Review

Harry says X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST filters out the Ratner & makes for the best future & past yet!

Published at: May 23, 2014, 5 a.m. CST by headgeek

I’ve seen X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST twice now.  I had to, before reviewing, because… well… you see, back in 1981 most likely at the old Seven Eleven that was right by where the IN-N-OUT place is now on Airport Blvd…  well, I was buying all my X-MEN comics.   I never bought X-MEN with Dad, because as a dealer in the 70’s…  he found X-MEN to be the least popular title that he handled.  “BRICKS” was what he called them.   So… he didn’t care if I took one of each down to my room.  That was when he closed the Comic shop… 1976 or so.   I loved The Uncanny X-Men.   I fell in love with the saga in order, beginning with issue one, till about 1977, when I started buying them at that 7-11 three blocks from my house.   1981 was  a huge year.  I still feel it is the best year of the Eighties, because not only were all the movies fucking amazing that year…   But it was the year of the two issue DAYS OF FUTURE PAST story…  which was what I totally thought James Cameron ripped off…  But instead of Sentinels it was SKYNET and Terminators that were using Time Travel to defeat the badassness of mankind, in lieu of the badassness of MUTANT KIND!  

 

This is a big fucking deal. 

 

Now, the only problem is… it isn’t a Nerd Paradise for my Geektastic Imaginarium, where I watch my fantasy version of X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST where all the right characters are doing exactly what I want them to do wearing the right costumes and where Colossus tosses the Canadian through them big glorious genetic racist robots from Hell!  

 

However, rather than the movie actually having that as a problem with the film…  it takes every weakness in this series as a whole – and wears it as a badge of honor that it will kick your nitpicky nerd ass with.   This movie really begins with X-MEN: FIRST CLASS…   a film, that I believe we all agree kicks all of our asses.   Now…  we loved it not because it was anything like what we’ve seen in the comic.   I mean, I’ve never seen a swinging’ Charles Xavier before…  and what the fuck, he grew up with Mystique and they’re besties?   I mean… that should be SACRILEGE!   But…  There was something unmistakably awesome about James McAvoy’s youthful idealistic Kennedy take on Xavier…   And Michael Fassbender’s Jewish Malcom X version of Erik Lehnsherr…   And Jennifer Lawrence’s Raven / Mystique… can not be resisted.  Miracles with that character.  She very much represents a young woman of the era that was coming into it’s own politically and rejecting authority…  The times that FIRST CLASS was diving into and placing into those characters were intoxicatingly perfect.  

 

Now…  this film fudges its own cinematic timeline…  it has selective memory with what happened in X3… but that’s ok, cuz honestly… FUCK THAT FUCKING FILM!  So Magneto is at full badass strength and Professor X is not deatomized…   Yeah yeah, I know, THE WOLVERINE showed us that.   WELL…  I’ve no idea what that scene in THE WOLVERINE has to do with anything in this film at fucking all.

 

And on first viewing, I was thinking about all these kinds of things…  you know… paradoxes.   I fucking love paradoxes, because it opens up the post-film discussion to being one where you can go…  “Ya know… what if…” with your friends for fucking hours.   I mean, Neal DeGrasse Tyson has apparently said that Wolverine’s time travel experience could be possible…   In fact, he went on to say that we actually know pretty much nothing about time travel and the effects it could have, at this point… it’s all speculative.   Sounds like a fan of Dr. Who to me! 

 

Ok, so the film begins in New York of a totally fucked future.   I mean, it’s all leading towards the Matrix…   but they haven’t quite rounded up everyone yet.   The Sentinels have exceeded their programming in a fairly awesome manner.   It pretty much just sucks in this timeframe.   In this sequence we have Warpath, Sunspot, Colossus, Blink, Bishop, Kitty Pryde and ICEMAN in full iced up ice surfing awesomeness!  I won’t break the sequence down for you… cuz really…  it is awesome sauce.  Does it wipe the floor with Nightcrawler’s beautiful sequence in X2?  No – it’s very different, but exactly the same in a way that I think is awesome – and that’s that the X-MEN have adapted in this particular cinematic universe to out think the Kobayashi Maru scenario…  They’re THE WILD BUNCH now in the SENTINEL APOCALYPSE, but with an assured escape plan utilizing short term time travel to just constantly be ahead of their own doom.   The sequence is exquisite comic book team cooperation.   DIRE SITUATIONS!  Absolutely brutal!  And it is great.

 

Now…  obviously this was a splinter group of the futureverse X-MEN characters.  Soon, they hook up with Xavier, Storm, Wolverine, Magneto and as Kitty Pryde explains how her group has been surviving to the biggies…  They hatch a plan to send Xavier back in time to right the wrongs.  Only, Kitty Pryde’s power in sending Charlie back would render him essentially brain dead…  so it comes to WOLVERINE and his wonderful claws… adamantium re-covered!  It’s the future, he went in for upgrades at some point.   I’m fine with it.    

