24 may. 2014

My Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past (9/10)

"Are we destined to destroy each other, or can we change each other and unite? Is the future truly set?"

I don't know if I have the right words to explain how much fun this seventh film in the X-Men franchise truly is. Matthew Vaughn revived this franchise in First Class by taking us to the past and giving the film a much more emotionally dramatic tone, focusing on the relationship between Charles and Erik. The greatest thing about that film was the cast he was able to assemble with James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult leading the pack. At first I didn't know quite what to expect when I heard Vaughn was stepping down and leaving Days of Future Past in Bryan Singer's hands. On the one hand he was responsible for the success of the first two X-Men films, but on the other hand I was let down with Superman Returns. I guess I kind of forgot this man was responsible for the superhero genre revival (contrary to popular belief, it was him with the first X-Men film not Sam Raimi with SpiderMan which came out two years later) that has dominated movie screens for the past decade and a half. Singer hasn't lost his touch and he delivers an exhilarating and entertaining film worthy of being a blockbuster summer hit. It has everything you want from a blockbuster movie: fantastic visuals, great action sequences, a perfect ensemble cast, and a story that is both fun and emotionally engaging. I don't just want cool visuals and nice actions sequences, I want to be engaged with the characters and care for them, and that is what Singer pulls off beautifully with Days of Future Past. Add the wonderful performances from Fassbender, McAvoy, Lawrence, Stewart, Jackman, and a wonderful scene with Evan Peters as Quicksilver and you have a perfect movie. This might just be my favorite superhero film after The Dark Knight due to the fact that the cast is amazing and that Singer managed to perfectly blend the best aspects of the earlier films in the franchise with the new elements Vaughn brought to the reboot. It is hard to imagine how after 7 films, Days of Future Past manages to remain so fresh and keep the audience so emotionally invested in these characters. As we reach the halfway point of the year, I must say this is the best film of 2014 so far.

Based on the Days of Future Past comic book story arc written by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, the screenplay was adapted by Simon Kinberg. Set in an apocalyptic future, the few surviving mutants are struggling to fight together against sentinels created by humans to hunt them down. The few surviving mutants we see fighting in the first scene are Colossus, Sunspot, Bishop, Iceman, Warpath, Blink, and Kitty Pryde. There isn't much they can do against these sentinels that adapt and absorb their powers. Several mutants are killed during the attack, but then all of a sudden they disappear as we discover Kitty Pryde's (Ellen Page) mutation has evolved in such a way that she can send someone's consciousness back through time. By doing so they were able to send Bishop a few minutes back in time and warn them about the sentinel attack, thus altering the recent timeline and staying alive. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) know that the mutants are facing extinction and that in order to be saved they must return to the past and undo something Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) did in 1973. Along with Charles and Magneto, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Storm (Halle Berry) arrive to the place where the rest of the mutants are hiding out. Since Wolverine is the only one who doesn't age and who can fully recover, they decide he is the only one fit to return to the past and stop Mystique from assassinating Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), the creator of the sentinel program. His murder would only fuel human's hate towards mutants and lead them to perfecting his work through experimentation with Mystique's unique DNA. Once back in the past, Logan must reach out to Charles (James McAvoy) and Erick (Michael Fassbender) and unite them in order to stop Mystique from achieving her goal and thus saving their future. 

Time traveling can be a difficult and tricky feat to pull off, but by using a similar approach to other films such as The Terminator, Singer manages to turn it into a quite simple premise. He merges both timelines perfectly in a satisfactory way. The film feels genuine thanks to some wonderful performances, strong character development, excellent pacing, and the emotional risks that are involved. In a way, I felt like Days of Future Past followed the steps of its predecessor and fixed a lot of the problems audiences had with The Last Stand, thus reinvigorating the franchise without having to reboot it. The film is inventive, original, and there are plenty of surprises. I loved every moment Fassbender was on screen as he absolutely dominates every dramatic moment. Jackman's Wolverine was always my favorite character in the X-Men franchise, and he is fantastic, but this time he has a lot of help from the rest of the cast. McAvoy also adds a lot to the emotional dramatic effect of the film on the viewer. The scene he is confronted by his future self (Stewart) is impressive. His character and Fassbender's are complete opposites despite the fact that they truly respect and care for each other. Lawrence's Mystique seems to be at the center of their struggle. All these elements combined with Singer's breathtaking visuals turn what could've been just another conventional superhero film into an epic one. Singer also knows how to balance action with dramatic moments along with some comedic ones. Despite all the memorable scenes in this highly entertaining blockbuster movie, Evan Peters stills it in the scene where they are helping Magneto escape. That is just a pure example of how Singer managed to balance all those elements together by mixing thrills with laughs. 

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