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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

X-Men: Days of Future Past takes several years after the previous X-Men films in a world where mutants and those that have the potential to produce mutant offspring are either subjugated into concentration camps or are on the run from powerful robotic Sentinels that rule the new world. To prevent this terrible future from happening, Wolverine is sent back to the 70s to stop an event that sparked the war.
With 14 years and six films, the X-Men franchise has had a somewhat confusing continuity, and Days of Future Past bridges the gap between the two timelines setup in the original X-Men trilogy and the First Class film. Even though there are still a few minor continuity errors that are not entirely explained, considering what has happened to the franchise since Bryan Singer left, he was able to fix just about everything in Days of Future Past to near perfection, while simultaneously crafting an exceptional film that is one of the best comic book films to date.
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Genre: Comic Book, Action, Sci-Fi, Time-travel,
Release Date: May 23, 2014
Running Time: 131 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13

The Good: Compelling character development and drama, Logical time-travel elements, Several shocking plot twists, Quicksilver is jaw-droppingly awesome, Rights the wrongs of the previous films, Hugh Jackman is still the man, Blink is freaking cool, All-star cast, Impressive mutant action throughout, John Ottman's classic score, Many geeky references and geek-out moments, Ties-into the other films well, Strong performances across the board, Emotional impact, Perfect adaptation of source material, Thematically strong, Genuinely suspense, Great humor, Provides an excellent new starting point, Balances enormous cast expertly, Morally ambiguous, 

The Bad:
Plot: 10/10- Time-travel stories are difficult to write even when the entire film is focused on that one element, and as a massive fan of time-travel stories, spotting dodgy and inconsistent time-travel logic is not hard, yet Days of Future Past manages to craft a time-travel story that actually makes logical sense (or at least as logical as time-travel can be)! 
In other areas of the plot, Days of Future Past excels with brisk pacing that is never too fast or slow, reinforcement of the themes the X-Men franchise is founded on, and enough geeky references to make a fan giddy with delight. However, the movie does rely on the viewer's knowledge of the previous X-Men movies to obtain the full effect, and since I have seen all of the X-Men films multiple times, I was able to catch just about everything, but the casual viewer might become lost. The movie continues to throw in several very shocking plot twists, many of which made me audibly gasp. Additionally, Bryan Singer's pitch perfect tone captures the feel of the comics much more so than his previous work on the franchise.

Characterization: 10/10- Despite the enormous cast, the film is able to manage them skillfully. As with most X-Men films, Wolverine is the central character at first; however, Xavier, Erik (Magneto), Beast, and Mystique (mostly the younger versions) all receive ample development. In fact, the broken friendship between Xavier and Erik is possibly the strongest and most compelling aspect of the entire film. After seeing what has happened to the characters in both the future and the past, the conflict between the two characters is extremely effective. Mystique's character arc often surprised me with the direction it took and the amount of depth given to it considering the screen time available. Despite everyone's initial skepticism about the character Quicksilver (myself included), let me say, without a doubt, that his scenes are worth price of admission alone. Seriously, you have to see them to believe it.
Many of the characters from the original X-Men trilogy return and with the exception of Storm, I am fairly attached to these characters from previous films, particularly my one of personal favorite characters from the comics, Iceman. *Possible Spoilers* So, if you are also a fan of the movies and are still attached to some of these characters, prepare for a few heart wrenching moments of shock. *End Spoilers* In addition to all of these characters, there are other new mutants that are introduced like Blink, whose powers are amazing, and Bishop. While the new characters are more like extras in the battle scenes, there have never been cooler extras in a film. One aspect of the film that is often criticized is the motivations of the antagonist Bolivar Trask. While his character is not given a lot of depth, why does a military contractor need more motivations than money, the pursuit of science, and possible fame? That is often what motivates real life military contractors.

Action/Direction: 9.9/10- X-Men has always been unique in the fact that there are always such a large variety of mutant powers on display in film, and with ten years since Bryan Singer's last X-Men movie, he capitalizes on the opportunity for some awesome and inventive action set pieces. While the action is not on par with that of this year's The Winter Soldier, it is certainly an impressive effort, particularly anything that involves Quicksilver. In general, Bryan Singer's direction is spot on with some unique techniques and absolutely zero shaky-cam!
Blink's powers are freaking awesome!
Acting: 10/10- Days of Future Past's cast is huge! From Jackman's iconic portrayal of Wolverine to Michael Fassbender's brilliant rage to Patrick Stewart's gravitas, everyone is flawless. 
James McAvoy's performance is even more compelling than his last outing, and Jennifer Lawrence is well, the same J-Law that we all know and love, but darker and more conflicted this time around. Evan Peters as Quicksilver is another standout among the exceptional cast. Fortunately, even the horribly miscast Halle Berry is barely given any speaking lines to distract from the film.

Special effects: 9.8/10- Days of Future Past's special effects are its only weaker element since some of the mutant powers are not on par with the Marvel Cinematic universe in the larger action scenes. However, the special effects for Quicksilver boost the score substantially thanks to the best portrayal of superspeed in any film. Also, the practical makeup effects for Mystique and especially Beast were superb and very believable.

