X-Men: Days of Future Past

REVIEW: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen) and what’s left of the X-Men send Logan (Hugh Jackman) to the past in order to try and prevent an event that results in the annihilation of mutants and humans alike in the future.

From the opening scene X-Men: Days of Future Past is firing on all cylinders. You’ve got this small group of mutants fighting for their lives against sentinels (giant killer robots that can adapt to anything) as Kitty Pryde (Elliot Page) sends Bishop (Omar Sy) back in time in order to warn them. The special effects are great, the whole sequence is exciting but it’s also nerve-wracking as it makes it clear how powerful these machines are and that our heroes may not make it out alive. What a way to start a movie and show how awful this apocalyptic future these characters we know are living in.

When Logan is sent to the 1970s, he has to find and reunite the younger versions of Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik (Michael Fassbender). He finds a Charles who is a shell of the man he knows in the future, overwhelmed by his powers and the pain of losing both Erik and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), his shut himself away from the world with only Hank (Nicholas Hoult) for company. Erik meanwhile is in prison in at the Pentagon and Logan knows one person who can help them get him out – Peter Maximoff (Evan Peters). Peter is such a fun character, he’s a bit manic and weird and how his power is shown is really different to what we’ve seen before. He’s a guy who can move super-fast, so it makes sense that to him everything and everyone moves slowly, making a very entertaining scene when you get to see his powers from his point of view.

Days of Future Past sees Erik truly become Magneto. While Charles is still an idealist and Raven is planning to do bad things for good reasons, Erik is firm in his beliefs. He will do anything to protect his fellow mutants even if that means hurting people he once considered to be friends or allies. His power has also grown and thanks to Fassbender’s performance and the costuming, Erik is a foreboding presence when he puts his mind to something.

The balance between what’s happening in the future and in the 1970s is done so well – as is the balance between action and emotion. The action sequences in the future are thrilling, the ones in the past are character-driven and equally exciting but then the scenes where it’s just two characters talking are just as compelling. Whether it’s Logan trying to convince Charles of what the future holds or Erik and Charles reconnecting, it’s just as engaging as the action and spectacle. The best quieter moment is between the old and young Charles Xavier. Seeing both actors playing the same character at vastly different points of their lives together on screen not only gets me in the nerdy part of my heart, but the discussions of hope and perseverance really struck a chord too.

I know I’ve said previously that X2 is my favourite X-Men film, but on this rewatch I was struck by just how impressive X-Men: Days of Future Past is and it might now be my favourite. There’s action and emotion and it’s got some funny moments too. It’s a real celebration of this franchise, its characters and the general story of mutants vs humanity. Just a fantastic film. 5/5.

My Top Ten Films of 2014

This past year I’ve been to the cinema 63 times so narrowing all what I’ve seen to my top ten has been a bit difficult to say the least. When I first went through my Films of 2014 list I narrowed it down to 16 – getting rid of six films from this list was hard so they are my honourable mentions.

Honourable mentions:
12 Years a Slave
Don’t get me wrong this film is amazing but I saw it January, it really affected me then but I have never felt like I wanted to see it again.
Tom Hardy is incredibly in Locke but it is a slow moving film.
The Purge: Anarchy
Frank Grillo is totally badass and awesome in this and it was the perfect audition to play The Punisher… if he wasn’t already Crossbones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that is
Lilting is such a sweet yet heart-breaking film and both Ben Whishaw and Pei-pei Cheng are brilliant.
Fruitvale Station
It starts like a punch to the gut with the real footage of the incident on the station platform. Michael B. Jordan’s performance is brilliant and Fruitvale Station is all the more important and sad because what happened to Oscar Grant is still happening today in America.
Begin Again
The music’s wonderful (listening to the soundtrack on repeat got me through my dissertation), the characters are all flawed but ultimately likeable.

Now for the top ten, these are all very close and really they could probably be in any order but here we go!

