X-men: Days of Future Past – 5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

xmen DOFPX-men: Days of Future Past – 5/5 – It is a rarity for me to give a film a perfect score.  To get a perfect score, you have to hit all strides of what makes a film great (acting, direction, script, cinematography and score). To do that, you have to go beyond the tradition of what the genre is for that particular film.  When you go beyond, the film will define excellence, making it stand out on its own.  With the undertaking that this film was; Bryan Singer does more than just correct past issues with the series, he redefines it in one film that is meaningful and justly, perfect.  X-men: Days of Future Past has become the best comic book film of all time.

Premise: The X-men of the future send one of their own back in time in a desperate effort to change history; hoping to prevent an incident that results in the doom for both humans and mutants alike.

This film deals with the aspect of time travel.  With that, we get two versions of some big name characters; along with characters that either are part of the past or present.  Leading the cast is Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine.  He has played this role throughout the years, bringing instinctive portrayals throughout the many films he has played in.  This film is no exception.  He gives us a character that is cunning, sarcastic but very strong and stern.  With so many years and experiences built from his past discretions, you see Logan is a man who has grown through the years.  You see that through his arrogance layers, he is a man of worth and purpose, and through that experience has to help change the dire future they live in now.  His ‘mentor’ role is a change but a welcome aspect on screen, showing layers to a character that is traditionally a brute force to deal with.  With his past self, you watch as that mentor role is one that is flawed in his nature, as he struggles to be stern but not provoke thoughts that will cause him pain or draw a dagger through his mission.  This struggle helps bring you into the film, as his interaction with others helps you connect with everything that is happening on screen.  Along with Jackman, you have a few others that have big screen time:

James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X

Michael Fassbender and Ian Mckellen as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto

Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique

Nicholas Hoult as Hank/Beast

Playing the dual roles in the characters of Professor X and Magneto, the actors involved do a marvelous job in providing a ‘future’ weary perspective that parallels the ‘past’ depressed and idealistic selves.  Seeing both sides of the spectrum helps create deep layers that you don’t ever see in comic book movies; providing a humanistic aura that shows that there is a struggle of powers, friendship and ideas.  James McAvoy as young Charles Xavier has hit a low.  He has lost everything, and has dealt with the suffering by giving up his powers.  With the arrival of Logan and news of the future, he begins to question purpose and reason to try to prevent the future.  Living in his lost life or becoming the professor he is born to be is a conflict that is shown vividly through McAvoy’s delivery and interaction with the other characters.  You feel his pain and want to believe he can provide that hope, like the future Professor X.  You see this characterization within his opposite partner/friend and adversary, Erik Lehnsherr.  Michael Fassbender helps provide a raw individual, one that also struggles with his own persona and purpose.  In this film, after learning about the future that may come about, he has to find a balance between being true to the cause or following along suit with his friend.  You see he has issues working with Charles; causing him to go rogue.  Even when this happens, you see he still has his heart in the right place.  The great thing that helps provide the scope of these two individuals so greatly is the chemistry between both versions of the character (in the past and present).  You feel a real friendship in both the past and future selves of these characters; one that shows how their conflict because of harden beliefs (past) and how that draws them to question their decision to put the blindness of ideas over friendship (future). The whole layer of both comparisons blends well because of the direction of the film (as will be discussed later).  Jennifer Lawrence does a great job in her role of Mystique.  In this sequel, she has evolved from her ‘who am I’ persona of the first film to being a person who has a grip on what defines her now.  You see that Mystique has matured over the years; moving along a path of destruction that causes the dire future.  In that mission, you see she has become a more cunning person.  That cunning behavior blinds her from her deeper emotions, as she shy’s away from her real feelings.  As the film progresses, she becomes a pawn of her true heart against blinding revenge.  That choice is predicated on ideals of who mutants are, and what perspective they can become.  Nicholas Hoult also does a great job in his role as Hank/Beast.  As Lawrence, you see he has grown into this role.  Hank has gotten over the struggle of being who he really is, and becomes who we know as Beast.  He is also a good ‘sidekick’ and friend to Charles Xavier; as he provides that rob of perspective when Charles is at his lowest.  At the center of the struggle of the two timelines is Bolivar Trask, the creator of the Sentinels.  Playing this iconic character is Peter Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame).  Peter provides a thought provoking villain, someone who comes across as a non-traditional adversary.  That non-traditional flavor gives the audience someone that’s both believable and flawed.  You see Trask is someone that has a purpose in creating these mechanical things, an idea that he believes will help human kind.  In that misguided truth of what will help the world, it helps mold him into a real harden villain.  You also have a secondary adversary in William Stryker (played by Josh Helman) that plays the ‘second in command’.  Along with these characters, you also have new and returning side characters.  With those characters, you have:

