The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

X-Men: Days of Future Past

I have my favorite series. I love the Bond movies, love the Fast and Furious series and will watch just about any western out there. Some series, well, they just weren't on my radar. Take the X-Men series. I wasn't a comic book reader as a kid and never got into the successful Marvel series. So as a 30-year old movie nerd, I'm catching up. I've really enjoyed where the X-Men franchise has gone in recent years, including the highly successful and very positively reviewed 2014 X-Men: Days of Future Past.

In the not too distant future, a group of mutants is constantly on the run as robots known as Sentinels mercilessly hunt them down. This small group meets with a small group of fellow mutants -- the few remaining members of X-Men -- and come up with a desperate plan to ensure (or at least try) their survival. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) will be sent back in time to 1973 hoping to turn the tide of the past and naturally, the future. His objective? Stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing a man, an act that will ultimately doom all of the X-Men and mutants. His only hope is to find Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) and get the two enemies to put their horrific differences aside and work together to stop Mystique before they're all doomed. Can time-traveling Wolverine pull it off?

As I do from time-to-time, I hedge my bets. That's an awful plot description I've just provided you with. Like real bad. It's a whole lot of characters, series history, always confusing time travel, stars from two different timelines within the same series and my general lack of knowledge from the X-Men franchise. A winning formula for a review, ain't it? AIN'T IT? All jokes aside, it's an excellent film, one well worth seeking out.

I loved 2011's X-Men: First Class. A ton of fun, great cast, cool history-bending story, not much more you can ask for. This sequel amps things up in a big way. It brings the two timelines together, combining the first three movies of the series with the recent quasi-reboots. For this X-Men nube, it can be confusing at times, but it is always interesting. I won't get in-depth about my issues because much of my general sense of huh?!? comes from not knowing who everyone is. Director Bryan Singer returns to the series and keeps things going at an extremely high level. It's a series that ain't going anywhere either with the next release coming in 2016 supposedly. Color me psyched to see where it goes.

The beauty of these movies is the casting. Superhero movies aren't just MOVIE STAR movies anymore as both this series and the Avengers/Marvel universe has shown. These casts are filled with FREAKING actors and lots of them! McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence and oh yeah, Jackman comes back?!? It's crazy. All characters capable of carrying a movie by themselves work together to form a great ensemble. Jackman is the heart, the steadying force throughout as Logan, Mr. Wolverine himself, now traveling through time to save the world (and yes, it's that cool). Also reprising their roles are some huge names from the original trilogy including Patrick Stewart as Xavier, Ian McKellen as Magneto and Halle Berry as Storm, among several other familiar faces who make some quick appearances at the beginning and end of the movie.

The heart of the rebooted films is the trilogy of stars, McAvoy, Fassbender and Lawrence with Nicholas Hoult also returning (thankfully) as Hank McCoy, better known as Beast. No one is a cardboard cutout of a character, each of them feeling like a flesh and blood human...uh, mutant. I especially liked McAvoy as Xavier, tortured over his failures as his body too starts to fail him. He saw what could have been and is wasting away only to be reminded by Wolverine what still could be. Fassbender is criminally good at being Magneto, a villain you just can't get a read on. He's so impeccably cool and suave and a continuing great addition to the franchise. Lawrence is excellent too as Mystique, driven, stubborn and obsessed with doing what she believes is right. It's thankfully not a love interest but this triangle is fascinating to watch as they try to work together but...come on, that ain't gonna happen now, is it?

Who else to look for? Let's throw Peter Dinklage as Dr. Bolivar Trask, a brilliant scientist, engineer and weapons developer, Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde, a mutant with the ability to bend time and conscious, and a very cool part for Evan Peters as the future Quiksilver, helping Wolverine and Co. with an elaborate prison breakout. There's many other X-Men/mutants to mention as well, but most of them are given little explanation or background. I looked them up, and they're all parts of the X-Men world but with little to no regard for who/what they are, I struggled to keep them straight.

 Maybe the coolest part of these new X-Men movies is their general comfort level. I loved the Avengers movies, but let's be honest, they're schizo, over the top debacles of excess (and the better for it). The X-Men movies have a lot of the same ingredients but never goes for BLOCKBUSTER mode. These are movies content with characters, well-written story, some fun with history (including a great what-if about Magneto and the Kennedy assassination), and some....some explosions, much of it saved for the finale at the White House with President Nixon's life on the line. These are movies content to be a little different, and they're the better for it. I didn't love the movie -- and I had some issues with the ending -- but I liked it a lot. Definitely looking forward to seeing where the franchise goes from here.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014): ***/****


  1. I liked First Class a lot more than this one. The Quicksilver scene alone was worth the price of admission, though.

  2. Agreed. Loved that whole sequence. Wish there was more with him and the Pentagon break-in!