Days of Future Past

Posted: December 1, 2014 in Movie Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

Annnd cue the soundtrack.

I spend an exorbitant amount of time just picking a soundtrack for these blog posts, it’s sort of ridiculous, but that just makes it a better read for you because when a movie is that good you need to listen to music while you write it.

I’ve needed to catch up on a few crisis situations, to be honest, and am finally getting around to this blog post.  Everything is resolved, and the next review will be Thursday.  I’ve been sick today which is why this review is so late (literally).  I stayed in bed an extra two or three hours than I should have… Sue me.  I haven’t exactly been keeping track of time, and I knew if I wrote this without watching it, this post would be short and dull – mostly because I notice a lot of meaning in movies and I like to talk about them, and if I don’t re-watch it at least close to the blog post, well, it’s messy.

A little story for you first.  This was the first X-Men movie I have seen in theaters (yes, I spared myself of The Last Stand).  I watched all of the others before I watched this one, but this movie didn’t disappoint. Originally, truthfully, I didn’t think much of the X-Men.  They were just weird to me (like everything else so far, apparently, because I call everything in every post weird..).  So I went into knowing I’d see this movie with the intention of watching all the others first.  And as a result, a lovely several-night-long binge of X-Men movies and comics hence began.  I brushed up on everything X-Men to prepare for these movies.   As as a result, I completely fell in love with the X-Men.   FOX, you have started the beginning of a beautiful relationship, and I swear in between my catching up on comics in general I want to go absolutely binge crazy on X-Men comics.  I literally love them.  The Avengers are not my favorite group, the X-Men are (*I know some X-Men are Avengers and vice versa, but I mean MOVIES).

Just the start of the movie alone is enough to get you to adore it.  Professor X making such a impassioned speech should let you know what direction this is going in.  We see new mutants, Sentinels, etc, and everything is just really intense and setting the stage.

Let me start off by saying I absolutely adore this movie, and for all the right reasons. (Spoilers now).  SIDENOTE:  Newer movies I will try to maintain spoiler free reviews from now on.  But anything just not recently released will have a spoiler review.

So the premise is that Sentinels have attacked mutants because Mystique killed a man named Trask.  Now, Kitty Pryde (a new X-Men we are introduced to) is needed to send off Wolverine to the past to save everyone and prevent Mystique from killing Trask.  They stop her, but not without trouble from this guy.  I adore this movie, as I said.. for all the right reasons.

That’s a good reason… right?  Right?

I very rarely go on about actors in movies.  To some extent, I take them for granted.  I just know, psychologically, we cannot envision anyone else as the actor, but the fact is that applies both ways.  Maybe one actor that wasn’t picked would be better over the other and vice versa, obviously.  There’s a few X-Men actors I will rave about (one of those being Hugh Jackman, I’m sorry to say, those who are sick of Wolverine), one being Patrick Stewart.  But the person who makes up my X-Men actor trifecta is Michael Fassbender.  You have to admit, the guy is intense.  He really makes the movie to some extent for me because without his intensity a lot of the scenes wouldn’t work.  I mean, even just when he’s being released from the Pentagon – he is just so incredibly intense.  He is staring at Quicksilver (who I also adore as an X-Men now) like, what do you want from my life?  You’re nuts, we’re going to die (although when he informs him about the 20 guys with guns, I guess he forgot he could control metal…), and you are just some nutty kid.  Without his intensity, the whole movie would’ve just been a corny let’s all play together and say we did.  He agrees to help, but this is Magneto: he helps on his own terms.  He really helps the plot come along, as does his son Quicksilver.  Without him turning on Mystique, without him bickering with Professor X and Wolverine, it really would’ve just gone too smoothly for time travel to not seem totally ridiculous.  I don’t think that First Class did his intensity as well as it should have – this finally showed his true colors. This is what we built up to.

