How do you solve a problem like all the comic book movies this summer? Somebody has to have a disappointment in the box office. One of the many success’s of the Marvel Studios movies is their continuity (I know, we’re talking about continuity when it comes to comic books even in their movie versions), how they all tie in together and the high standard of their story telling and making. This has been the blue print Sony and Fox are now trying with their Spider-man and X-Men franchises. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has been a hit box office-wise where I believe, if there wasn’t a blockbuster coming out every weekend, would have done better without less competition. Although the movies has it’s flaws you can’t disguise it’s a very good comic book movie.
Where does that leave [X-Men: Days Of Future Past](movie:203942), the seventh X-Men movie if you include the two Wolverine outings. Where as collectively the fifth Spider-man movie has brought a slight lethargy there is, what a feel, a curious interest in the return of Bryan Singer to the fold and a combining of the original and First Class casts. It will have to battle IMAX dominated Godzilla but I feel after watching the movie, it will hold it’s own. This is a strong outing in the X-franchise.
Like in Winter Solider and Amazing Spider-Man 2, the opening fight sequence is terrific. The future mutants, and the world, are clearly worse off. The Sentinels are scarily unstoppable. We’re covertly re-introduced to Shadowcat, Colossus and Iceman here and introduced in a “look what my mutant ability is” battle sequence to Bishop, Blink, Warpath and Sunspot.
Then we’re re-introduced to the big guns, Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine and Storm (I say Storm tentatively). It’s nice too see these cast members again though Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, as fine actors as they are, are showing their age in tights. Wolverine’s first scene back in the 70’s was impressive. It’s the best Hugh Jackman has looked as Wolverine, he just keeps getting better and better at the role. There have been previous actors reluctant to carry on playing a character like Wolverine.
Jackman should be applauded for appreciating what the character has done for his career and his continuous commitment to improving on the role every time he slips into it. Physically, he’s never looked bulkier or better in the role. It’s also nice to see Jackman, as an actor, get to play off James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. They all give great performances and seem to bounce off each other.
The 70’s style and technology is a fun aspect of the movie and Wolverine has a delightful moment going through a metal detector without his adamantium bones. Bryan Singer’s trait of more storytelling than action prevails throughout the movie, but that doesn’t mean it becomes boring. Evan Peters Quicksilver sequence is brilliant and wonderfully delivered, so much that it’s sad that once he appears, he really is there only for one sequence.
The remaining First Class cast are really a breath of fresh air too. James McAvoy, in particular does a fantastic job of re-inventing Charles Xavier once more, different from not only Stewart’s but his own previous interpretation. We see Xavier as we’ve never seen him before, a broken addict. He brings a real quantity to the character that helps ground the whole movie.
Fassbender seemed more restrained this time but is certainly darker and more villainous, and I was happy to see he’s neutralized the Irish accent more this time around, and though it’s his natural accent (and I’m Irish!), a character choice that confused me in First Class. Jennifer Lawrence’s Mistique however, though not a bad performance, does seem a little lacking in depth, and though you could never clam Rebecca Romijn a better actor, did seem more comfortable in the blue body paint. It’s a little disappointing, as the whole plot revolves around Mystique and her abilities. Peter Dinklage does a great job as Trask and Nicholas Hoult delivers Beast nicely.
The climax in both the past and future story lines build well, Magneto kicking out all other pretenders as the real villain of the piece to the curb. There are a few interesting choices and loose ends however. I felt that this was a wonderful opportunity to, like Abrams did in Star Trek, re-write the future, leaving the door open perhaps for the baton to be passed gracefully to the First Class team and say goodbye to the original cast. But that’s not what happens. In the end, we seem to say hello again to the original cast, and like McKellen and Stewart, we notice that all these cast members are 14 years older then when we were first introduced to them.
An opportunity to re-cast these characters seems lost. Also, how did Wolverine get his adamantium claws back in the future as we see him loosing them at the end of The Wolverine? The add-in X-Men characters are still add-ins. When is Colossus going to get a more prominent role?
Fan Binbing’s Blink and as I’ve said, Evan Peters' Quicksliver are both really impressive and I’d like to see more of these characters in the future.
The after-credit scene left me giddy. Apocalypse is one of my favorite villains, and personally, where there’s Apocalypse I hope there’s a Mr. Sinister. It’s a great movie, an unabashedly Bryan Singer paced X-Men movie. It doesn’t have the thrilling action and twists of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and is more balance than The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s a wonderful joy to watch, entertaining, and certainly pleasing to anyone who liked the previous X-Men movies. It’s not seat off your pants stuff though, the stakes could do with being raised, something I hope the upcoming X-Men: Age of Apocalypse will do.