 

The target year is 1973, instead of 1981…  and they’re still sent back to prevent Mystique from assassinating someone, but not Senator Robert Kelly…  so forget about DIE MUTIE SCUM graffiti and protestors…. And that political scene… instead the person our sweet Jennifer Garner turned Mystique going to off that will skullfuck future mutant kind?   That other asshole of X-Men Mythology…  Dr. Bolivar Trask, and no, they don’t go into his precog baby’s realm… not yet…  No, we’re solely focusing upon his SENTINELS…  He seems hellbent upon extermination… but also very interested in the mutant’s powers and abilities.   This character has been a problem for the X-Men as far back as 1965 – in the comics.  In all that time, I’ve never really loved hating the character.   And because they cast Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask…  I LOVE HATING THIS CHARACTER!   And I don’t quite hate him, cuz…  GAME OF THRONES puts Dinklage through the ringer and I’m so emotionally on board… that casting him as the Mutant hunting Mengele… it is a stroke of casting genius.   He carries immense weight on screen and in the audience’s psyche…   There’s also something about him creating the giant oversized Sentinels… that tickles me so.   His robots make the world their dwarves.   That was something poetic that the original character never had… but I FUCKING LOVE IT!  

 

OK – so briefly – let’s talk SENTINELS…  I’d say my appetite for SENTINELS was teased in the 1973 world, but holy shit them future Sentinels seem all Absorbing man badass!   The nightmare of the future SENTINELS makes the “Prototypes” appropriately subdued.  

 

You know the greatest thing this film did?  It set up the McAvoy/Fassbender period X-MEN films fucking awesome…  and in the future, it essentially erased the miscarriage that was X-3…   has been ERASED – and they can do anything with the “modern” X-MEN cast.   That’s outstanding.   At this point, they’ve announced that they’re going with X-MEN: APOCALYPSE…  well, they also need to be moving forward with X-MEN circa 1979 or so…    At the same time, they could make MAGIK.  NEW MUTANTS.  EXCALIBUR.  X-FORCE and just start making the movies…  DAYS OF FUTURE PAST sets in motion the X-Verse in a multi-period era – where they should start adding to the films they’re making.   I still wish they’d get all costumey with their films. 

 

I have to say… this film finally made me really stop fighting and love the X-MEN film verse (save for X3 & that crap first Wolverine movie).  And really, more than ever… I’m thrilled about the future of the Fox X-Verse.  Now obviously, I wish they co-operated with Marvel and expanded the scope of the cooperative Marvel Cinematic Universe, because that’s what will make all these franchises immortal at the box office.   It’s what hooked two generations before me to the medium, and now that we’re opening  up the secret awesome of Marvel Comics to the greater population… let’s make it all connect!  

 

Sorry, I really am excited by this latest film and what it could mean for the future of the X-Cineverse.  

 

Ok, back to the movie…  Once Wolverine’s Future Consciousness takes over his 1973 self, he goes to Xavier’s School for… WTF… the place has gone to shit!  Sign is down in the leaves and weeds…  Right now, it’s only Hank McCoy and Xavier in the Mansion…  We learn that the draft took the teachers and students and Charlie, having lost the use of his legs due to Magneto, rather than his stepbrother the Juggarnaut… but --- ya know, being a comic fan is a bit like being OATU…  we view everything, all the permutations of existence, and I have to say WATCHERing the film-verse come to life has been crazy. 

 

Once Wolverine has woken Hippie Xavier Burnt Out up… they have to go rescue Magneto from the Pentagon…  which apparently has a single cell in the place – meant only for Erik.   However, they need to recruit Pietro Maximoff as played by Evan Peters.   Now I know… every still… has sucked…  but you will be powerless against the desire to love Quicksilver.   To exist in super-speed has never ever ever been this cool.   As the film plays, it comes in jolts of awesome.   For one, as the larcenous young Pietro… I loved his taste.  Pong has always been a superspeed game of choice, but the video game 2 player version is really kinda cool… this introductory scene is nothing.  

 

After Quicksilver’s character involvement comes to a close… All I could think is… WHY WOULD YOU EVER LEAVE HIM BEHIND!   He’s easily the most amazing superpower I’ve ever really just witnessed in action.  You couldn’t lose a fight.  Ever.  At the AICN screening, the Pentagon Escape sequence with Quicksilver was applauded loudly.  Literally everything would be so much easier if Quicksilver was along… but since he isn’t… it is all much more dramatic.

 

Have I mentioned that Professor Xavier has become a drug addict, so he can walk, which means he can’t read minds anymore?  Sure, it is a convenience for the story to get through, but I have to say… I found it fascinating.  Walk, and lose your talent.  Have to say – as someone that’s been put in a wheelchair for a decade, I love exploring this with Charlie… especially when Xavier starts having withdrawls and his mind begins hearing voices again.  He’s lost his magic, where he felt confident in his power.  He’s in retreat – and this DAYS OF FUTURE PAST storyline, is very much about getting the Professor back on tract.   I can’t imagine a defeated Xavier.  But now I can, and I find I love the character more than I ever have.   By the time you have Young and Old confronting one another… I mean… this stuff feels oddly profound to a comic reader like me.

