Monday, June 2, 2014

Review: "X-Men: Days of Future Past" - Why So Serious?

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 28 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Running time:  131 minutes (2 hours, 11 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language
DIRECTOR:  Bryan Singer
WRITERS:  Simon Kinberg; from a story by Jane Goldman, Simon Kinberg, and Matthew Vaughn 
PRODUCERS:  Hutch Parker, Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Bryan Singer
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Newton Thomas Sigel


Starring:  Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Omar Sy, Daniel Cudmore, Bingbing Fan, Adan Canto, Booboo Stewart, Evan Peters, Josh Helman, and Anna Paquin

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a 2014 superhero movie from director Bryan Singer.  It is 20th Century Fox’s seventh film based Marvel Comics’ X-Men comic book franchise.  This new movie is a sequel to 2011’s X-Men: First Class and a kind of sequel to 2006’s X-Men: The Last StandX-Men: Days of Future Past finds the X-Men of the future sending one of their own into past in a desperate effort to change history and to prevent the destruction of the world for both humans and mutants.

The film opens (apparently) sometime in the third decade of the 21st century.  By this time, mutant-hunting machines called Sentinels have wiped out nearly all mutants and also the humans that supported them.  The last of the X-Men are about to make a desperate bid to change their apocalyptic future.  Charles Xavier/Professor X (Patrick Stewart) concocts a plan that sends the mind of Logan/The Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back into the past and into the body of his younger self in the year 1973.

In 1973, Logan must contact the younger Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and convince him that they must stop Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from committing an assassination that will lead to the creation of the Sentinels.  However, Wolverine finds that the younger Charles is a mess.  Xavier wants no part of his future self’s plan, especially when he discovers that he must cooperate with Erik Lensherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender), his dear friend-turned-bitter enemy.

Released in 2011, X-Men: First Class was a combination prequel to the original film, X-Men (2000), and a partial reboot of the franchise.  First Class was sparkly, fun, energetic, and even a bit sexy.  X-Men: Days of Future Past is ponderous and takes both its subject matter and its plot way too seriously.  I liked the film, but I only really enjoyed certain moments and a few characters.

Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic as Mystique, making the character’s emotions, mission, and anger seem real.  Nicholas Hoult is poignant as Hank McCoy/Beast; so much of his performance is restrained.  Hoult makes the most of subtle facial expressions, and his expressive eyes convey Beast in a way that gives him weight and depth.

What this film lacks is gravitas.  Days of Future Past pretends to be important serious because it metaphorically or symbolically deals with serious and important real world issues.  However, the movie is tedious instead of being weighty in any meaningful a way.  It is as if this film has so much to cover that it almost ends up sinking under the burden of its moralizing via multiple points of view, characters, and competing timelines.

In fact, after seeing Days of Future Past, I realized that Wolverine is not particularly consequential to the plot, or at least the screenplay does not make him seem so.  For what the character does, just about any other X-Men could have made that trip into the past.  [In The X-Men comic book story, “Days of the Future Past,” upon which this movie is based, Kitty Pryde travels into the past – the year 1983.]  I read a review of this movie in which the writer said that this was a movie about Mystique and Wolverine.  In a way, this movie is indeed most about what Mystique wants, and the movie would be better off if it stayed with Mystique longer than it actually does.

Although I like it, X-Men: Days of Future Past is my least favorite X-Men movie.  I found the future Sentinels particularly scary and chilling, and Evan Peters as Quicksilver is a blast.  Of all the X-Men movies, it has the best production values and the best special effects.  It is, however, full of sound and fury, and even in the universe of X-Men movies, it does not signify much of anything.

5 of 10

Saturday, May 31, 2014

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