X-Men: Days of Future Past

We have reached the comic book movie singularity. Superhero books and movies are now practically interchangeable except for their mediums and a whole new world opens up before us of sweeping retcons and the sort of convolution found only in Nolan’s wet dreams and on the far horizon I can see Satan annulling marriages almost as we speak. Days of Future Past is Fox’s attempt to stand up to the unstoppable juggernaut that is Marvel and so far they’ve managed to avoid collapsing into a twitching mess while shitting themselves coughManofSteelcough. In fact I’d say they’ve managed to do pretty well with the best massively-interfranchise me-too crossover I’ve seen yet.

First, the plot. To make a long story short an army of genocidal giant robots were created to hunt down mutants after Mystique shot Peter Dinklage at a peace conference in the seventies (but didn’t get finished until after X-Men 3) in revenge for him vivisecting mutants, but the robots started targeting pretty much everyone and in the apocalyptic future the last mutants left (lead by Prof. X and Magneto) try a last ditch plan to send Wolverine into the past (kind of) to get the team back together and stop Mystique. And that’s just the set-up! This thing twists and turns like The Dark Knight doing a Chiana impression and it’s a credit to the screenwriter Simon Kinberg that this film’s as easy to follow as it is. The convolution never feels overdone however as every development feels like the result of character action rather than the will of an unseen overseer whose whims make no fucking sense coughIntoDarknesscough. The whole thing runs very much on superhero comic logic so a fair amount of suspension of disbelief is required for every attempt made to outdo Metal Gear Solid in the bastardisation of genetics department and you could make a fun drinking game out of the moments when the writer contrives a reason why the cast can’t just use their powers to solve the plot instantly.

Character-wise the film is good as well, although the sheer size of the cast practically requires an X-Men encyclopedia to know who they all are (my sister had to fill me in on Blink and the post-credits man). Ian Mckellen and Patrick Steward bring their required dignity and thespian poise to the role, although Steward is largely confined to speaking with gravitas from his hover-chair whenever the script calls for a big speech. Fassbender and McAvoy are once again great continuing their roles of vengeful mutant-supremacist and Mutant Luther King respectively and eloquently express their character’s respective demons (which given the convolution of the plot is rather necessary). Jennifer Lawrence gives a good turn as Mystique and sells the character’s rather simplistic vengeance arc well despite the makeup diminishing her expressiveness a tad (I found the rare scenes of her without it more effective) and an attempt at speaking Vietnamese that you can hear clunking out of her mouth. Hugh Jackman is exactly the same as he has been the past six films and Ellen Page is again pretty much entirely wasted as her main role is to give exposition and sit there concentrating at Wolfie’s head while doing her time-travel thing that appears completely pulled out of the writer’s arse here.

One of the standout parts of the film is new guy Quicksilver, a kleptomanic with superspeed and the ability to actually be pretty damn funny, particularly in an extended bullet-time sequence with a number of hapless security guards. Our villain for the evening is the creator of the previously mentioned giant robots Bolivar Trask, an anti-mutant scientist/engineer played by Peter Dinklage, who gives a fine turn as the character but who in my opinion could have used more scenes to flesh him out. As an avid Game of Thrones watcher I had a hard time rooting against him at times as when he walked onscreen my brain instictively went ‘Yay, it’s Peter Dinklage!’ and I had to perpetually remind myself that here he’s playing a genocidal fuckhead.

One of the things I do like about this film is that by the standards of superhero movies it’s fairly low-key. The action sequences are relatively small-scale, generally only involving ten or twenty people, and the main climax of the story involves no explosions and is about trying to stop someone from being killed by the heroes (although there is a robot fight in the future to give that half of the cast something to do). Bryan Singer’s direction is fairly good but not spectacular (the film feels longer than it is) and I’d say that this film is really more Simon Kinberg’s. Overall it’s a fun, fast-paced experience that manages to be alternately funny and serious when it means to be and I’d recommend checking it out.

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