Monday, June 30, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

It's almost like they're daring us not to go see these movies. First, we got another superhero movie. Next, we got a reboot/crossover where the prequel (X-Men: First Class) encounters the future version of itself. And just to rub it all in, it's a freaking time-travel story.

Goddamn if it doesn't work, though, with the competent (alleged pederast) Bryan Singer back at the X-Men helm.

The story starts in a bleak future where the mutants have been all but wiped out by these adaptive robots (called Sentinels) that figure out their mutations, adapt to them and then figure out how to counter them. The only way the survivors have managed to last is through mutant Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), who can send someone's consciousness a few days back in the past—long enough to pre-empt the adaptive robots' victories.

I'm not sure how robots can adapt to something they never encounter (since it never happens, what with the time travel and all) but adapt they do, with only a few surviving mutants facing ultimate extinction: Storm, Wolverine, Dr. X and Magneto, as well as a few others who haven't yet starred in their own movies.

Dr. X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen, still alive! and actually looking pretty good) have reconciled at this late date, with Magneto realizing the error of his ways, since it was his conversion of Mystique in X-Men: First Class that lead her down the dark path which ultimately leads to the creation of the Sentinels.

The evil genius Trask, played by the always wonderful Peter Dinklage, is the creator of the Sentinels—and, actually, if this movie has a serious narrative flaw, it's that it's hard to see that he doesn't have a damn good point about the Mutant Menace.

Anyway, the plot is that they have to send someone back in time to prevent the events that result in their ultimate doom, and since the time travel process is so traumatic (when you're going THAT far back), they have to send someone who can regenerate really fast. That'd be Wolverine, if you're not up on your mutants. And because regenerating your body is just like regenerating your mind, I guess.

The continuity within the movie works okay, given the issues that arise with time travel, but I kept feeling like there was a serious loss of inter-movie continuity. Like, I think the same event that results in the creation of the Sentinels results in Mystique's death, but she was in the original three X-Men movies.

Also, Wolverine doesn't have his adamantine skeletal structure yet, though the only consequence of that is that his claws aren't very useful. Somehow, though, I thought the implication of previous movies was that he had gotten them well before the '70s (when this movie largely takes place).

It doesn't particularly matter much in Singer's hands: There's good suspense, action, comic book logic, fine acting across the board, and so on. The ending didn't annoy me too much, though it had the character of a "It was all just a dream" ending, pertaining to the previous five films.

I gotta wonder where they're going to go next or if they're just going to reboot or what. Or maybe give the whole franchise a rest for a while. I kid! If you had a money printing machine, you'd run it day and night, too. In fact, the next movie should be out in two years, and it's going to be called Apocalypse.)

There's also an annoying bit early on where they enlist a super-speed mutant named QuickSilver to help them free Magneto, and it quickly becomes apparent that, if they keep him along, they can pretty much do whatever needs to be done without any further fuss, so naturally they leave him behind for no good reason other than his powers are too powerful for the plot to sustain.

The '70s stuff is actually not too awful, I'm guessing due to Singer. There's enough to signal the '70s without getting too campy. There was a fleet of Citroƫns, like in the last one, which made me miss The Old Man more than usual.

It's solid. Can't really complain. It's just...you know...summer superhero movie.

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