Thursday, May 29, 2014

Go Back to the Future in X-Men: Days of Future Past

      Time travel can be a slippery slope in modern film entertainment: for every great usage of it (like in the low-budget Primer or the stylistic Looper), viewers then get a couple duds that are filled with WTF moments that can leave you scratching your head. So I can see why you would be skeptical of the new X-Men film, Days of Future Past (the title itself is kind of stupidly confusing)--Travelling back in time to re-shape the future is a major plot point. But somehow, it totally works. By bringing back Bryan Singer, who created the first two (good) X-Men films, and sending the fan favorite Wolverine back in time to a story involving the younger versions of characters that we met in X-Men: First Class, Days of Future Past is top-tier summer entertainment: incredibly fun, exciting, and full of wonderful acting, especially for a comic-book film.
     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.
     There wasn't a moment in Days of Future Past that lacked entertainment. Many scenes leave you incredibly excited: the opening of a dystopian future and the ensuing mutant vs Sentinel battle that sets the film's tone extremely early. The breakout of Magneto from a maximum security cell underneath the Pentagon (Quicksilver [Evan Peters] is the star here, as he moves much faster than a speeding bullet). The assassination attempt on Dr. Trask. Though Matthew Vaughn did a good job with the sort-of-reboot of the X-Men universe with First Class, it's nice to have Singer back in the director's chair (though his real-life controversy isn't clearly isn't good) . His love of the characters and source material is obvious, his set-up of key scenes admirable. And when your comic-book film is filled with great actors (Fassbender, Jackman, McAvoy, Dinklage, Lawrence, among others) who are adept at showing every emotion, it just adds to the overall experience.
     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-)

No comments:

Post a Comment