Sunday, June 1, 2014

X-Men Days of Future Past gets thumbs up from fans

PG-13, 2 hours 11 minutes

 Grade:  B+

In a Nutshell:  Some are saying this new edition of the beloved X-Men franchise is the best one yet.   Some of the popular Marvel characters make sacrifices to protect their future by going back in the past.  Young Charles yells “I don’t want your suffering!  I don’t want your future!” but learns that pain and experience bring wisdom.

The story jumps from past and future, which could confuse newbies who haven’t seen prior X-Men movies.   Some of the character development will also be lost on those who are unfamiliar with their growth throughout the movie installments.   Otherwise, expect lots of cool special effects and fight scenes.  With a little bit of a The Matrix feel to it, fans will enjoy the journey through a perilous timeline.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Can we evolve fast enough to change ourselves?  Change our fate?”
  • “Just because someone stumbles, loses their way doesn’t mean they’re lost forever.  Sometimes we all need a little help” explains Charles Xavier, illuminating the need for hope in our lives.
  • “Pain will make you stronger” says Charles Xavier to his younger self.  “It’s our greatest gift: to bear their pain without breaking, and it’s born from the most human part…hope.”  I’m a sucker for movies about hope.
  • Even heroes need to be saved sometimes.
Things I liked:

  • The X-Men franchise hit a gold mine when they cast Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine.  He is so ridiculously talented that he has never been stuck in type-cast mode, but continually pumps out successful movies in a variety of genres.
  • James McAvoy does a fantastic job portraying a young Charles Xavier and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique/Raven wows, as always.  She speaks Vietnamese and offers some fancy fight moves to scenes that might otherwise just provide flying bullets.   That’s a brave actress who is willing to wear the skin-tight blue suit of Raven.
  • I’d love to have one of those cool portal bomb things that allows you to instantly pop in and out of locations.  Imagine how much I could get done!
  • I cracked up when I saw the guy duct-taped to the wall.
  • I loved the “Time in a Bottle” slow-motion scene, featuring QuickSilver, the film’s introduction to a witty mutant who can move so fast that time seems to slow down.  This scene sequence is the funniest in the entire movie.  The faster my kids grow up, the more often I wish I had the mutant power of slowing down time.
  • How would you like to have that one mutant’s power to make people start throwing up instantly?  (About 22 minutes into the film.)
  • Directors Bryan singer and Matthew Vaughn create a look that feels like you’re back in the 1970’s with kitchy gags and an old news reel atmosphere.  There is some interesting commentary about the Vietnam War and even a glance at Nixon recording tapes during a meeting.  (Mark Camacho does a terrific job as President Nixon.) 
  • Logan travels to the 1970s and wakes up in a waterbed and, of course, slices it accidentally with his claws.  Haha  I grew up on a waterbed and often worried I’d pop it.
  • I got a kick out of the short Star Trek clip of Captain Kirk saying “We’re going back in time.”
  • Peter Dinklage does a great job as Bolivar Trask.  Way to rock the 70’s ‘stache.
  • Marvel fans will appreciate the meaty motivations beneath the action sequences.

Things I didn’t like:

  • Some of the graphics and fight scenes happen so fast you can’t appreciate everything on the screen.
  • Some of the film’s most profound lines are uttered in a whisper so that you have to really strain to appreciate them.
  • I feel bad that an actress as talented as Halle Berry has to play a mutant whose power isn’t very exciting and who doesn’t get much screen time.

Interesting lines:

  • “You and I are going to be good friends.  (Punch in face)  You just don’t know it yet.”  - Wolverine to Hank McCoy/Beast
  • “Get off the bloody chandelier, Hank.” – Young Charles Xavier to Beast
  • “You built these weapons to destroy us.  Why?  Because you’re afraid of our gifts.  We are different.  Humanity has always feared that which is different.” – Erik Lensherr/Magneto
  • “Countless choices define our fate.  Each choice, each moment, a ripple in the river of time.  Enough ripples and you change the tide, for the future is never truly set.”  - Charles Xavier
  • Bishop says “You can’t stop that many.”  “No, but we can slow them down” replies Storm.
  • Charles Xavier says “Tell whoever it is that sent you that I’m busy.”  Logan reveals “The person who sent me was you.”

Tips for parents: 

*  Hugh Jackman fans will be treated to a full rear view of a naked Logan.  Parents, be warned.  There is not very much profanity, but a lot of violence and fight scenes.  Young children won’t be able to follow the story line, but will enjoy the action and cool special effects.

If you've never seen an X-Men movie, you've got a lot of catching up to do!  Here's a start:
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