Movie Review: X-Men – Days of Future Past

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Director: Bryan Singer

Writers: Simon KinbergJane GoldmanMatthew VaughnJohn ByrneChris ClaremontTerry Austin

Stars: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh JackmanJames McAvoyMichael FassbenderEvan PetersJennifer LawrenceEllen PagePeter Dinklage

Verdict: Pretty damn sweet

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a fun, if not brilliant action/sci-fi movie that’s more intelligent than your average pop corn flick, but not by much. 

X-Men: Days of Future Past starts in this really properly dystopian future, reminiscent of the Nazi concentration camp stuff in X-Men: First Class. We then see this quite extraordinary fight sequence that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but it’s not meant to, utilizing a good bit of dramatic irony, it will be explained later in the film. We then later find out that Ellen Page, (Inception, JunoHard Candy) has to sent Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman, (The Prestige, Prisoners), back in time to essentially, save time, (not, save time, as in, spending less time on things, I mean saving time, as in, literaelly saving the future). It’s essentially The Terminator as directed by Bryan Singer, (HouseThe Usual SuspectsX-Men), which essentially means, kind of intelligent plotting, hokey science fiction, and actual darkness. 

They key to most Bryan Singer films is really the pacing, this man knows how to make his movies go by with a swing, and this film, just over two hours long, gets through an aweful lot of plot in not much time at all. His films are just clever enough to just seem intelligent; I think after the twist in The Usual Suspects he has a little bit of expectation resting on him in terms of outrageous plot devices which I’m really not sure he’s always lived up to. There’s a reason The Usual Suspects and House are the best things that he’s ever done, which is really because they don’t require a lot of special effects, of which he is ocasionally brilliant, and occasionally not so brilliant. This film actually had it’s only Oscar nomination for visual effects and frequently you can see why; there’s a great moment with Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters, (Kick-AssAmerican Horror Story), in which the effects are great, and the sequence is really clever. There’s also some stuff with portals and Mystique, as played by Jennifer Lawrence, (The Hunger Games, Silver Linings Playbook), which are really good. There are also probably a whole lot more effects that no one thinks about, but there are distinct moments that do look a bit shit. Also, Singer is very indulgent on his designs; just because they’re metahumans doesn’t mean they need to be as designy as characters out of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. At the same time, the concept itself is really, really hokey. There have been a few time travel oriented properties lately, such as Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and Edge of Tomorrow, that use their time travel really well, and in them it hangs together and is used cleverly in a way that it really doesn’t and isn’t in this movie. 

Another thing I like about this film is that there are moments that are genuinely dark; there is a moment where Magneto uses his powers to drag Mystique by a bullet in her leg that wouldn’t make it into anything the MCU has to offer. 

The actors are all quite good. The characterisations are disctict and clearly drawn and beleivable which must help no end. Micheal Fassbender, (Inglourious Basterds, PrometheusHunger), is a bit 2 dimentional, but is fine. It’s a shame because he is a fantastic actor. James MacAvoy, (Filth), is really good, and a whole lot of fun. Hugh Jackman works perfectly as a passive catalyst. Peter Dinklage, (Game of Thrones) works fine, essentially as a human McGuffin, he does his job, he’s not evil per se despite appearing to be a nominal villain. Dinklage also happens to be one o my favourite actors along with MacAvoy and Fassbender, as well as Patrick Stewart who was so good recently in Green Room. Him and Ian Mckellan, (The Lord of the Rings) work fine as those-characters-from-the-first-three-movies, although I would have liked to have seen them utilised better. At the end of the day, the story isn’t about them so it’s somewhat fine? Ellen Page, poor Ellen Page, she is such a talented young actress and is given very little to do except giving exposition and looking kind of tired and teary, which is a real shame because she could add a whole lot to the film, maybe add some gravitas which without her sometimes comes off  as comic book postering towards vaccuous grandiosity. The real stand out though, is Evan Peters as Quicksilver. He was the best thing about the series of American Horror Story that he’s in, as we said in our review, one of our first, (here). Honest to god, not sure I should link one of our early reviews, we didn’t really know what we were doing in those days to be honest. It’s a shame but oh well. Even Peters though always knows what he’s doing in his roles. He knows exactly what to do in the cheeze that he stars in, and in this he’s the best part, having all sorts of fun. I’ve always said that American Horror Story is great if you’re in on the joke, and he is in on everything, and he’s great. A lot of the characters, especially in the post apocalyptic future, are wasted. There’s a lot of characters that are hardly used and come across as, essentially, hardly there. A lot of characters are defined by their costumes, and occasionally I’d go, ‘of that guy, who’s name I can’t remember, oh he’s also here’, which is a problem. Jennifer Lawrence is maybe the biggest female star going and I honestly have no idea why, because I’ve never seen her be anything other than kin of ok. So the acting is in general, pretty good, with exceptions at both ends of the scale. 

In conlusion, X-Men: Days of Future Past is a better than average comic book movie. It’s the third in a group of three we’ve done, and it seems to me that the best ones, unless they’re made by Christopher Nolan, (The Dark Knight),  are the ones that know how stupid they are and embrace that, elevating it to something a teeny weeny bit cleverer than that. Also, this film is a proper movie, so is Deadpool, so is The Dark Knight, and they’re all really good; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is not a proper movie, and is utter shite. In these three movies, the script comes before the franchise. Here’s to more that swing above their weight. 

 

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