April 25, 2015

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Bryan Singer, 2014
The first X-Men film came to screen in 2000 with the original self-titled feature. Since the original there have been 7 films total including this, but it almost feels like there’s been 14 of them at this point. Maybe it’s because they strangely seem to focus on Wolverine a lot, giving him two origin-type films. Hugh Jackman is certainly a good fit for the Wolverine role, but it just seems like they revisit character an awful lot. Bryan Singer has now directed 4 of the films, arguably the best of them. He seems to really understand the true depth of the comic, and how to get the best out of everyone involved. He really delivered the goods when he decided to take a prequel/origin approach with First Class in 2011 and managed to get an ensemble cast that included Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence. Of course the big worry now will be whether or not they are able to wrangle in everyone for the next film. Moviegoers certainly don’t want to get comfortable with James McAvoy as Charles only to have someone like Josh Hutcherson playing him in five years.

But out of all of the X-Men films, this is certainly the best without question. The seamless visual effects that seem to perfectly blend in without seeming gimmicky. Singer manages to juggle an intricate plot with well-constructed pacing. The time travel elements are great. There is a lot of wrong to right, especially after the not-so-great X3: Last Stand film that left a lot of fans of the franchise disappointed. It’s a great example of how if implemented correctly, CGI can be a useful tool for cinematic storytelling. They never use it as a crutch. It feels like we will be able to look back on this in ten years and it won't feel cheesy.

The X-Men storyline one of those vicarious ones that lets your imagination go to work wishing you had some of the abilities. What kind of things you could do if you could slow down time like Quicksilver. Or if you could have the invincibility abilities that Wolverine has. The possibilities are endless. But the story draws upon it much more, and it's evolved to the point in which within the X-Men universe lies a society in which endless variations of superpowers cause a true geo-political divide between the un-afflicted and the outcasts. The story draws parallels to real-life controversies like anti-gay groups, racism and gender issues. Unfortunately we are living in a world of not-great superhero franchises (*cough* Fantastic Four, Spiderman reboots). At least the X-Men franchise seems to be back on the right track.

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