Tuesday, 3 June 2014

X-Men—Days of Future Past

          So here it is, in the space of a week we have two of the most anticipated films of the year, and neither are a disappointment, if anything the exact opposite, Godzilla was more than I expected, and the sequel/prequel/time altering X-Men was a glorious return to form.
          Let’s be honest, we are not exactly short on super hero films at the minute, not even films anymore, there’s now a Flash tv series, S.H.E.I.L.D, Arkham… and that list is probably going to grow. And this is concerning, the complete monopoly Super Hero films in the cinema is a concern, because we are probably at the height at the minute and when that bubble bursts there may be massive repercussions… that said, ‘Days of Future Past’ may be the kick up the ass this genre needs to keep fresh.
           About this time last year I sat in the cinema with total dismay at the whole Super Hero film genre, the reason for this was ‘The Wolverine’ a film which I did really enjoy because it was really different… until the ending when it became every other Super Hero film. Somehow off the edge of a cliff Wolverine is saved and no super hero can die in these films, it left me with no feeling of suspense or surprise nor did it make me want to go back and see any more of these films.
          2013 was actually a poor year anyway in terms of storytelling but 2014 has been a lot stronger, I had no desire to see ‘The Winter Soldier’ but it was enough to make me think about not yet giving up, and while Spiderman 2 became a film with far too much story and far far too many shiny lights. ‘Days of Future Past’ May be the best Super Hero film since ‘The Avengers’, maybe even ‘The Dark Knight Rises’
          It would be unfair to say that the tone of this film is dark, the X-Men franchise has always taken on far darker and more realistic issues than its peers with the exception being Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ series. But the opening shots of the mutant dystopian future with Patrick Stewarts haunting narration is unsettling. The highlights of the opening scenes include a fantastic action sequence which is completely stolen by ‘Blink’ and the way her powers are used against the Sentinels. With the only issue being really that we don’t get a good enough look at the actual Sentinels. And of course the other highlight is the return of Professor X and Magneto.
          Despite the opening part feeling rushed there is a lot of the story pushed forward and the plot is believable and simple enough to just accept. Either away we don’t really visit the future that much from there instead we remain in 1973 and it is the time for the current crop to shine, and shine they do. James McAvoy’s portrayal of a completely different Charles Xavier, a Charles Xavier who you find it difficult to believe is the same man who would dedicate is life teaching Mutants how to control their power. It is a feat excellently done by McAvoy.
          We get many harrowing scenes once Professor X and Magneto are reunited, and during the scene on the plane you realise that these are two huge characters in the superhero franchise and with the wrong actors these scenes could easily become just two men bickering at each other, what makes these scenes great is the fierce way the two men are played by actors who deservedly step into the shoes of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.
          When speaking of the younger talent on display it is hard to ignore the fact that Wolverine is now here in the past and to be honest, the film never really needs him, the storyline does, but at no time do you really get the feeling of ‘ohh if only Wolverine was here’ which is a testament to the story McAvoy, Fassbender and Jenifer Lawrence. This is evident when Wolverine flat out accepts that he can’t help Xavier and instead we get a touching scene between the Charles Xaviers. Lawrence’s Mystique character probably doesn’t get enough screen time as she deserves however you get the feeling that the character is continuing to grow and can play an important part in the future of this series.
          The story never really travels too far away from the actual plot of this film, which is to prevent the sentinel controlled future which started in this time period, the journey takes us to Paris, Vietnam and offers some great scenes President Nixon, Peter Dinklage as Frask and an exciting few minutes with Quciksilver. Which all culminates in a really tense final action scene where again the talents of Lawrence, Fassbender and McAvoy are on full display.
          The films conclusion will have many people scratching their heads as to what happened to the actual story line after these events took place, but there does seem to be a nice resolution. Overall I thought ‘Days of Future Past’ did have some flaws and at times made the franchise key character Wolverine seem redundant, regardless of that the story is so strong and so are the performances from all involved that Bryan Singer can take a massive sigh of relief that here he may have managed to save the franchise that he created almost 15 years ago.  8/10

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