‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’ Movie Review

Patrick Stewart really shouldn’t have ate that Atomic Vindaloo.

The X-Men franchise’s answer to The Avengers is finally here. A sequel to The Last Stand, 60’s based reboot/prequel First Class and The Wolverine, Days of Future Past‘s biggest achievement is not crashing under the weight of this ambition, and the immense hype build-up. Whilst not without its flaws, there is a lot to enjoy here.

The plot follows the original trilogy X-Men in a dark future cornered by Sentinels: robot predators designed to hunt mutants by constantly adapting to their powers. With no other choice, Wolverine is sent back in time to the root of the problem: the assassination of Sentinel creator Bolivar Trask by Mystique. To do so, Logan needs to re-connect with what remains of the X-Men following the fallout of First Class. It sounds Terminator-esque, and the horrible future looks strikingly similar, but actually its more like Cameron’s films borrowed many of their elements from the 80’s X-Men classic comic book storyline of the same name as this film. Funny how things come full circle. It’s not too difficult to follow the story, a credit to the film which does jump between eras a fair bit, and there’s plenty of action, humour and emotional moments packed in.

Who is the guy with the yellow stripes? Yeah, you don’t need to know.

My main issue with this film is the divide between eras. The future scenes got some incredible action, with visceral destruction inflicted on both sides and great use of camerawork and effects with Blink’s powers that reminded me of the wonderful game Portal. However, the new characters and original trilogy favourites are (re)introduced so quickly, with a lot of their dialogue just being exposition or battle tactics, it’s hard to care for them as much as we should. Lots of scenes with recurring stars have been cut, and I for one really hope a DVD/Blu-Ray release gives us a lot more of the future X-Men (also, the nerd in me wants a proper spoken explanation for Xavier’s return, Kitty’s new powers and his re-alliance with Magneto).

The strongest scenes are the ones set in the 70’s, which are luckily the majority of the film. Jackman, McAvoy, Fassbender and Lawrence are fantastic, getting way more to do than everyone else. Except for these four and Nick Hoult’s Beast, the rest of the First Class cast don’t even reappear, except for Havok (Lucas Till) in literally one scene. We do get a smattering of new 70’s characters, namely Quicksilver and Trask, played by the mighty Peter Dinklage. One gets the best scenes in the film, the other is played by the mighty Peter Dinklage.

One of the most emotional scenes in the film, sadly ruined by putting it all in the trailer.

At just over two hours and with so much to pack in, X-Men: Days Of Future Past does hold up very well. Overall however, its streamlined approach left me wanting more. I’m not sure if that means an extended version down the line is the answer, or Fox should’ve jumped into the two-parter bandwagon. Nothing sends tingles my spine like a big finale, or that moment when all the pieces finally slot together: take for example Avengers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 and the Doctor Who series 4 finale where all the companions from the Russell T. Davies era all joined up perfectly. With more breathing room, Days of Future Past really could’ve reached that level. The way it stands now, the seventh X-Men just falls short, but provides much excitement and a good send off to the original trilogy that kick-started the modern superhero blockbuster.

I’m really dying to talk about this in most spolierific detail, so if anyone wants to then send me a tweet @josefanderton and maybe we can start a DM conversation or something. Also, if you want to read my defending of X-Men: The Last Stand (which ironically, shares a lot of problems with this film) then you can read that here.


‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Review

If Captain America: The First Avenger was a simple, wholesome 40’s war movie with wholesome Americans punching Nazis fun, The Winter Soldier is a modern thriller, complete with all the car chases, trust issues, and characters seemingly in peril whipping out a well concealed gun at the last second. All of these genres staples are in full effect here and mostly, very well done: the grey morality is particularly well handled, with Cap having to understand that’s how the world is nowadays. What’s not so well done is the bad guys overall plot: it just seems too ‘big’, not just for a thriller but in that it seems to what to top Avengers when these solo films should be smaller and more personal in my opinion (Thor and Iron Man can perhaps get away easier with a big spectacle finale with one being an all powerful God and the other being well… Iron Man). The titular Winter Soldier doesn’t get that much to do at all; that whole subplot is a bit predictable, underdeveloped and left open when you’d think it should be wrapped up, given the subtitle. There are enough plot threads running in the MCU at is it, with Guardians, Thor 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Cap 2 is less a standalone film and more a tease for the characters third solo entry. Which leads back to a positive point. Yes, its billed as a Captain America film but there is a lot of screentime dedicated to Black Window, instantly likeable newbie The Falcon, and Nick Fury. This is a good thing, as Chris Evans’ hero works best bouncing off other characters. I just wish a lot more of that character interaction was with the other titular character, as this really could’ve heightened to emotion to same levels as action and intrigue to make a really strong film, compared to a pretty good one.



