X-Men as time goes by
I have been looking forward to watching ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ because (1) Bryan Singer was back as director, (2) it gathers most of the original cast, (3) plus many of the new cast, (4) Tyrion Lannister has an important role, and (5) I loved the Days of Future Past story arc, having seen its animated adaptation (I got it on DVD). However, when it opened last week, my newsfeed was abuzz with people who were dissatisfied with the movie. I wondered if this X-Men movie will leave me feeling the way I felt about ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’. Nevertheless, I ventured into the cinema, determined to find out.
I’m happy to say that I left the theater fully satisfied. The latest X-Men movie is the most ambitious to date, primarily because it wanted to stuff the whole X-Men universe into one film. And it works 95% of the time. There are a lot of fabulously staged scenes, like Magneto’s Pentagon prison escape, Mystique’s fight against a young William Stryker in Vietnam, and Wolverine’s first few minutes in 1973–complete with a lava lamp and a water bed. I liked the look of the 70s Sentinels more than the future Sentinels, which reminded me of that big fire-breathing robot in ‘Thor’.
Time travel as a plot device is always complicated in a movie and here it’s no different. But the editing, cinematography and art direction are helpful guides in distinguishing one timeline from the other. Another element that I liked is the cleverly music, which surely enhanced my viewing experience.
The biggest scene stealer is Evan Peters, who as Quicksilver eclipsed his seniors in the few scenes that he’s in. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine carried the whole movie in his massive shoulders, and he did it very well. Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique perfectly captured the emotions of a person on the brink of a great tansition. In this movie, she hasn’t turned into the remorseless Mystique played with equal aplomb by Rebecca Romijn. Making the most of her brief screen appearance is Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde. Peter Dinklage’s Bolivar Trask was excellent, although I wished his character had more layers aside from that single-minded hatred towards mutants. Needless to say, the four actors who played the two Professor X and Magneto, acquit their pretty selves beautifully. I loved the contrast between the 70s and future pairs.
Unfortunately, the sheer number of X-Men (and other characters) in this movie resulted in unequal exposure. Getting the short end of the stick were Daniel Cudmore (Colossus), Shawn Ashmore (Ice Man), Halle Berry (Storm), and Anna Paquin (Rogue). At least Storm died spectacularly. I wonder how happy that scene made Bryan Singer. After all, their previous clashes are by now public knowledge.
As (American) summer blockbuster movies go, the level of destruction seen in X-Men DOFP is scaled down. A refreshing change, if you ask me. Sure, the White House was fenced in by a stadium, but no skyscraper and city were harmed in this movie. And it’s fine. There are many other reasons to like this X-Men movie. The formidable cast, who tackled the material seriously while clearly having fun flexing their powers, is just one of them. As in his two previous X-Men movies, director Bryan Singer managed to inject gravitas, emotional resonance, and snarky humor to the mind-bending and convoluted proceedings.
Lastly, if you’re watching, stay through the credits for a glimpse of the next ‘apocalyptic’ installment. 🙂