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Thursday, January 29, 2015

X-Men Days of Future Past

(Arrrgh blogger ate this post so here I go again in rewriting it).

After the craptastic showing that was X-Men 3 (how that piece of "ship" got a 58% on Rotten Tomatoes I'll never know, should be in the negatives...) I had zero hopes that even X-Men First Class would be good, but low and behold it was. So, it was with a bit of trepidation we sat down as a family to watch X-Men Days of Future Past on Blu-Ray after Santa dropped it off over the holidays. I have to say I think its the strongest X-Men movie since X-Men 2, X-Men United.  That's saying a lot as X2 is a damn fine movie. Then Marvel pumps out the Guardians of the Galaxy (I'm a fan of the "classic team" but I digress,

Before I go into the movie however its important to cover the actual story it's based on. Days of Future Past follows (roughly) the same mini-arc of X-Men 140-141. Days of Future past came on the heels of the epic Dark Phoenix Saga (widely regarded as one of the best comic book arcs of all time) and in some ways is well remembered, but overshadowed by such a monumental previous storyline. Issues 140-141 has an adult Kitty Pryde react out to her younger self from a dytopsian future where mechanical Sentinels rule North America and are relentlessly hounding mutants to extinction.

Kitty is able to avert the assassination of  Senator Robert Kelly and thus avert the events of the future timeline. In a way it's outcome is mirrored by the T-850 in Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines, "You only postponed it. Judgment Day is inevitable". Since Rachel Summers also comes from that future timeline about 30 issues later, perhaps "Days of Future Past" is inevitable. (Note there are the Days of Future Present and Days of Future Past arcs but these are not the focus of this post).

On to the movie itself: as with most of my objections with the X-men movies, this one of course focuses on Wolverine as the main character. At this stage I'm majorly over Logan. Unfortunately, the movie studio isn't so they keep milking it for all its worth. It's as if they figure a 6'2" actor really portrays a 5' 4" mutant well... more likely they figure actor Hugh Jackman will get women to go to see this as well... Great we get it, he's the!

So.... with all that said the true star of this movie is the younger Charles Xavier played by James McAvoy who conveys the Professor in an outstanding manner and one can easily see him as the later Patrick Stewart version. From the very first scene as the younger professor he is stealing the show. At first he is walking... which is a bit disconcerting for continuity in the previous movie, but they explain it quick enough. I won't spoil while but they had to do this in order for the story to work given the Professor's prodigious mutant abilities.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the amazing portrayal of Bolivar Trask by Peter Dinklage who is the creator of the Sentinels, 20-foot high mutant hunting  robots. It is the Sentinels who hound the mutant into near extinction in the dytopisian future that Wolverine is sent from. Peter plays a very methodical villain and is a believable one. Then of course after Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw in First Class... yeah....

I won't spoil the main premise of the rise of the Sentinels but lets just say they did a great job with the hows and whys and typing it back to a certain mutant.

They did a great job with continuity in the film tying back to X2, for instance a young William Stryker is in Vietnam just like he alluded to in United and the timeline flows well. The clothes, the furniture, etc. Someone however was paying attention to this did a very, very good job with avoiding continuity errors.

The final battle was well done. When watching it I did notice the rise of tension the fact that you're left thinking that any minute its going to go south. The visuals in some respects were jarring, I think it was the weaponry the sentinels were using that made me notice this. This is probably due to the me knowing them first through the comics in the late 1980s then just seeing them for the first time. The Sentinels of the future likewise are "off" to me. The image I couldn't get out of my mind was that of the machines in The Matrix, bug-like, rather then large lumbering metal giants.

Given the nature of my blog its not a movie review site; I often look at ways to incorporate it into gaming. I think a mutant campaign would be overdone at this stage of the game, but a dytopsian future one would work better. Perhaps a world where every hero is hunted, not just mutants? After all if you are the authorities you never can be too careful right? If going down the road of a Marvel Superheros game, I prefer FASERIP, a setting like this would work well.

There you have it, I give it 4 out of 5 stars. Great story, but would have been better had they used Kitty as the heroine and had flashback scenes a bit different and gritter with Wolverine in the future timeline.

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