Thursday, May 29, 2014
The plot of Days of Future Past is seemingly intricate, with dozens of characters from multiple time periods intersecting and having their paths shaped by the events of the past and the future. But credit goes to a tight script and Singer's direction: everything is laid out in a natural and exciting way, and confusion never sets in. Though the ending is a bit predictable, the film is no less satisfying because of it. Here are the basics: in the future, mutants and humans who like mutants are segregated into work camps, slaves to the machine. These big and bad robot mofos that can adapt and use any mutant's ability (called Sentinels) are crushing the last of the mutants to bits, hunting them out like predators. A small band of mutants is surviving due to an important ability: projecting a person's consciousness back in time to warn them of incoming danger. This small band eventually meets up with our known heroes, namely Xavier, Magneto and Wolverine, and they all team up, deciding to send Wolverine's consciousness back to 1973 when an incredibly fateful moment for mutant plight occurred.
This incredibly fateful moment deals with the blue, shape-shifting Mystique (America's girl, J-Law) assassinating the future creator of the Sentinels, Dr. Boliver Trask (Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage). She gets captured, and the Bad Guys use her mutant DNA to make the Sentinels incredibly powerful. Wolverine goes back to stop Mystique from this fateful decision that changes the course of history. But first, he must enlist the help of the younger Xavier and Magneto (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) who instead of being friends, like in the future, are mortal enemies after the events of First Class. There's a line in the previously mentioned Looper that deals with the complexity of explaining time travel: "We'd be here all day making diagrams with straws." The beauty of X:Men: Days of Future Past is that it doesn't need any explanation. It moves forward and backward in time with an organic symmetry full of fun scenes.
X-Men: Days of Future Past makes some other recent comic-based films look like total child's play (e.g. The newest Spiderman). It balances over a dozen characters, and though some mutants get significantly more screen time than others, you still feel as though you spent your movie money wisely. The villains, if you could even call them that term, have motivations that contain a complexity far more real than the typical world domination. And though the plot was sometimes a bit predictable, the fun-factor exceeds any specifics or questionable plot points of the time-travel story. It's super superhero summer entertainment. (A-)
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Obviously the quality is far superior than in the 1998 embarrassment directed by disaster-porn master Roland Emmerich, but that isn't saying much--not many films are considered worse. At least in this one we get former Walter White Bryan Cranston (who portrays Joe Brody) as a nuclear power-plant operator in Japan who loses his wife in a freak accident. 15 years later, he's gone a little bit wacko in his conspiracy theories and his son (Kick-Ass's Aaron Taylor-Johnson) must travel back to bail him out. Things don't go as planned, and Joe Brody begins to look like he's the only one who knows what he is talking about.
The human aspects of Godzilla suck. There's nothing new or original, nothing with enough emotion for you to care, and no characters that make you pine for their plight. You might say: "Who cares about the humans? The movie's called Godzilla. We're here for the Monster fights." That's all fine and damn dandy, but in the two-hour run time of Godzilla, there is precious little destruction other than the climax, except for the occasional shot that cuts far too quickly back to humans running around in disarray. Maybe the film-maker is building anticipation for the finale, which admittedly is cool (a group of soldiers jumping from 30,000 feet to deal with a nuclear device in the middle of a destructive monster battle). But it's too little, too late.
Godzilla isn't a bad film. But it isn't good, either. Both this year's Noah and Captain America: The Winter Soldier were far better displays of making entertainment with dozens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars injected into the their respective budgets. Above all, 2014's Godzilla just isn't fun. There weren't enough moments that brought a smile to face or butterflies into my belly (or any at all, really). It's typical movie-studio summer weekend placement: a massive and intriguing marketing campaign that leads to a movie that's all safe with no lasting stimulation. (C)
Saturday, May 3, 2014
The film starts with an exciting and tense flashback plane sequence where Peter's parents are flying out of town with secret and important information. Much of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is downhill from there. Spidey still patrols the city, taking down bad guys (the first being a way-too-over-the-top Paul Giamatti). Unfortunately, it seems like he's also a failed stand-up comedian, spouting out extremely unfunny one-liners before shooting people with his white sticky stuff. Him and Gwen are now officially a couple, but if you remember the first film (which you probably don't), her dad's (Denis Leary) dying wish was for Peter to stay the hell away from Gwen--to protect her by leaving her. Peter thinks about this a lot, and he even sees visions of Leary all over town giving him threatening glances.
But the real threat lies with a few different aspects of the Oscorp company: Peter's childhood friend, Harry, has taken over the corporation after the passing of his dear old dad, but he's inherited the same disease that could lead to his demise too. He thinks a dose of Spidey's blood could cure him, and he'll do anything to try and get it. There has also been a major accident at Oscorp: an under-appreciated employee named Max Dillon (Jaime Foxx) has fallen into a tank of experimental electric eels, becoming a powerful villain named Electro who can harness the power of the entire city's electrical grid. Our red and blue hero has a lot in his web. Too much, and the film suffers because of it.
This Spider-Man is also too long. It's one of those films with a few false endings, and by the time it's actually over, you wish it had been over 15 minutes ago. If The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is any indication, this summer is going to be full of unoriginal blockbusters that look like a million bucks but feel like only a dollar or two. And in a couple of years, when The Amazing Spider-Man 3 is announced, I'll meet that news not with a smile but with a shrug of the shoulders. (C)