dork and can’t help myself.)

Like the other versions of the story, the film begins in the near future where mutant hunting robots called Sentinels have nearly eradicated all mutants and the world has been wrecked (it’s not quite Terminator wrecked, but it’s close). Pockets of mutants remain, including a group consisting of Shadowcat/Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Blink (Fan Bingbing), Warpath (Booboo Stewart), Sunspot (Adan Canto), and Bishop (Omar Sy). Now, the other movies had some great action sequences featuring the various mutant powers of the combatants, but the first fight scene between the Sentinels and this group is freaking mind-blowing. Not only are the mutants combining their powers to battle the Sentinels – and nothing is more jaw-dropping than Blink opening multiple portals and turning the fight into the best level of Portal ever – but the Sentinels are beyond anything I’d ever imagined. They are more than just robots and are the ultimate result of the events in the past that we are about to see.

Not only is Shadowcat able to pass through objects, she is also able to send a person’s consciousness through time (it goes back in time into that same person’s younger self). This is how the group has been able to survive the Sentinel attacks – she sends Bishop’s consciousness back a few days to warn the group so that they can relocate before the attack ever happens. Let’s just take a moment to slow clap for the three credited writers – Simon Kinberg, Matthew Vaughn, and Jane Goldman – for the first of many strokes of genius in this story.

Anyway, Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), and Storm (Halle Berry) meet the former group with a last, desperate plan to defeat the Sentinels – to send Professor X back in time to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from murdering the inventor of the Sentinels, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). Shadowcat explains to them that his mind could never survive the process, so Wolverine volunteers because of his healing power. Since Shadowcat needs to stay with Wolverine’s body to keep his consciousness back in time, the group is vulnerable to the Sentinels and can no longer escape. This truly is their last chance and stroke of genius number two, as it adds a sense of urgency to Wolverine’s task.

Now in the past, Wolverine finds himself in 1973 and must convince younger versions of Magneto (Michael Fassbender) who is currently in prison, and Professor X (James McAvoy) who can walk again but sacrifices his powers to do so, both of whom also hate each other, to help him stop Mystique. Beast (Nicholas Hoult) is also there and is the only remaining mutant left with the Professor (the school has closed because the professor is in a bad place). Mystique and Magneto are also at odds with each other, so the task has multiple levels of difficulty. At this point, I won’t say any more about the plot, but there is an amazing sequence involving a young Quicksilver (Evan Peters), shot from his perception of time as he is moving through a room at an incredibly high speed. The scene makes use of some Matrix-style bullet-time cinematography that is easily as cool as anything from The Matrix.

If the nerd-splosion of mutants in the film, phenomenal story, and special effects aren’t enough, the acting is almost unbelievably good and the pacing of the film is even better. We already know how good all of the returning actors are, so I want to point out how good Dinklage was, especially as the only non-mutant, main character. If you aren’t familiar with Dinklage’s work in Game of Thrones, you would be surprised how great he is in every scene, especially when he’s asked to carry the scene. If you are familiar, then this is just further evidence that he and Sam Rockwell are the two most underrated actors in Hollywood.

I really can’t say enough how fantastic this movie was, especially considering it’s the seventh movie in the franchise. There are still a lot of movies I’m looking forward to seeing this year, but I’m already sure that this movie will be my top pick of the year and not just because I’m a huge X-Men fan. And if it wasn’t enough that the movie was so great, they include a teaser after the credits for the next film, X-Men: Apocalypse, which introduces the best villain of the X-Men universe. Yes, nerd-gasms were frequent.

Rating: Worth at least three times whatever you paid for admission. This film is the new gold standard for superhero movies.

No comments:

Post a Comment