And like seeing a young Magneto, we really get to see the fleshed out pasts of these characters.  Professor X comes off as a depressed drug addict.  We see some of the history of Mystique, who is constantly mind-fucking you along the way with her constant changes.  Mystique is de-mystified, and suddenly I have a new respect for her aside from just being the person who hangs onto Magneto’s arm and does what he says.  Like all the others, she seems so human.  To boot, we really sort of have a hard time pinning down a villain.  Older Magneto agrees to a truce to stop fighting, young Professor X is an asshole, older Professor X is that father-like figure we always love, and younger Magneto is the definition of intensity.  Most of the other times it has been very clear cut – even Mystique, who is Magneto’s lover in First Class, just seems to barely fit within one spectrum of villain or hero.  You can’t really figure it out.  She’s pissed at Magneto, that is for sure, but when they’re starting face to face you have to admit there is some odd chemistry going on there.  I thought back to First Class and their intimate encounter so to speak, and it was odd for me to say the least.  Even the real villain himself, I have a hard time pinning it on him, because if it wasn’t for Mystique killing him none of it would’ve happened.  They would’ve just realized, this guy is crazy, it’s time to just take away all of his resources.  Does that make Mystique the villain too?  Or Magneto?  Or Trask? Or Professor X because god damn, he’s dense?  Even Quicksilver looks on in horror as he watches the TV seeing the guy he broke out of the world’s most protected prison declare war on the rest of the world (seriously though, Magneto, it’s old, bro).

Quicksilver adds a much needed lightheartedness to the film right before it gets so serious that the characters in the situations will need to come up with their own lightheartedness.  Quicksilver’s scene was the best scene in the movie for me, the “what the hell” dynamics just made it for me.  Seeing everyone work together and to try to not do it their way because these random strangers they’re stuck with want to do it some other way was just so perfect.  It was like the one moment of unity.  He busts Magneto out of the Pentagon, and his work there is done, literally and otherwise.  They’re on their own, even within the plot.   It’s just an interesting dynamic that comes up – we can’t rely on Quicksilver for our comedic relief anymore, and we are left with the chemistry of Mystique, Professor X, Wolverine, and Magneto.  I utterly adore the character development and watching the characters build upon not only themselves, but the other characters.  Like, Professor X throws a punch.  That really sophisticated sounding British guy throws a punch.  They build upon their opinions of each other throughout the plot, and the characterization is really what makes all of these people thrown together work.

Speaking of the plot…

I love the pacing in this movie.

This movie is so perfectly paced, and the soundtracks just make your heart beat waiting for the next scene.  The time travel-esque plot wraps around itself perfectly, and much like Interstellar, I love how things just simultaneously peak.  As things are heating up in the past, things are heating up in the future.  The comedy in this movie simply executes itself perfectly and it’s a wonderful balance throughout.  I attribute that to none other than Wolverine – I mean, the guy is dealing with two ex-besties and one scrawny dude who turned into a blue gorilla.  Humor would realistically be the only way to cope.  Wolverine in this film is probably at his best, simply because of how relateable he comes off at times.  He shows his vulnerabilities to Professor X, to some extent, in order to get him to cooperate.  The guy who causes the drama is now trying to prevent it.

Awww, showing his cuddly side.

But, I’m going to touch on a constant complaint of the X-Men movies:  that they show a lot of Wolverine.  I love Hugh Jackman as an actor and as Wolverine.  In the beginning I like the introduction of the different X-Men, although it felt like they could’ve utilized some of them more in the end.  That brings up the issue of it not being true to the comic books: to some extent, it wouldn’t have worked, because can you imagine Kitty Pryde getting snarky with Magneto on that plane so they don’t crash and die?  It just wouldn’t have come off right.  Aside from that, Hugh Jackman is undoubtedly getting older unlike the actual Wolverine, so they’re going to milk him for everything he’s got right until the very last movie he makes.  The Sentinels felt a little generic in the beginining but I thought they were more appropriate during the 70s when Magneto takes them over in a slightly expected but incredibly asshole-ish twist.  Like, you’re really hoping he won’t do that shit and he’ll just behave, but you know that that’s not going to happen.  Regardless, the plot brought some very political issues to the spotlight.

