Friday, May 23, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past - 3 stars

It's the future, and mankind has been almost competely wiped out by the Sentinels, unstoppable killer robots.  The surviving X-Men decide that their only option is to go back in time and prevent the Sentinels from ever becoming operational.  There is one critical event that happened, and if they can prevent that from happening, it will completely change history and everything will be fine.

So they send Wolverine back to 1973.  He enlists the help of the young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing someone.  Along the way they enlist the help of Quicksilver (Even Peters), who steals the movie with only 10 minutes of screen time.

I had high expectations for this movie going in.  I was a fan of X-Men (2000), and X2: X-Men United (2003) was not only a great superhero movie, but a great movie, period.  I went back and re-watched both movies recently, and they hold up really well.  Director Bryan Singer left the franchise to make Superman Returns, and Brett Ratner wound up making X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), which was a big disappointment.  The two standalone Wolverine movies were decent, but 2011's X-Men: First Class was almost as good as X2.  Now Bryan Singer has returned to the franchise he started.

What I liked:

- Quicksilver.  He should have been in the entire movie.  There's a sequence where he saves the others from being shot, and it's incredible.  His power is he moves really fast, but we watch this scene unfold from his point of view.  So while everyone around is moving in super slow motion, he's casually putting on his headphones and walking around the room, flicking bullets out of the air.  That's one of the things I've been missing since X2 - seeing how much fun it would be to have these powers.  As fun as the action sequences can be, it's nice to see them having fun with their power.

- Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen back as Professor X and Magneto.  Even though they weren't in the movie much, it was nice to see them back in these roles.  It isn't really explained how Professor X is back from the dead, or how Magneto has his powes again, even though the last scenes of X-Men: The Last Stand hinted that it was a possibility.  But that's ok.  Ian McKellen has a way of using his powers with the authority and dignity of a trained Shakespearing actor.  There's something so cool about watching McKellen do these moves that we all probably did as kids.

- I like the way the movie focuses on the characters instead of action and spectacle.  With the exception of the finale at the White House, there's very little distruction.  But the dialogue is pretty good and the conflicts between the characters is dramatic.  It helps that we know these characters so well. 

What I didn't like:

- It seemed like the plan to go back in time to save humanity was thrown together really fast.  It's like the older X-Men meet up with the younger ones, find out about time travel, and say "Hey, why don't we go back in time and stop all this?" 

- Speaking of time travel, the whole concept didn't seem to hold up during the finale.  If stopping one event would have significant effects on history, wouldn't everything else that happens also change history?  In the original timeline, Magneto doesn't turn the Sentinels on the humans and he doesn't pick up that sports stadium.  It seems like the stuff that happens would have altered history and it wouldn't matter when Mystique makes her choice.  I guess that's the kind of thing you can't think about too much when time travel is used in a movie.  No time travel movie is ever able to keep to the rules they establish.

- I got tired of Charles trying to talk Mystique out of what she was planning to do.  He could have explained to her that if she goes through with it, the Sentinels would get more powerful and kill everyone.  Instead he just keeps pleading with her, and saying "The girl I grew up with wouldn't kill anyone."  It got annoying.

- They didn't give Hank McCoy much to do.  I liked his character in First Class, but this time he just seemed like a distraction. 

- Quicksilver wasn't in the movie enough.  Even Peters played Quicksilver with a gleam in his eye and a wicked grin.  His character was a breath of fresh air with all these other gloomy characters around, and his presence would have made the rest of the movie a lot more enjoyable.  Also, he really could have helped out at the White House at the end.

Overall, I did enjoy the movie.  But I had such high expectations and the movie didn't live up to them.  I really thought that Bryan Singer would be able to make another movie on par with X2, or at least with First Class.  I wish he would have stayed with the X-Men franchise all along instead of making Superman Returns.  I can only imagine how much better the third movie would have been.

But I am pretty excited for the next movie.  I don't want to spoil the end, but it sets things up nicely for more X-Men movies.  Hopefully the next one will be even better.

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