Tuesday, May 27, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Director: Bryan Singer
Notable Cast: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, and a shit ton of cameos!

When it was announced that Bryan Singer would be returning to the X-Men franchise for the epic Days of Future Past, I was actually a bit skeptical. Sure, he delivered the best of the franchise in X2 and kicked off the monopoly on blockbuster theatrical releases with his formula and style for the first X-Men, but his output since leaving the franchise has been…less than stellar. Not to mention he was tackling one of the most well-known and epic storylines from Marvel history. So hate me for being skeptical, but I kind of thought that this film was going to be a clusterfuck. Luckily, Bryan Singer and company (I have to throw out some mention to the strong writing here) crafted a film that’s simple enough to keep the pace moving briskly and character driven enough to make sure we actually give two shits about the outcome of the plot. In fact, Days of Future Past is one of the best blends of action, dramatic beats, and science fiction mumbo jumbo that the franchise has ever seen.

Further in the future, the mutant and human struggle has taken a dark and violent turn. Sentinels are created to hunt down mutant genes and eradicate them and the few batches of survivors in the apocalyptic landscape are simply fighting for survival. That’s when the remaining X-Men come up with a plan to avoid this dark fate: send Wolverine’s (Jackman) back in time to convince a young Charles Xavier (McAvoy) and Magneto (Fassbender) to stop Mystique (Lawrence) from assassinating a scientist that leads to this bleak existence.

"What's everyone looking at?"
Despite a rather lengthy set up about the bleak future and the rise of the Sentinels that occasionally lacks a cohesive continuity to the rest of the franchise (how is Professor X still around? When did Wolvie get his adamantium claws back?), Days of Future Past kicks the film more towards a character driven bulk where the basic plot then becomes ‘stop an assassination.’ For a film dedicated to time travel and giant killer robots that hunt out mutants with powers, the film takes an almost thriller like turn for a majority of the flick focusing more on the youthful X-Men introduced in First Class. Outside of Wolvie, most of the cast and characters from the previous X-Men trilogy are glorified cameos as the film really reflects on the events of First Class and where the characters have spiraled since then. This allows some of the great casting from the prequel (Fassbender, McAvoy, Lawrence) to shine even further here. Hell, McAvoy gets some very meaty sequences to stretch his acting chops and far more than many of the other top billed cast.

While this character driven concept (which thankfully doesn’t necessary focus on Wolverine’s character so much since we’ve already had two spin off films for him) does make for some great character work and relatable moments for the audience, Days of Future Past does succeed in being a brisk paced action flick too. While the highlight might be the thoughtful character interactions and an intriguing plot that combines history and science fiction, Singer and company slather the film in some impressive action spectacle. Whether it’s the assassination attempt by Mystique, the spectacle of seeing Magneto lift a stadium, or the scene stealing time lapse sequence featuring the charismatic Quicksilver, it’s hard not to be entertained by the sheer velocity of what Days of Future Past has to offer.

Now that's a man hug.
Occasionally the film baffled me with some of the details to get the entire thing going, but once it was there I had a blast through and through. It’s not necessarily the most logical of films, but if you’re willing to buy into this pseudo-reboot then enjoy it for the spectacle.

Written By Matt Reifschneider


While the core film is not altered by this 17 minute longer version of the film, The Rogue Cut does come off as a slightly superior film thanks to more than just a little side action from Magneto and Iceman to free Rogue. There is a handful of new sequences and extended moments (although I caught perhaps a dozen moments, I'm sure I couldn't name them all) that simply deepen the characters in the film and add a bit more fun to the mix. Sure, the titular Rogue sequence overcomes one of the bigger plot deviations in the original cut and it adds some clarity to other issues - including how the Sentinels found our heroes in China, but it's the other bits and pieces that make this cut better. For casual fans it's not going to make a lot of difference, but for those of us out there that have been X-Men cinephiles for quite some time it has plenty to appreciate.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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