10. Belle
Belle is a brilliant period drama that’s led by Gugu Mbatha-Raw who gives a great performance as a woman born into wealth and status but isn’t seen as one of the elite due to the colour of her skin. The supporting cast is also great and it’s a beautiful film.

9. 22 Jump Street
It’s very rare that a sequel is better than the first film, especially when it comes to comedy sequels, but 22 Jump Street is brilliant. I love the meta and how self-aware it is and Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are the perfect duo.

8. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
It’s political, it’s a family drama, it’s about survival and the performances and animation are incredible. (more…)

Are Trailers Ruining Films?

I love films. I love hearing about them and seeing an exciting trailer that really makes me want to see the film. However, nowadays films studios seem to be flooding potential viewers with footage and trailers to such an extent that you know (or at least can make an educated guess) all the main plot points of the film.

A recent example of this is The Amazing Spider-Man 2. There were so many trailers, clips and TV spots that you could put together the whole story of the film. The character of Gwen Stacey is famous in the comics because of her death, but even if you didn’t know this looking at the many trailers you do end up thinking she’s going to be in mortal peril/there’s a high chance in injury/death. I mean, there’s many shots of her falling and screaming or hanging from Spider-Man’s web and then there’s a shot of Andrew Garfield looking traumatised and sobbing/screaming his heart out – so what I’m saying is, you can put these things together and have an idea about what’s going to happen with Gwen Stacy. There were other characters that were in the trailer that would have been really cool to be a surprise i.e. Rhino and the Green Goblin. Green Goblin for instance, the majority of people know that Harry Osborn ends up as the Green Goblin – this is in part to the Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film being just over a decade old with Spider-Man 3 being 7 years old – but did you really need him in the trailer?! By all means have Dane DeHann as Harry Osborne talking to Peter, showing their friendship and have hints that there might be something sinister afoot, but to have full body-shots and close-ups of DeHann in the Green Goblin make up in the trailer – just no.

Another film I’m having a problem with its trailer(s) is X-Men: Days of Future Past. I’m looking forward to this film, I’m a big X-Men fan and I’m intrigued as to how the original cast will come together with their younger versions, but the trailers are showing way too much. I’m the kind of person that on average goes to the cinema once a week so on the run up to a big release film like X-Men: Days of Future Past the trailer for that film is in front of every single film – even a film like Locke which you wouldn’t think a superhero film trailer would be attached to.

Last week I saw Godzilla, when I realised that the X-Men trailer was starting I covered my eyes and I’m glad I did as one of the friends I was with actually said that there was even more new footage of various battles that she hadn’t seen before. I’m seeing X-Men: Days of Future Past tomorrow and part of me is excited for the film itself, the other part is excited because then I’ll no longer be in fear of trailers. I adored the first X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer – I was quite happy to just see that and nothing else before seeing the film. In fact when the second trailer was released I’d already decided I wasn’t going to watch it, so what happened when I went to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2? The new X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer was before it! And then there was the random clip from X-Men as the post credits scene (which made no sense and again I got annoyed because film studios were showing me far more than I wanted them to)

I think studios have forgotten the saying less is more. While I do understand they want people to go see their films but it’s always nice to have a surprise when seeing the film and it not just be the trailer footage strung together. Recent trailers that I’ve liked have been Godzilla, Interstella, and the new Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer – I think that one especially gives just the right amount of plot. Even the new Guardians of the Galaxy trailer – it had more action scenes and different footage in it compared to the first trailer but the actual plot and characters (from just seeing the trailers) basically boils down to “group of misfits must come together and save the galaxy” and I am 100% happy with just knowing that before seeing the film on July 31st.

As I’m at University I don’t see the trailers on TV and I can make sure I don’t click on trailers or clips on YouTube/Facebook/Twitter. The cinema is the one place that I have no control over what I’m about to see so it is incredibly frustrating seeing a film trailer with so much footage in it.

This post was in part inspired by Chris Stuckman’s video as well as my general rage at trailers.