X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

8 06 2014

x-men-days-of-future-past-poster

Have you ever wished you could go back in time and stop something terrible from happening? 20th Century Fox sure did. Xmen: Days of Future Past attempts to do the impossible by erasing the horrible event that was X-Men 3. Oh, also in the movie series’ world all the mutants will die in the future if Logan doesn’t go back in time and stop it, so there’s that fix-the-past plot as well. However, can even Wolverine and Professor Xavier be successful in both quests?

McAvoy Stewart

Sorry, kid. In the future there’s still no cure for baldness.

First of all, you have to overlook some plot holes caused by all the time-jumping, but honestly any fan of X-Men movies should be used to that by now (just how old is Magneto at this point, if he was a elementary-aged child during WWII)? That said, I was pleasantly surprised by X-Men: First Class, so I was glad to see more of that world, especially in a movie that connects them with the earlier ones. One of the best parts of this premise is that we get to enjoy the strong casting that both movies (mostly) enjoyed (sorry, Juggernaut). The main focus was on the past, with the futuristic scenes mainly serving as a way to heighten the tension and give us cool action sequences. That said, it was the good to see the original cast together again in a better movie (Halle Berry even avoids cracking horrible jokes).

 

 

Storm Sentinel

Halle Berry is lousy at fighting.

 

For me, the only weak character this time around was Stryker. He seems to lose his impact with each new movie that uses his character. It’s not just that he has been portrayed by a different actor each time. My problem is how he may as well be a different character altogether since none of the actors look like each other, and they all play him in a different manner. Why, when these movies all supposedly take place in the same universe, do we have to have one important character that is never consistent? Why not just leave him out? On the flip side are Magneto’s and Professor X’s two separate-era representations. They both look passable as younger and older versions, and the younger actors actually appear to have seen the earlier movies.

Professor X Magneto split face

Anti-aging cream sometimes works unevenly…

A favorite new mutant for me was super-fast Quicksilver, who could have been a gimmicky addition, but instead is more of a highlight. His super-slow scene in the kitchen easily ranks up there in the most memorable moments for both visual effects and humor. I was a little disappointed that they only used him for one job, but from a writing standpoint he could have solved the final battle way too easily. Jennifer Lawrence continues to add layers to Mystique’s character (if not outer layers), and her interactions with Charles and Erik are great moments as well.

On his way to film those lame Hardee's commercials.

On his way to film those lame Hardee’s commercials.

Altogether, the writing effectively combined a large amount of events while giving plenty of snappy one-liners (notably between Logan and young Magneto). The first few minutes were a bit exposition-heavy, but they needed to explain quite a bit to get the time-traveling story going. One sizable detail that gets left off at the end is just what they do with that giant stadium around the White House. I mean, you just don’t tow that away. However, all is forgiven by the ending sequence, where Logan wakes up in a new future that not only has no Sentinels, but is also free from the disappointing X-Men: The Final Stand events. Those last few minutes gave us all the closure we need for the original cast, which is good because I’m wagering this movie is also a sly way for the studios to reboot the franchise with younger blood in the same way as the new Star Trek movies did. The past movies still happened, but the next movies are no longer bound to follow them. It’s a brilliant strategy from the studios, really. All in all, Days of Future Past undoes past wrongs and establishes a bright new future, in more ways then one.





The Wolverine Review

2 08 2013

The_Wolverine_Japanese_film_poster_painting

Ever thought about how terrible it would be to have self-healing powers so powerful you could be invincible and ageless? Wolverine thinks it is. At least he can always vent his frustration out with his six giant retractable claws, but honestly, when you start outliving everybody and picking up more and more baggage, would you look for a way out? The Wolverine explores this curse/blessing of immortality, obsession and regret, and cultural differences all at the same time (but not in that order), which is weightier material than his previous few outings. Could an X-Men movie be getting philosophical on us? Throw in ninjas and gangs, and you’ve got a few reasons to check this out. Did I mention almost everything happens in Japan? Because it totally does, and it’s epic.

 

the wolverine funeral scene

Back in black.

 

Regardless if you enjoyed Wolverine: X-men Origins, there is no questioning The Wolverine tells a better story than its predecessor. Part of the reason (besides the above premise) is the dramatically reduced number of mutants in this film, so that they feel more fleshed out, instead of side shows (with one exception). Rila Fukushima in particular makes a great impression as Yukio (and not just because of the red hair). Her mutant powers (foresight, combat skills?) are more toned down than previous shape-shifting, flying mutants, but she and non-mutant Mariko (Tao Okamoto) perfectly complement the rash, lone-wolf nature of Logan (Hugh Jackman. Duh).

 

the wolverine mutant

Pictured: not a mutant.

 

Not so great for me are the villains- Silver Samurai was a cool-looking CGI monstrosity, but the twist with who’s pulling the strings was fairly predictable after several giant hints. For me, the final CGI giant form almost felt out of place compared to the rest of the movie’s action scenes. By the way, isn’t adamantium supposed to be super rare? How could they find all that for a gargantuan robot suit? This pales next to the villainess Viper. Her snake-like powers were actually a departure from comic books, as she wasn’t even a mutant in the comics (thanks, Wikipedia!). I really don’t care about comic continuity, but everything about the character felt like it should have been in either the first Wolverine movie or the cartoony brawls of The Last Stand. Her dialogue was flat and a little cheesy, and did every outfit really have to look over-the-top reptilian? We get it, she’s like a snake! Did we run out of subtlety? In my mind, she was the weakest character.

 

viper poster

Strong poster. Weak character.

 

The third act felt different in tone from the first two. While the first two focused on more setting and characters, the final part went full comic book action. I’m not complaining, it’s just an observation (heck, ninjas vs. Wolverine was the reason I came anyway). For me, whether fanboys hated it or not, my favorite X-Men fight was in Wolverine: X-Men Origins with Sabretooth and Deadpool, because watching Wolverine fight a teleporting, dual sword-wielding, self-healing martial arts master with laser-shooting eyeballs is thoroughly awesome. As it should be. This ending was still satisfying, just not the highlight.

 

I thought adamantium was super rare?

Giant robot suit. Six little claws.

 

To sum up, this movie was no Dark Knight for me (but will anything be?), but it successfully shows us why Hugh Jackman’s character deserves to keep making movies. We finally get a deep look into his psyche and what drives him, and setting him in a dramatically different setting was a great choice. Everything about him stands in contrast to the traditions and style of the Japanese world, and this creates interesting situations and themes. Maybe most noteworthy is how different this feels from the other movies in the franchise, almost feeling like a standalone while still being a pseudo-sequel. Even with a few muddy spots, sometimes it’s good to try new things and get some fresh air.

 

Hugh jackman humor

Truth.