Monday, May 26, 2014

X-Men hit the mark again

The title may be a little clumsy, the plot may be a little complicated, and the whole enterprise may require more knowledge of the canon than most people could be reasonably assumed to have, but at the end of the day "X-Men: Days of Future Past" is an entirely satisfying comic book movie, one that builds on the promise of the "First Class" prequel while completely wiping the bad taste of "The Last Stand" from the memories of fans and movie-goers.

* Spoilers Be Ahead, Consider Yourself Warned! *

Similar to J.J. Abrams' first "Star Trek" movie, "Days of Future Past" uses time travel as a device, not just to bring the two X-Men casts together, but more importantly to reboot the series in such a way that anything that now follows can make sense (and be defensible to those who do have intimate knowledge of the canon).  Done poorly, that could have been a cheat, but like "Star Trek" it's done very well, and unlike the "Spider Man" franchise, which just seems to be telling the same story all over again (in fairness, I haven't seen the second one yet), it moves the story forward in a way that doesn't sacrifice continuity but also opens up entirely new avenues of story-telling.

As much as I love Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, in this film I have to give the Professor X/Magneto crown to James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, which really isn't surprising given that the story gives them much more to do.  The old guys are definitely there for a reason; don't get me wrong, but aside from one wonderful moment near the end when the old friends/foes clasp hands while Magneto wistfully wonders why they've been fighting each other for the last 50 years, the best moments are given to McAvoy and Fassbender.  Professor X and Magneto are flip sides of the same coin, almost as if Two-Face was split into two people, and both actors do a fine job taking that dichotomy to a new level.

If you've been even remotely paying attention, you've heard about the story - mutants and humans are under siege in the future from the Sentinels, which are like mutant terminators, able to instantly modify their structure in such a way that makes them invulnerable to whatever mutant power they are facing.  The only hope is to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, great as always in the role but so jacked up that he looks to be auditioning for a new mutant, Veinburst) into the past to bring the good Professor and Magneto back together, to stop Raven/Mystique from killing Dr. Bolivar Trask, the inventor of the Sentinels (because killing him will ensure that his Sentinel project moves forward).  So back we go to 1973, and needless to say things don't go entirely as planned, and all the while the few mutants left in the future...well, let's just say that things are looking increasingly bleak for them.

Kudos to everyone involved, although as the villain, Peter Dinklage is given nowhere near enough to do.  If you've watched any "Game of Thrones" at all, you know what Dinklage is capable of, and unfortunately the Trask role comes nowhere near to Tyrion Lannister in terms of interest or charisma.  Evan Peters is great as Quicksilver, in an extended sequence that might be the best thing in the movie.  And the ending, which gives us a glimpse at several characters we thought we might never see again, carries a powerful emotional punch.

All in all, a job nicely done.  Very much so.

1 comment:

Michael Fassbender said...

You put a semicolon instead of comma in this sentence: "The old guys are definitely there for a reason; don't get me wrong"