So after six films, five different directors, and almost no over arching continuity, Bryan Singer returned to the franchise he spawned claiming to be able to set the record straight by adapting a historic comic book. He would make the X-Men movie to end all X-Men movies, merging all the films into a tolerable form and spring boarding X-Men into the shared universe waters that Marvel(read Disney), and Spider-Man(read, Sony) have already swam in. He would bring back all the cast members he likes along with the new cast members that everyone likes now and include time travel. The movie would have the best/most perfect title for this sort of movie: Days of Future Past.
I saw the film Saturday afternoon in IMAX 3-D – and was happy with my experience. Off the top, no need for the 3-D here. I feel like it should be good, as Blink’s powers would especially feature 3-D, but the film really doesn’t use it as well. Ultimately, I would go with IMAX, but 3-D is just icing for this film. What is most artistic and fun as a film technique is the use of “stock footage” – there are large clips of this film that are in that ‘Forrest Gump” – fake ‘home movie’ footage of the big events. Ultimately, I think this film captures the 70’s even better than ‘First Class’ did for the 60’s.
Speaking of ‘First Class’ this film is definitely a sequel to that movie with the cast of X1-X3 as fun cameos.The acting here is very, very strong. Although I will agree with many of the early critics of this film that J-Law is phoning it in a bit. She is not BAD, she is more just adequate. But the film’s plot features her rather prominently, so the adequateness of the performance really stands out. Evan Peters as Quicksilver is incredible and his scenes are the biggest reason to see this in 3-D. The ball is now in the Joss Whedon court to get something just as good out of Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Peter Dinkledge is the other great addition to this cast. I don’t watch ‘Game of Thrones’ so he is not familiar to me, but he sells me here on some skill. I think it was an amazing step and scripting move for Peter Dinkledge to walk around acting up a storm and not ONE WORD comes out his mouth about his size. He’s just a man, a scientist. It so subtly folds into the themes of this series of acceptance of outsiders and new genetics. It was a great choice.
I do believe this film is a little poorly paced. I think the first have is very strong, but the third quarter drags a little bit, the climax is a little anti-climactic and the very end is a little weird and unsatisfying (especially for a Bryan Singer film). The acting is great (especially leads McAvoy, Fassbender, Jackman, and Nicholas Hoult). The First Class crew is very strong. Ultimately, while it does not act as a catch-all to fix continuity errors, the main story is well plotted and told. We figure out what Singer wants to tell us, and I think he does in strong fashion. There are twists and turns that are very entertaining. I do Recommend this film. But it is a mild recommend.
Okay – I warned you… (yes you Amy, stop reading now)
1.) Use of Wolverine – So it is no secret that Fox figured out why their best film (‘First Class’) made the least amount of money. No Hugh Jackman. Even that (in my opinion) terrible Origins movie made more than First Class did. (You could also argue that those other X-Men movies are all Wolvernie movies regardless of how they are titled) So Fox goes into this film knowing that Hugh has to figure prominently, but needs to write a story that isn’t about him. I think they do that pretty well here. They make him a ‘glue’ character, but now one on which the action hinges on. To use a basketball reference, Wolverine is the point guard of this movie .He touches the ball a lot, but the other players do most of the scoring. How they achieve this is by basically knocking him out of every big fight scene. There is one instance they do this very brilliantly by having him have a weird time travel, brain malfunction after seeing Striker. The other times, especially at the climax, he is very unceremoniously incapacitated. For X-Men fans and film fans, Wolverine’s use here is great and NEEDED. For Hugh Jackman Wolverine fans, they may leave this film upset because Logan’s best moments are when Hugh is emoting to other characters and not slicing up enemies with his… claws?
2.) Use of Wolverine 1.1: The Claws Clause – This film poises the biggest evidence for why bone claws are a terrible conceit. If the two Wolverine movies hadn’t already convinced me that bone claw Logan is weak and shitty, this film shout it out loud and clear. Of course the lions share of this film takes place in the 70’s with Logan pre-Weapon X enhancement. We see William Stryker all over the place, so maybe he’s still going to get the claws somehow? Nope. But Bob.. if he’s not all metal then Magneto can’t control him right? Wrong. In the films climax Logan can’t cut through a Sentinal head without his claws and Michael Fassbender still plugs him full of re-bar and launches him to the bottom of the Potomac. At the end during our “Hey, it’s a fairy tale happy ending” we don’t even get resolution to him getting claws back. It’s ridiculous. Wolverine director Jamess Mangold has even come out and SAID that he likes the bone claws so we might be living with this travesty for a long time since ‘The Wolverine’ is getting a sequel with the same creative team.
3.) Quicksilver – I do love Quicksilver in this film, and he is used just right – in one scene. This scene is a stunner. It’s a great scene of the whole world in slow time and him in normal time. It is all set to “Time in a Bottle” and it is great fun. It’s the reason to see this in 3-D. What sucks is that the scene is a one-pump gag. They can’t do that scene again and fast characters are (in my opinion) sort of tough. Because if a character can do what Quicksilver does in this film, what can possibly threaten them?
4.) The Future Team/O-G Cast – I did love the merging of two casts here, but make no mistake – this crew in the future are side players at best. Future Charles and Magneto get some great scenes and speeches, but the rest of this group has little to do, other than die.. over and over. Before I comment on that, I want to say that the Storm, Jean Grey, and Ice-Man returning cameos are GREAT. (especially since Storm barely talks, but she gets to use her powers in the best way since ever in this time) – The Cyclops cameo is rough. I really think they just need to recast him. The new crew are a lot of fun – Blink and Bishop are standouts (even though Award Winning Omar Sy gets almost nothing to do. There was so much buzz about his casting and character design for him to see “Sunspot” and “Storm”) – Blink’s powers are AWESOME and really cleverly visualized. Warpath and Sunspot are meh – specially Warpath. Sunspot is okay, but a bit of a rougher looking Human Torch. Kitty Pride is nicely used (even if Ellen Page is not really on her game)
5.) Time-Travel – So, this movie’s conceit of time travel is really cool. Kitty Pride’s ability to project consciousness is a wonderfully believable extension of her powers and I think the rules of this film’s version of time travel are pretty well established and adhered to. While it’s a little ham-fisted, I do like that it has to be Wolverine because of his healing factor. I thought the fake out deaths to set up how the time-travel works was both an excellent fight scene and a strong visual way to show us the rules, without being super takey (although the next scene IS super takey and a little clunky)
6.) Sentinels and Mystique – I do really like how the Sentinels adaptability and strength is derived from Mystique’s powers. I thought they were well done (both Sentinels and Mystique’s powers) – although I do think the stunt coordination for Mystique was a little quick/cut -choppy in some spots, which was rough in some of her fight scenes. The Sentinel’s powers we also originally supposed to be derived from Rogue’s powers as well, but Anna Paquin ended up on the cutting room floor –
7.) Extended length blu-ray? – Per the production, almost 40% of the original cut of the movie was excised for theatrical release. Anna Paquin, as well as additional cameos, Peter Dinkledge, and Wolverine scenes were cut out of this film for length. I actually am really looking forward to a 3 1/2 hour cut of this time if Bryan Singer chooses to do one.
I would give this film – 3.75 out of 5 stars.