What does one do with a dying (sometimes not so much) franchise? Reboot it, of course, and that is precisely what X-Men successfully did with X-Men: First Class after the flop that was X-Men: The Last Stand. Stunning as the X-Men reboot was, it begs another question for the franchise — what to do with two massive casts separated across two distinct timelines? Well, clearly the answer is throwing all of them into the big pot that is the sequel/prequel/reboot/spinoff, X-Men: Days of Future Past.
From left to right, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine clad in slick 70’s fashion, Michael Fassbender as young Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr still looks dashing in prison garb, James McAvoy as young Professor X/Charles Xavier rocking a dapper suit and Evan Peters as Quicksilver with a rather tacky metallic look. Image: Twentieth Century Fox
Thankfully, as complicated as the latest entry to the X-Men franchise sounds, director Bryan Singer mostly manages to tie it together by zeroing in on familiar characters the audience, me included, adores — namely Wolverine, Charles Xavier/Professor X, Erik/Magneto and Mystique/Raven.
In this latest X-Men film, we find our favourite mutant Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) sent back in time to prevent — you guessed right — massive worldwide destruction by Terminato-reminiscent Sentinel robots. To accomplish this impossible mission, the least diplomatic member of X-Men has to convince a younger, depressed Professor X (James McAvoy) to get out of his dressing gown, rekindle his bromance with frenemy Magneto (Michael Fassbender) — squeals! — and stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from making a choice that leads to the decimation of both mutant and humankind.
As always, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender serve up magnificent performances, especially in scenes together, which sadly were a lot less than I would have liked. James McAvoy’s disillusioned Charles Xavier was incredibly painful (in all of the best ways, I promise) to watch while Michael Fassbender’s Erik Lehnsherr remains one of the most charismatic superhero villains ever, even with his backstabbing tendencies and increasingly ruthless killings.
Who do you think has the better 70’s hair — Peter Dinklage’s mad scientist Bolivar Trask (L) or James McAvoy’s young Professor X, Charles Xavier (R)? Image: Twentieth Century Fox
It’s not a completely grim affair, however, as we, and James too I’m sure, had great fun watching the preaching professor usurping Wolverine’s crown as most foul-mouthed mutant, even returning an f-bomb dropped in X-Men: First Class. It was also uplifting to see Hugh and James’s awesome off-screen chemistry translate on-screen with snippy banter and a great reversal of roles between Professor X and Wolverine, although it’s still no match for McFassy (the couple name coined by fans for James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender). Breakout star Evan Peters also breathes a fresh air of playfulness as fleet-footed Quicksilver with his cheeky grins, quirky antics and a breathtakingly hilarious slow-motion sequence, played out to the tunes of Jim Croce’s whimsical “Time in a Bottle”(oh, the irony). I’m definitely on the watch for a Quicksilver spin off, though I do hope he manages to steal a new look by then.
It’s not surprising then that we saw little of Jennifer Lawrence’s aqua-skinned Mystique, despite her supposedly key role in the scheme of things. Much has changed since we last saw her in X-Men: First Class as Raven, the mutant who grew up with Charles and was desperate to fit in. However, the backstory to her transformation to the cynical present-day Mystique is left frustratingly vague, most likely for the purpose of a J-Law centered spin off. Why not milk the most out of Hollywood’s latest darling while you have her, right?
New mutants Blink, played by Fan Bingbing, (L) and Warpath, played by Booboo Stewart, (R) barely register with their there-and-gone appearances. Image: Twentieth Century Fox
In fact, other than Charles Xavier, none of the characters really had a fully-formed arc, understandable considering the crowded ensemble, but still frustratingly disorienting. New additions like Blink (Fan Bingbing) and Warpath (Booboo Stewart) felt more like props with their flashy powers and limited presence. Perhaps Days of Future Past would have felt less choppy and disjointed if it hadn’t been so ambitious about cramming in as much action and visual effects as possible.
With its massive and stellar cast, stunning visual effects and amazing action sequences, the latest entry to the X-Men franchise is a wildly entertaining feast for the eyes that’s definitely worth your buck. Just be prepared to come out of it reeling from both the non-stop action and the enigmatic after credits sneak peek of the next film in the series, X-men: Apocalypse.
Word of advice to non-fans of the franchise ━ you may want to consider catching up on the film series, particularly X-Men:First Class, to keep confusion to a minimum.
X-Men: Days of Future Past opens May 22, at all Singapore cinemas. For more information on the movie, visit the official X-Men movies site at http://www.x-menmovies.com and like them on Facebook. To book tickets, visit the following websites: Cathay Cineplexes www.cathaycineplexes.com.sg, Filmgardewww.filmgarde.com.sg, Golden Village www.gv.com.sg and Shaw Theatres www.shaw.sg.
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