 

Seriously… I mean… by the time we’re cutting back & forth in time amongst the climaxes of the stories in either time zone… you’re intoxicated, caught in the web of the action.   The future is hopeless… and the past… without an active X-MEN seasoned team… the situation is dire indeed.  It’s about changes of heart rather than amazing displays of power. 

 

Singer & Ottman are such a team.   John Ottman is the editor/composer partner that has done really amazing work with Bryan over his career – and I’m pretty sure that I’ll be watching X-MEN FIRST CLASS and X-MEN DAYS OF FUTURE PAST as a double feature – a whole lot!

 

I have to say – in many ways, the cinematic version of DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is far more hopeless than the comic.   The comic version had the full 1981 X-MEN team working to stop Mystique… now sure there were dire circumstances for the mission’s failure… but that was Storm, Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Professor X, Angel and Nightcrawler…   Here, we’ve just got a truly 40% Xavier, Beast and Wolverine to save all of future time.   3 Mutants against the Apocalypse.   Of course, it is just Mystique and Magneto causing trouble…   but dramtically…   The stakes are so high. 

 

The Future team is being torn apart…  things have never been close to this dire in any MARVEL-verse film…  I mean, technically MAN OF STEEL was a greater threat – all life on Earth was going out.   This would have just been the systematic holocaust of the human and mutant races.  

 

The screening I hosted tonight was filled with people that love X-men…  folks that have home shrines, folks with very valuable collections and folks that have followed the cartoons and folks that live and breathe the film – and our screening was filled with applause – and then afterwards – gangs of fans chatting excitedly with huge grins about the film.  

 

This isn’t what we read in 1981.  But if you’re life me and you were relieved by the first X-MEN film… if you kind of went mad in love with X-MEN 2…  were angered  by Ratner’s clusterfuck, then further pissed by that terrible first WOLVERINE flick… then… X-MEN: FIRST CLASS captured your interest…  then THE WOLVERINE was pretty damn fun…   Then X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is going to be the best time you’ve probably had with X-MEN in a theater.

 

I pretty much despise Halle Berry as STORM…  and there’s a moment with her where I want to cheer – and I heard from fans before the screening that were anticipating a particular STORM moment – but when it came – even if it was Halle Berry, there’s an emotional weight with that character that if you’ve been a fan… The dire future of this film shows us characters dying that just rips at the soul.   There’s an inherent endearment to these fictional beings that conjure countless flashlit nights flipping pages and investing so much empathy and love with these characters that the lived and breathed in my mind in a way a thousand times more important than the Quadratic Equation.  At least to me.  

 

Now – let’s talk TIME TRAVEL.   Such an intoxicating narrative device, time travel.  Here, the specifics of Time Travel are related to Kitty Pryde’s power.  But the premise of her time travel in 1981, is essentially the same… she sends the intended back in time along their own lifetime.   I like that.  The idea of sending one’s adult consciousness to a younger stage as the predominant consciousness… absolutely delightful.   Of course, this was pre-Adamantium laced Wolverine…  So that’s all kinds of fun.   The only thing that can tamper with the connection is pain or “rocky thoughts”  - Which makes it patently fun for Wolverine.  

 

As for the post-credits scene…  I’ll only say… notice the four horsemen. 

 

We’re really beginning to see the Marvels on screen.  The studios are all too slow moving at this point.   With a cast as large as what has assembled for X-MEN, they could be producing really fantastic yearly entertainment.  Where this series is at the end of this film is the most fertile place that the franchise has ever been at.   Everything is possible now.  

 

The de-lousing of the franchise has been done.   The best thing they could do is introduce costumes…  recast Storm and give her her Goddess persona…  Put Nightcrawler back in the mix, but less shy and more cocky Flynn-esque…  Seriously...  I’m wildly curious to see what the roster looks like for X-MEN: APOCALYPSE…

 

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST makes me happy.  Bingbing Fan’s BLINK is an absolute wonder on screen.  Daniel Cudmore’s Colossus needs to be a part of a feature length mission… and he also needs to play Mr Sinister.  

 

Coming away from the film, I know… beyond any doubt that I want more James McAvoy Xavier, more Fassbender Magneto – and more Patrick Stewart and more Ian McKellen…  their castings stabilize both timeframes perfectly.  Fassbender needs to recruit Evan Peters’ Quicksilver stat.   And his sister!   I think Dinklage should be out of prison by the next film!  

 

I think my favorite thing about tonight’s screening was my nephew coming up to ask me about the “post-credits scene” – one, he had that hardcored geeked the hell out passion in his teenage eyes… but he needed to know more about that final scene.   I told him to come over to my place to do some reading.  Heh…

 

Seems they’ve got this back on track better than ever.

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