Friday, May 23, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past (hereafter DoFP) is the latest installment in Fox's X-Men franchise. This is not to be confused with Sony's Spider-Man franchise or Marvel's own Avengers-and-friends franchises. While these all draw from the same sources, they are separated by legal issues as well as tone and subject matter.

The quality of the X-Men series can charitably be called uneven. This is probably the best of the franchise. It hits all the right X-Men notes - a focus on mutants being hated and feared due to their inhumanity (and the corresponding parallel to any group which can be persecuted); identity issues; ethical questions; worlds-spanning scope. And it does all of them well.

DoFP combines the cast of the original three X-Men movies with the cast of the 60's-set First Class to tell a story of survival. In the future, the original cast, now older, are hunted by Sentinel robots who can adapt to and overpower mutant powers. In a major departure from the source material, Kitty Pryde sends Wolverine into the past rather than being sent back herself, in order to convince the younger cast to stop the events which caused the Sentinel program to go forward in the 70's.

The part of Bolivar Trask, who invented and champions the Sentinels, is played by the brilliant Peter Dinklage, who is just as good here as in Game of Thrones despite the porn-stache. The other especially notable acting performance comes from James McAvoy as the younger Charles Xavier. His struggle to deal with his powers, the effect of them on his life, and the consequences of having or not having them, are at the heart of what the X-Men are about.

Wolverine is narratively the main character, because Fox understands that he and Hugh Jackman are a huge audience draw. Certainly Jackman is a fine actor who does very well in this role (and is distractingly ripped). My only complaint in this regard is that it short-changes Ellen Page's Kitty, who doesn't get to do very much.

The effects and action sequences are excellent, especially the dark and gritty future-set scenes. There is not a whole lot of character development for these beleaguered survivors (I'm not clear on what all of their names are) but they fill their part of the narrative very well by showing how hard and dangerous the future is.

This is a movie with a solid plot, great acting, very good effects and choreography, and which stays true to the spirit of the source material. It might be confusing if you're not already familiar with the previous movies, but that is the only complaint I can make.

Performance: 4.5/5
Plot: 4.5/5
Production: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5
Bechdel: Fail
Reverse-Bechdel: Pass
Mako Mori: Pass
What are these?

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
3. Lone Survivor
4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
5. The Wind Rises
6. The Lego Movie
7. Lust For Love
8. The Grand Budapest Hotel
9. Pompeii
10. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
11. I, Frankenstein
12. Monuments Men
13. Knights of Badassdom
14. Divergent
15. Brick Mansions
16. 300: Rise of an Empire
17. Godzilla
18. RoboCop
19. Winter's Tale
20. Transcendence
21. Noah
22. The Legend of Hercules
23. Need For Speed
24. 3 Days to Kill

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