Monday, May 26, 2014

X-Cellence Reclaimed


With so much bad, sucky, and just not good turning up in X-Men movies recently, you'd think that Fox was doing everything in their power to completely ruin the franchise and its legacy.  They managed to right the ship with First Class, although I still had some pretty serious problems with that flick.  But after seeing Days of Future Past, I feel comfortable saying that all has been forgiven.

Days of Future Past marks the return of Bryan Singer to the X-Flicks director's chair, and you have to wonder what the hell Fox was thinking when they chased him off.  Singer knows how to capture the Merry Marvel Mutant Society and make their exploits feel serious and dramatic without things bogging down in joyless  stoicism.  Days of Future Past has high stakes, what with mutant kind on the verge of extinction and all, but it never becomes shoe-gazingly dour.  It's a welcome approach that makes the movie both tense and fun.

The story is a little complicated, involving time-traveling consciousness, multiple people playing the same characters, and killer robots.  I'd break it all down, but I kinda don't wanna.  I'm lazy that way.  What's important is that the story hooks you and takes you on a very enjoyable ride.  I really dug the despondent Professor X stuff.  It was nice to see a character that dignified and hopeful at the bottom of the barrel.  Quicksilver was way more awesome than I was expecting, and I came away wanting to see more of him.  The design of the Sentinels, the giant mutant-killing robots, is pretty cool, especially the future Sentinels.  When they unleash their death rays, their heads open like the blossoms of some exotic flower.  Very cool stuff.

One of the best things about this movie is that the story is focused pretty tight on a central group of mutants.  Wolverine, Mystique, Beast, Professor X, and Magneto all get a chance to strut their stuff.  This is a welcome change from earlier X-Flicks, which seemed so packed full of mutants that things got unfocused and diluted.  Along with the mutants, we get a great performance from Peter Dinklage as Bollivar Trask, inventor of the Sentinels.  You hate the guy, but you kind of see his logic, too.

My favorite scene in the whole movie came when Feds trap Professor X, Wolvie, and friends in a kitchen.  Quicksilver does his thing, and the result is spectacular.  And quite hilarious.  The scene where Magneto lifts a baseball stadium is breathtaking.  Those scenes make up for the less inspired fight scenes between the future mutants and the Sentinels.  There's scene where future Prof. X talks to past Prof. X that gave me goosebumps.  Mystique actually gets some pretty emotional stuff, too.  The balance is definitely shifted in the direction of character stuff, but that just makes your ass get kicked harder when the action scenes come.

Some people will complain about the huge continuity problems, but that reminds me of something I heard former Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada say in an interview.  It was something along the lines of "I don't care so much about the continuity as long as the stories are good".  That seems appropriate to bring up here.  DOFP smooths out some of the bumps in the X-Flick continuity, but it simply ignores others.  But none of that really matters cuz X-Men: Days of Future Past is a pretty damn good story all on its own.

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