Soundtrack: 9.5/10- John Ottman returns to score the film, and his return is more than welcome. He combines elements of the brilliant First Class score with the original theme, which reminded me how good it was in the first place.
Humor: 8.0/10- While not always humorous, Days of Future Past has the perfect amount of humor to add to the enjoyment, yet still remaining serious. *Possible Spoiler* All of Quicksilver's scenes are positively hysterical! *End Spoilers*

Entertainment Value: 10/10- When I was not on the edge-of-seat in suspense or having my jaw drop to the floor, I probably had the dumbest looking grim on my face because I was in pure nerdy bliss. The X-Men are back and better than ever, and my favorite Silver-Age comic story is perfectly adapted. I have not been happier watching a movie since Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Overall: 10/10- Overall, X-Men: Days of Future Past is an exceptional experience that has the heart, themes, action, and characters that made the franchise and comic so great in the first place. And yes, I have done it again, another 10 out of 10, and on my scale less than 13 films have received such a rating, so know that I do not throw the rating around lightly.

Closing comments: X-Men: Days of Future Past has finally given us the an X-Men film that is on-par with Marvel's Cinematic Universe, as well as providing an excellent foundation on which to build the rest of the franchise on in the future. Note however, if you are not a fan of the X-Men films in some capacity, you will likely not find the movie as enjoyable and satisfying as I have.

Recommended for: X-Men fans, Comic Book fans, Action fans, Sci-Fi fans, Time-travel fans,

Please check back tomorrow for my review of Snowpiercer.

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24 comments:

  1. Starting with the opening scene with Patrick Stewart's voice narrating I was grinning through this whole movie. I loved it. :) Great review!


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    1. And Quicksilver is just awesome. That scene in the kitchen... :D Don't you love the music they chose for it?

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    2. Me too! Thanks. :) And I agree, that kitchen scene is going to be legendary. :D

      -James

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  2. Great review! :D This movie looks really awesome! I'm glad to hear how good and well done it was(since X-Men was the first superhero storyline that I really enjoyed). I'm especially excited to see the interactions between Xavier and Erik, since their friendship/antagonism was always something I enjoyed watching. I'm also looking forward to seeing Quicksilver since I've heard a lot about how cool they are! :)
    If you could pick, who would you cast as Storm? I've seen a few good ideas(someone said Gina Toress, who was Zoe in Firefly), and I was wondering what you thought.

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    1. Thanks! :D Considering how great Days of Future Past is, I recommend that you see the other X-Men films sooner than later, if you can. :)
      Actually, the next X-Men movie is going to feature younger versions of the original cast like Storm and Jean, so they are recasting her. Gina Toress would be great, although for a younger version of the character, Lupita Nyong'o would probably be great. Storm is actually African (not American) so the casting would probably fit better too. :)

      -James

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  3. Good review James! Wow, ten stars, you really liked it I guess! If you enjoyed it as much as The Winter Soldier, then I totally understand. :D I adored Quicksilver's part, and Wolverine is never anything but awesome. They totally stole Blink's powers from Portal though... but it was still very cool, and made some great action scenes. Also I definitely approve of their choice of characters to focus on. :D

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    1. Thanks Sarah! While the Winter Soldier is still just above X-Men, it is close! :D As for Blink, Portal stole her powers, since he was created in the comics several years before Portal. ;) Thanks!

      -James

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  4. Excellent review. As someone w/a casual knowledge, I agree those not in the know might be puzzled at times, but in terms of acting DOFP really is one of the best.

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    1. Thank you Rick! Knowing exactly who all these characters are certainly gives me for time to focus on the film and the plot rather than trying to remember who different people are and what they have done. And yes, the acting is superb!

      -James

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  5. I'm really not that surprised by the high rating, I knew there was 95 percent chance it would be amazing and you would love it. :P It sounds amazing, especially for X-Men fans. :) Your review is fantastic, you've gotten really really good! :)

    ~Jamie

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    1. Really? You know me too well. ;) Thank you! I have not had this much fun writing a review in awhile, and I am glad the quality is reflected in that.

      -James

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  6. Great review, I could have done it without you. I still don't understand what happened to the woman who is meant to be body guarding Wolverine. I presumed she is definitely wiped out by the Sentinels.

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    1. Thanks Filmgurulad! Good point, but I am sure the Sentinels killed Yukio though.

      -James

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  7. Those are some interesting scores! Hm, I've been eyeing on this movie too for a while, but I'm not really a fan of Xmen so I haven't seen it yet. But those scores! I guess I shoud find a way to see this one.

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    1. If you are not familiar enough with the X-Men, some parts of the movie will be confusing; however, the movie has excellent acting and it is overall very entertaining.

      -James

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  8. Very good film. Quicksilver's running bit the best. Jackman WAS Clint Eastwood! I did think there were one to many plots in there and I think the whole Magneto plot could have been sliced out (by Logan, natch). BTW: loving' the funky film grabs! Makes my little old blog look like the dark ages!! PS: if you're interested, you know where my review will be...

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    1. Haha, if an Eastwood biopic is ever made, Jackman should play him! Ah, I actually liked the Magneto plot since all three of the new mutant movement had their plans and competing philosophies. Thanks GK! It takes a little time, but finding those pics and gifs do add to the visual appeal of the posts. I'll have to check out your review soon.

      -James

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  10. I'd go as far as say this is one of the best comic book movies of all time. Really impressed by what Singer and his cast pulled off. Great review.

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    1. Agreed, it is right up there with The Avengers.

      -James

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  11. Cant wait to see this. The X men franchise is one of the strongest in sci fi history.

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  12. Haha! Until reading your review, I didn't realize there was no shaky-cam. No wonder I flat-out loved it! No gimmicks to make me feel nauseated!

    All kidding aside, great review! I think the friendship between Erik and Charles is the core of this movie, as it should be, and I'm glad you mentioned that. Special effects and hot actors/actresses can't replace a solid story with emotional depth and well-rounded characters. Happily, this movie has all of those things!!!

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  13. The picture has the energy of a classic cliffhanger serial and really zips along, skipping from one plot point to the next.

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