Sunday, May 25, 2014

Film Review - X-Men: Days of Future Past

Beginning in 2023 men and mutants march side by side along a dark dreary 1984ish tunnel to an uncertain fate in a dystopian future. Professor X (Patrick Stewart) provides the narrative describing the modern reality. Mutants are near extension, the man made Sentinels created 50 years earlier by Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) to eliminate mutants have turned on their makers as well. The answer to change the present and future is in the past returning to stop a key event that set the chain of events in motion that led to this current modern day.

Next up is the best action sequence in the whole production. At a different near future setting a small group of X-Men featuring a few unfamiliar to the movie franchise battle the above noted Sentinels. The machines are three times human size and appear to absorb the X-men's powers. The mutants work as a team lead by Blink (Bingbing Fan) visually stunning teleporting portals they use their gifts to help one another although as the intense battle progresses the Sentinels appear to be both immovable and unstoppable. The last two mutants standing Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) and Bishop (Omar Sy) retreat to a small room as the enemy closes in.

Director Bryan Singer returns to the franchise after an 11 years absence. However, X-Men: Days of Future Past is not a sequel to his familiar group of characters from the early 2000's its instead more of a follow up to the 2011's X- Men First Class universe. Singer knows and respects these characters taking them seriously and paying them their due. He has a strong vision of the X-Men universe plus a solid concept on the story he wants to tell.

The bulk of the story takes place in 1973. Kitty Pryde sends Wolverine/Logan's (Hugh Jackman) consciousness back to his 1973 body where he's tasked to get Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Eric Lehsherr (Michael Fassbender) on board to stop Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from performing and act that will lead to the current future.

The Film brings 1973 roaring to life. All aspects of the production play their part to achieve the rich display of the era on film. The costume design team get the wide ties, leather jackets, big furs and loud colours just right. Logan is clearly in his element from the moment he wakes up in 1973 New York City. His signature muttonchops are clearly from the time period and he is really at home behind the wheel of an early 70's muscle car. It's early on this section of the film that we meet Quicksilver (Evan Peters) who plays a major role in a key task required to get one of the main characters into the action.

An odd quirk in the proceedings is the apparent role reversal of Logan and Charles Xavier. Logan has to remain calm as Kitty Pryde works to project his consciousness into the past from the future while Charles is angry, raging and lost his faith given his current circumstance in the period.

One of the better action sequences in the piece is Ravens drop in to Saigon as the U.S. troops are moving out and a group of mutants identified by Major Bill Stryker (Josh Helman) for further study at Trask Industries are detained to be moved. Raven breaks up the travel plans with the help of the mutants and secures alternate travel arrangements for the group.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a full course summer ride. The writing team does an excellent job with the multitude of characters keeping them straight and in order. The story and message are simple. Choosing patience or to walk away as opposed to committing a violent act is often the best decision for everyone's long term future. The franchise is back in the right hands and on sold ground as evidenced by the green light for the next film X-Men: Apocalypse featuring the first X-man En Sabah Nur and his four horseman teased at the end of the credits and coming in 2016.

**** Out of 4.

X-Men Days of Future Past | Bryan Singer | U.S.A. U.K. | 2014 | 131 Minutes.

Tags: Time Travel, Mutants, 1973, Political Summit, Dystopia, 2023, New York, Paris, Moscow, Saigon.

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