Halle Berry as Storm

Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde

Shawn Ashmore as Bobby/Iceman

Omar Sy as Bishop

Evan Peters as Peter/Quicksilver

Daniel Cudmore as Colossus

There are few others but these are the well known that show up on screen.  These supporting characters are beyond the traditional ‘one-dimensional’ characters.  They actually serve a stronger purpose to the story by providing depth through either action or witty dialogue.   The show stealer is Peter/Quicksilver, who provides a standout performance through his dialogue and action sequences.

The direction of this film is one of the best I have seen in any film, especially one that involves both time travel and the comic book genre.  Bryan Singer helps rekindled a flame that seemed to have died away in previous XMEN films; where he provides a depth that was missing since X2.  What Singer does in this film is give us one that has multiple layers; one that provides a balance between the ‘blockbuster’ actions, great story elements and consistent tone to connect all aspects of the film.  Since there is also the time travel aspect, you get to see how all is connected between the past and future parts of the film.  One thing to remember with a time travel film, there is always a flaw within trying to create a pure connection between both the past and present.  Here, Singer does a good job in providing a ‘bridge’ between both timelines with tone.  The strong tone combined with the direction is what helps levy both timelines.  So with that being said, the film begins in the future.  It is a dire state for both human and mutant kind alike.  Sentinels have taken over the world, and are hunting them down.  Because of this, the future X-men come up with the idea of sending one back in time to try to stop this future from ever happening.  This is when Wolverine gets sent back in time; with a mission on bringing both Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr together to stop the ‘incident’ that sets the future on its course.  This task becomes harder than Logan would have thought, as both guys are far from their future selves, driven apart for various reasons that have happen since X-men: First Class.  Charles doesn’t have his powers (at this time) and struggles with depression.  Erik is imprisoned, but also has his own struggles with trying to focus on the mission but also staying true to his overall purpose of protecting ‘mutant kind’.  Within that struggle, you have great dramatization with the past ‘X-men’, as they try to save the future while also not forgetting who they are in this time frame (1970s).  The ideas of hope, heart and purpose are shown vividly through the first two parts of the film, evolving through the story with a strong presence.  These ideas/themes help provide worthy interactions between Charles, Logan and Erik; as it makes you feel the flaws within all the characters within the ultimate goal.  This flaw helps humanize the mutants.  Here, the audience will see that even with powers, they struggle with dilemma’s that hit hard at home (even with the dire consequences of the future).  As you watch the layers of characterization and aspect of ‘saving the future’ in this past move slowly within the methodical tone, you get paralleling of that ‘saving’ and themes in the future.  You see that the future X-men have their own struggles (more physical) as they must prolong and protect Wolverine from the oncoming assault of the Sentinels.  This struggle is intense, but in that you see the collective effort to fight is for that hope.  The irony is in the paralleling past, where they have lost all hope in themselves.  This going ‘back and forth’ within that focus helps provide not just a visual spectacle, but one where the themes seamless.  This subtle buildup of both timelines shows something that is pure, profound and hardens by the acting, action and overall wonderful storytelling.  The vision of Singer is felt throughout, providing something riveting; going beyond the traditional show of a comic book film.  Once the film hits the third act and its climax, there is a lot of sprinkling of thematic comedy, poignant moments that show a raw aspect of ‘sacrifice’ and ‘choice’.  Combine this with the switching back and forth of the timelines, the layering helps bring out strong emotional moments for all the characters, especially Mystique.  As the film comes to its conclusion, you see a defined purpose; as the feeling of hope has a greater affect then any idea can have.  You see the characters learn to find their own truths in themselves, knowing hope will always be there, past and present.

The visuals of this film are beyond the typical CGI spectacle.  They have an appeal of raw masterful art pieces.  The film’s creation of both the dystopian future and the 1970’s past, as well as the vivid showing of the mutant powers and costumes all come across as real.  You get a lot of striking ‘awe’ moments, and never see any questionable shots.  The music is perfect with its timing and emotional draw, helping strike that accord of balance within the direction, tone and acting.

X-men: Days of Future Past is (after multiple viewings), the best comic book film of all time.  It hits all the things that make it a film that can be worth of a perfect score.  If you’re a fan of blockbusters, comic books or great films in general, this is one for you.  You will not be disappointed.

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