Friday, May 30, 2014
X-Men: Days of Future Past (a movie review post)
But more on that in a minute.
Yes, there will be spoilers. Consider yourselves warned.
As a movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past is fine if somewhat (a lot) predictable. The opening fight against the sentinels is fantastic. Well, except for the part where Kitty Pryde can send people into the past. What the heck? The powers of Kitty have long been established, not just within the comics but within the Fox X-Men universe, so giving Kitty the ability to send people consciously back in time seems a bit gratuitous. If they wanted a mutant to do that, why not just put in a mutant to do that rather than give that power to someone who shouldn't have it? Or, you know, include Forge in the lineup, because he would have made a nice addition to the movie.
The other main issue I had with the movie was Xavier's struggle with what amounted to drug addiction. That whole thing felt easy and contrived and, while I get that they needed to present Wolverine with some obstacles to overcome to complete his mission, that one felt gratuitous. The idea that Xavier would sacrifice his mutant ability so that he could walk again and pretend to forget his pain was too far outside of the character we know to really be believable. At least, that's true coming at it from the standpoint of the comics. Maybe, it's plausible looking at it from just the movies, but I'm not feeling it that way, either.
But, really, the movie is fine. Well, except for the appearance of Quicksilver, which was completely out of context. We get Quicksilver but not the Scarlet Witch nor even any mention of her. Also, there was no acknowledgement that Quicksilver is Magneto's son and only even a very vague possibility of that even being true in the movie. So why use the character if you're not actually going to use the character? Just make that some other character that only exists in the movie universe. Honestly, it felt more like a jab at Disney and Marvel Studios who have Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch lined up for the next Avengers movie.
However, the scene where he saves everyone in the kitchen is fantastic.
But, really, the movie is fine. It is. It's enjoyable. The cast is great. Of course, Jackman carries the film. His performance of Wolverine continues to be flawless. And Jennifer Lawrence was so much better in this one than she was in First Class. I continue to like Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake, and I really wanted to see more of Bishop and Blink, and I don't mean more of them in combat. It would have been nice to see them as characters, too.
All of that said, the thing that disturbed my enjoyment the most was the feeling that the whole movie was an excuse for Bryan Singer to fix all the problems he caused when he dropped out of X-Men 3 to go off and make that horrible Superman movie. So let's look at that a moment:
Singer had a plan for X-Men at the time. No one really knows what that plan was because he didn't share much of it and I kind of doubt he even knows, now, what he was doing then. But, in the middle of pre-production for X-Men 3, not only does he go off to make Superman, but he convinces James Marsden (Cyclops) to go with him (and some of his writers from the previous X-Men movies). Understandably, Fox gets pissed at both of them and vows that neither will ever work with them again and, just to prove their point, kills Cyclops off during the opening sequence of The Last Stand.
From there, a bunch of stuff happened in X3 and the other X-Men related movies that Singer wouldn't have done but, you know, he wasn't there. Fox and Singer make up; Singer returns to X-Men; Singer wants his characters back, those characters being Cyclops and Jean Grey. Basically, Days of Future Past is a story that creates a brand new X-Men world and allows Singer to ignore all previous X-Men continuity. He gets to bring back Cyclops and Jean and do whatever he wants from this point on. Until he decides to, again, abandon Fox's X-Men and leave someone else to try to figure out what he was doing. The whole thing lessens my enjoyment of Days of Future Past, which may not be fair to the actual movie, but Singer bothers me enough that I can't just ignore it.
In the final analysis, if you've liked the X-Men movies, there's no good reason that you won't like this one. Probably, it's one of the top three out of the, what?, seven movies. I think my count there is correct. As a series of movies, the X-Men movies still fail to approach what Marvel has been doing over at Disney but, as a single movie, this one is probably on par with the Iron Man sequels. It's good; it's just not awesome.