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COMICS ANONYMOUS GOES TO THE MOVIES: X-MEN DAYS OF FUTURE PAST by G-Man

X-Men: Days of Future Past

The latest X-Men movie to don the big screen brings the old and new cast together in a time-travelling quest for survival that aims to right any wrongs the previous films may have brought……but as I wasn’t a massive fan of First Class and as it seemed that more and more mutants were hitting the roll call, the notion of another Last Stand flashed through my mind as a strong possibility.  Nevertheless, I went to my local cinema with a typically open mind on what the movie could offer.

Opening in the future we see the remnants of the mutant race fighting for survival against a full-on attack from the Sentinels and their tactics have worked so far as they use glimpses of the future to stay ahead of the game.  That all comes to a head though as they pull together to make one final play with their final plan and after identifying the exact moment that turned the tides against mutants and humans alike…..they’re aiming to send someone back to the early days before that moment.  This is the starting point for a mutant with healing power to travel back through time and represent the last hope for ALL mutants……that’s gotta be Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine right?  Boom – we have Kitty Pride (Ellen Page) providing the phasing through time power to Wolverine’s temples and quicker than you can say “Marty McFly” we arrive in the early 70’s.  A quick flash of Hugh’s ass and we’re trying to tackle the point in time where creator of the Sentinels, Dr Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) was killed by Mystique but in a bizarre twist we DON’T want that to happen because of the ramifications her capture afterwards will cause.

70's Wolverine

A twisting, turning plot borders the line between smart and convoluted but manages to hold the two timelines together with a mix of character-driven moments and some impressive set pieces.  The focus of each time-line hangs on Wolverine’s mission but outside that a focus on Magneto (Ian McKellan/Michael Fassbender) and Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart/James McAvoy) act as the key relationship that we focus on that can make or break the plans.  The 70’s pairing are very much enemies on completely different roads and while Fassbender is held in a non-metal prison at the centre of the Pentagon…..McAvoy wallows in a drug-fuelled depression amid pangs of hurt at losing Raven aka MyStique.  His powers have taken a break as he’s using the miracle cure for the mutant gene to repair his spinal injury that rocked the ending of First Class……the downside of still being able to walk is the loss of his mutant mind-reading powers…..something that HAS to change to get the band back together and have any chance of saving their future.

Prof X

While the Wolverine/Magneto/Professor X trio may take centre-stage to some degree there’s still a barrage of new (and old) mutants that make an appearance…..but the story is so well handled that it veers away from getting too messy.  The surprising gain from this incarnation is the addition of Quicksilver (Evan Peters) who may have looked too goofy in the pre-release photo’s but gives us one of the most interesting additions to the mutant team and probably one of the most entertaining scenes as the plan unravels to stop Mystique.  Of course with Magneto involved this was never going to be as straight-forward as you’d expect and their plan crumbles under the weight of his ego as as he takes his own actions to tackle the larger mutant agenda.

Magneto

While Trask may survive and there is even a foiled assasination attempt on President Nixon and his men…….the ultimate solution to saving the future is a success…..or at least to a certain degree.  Avoiding one risk only gives rise to another as Trask gives way to a young William Stryker and the birth of “that” program involving Adamantium.  Avoiding the paradox pitfalls as best they can, Bryan Singer directs an accomplished story from Jane Goldman, Simon Kinberg & Matthew Vaughn into one of the best X-Men movies to date…..and while I don’t think it quite surpasses X-Men 2, it still surprised me in a far more spectacular way than I expected.

A strong story, great breadth of talent in the cast and a fairly easy focus for the main characters in the movie too that gave enough time for the other mutants we’ve come to know and love as well as introduce some smart additions to the mutant members.  Quicksilver is the obvious high-hitting addition and it’s the first time that I can see Marvel struggling to match another studio when the same character appears in Avengers 2 next year.  While that may only be a smaller part of the cast…..it’s still significant enough to make the difference when that comparison will undoubtedly be made.

Smart, funny, poignant and powerful…..Days of Future Past marks a turning point in Non-Marvel studio making movies about some of their bigger characters and with a strong hint at what’s to come in it’s post-credits scene the potential has shot through the roof for this franchise that seemed to be on it’s knees following previous attempts.  It’s now in the hands of Fox to reach this same pinnacle and surpass it with the next X-Men outing and I’d hope that the ongoing success of this release will guarantee that as a a given…….if not, then I guess we could always try and come back in time to fix it but we’ll see.

X-Men: Days of Future is in cinemas across the country and the globe now and it’ll help regain your faith in this vast and crucial part of the Marvel Universe.

8/10

G-Man


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