Saturday, May 24, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Well, it only took a couple of weeks for summer movies to finally get good.

I'm half way expecting that some of you are eager to know what I think of Godzilla and wondering why I didn't say summer movies didn't get good until last week. Well, honestly, a lot of people have probably seen that movie by now and, by now, it deserves more of an analysis than a review. So, I'll get to it...eventually. Until then, here's the X-Men movie named after a Moody Blues album...probably.

It's pretty weird to talk about a movie that's just so simple and straightforward with any sort of praising attitude. And I'm not kidding when I say that this movie is about as straightforward as stories get, but the sad thing is that all of the things that this movie gets right are all of the complete basic things that most "popcorn flicks" get so wrong on such a baffingly inept level. Movies like Godzilla and the Amazing Spider-Man, to name the most recent movies, are movies that feel like a couple of guys wanted to throw thing that looked cool up on screen and hoped that it would stick. Me saying that this movie is better than most blockbusters by it actually having scenes and characters and a story and even comprehensible dialogue just feels kind of wrong. Has the movie industry gone so far up its own bum that it's forgetting the very, very, very basics of film or story telling?

Well, luckily, X-Men helps bring us down back to a level of a film with clear stakes, a plot, and coherent main characters. Days of Future Past really is a great movie and I'm even willing to call it the best of the X-Men movies so far. And it's not just because this movie understands the basics of story telling(though, at this point, I am kind of willing to take a pretty decent, basic action film over the bloated schlock Hollywood has been force feeding us by calling it a Spider-Man movie), as the story is rather compelling here, even if it does stumble at a couple of things that kind of made me scratch my head.

The X Guys are fighting a losing battle against the Sentinels, so, in order to have any chance of winning the fight, they send Wolverine back in time in order to prevent the battle from happening in the first place. It turns out that the main bad guy, named Dr. Trask(played by Tyrion Lannister), started up the Sentinel program because he felt the mutants were an upcoming threat. However, what triggered the Sentinel program to be finished was Mystique, who has the mutant power of turning into Jennifer Lawrence, killing Trask, which caused the Mutants to look incredibly dangerous in the eyes of the government. Wolverine must go back in time in order to prevent this from happening by gathering the rag tag team of Charles X-Man and The Blue Guy and the Magnetizer.

One of the highlights in the movie was the use of Quick Silver. Even if he was in the movie for only a brief amount of time, the scenes he appears in are really entertaining. His mutant power is being able to move incredibly fast, even to a point where he can slow down time for himself. In fact, the way he uses his power kind of begs the question of why they just sort of left him once they accomplished that one goal for which they needed him. Then again, he is a young kid in this movie and maybe they didn't want to put him in any immediate danger, especially since he's still living with his mom, but, whatever.

Another question is as follows: Time travel? Well, the way they travel back in time is that Kitty Pride somehow has the power to transfer somebody's conscious into their past selves. Through this way, they can alter the past knowing what happens in the future. They don't really explain how Kitty Pride got these powers, but this also seems like a pretty hard thing to do, especially within the place they have decided to do it in...which was out in the middle of Russia where the big battle was occurring. Probably could have picked a better hiding spot then where the enemies were.

Also, this whole thing seems to happen in real time which would make this whole thing seem like a real pain to do. The movie builds up to a scene where the tension comes from "Will Wolverine alter the past in time before his X-Friends get killed in the future?" This had me thinking that this mission they sent Wolverine on took more than a couple of days to complete. So, was the entire X-Group waiting around that long until Wolverine finally completed his mission? Also, Wolverine doesn't really do much when he goes back in time. He just takes a back seat from all of the direct action involving Professor XXX and The Human Magnet. I guess it would have been better than just sending Wolverine back to the past to give them a brief warning and hoping that things work out for the best. But maybe they could have handled that a little better, especially if Kitty Pride had to sit there doing her stream of consciousness power trick for a really long time.

I guess this was inevitably going to happen when you ivolve time travel in a story. Even Back to the Future had a bit of trouble following its own rules in part II, but that movie still wasn't any less good. And the same could be said for this movie, as I'm really just nitpicking at this point. But while I wasn't thinking about plot holes while watching Back to the Future, I was noticing them while watching this movie. The Time Traveling plot device was probably better than finding a sort of "Chemical Zed" in order to beat the bad guys plot device, but this also means that a lot of cool X-characters get short shafted when the movie is more focused on the already familiar characters. And the X-dudes they show at the beginning are incredibly colorful and creative, including a girl who jumped straight out of an anime and is able to shoot portals like in that one video game where a girl shoots portals. In fact, the battle that takes place in the present are kind of a bit more interesting than the things that happen in the past as the Sentinels are really tough bad guys and it involved all of the mutants having to use their powers in creative ways.

Still, even with all of the weird things that are going to happen because they wanted to do a time travel story, a strong, simple plot and some fun action scenes really do put this movie over a lot of other mediocre action movies. I know it sounds like "damned by faint praise" by merely calling it better than the last two summer action movies(The AmaSipdfk[I'm getting sick of typing that title out] really did set a low bar for the rest of the summer), but this movie really does work beyond a basic level. A big part of this is because they like to play with some big issues about "Survival of the fittest" and some conspiracies in politics. These small things help make this movie a little more memorable.

I'm not sure if there's really anything more to say about this movie than that it's just damn good. Out of all the X-Men movies, I was definitely most engaged with this one than all of the others and I'm even willing to say that it's getting up to be Avengers good. Days of Future Past is a fun thriller from start to finish while also coming into full circle of making X-Men relevant again in this day and age. And with the likes of the disappointing, yet ambitious Godzilla finally making its debut and The Amazoinafsd; rearing its ugly head around the corner, a movie like this is more than anyone could have hoped for.

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