Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mutate me once, shame on you ... : "X-Men: Days of Future Past"

Whither the X-Men in today's crazy comic-book movie world? Not as morose as Batman. Not as lackluster as Superman. (Super powers, so-so movies.) Not as spunky as Spider-Man. Even the most direct comparison, the Avengers, is more a popcorn collection of All-Stars than a team of similarly troubled souls. Besides Wolverine, are any of these folks carrying their own films? Or perhaps you missed "Iceman: Cubes of Fury" and "Storm: Raising Hail."

(Aside: I'm much more intrigued by the upcoming "Guardians of the Galaxy" than I expected. I attribute half of that to the funny-misfit angle -- "What a bunch of a-holes" -- and half to my ever-growing broner for Chris Pratt.)

When we last saw our favorite band of mutants, they were youngsters in the early '60s who had split into good guys and bad guys at the end of "X-Men: First Class." When we last saw Mr. Shiny Nails, he was fresh off a trip to Japan in "The Wolverine."  Two very different movies, and "Days of Future Past" is a third kind altogether.

We open in a future when the world seems largely decimated, thanks to machines/creatures called the Sentinels that have hunted down most mutants and human sympathizers. And they're coming for the last ones, too, including some we know (Kitty Pryde and Colossus, plus Professor X, Magneto and the aforementioned Storm, Wolfie and Ice Ice Baby) and some we're seeing for the first time (Blink, Bishop, Warpath). Everyone's trying to stay alive and figure out a way to defeat the Sentinels, who we learn have the powers of just about every mutant. I hate it when that happens.

The last, best idea: Send someone back in time to occupy his/her same body and figure out a way to stop the genesis of the Sentinels in the early '70s. Kitty has sent people back a few days, but 50 years? Given the stress such a trip would have on the mind, we need someone who can handle it and heal fast. Sound like anyone we know?

So now we get to the "past" part, with Wolverine waking up in 1973 and off to find not only Professor X but Magneto, with the two far from speaking terms. Alas, they need to team up to stop the lovely blue chameleon, Mystique, from killing the creator of the Sentinels, Bolivar Trask (Tyrion!!!). His death and Mystique's capture ultimately led to the Sentinels being the ultimate badasses, so yeah ... let's do something else and pretend that future never happened.

From there we have all manner of fun, from the Professor deciding if he'll ever get his sh*t together to the enlistment of a new mutant who can move at superhuman speeds (and delivers easily the best sequence of the film, complete with the soft sounds of "Time in a Bottle."). Suffice it to say things don't go smoothly -- with Mystique and others -- and soon the Sentinels aren't the only things to worry about. Without giving too much away, let's just say uneasy alliances are uneasy for a reason, and don't always stay allied. Meanwhile, the crew back in the present/future is racing against time as those Sentinels approach.

If this time travel business sounds a little fishy, join the club. Feel free to Google "X-Men" and "continuity problems" when you have a chance. Just set aside an hour or several. The film's final scenes certainly don't help matters, either. Hopefully you didn't get too invested in the happenings in some of those earlier movies.

While all that is a bit irksome, I enjoyed the collection of mutants and much of the action. The round and round with the Professor and Mystique and Magneto also humanized -- see what I did there? -- them somewhat. Wolverine may have been the key in linking the past and future, but for once it was nice to not have Hugh Jackman chewing all the scenery.

In all, "Days of Future Past" does a nice job of bringing together the two eras of X-Men, using the dire future to advance the evolution of the earlier crew. Given this franchise is now 14 years old, it could feel a lot more stale. Instead, at this rate we may get to see Magneto rock some parachute pants in the next movie.


At 2:18 PM, Anonymous slumus lordicus said...

saw it last night. It was nice to incorporate the first three films into it and then letting everyone know it was rebooting (ala Star Trek)for age of apocalypse (yay! archangel). So Last stand did not happen but it did in HJ's mind or Marvel Universe #xxx.


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