Thor: The Dark World review

It’s been over a month (!) since I last posted something. There’s a few reasons for that. I turned 22 at the end of October and to try and desperately cling onto my youth I’ve been mostly playing old PSone era Looney Tunes games (Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time and Sheep, Dog n’ Wolf. Check them out if you’re interested, the latter is very good. But so difficult) and more suited to video reviews if I ever get that started (if you’re reading this Joel…). The only TV show I’ve been watching is Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and I think I wanna wait til the end of the season before opening that proverbial pandora’s box. I’ve also been busy sorting out a house viewing and then moving into said house within a week so blogging has, sadly, fallen by the wayside a bit.

But if anyone’s going to ignite that spark and bring out the keyboard warrior in me its a new entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe: one of my favourite things to happen to film in the last five years. Yes, it’s been that long since the first Iron Man promised us a wider universe with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury cameo. Now ‘Phase 2’ carries on, and  its time to set things in motion, with Thor: the Dark World.

The not so official posted used in a Chinese theatre. Will probably be used as the gay porn parody poster no doubt…

I’m not going to do a sweeping, spoiler-free review because that’s boring and everyone else has done one. I’m going to write a bit more in depth about specifics so you’ll need to have seen the film (there’s no excuse not to by now) to get what I’m on about. Maybe.

OK, so basically: I bloody LOVED this film. It’s been a few days since I’ve seen it so I’ve had to time process where it sits in my ranking of the MCU films and its up there near the top. The thing that really sticks out, which many reviewers have picked up on as its strongest point, is the humour. Chris O’Dowd’s cameo (I personally like to think he’s actually Roy from The I.T. Crowd, in a meta gag), more Darcy – with an intern!, Thor and Jane picking up the sarcasm, everyone’s interactions with Loki, NAKED ERIK SELVI- nevermind actually. I also loved the little things like Thor putting his hammer on a coat hook, the absurdity of having to get on public transport (British public transport at that!) in the midst of the final battle and Mjnolnir (or ‘meow meow’ as Darcy still calls it) trying to fly back to Thor and constantly changing direction as he moves through dimensions. Even if the big baddie had more development (one of the film’s weaknesses, but apparently there’s tons of character for him in the deleted scenes), his seriousness as a villain was totally undermined by seeing him slide down the Gherkin, and that’s fine – its possibly my favourite moment. The MCU films (Incredible Hulk and the first Captain America aside) have all been consistently hilarious: Joss’ script for Avengers made it the funniest film of 2012 and Iron Man 3 and now Thor: The Dark World have equalled it, if not raised the bar.

Of course, Thor is also a serious superhero film too. Although saying that, the MCU films have blended the superhero genre with others to create something unique; Captain America: First Avenger was  an old-school 40’s war film, the first Thor wearethed the drapes of Shakespearian drama and Iron Man 3 was more a buddy cop movie. The Dark World delves into full-on fantasy, and does so fantastic under the direction of Game of Thrones alumni Alan Taylor. The battles are brutal, Asgard looks beautiful but also more realistic, whilst the viking funeral with the fire arrows could’ve been a moment out of Lord of the Rings. That scene in particular was  so visually stunning, it made me drop my jaw to the floor just after I had picked it up from seeing Frigga bite the bucket. It was beautiful. Having said all that, the film has a lot of science fiction elements to add to its unique mix (although science and magic are the same thing in this universe, according to Thor) with a med-bay hologram, portals allowing for some fun dimension hopping and gravity defying that make for an awesome final battle and henchemen that look like something out of Doctor Who – a nice touch seeing as Christopher Ecclestone is Malekith. All these elements are brought to life by fantastic visual and sound design, which nail (get it, coz Thor has a hammer…) all the different pieces together perfectly. As a media graduate, seeing everything come together made me go ‘yes, this is why I’d love to be involved in making movies’.

The Cyberman like faces/masks, the laser guns, the weird shaped spaceships – think the Dark Elves were literally beamed in from BBC Wales art department, and will probably be involved a lot of dubious crossover fan fiction…

Everyone getting to work on any of these Marvel movies is one of the luckiest people I the world. Not only are all these genre spanning films existing in and adding to a shared universe – like that mid credits scene confirming they are following the Infinity Gauntlet storyline (which I totally saw coming) and Loki doing… something with Odin and taking over the throne of Asgard in disguise (which I totally DID NOT see coming) – but they are the most FUN series of films coming out in a long, long time. These films are my boyhood fantasies coming to life on screen, and handled incredibly well. The actors are fantastic, the technical elements like sound and visuals aren’t just serviceable but full of flair and imagination and things like the Captain America illusion cameo is Marvel and Disney’s way of saying ‘we know what you want, and we are happy to give it to you’. The guys making these films are having a much fun playing with their metaphorical toy boxes making these as we are watching them, and I can’t wait for what comes next.

As long as it’s not more naked Erik Selvig.