Wednesday, May 28, 2014

X-Men Review: 'Days of Future Past' Goes Back To The Future

Posted By on Wed, May 28, 2014 at 3:23 PM

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Xavier, The Beast, and Wolverine must fight for a brighter future. via

In the Marvel universe, mutants are an evolutionary leap for humanity. For moviegoers, Days of Future Past is an evolutionary leap for the franchise. Marvel’s campy antics do not make an appearance in this mature and action-packed installment. Much like its time-traveling premise, this movie gives the franchise a clean slate.

The X-Men franchise goes back over 10 years with six iterations under its belt. To varying degrees of success, each film attempts to gel human themes about fear, prejudice, and love with over-the-top action, special effects, and humor. Each movie tracks the lives of a specific band of “mutants” – humans with extraordinary powers and extraordinary struggles. The last installment, X-Men: First Class, tells the story of how Professor X and Magneto become enemies. Days of Future Past shows what happens when they try to mend that rift.

In a dystopian future, humans and mutants eek out a resistance against unstoppable robotic soldiers known as Sentinels. These war machines possess the ability to not only mimic mutant powers, but also kill with impunity. The mutants Bishop, Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Iceman, Sunspot, Blink, and Warpath live their lives on the run from the Sentinels. Whenever their group is discovered, Pryde uses her power to alter the past so they may live another day. But, it only bides their time. Out numbered and out gunned, they remain on the losing side in the battle against total eradication.

 

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Xavier and Magneto must come together despite their differences. via

Professor Xavier, Magneto, Storm, and Wolverine meet up with Pryde’s group to propose all-or-nothing gambit: elect one of their own to travel through time to the 1970’s, and stop the advent of the Sentinels altogether. But in order to succeed, they need someone with social tact, patience, and leadership skills. Unfortunately, Wolverine – an anti-social, hot-tempered, loner –is the only mutant who can survive the trip. Though they cannot say for certain what the future will be if they change the past, with mutants almost extinct and humans totally displaced, a future without the Sentinels is preferable above all else. It is a risk they can’t afford not to take.

When Wolverine arrives in the past, he has his work cut out for him. Xavier has lost his powers. Magento sits in jail cell underneath the Pentagon. Raven has gone rogue, and plans on assassinating Bolivar Trask, the inventor of the Sentinels. Wolverine must convince Xavier and Magento to work together to stop Raven from assassinating Trask, an event widely believed to be responsible for activating the Sentinels.

 

No actor phones in a performance in Days of Future Past. James McAvoy nails it as the psychologically damaged Charles Xavier. This time around, Michael Fassbender portrays an even more chilling, remorseless Magento. Jennifer Lawrence successfully takes Raven into a darker, more serious place with her portrayal. Peter Dinklage’s performance as the fear mongering Bolivar Trask is pitch perfect. And Hugh Jackman gives us an older and wiser Wolverine without sacrificing any badassery.

Director Bryan Singer keeps things up close and personal in his third outing with the franchise. Singer allows these superheroes to appear vulnerable and wounded. The camera often seems inches from their faces during emotional scenes. None of the well choreographed super hero action or the PG-13 rating undercut any dramatic moments. No campy humor either. To Singer’s credit, the film stays taut with smooth action sequences and emotionally charged scenes throughout the 134 minutes.

Like the film’s premise, Days of Future Past is certainly an evolved form of the X-Men movie franchise. It’s synchs major character development, dramatic gravitas, and blockbuster action sequences into one cohesive whole. In a franchise that’s stumbled in the past, it looks like the X-Men finally have a bright future.

@marshnaylor

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