You may or may not be aware of the treatment of various people considered legally disabled during the 60s and 70s (also prior, but it hit it’s tipping point then), and actually during the particular time frame the movie is set in once they go into the past.  For some issues, we had little to no understanding of how they worked (say, the autism spectrum).  Genetic disorders were probably next on the list.  This particular time frame was right before a crucial point in the late 70s or early 80s when legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed/revised or when the WHO re-aligned their guidelines to include other disorders.  X-Men in general touches upon on the underdog, but the point that really stands out here is that people are afraid of what they don’t understand – and during that time in particular, we didn’t understand those issues. Many unethical things were going on, and basically what Trask is trying to do is unethical.  Trying to label them as we see in previous movies is still bad, but trying to wipe them out is just beyond the point where you can’t include ethics in the same sentence.  I think Trask himself technically being a mutant is a testament to that.  Dwarfism is an illness, it’s a mutation.  There is a strong possibility he could have been institutionalized were he affected some other way.. which makes him a hypocrite, but I’m sure you knew that already.

But you knew I was going to love the plot, the music, the characters, the everything.  There are other things I want to touch on in this review other people probably do not.

Professor X, in Days of Future Past, teaches us.

Truly, how many times do you hear people say “I wish I could tell my younger self..”.

Professor X was able to do that.

At first I thought the scene was a little over the top, then I realize, he is doing what everyone wishes they could do.  Everyone wants to teach a lesson to their younger self, and you know everyone in the theater could secretly relate.  It was just moving once I realized what their point was, and we also see the most unlikely person turn Professor X into who he is now – Wolverine – in the process.  But we saw him do what many people wish they could do.

I loved some of the imagery in this movie.  That was one, and there are two more.

The second involved Magneto.  He could have dropped basically anything around the White House, and they pick a stadium.  Does anyone else realize how utterly appropriate that is?  You’re talking about humans and Magneto becoming the bad guy again and Professor X disliking him again and Mystique tension?  It’s just so appropriate, because it is, in every sense of the word, a battle field.  The latter imagery I loved was Magneto tying all the metal into Wolverine only to dump him into water… if you know anything about Wolverine I really shouldn’t need to explain that one.

But perhaps the least obvious is the use of red with Jean Grey.  She’s in red.  Red is an obvious color with meaning.  I don’t just attribute it to love, or Wolverine’s feelings toward Jean.  I attribute it to partly the shit he has with Cyclops.  Red could mean love, anger, inappropriate attraction, and I still want to know what way they meant it.  She was not angry, in love, or inappropriately attracted then.  But Cyclops was angry.  Wolverine was in love with her.  It felt like it was more than one straight meaning to it.  It felt like a combination of all of those thrown together, and the red really complicated things in my mind about Jean.  I know, that is looking far into it, but they didn’t just happen to pick a red dress.

I went absolutely bezerk during that scene.

Even in the ending, I’m left conflicted.  On one hand, I totally want to see the Sentinels gone.  On the other hand, I really wanted Magneto and Professor X to make up and get through their shit.  I loved that scene, and was ecstatic and felt like my life was complete… then I realized it’d be undone and I was a bubbling mass of sadness, rage, and “Why, god, Why?”. That scene was so telling, as well as the scene when Magneto just decides to start fighting with them.  I have a boatload of respect for Ian McKellen Magneto.  I still do.  Even when he’s villainous, he’s classy.  And when he’s not villainous, sometimes, he is utterly mind blowing.

To conflict your viewers on the ending, it needs to be a kick-ass story and a kick-ass director.  Bravo.

But…

now onto Apocalypse.

Granted, we don’t know very much about this movie.  But there is a general list of characters that will be in it, and I know Magneto will (likely) be in it (so I’ve heard don’t quote me).  What will they do with him?  Apocalypse is the main villain.  I’m curious to again see the dynamics between these younger characters who aren’t nearly as wise or knowledgeable about themselves and how they handle the villain, obviously, who seems like a real piece of work.

Overall, I mean, there’s not much to say here other than I can’t wait for it.  So I’ll need to sit tight and see what new X-Men they’ll develop – because I want them to bring in new guys.

Overall, despite it’s stumbles, X-Men has built a truly unforgettable franchise.  The villains, the heroes, the figureheads, are all things we can relate to.

And it’s so weird, because, you know, that mutant thing and all.

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