Sunday, 25 May 2014

Film Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past.

So I saw the new X-Men film the day it came out and.. it was amazing. It has literally exceeded all of my expectations and surpassed all the previous X-Men films.

But first of all, a bit of background. After directing the first two X-Men films, Bryan Singer is back and completely brings the heroic X-Men franchise back to life after Brett Ratner's less-than-super The Last Stand. The film kick-starts straight away into the action and the big screen's original X-Men favourites are back; Wolverine, Professor X, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Bobby/Iceman, Colossus and their enemy from the past, Magneto. With some new characters involved (Bishop, Warpath, Sunspot and Blink) the audience is quickly engrossed as the narrator explains how they're now living in a dystopian future where their enemies, the Sentinels, are hunting all mutants and imprisoning survivors alongside with humans that help them. The only way to save them all is for the X-Men is to send one of their own back in time telepathically to stop the assassination that started it all.

In the comics,  older Kitty is the one who sends her consciousness into her younger self to warn the others. However in the film, the original argument is that Professor X is the strongest telepath to do it but since he isn't strong enough to handle the long trip back in time the job falls to Wolverine due to his healing abilities. Waking up in 1972 as his younger self, Logan (Wolverine) finds young Xavier (Professor X) aka James McAvoy who is a depressed, hollow shell of a man reflecting on what he's lost, a complete contrast to the intelligent, hopeful man we see in X-Men: First Class. His only company is Beast (Nicholas Hoult) who has created a miracle serum for Xavier's paralysis which also takes away Charles Xavier's psychic powers. However, Xavier is glad of this as he can no longer hear the voices and people's suffering since losing his childhood friend Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) to Magneto (Michael Fassbender).

The focus of the film is largely on Mystique as she becomes the catalyst to changing the future because of her plan to assassinate the Sentinels creator Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). To track down Mystique, Logan, Xavier and Beast seek help from Magneto who is currently imprisoned at the bottom of the Pentagon for allegedly killing JFK. To break him out, they find Peter Maximoff (Evan Peters) aka Quicksilver who is cheeky and brings an element of comedy to his scenes which isn't at all cheesy or clich├ęd and essentially steals the show. After that, it becomes a race against time to stop Mystique, find Xavier's hope again and prevent the disastrous future that looms ahead. 

It is a heavy time travelling, science fictional, plot heavy movie. Lots of credit must be given to Bryan Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg as they balance those parts with easy flow and little confusion. The film does a brilliant job of keeping the storyline clear and easy to follow although there are times where you can feel confused as it does hop through the different time frames as when Wolverine and his team are battling to stop Mystique their future selves are still battling the Sentinels.

The whole "in the bleak future" scenario does get a bit repetitive throughout the film but perhaps this is so the audience does get the general, basic idea of why everyone's doing what they're doing and the storyline isn't forgotten because it does actually work and keeps the momentum going. It's also a bit unbelievable that the younger versions of the X-Men believe Logan so easily about him being from the future.. but as this is mutants we are talking about, anything is possible!

Days of Future Past gives each of its core crew of characters something vital to do. It's actually very smart that Jennifer Lawrence is given the biggest role as being the one everyone depends on for the future and it gives more depth to the character as within the last three X-Men films she is seen as the evil, cold-hearted sidekick of Magnetos without finding out the reason for her hatred for the humans. Lawrence hadn't even filmed the Hunger Games or won an Oscar when she went to sign on to star in three X-Men films. Also the arc of Xavier's transformation from a hopeless young man to a leader full of hope embodied by Patrick Stewart is moving, emotional and makes the audience really connect to the character and believe. However one of the big stars, Halle Berry aka Storm, wasn't involved much considering she is one of the favourites but apparently during the entire filming she was pregnant so was unable to join in as much as she might have if circumstances were different. Nevertheless the scenes she did have were action-packed, emotional and.. jarring, shall we say.

The action sequences are nothing short of action, suspense and excitement. The action starts off with the future falling to the Sentinels straight through to the Paris standoff with the climactic battle in Washington D.C. The Pentagon prison break sequence is absolutely remarkable with a nice balance between humour, visual effects, the characters and the suspense.

The only criticism I have is how boring Peter Dinklage's character Bolivar Trask is really. Although played by an incredible actor, Trask never really gives off the evil image that a villain should have despite the fact everything he does is setting up the crucial future of the X-men. His scenes don't really connect with the audience and doesn't fill them with fear but only with anticipation to see the next scene of an X-Men character.

This was the best film from the X-Men franchise since the second one, there is no comparison to the others at this point. You leave the theatre with anticipation and excitement for the next one.. and I simply can't wait for X-Men: Apocalypse.

Oh and because it's a Marvel film.. naturally, you must stay until the post-credits scene!

Thankyou for reading.

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