Review: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Review: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014)

The best X-MEN movie yet since 2003's X2: X-MEN UNITED.


Once upon a time, I used to love X-MEN movies a lot. Under the direction of Bryan Singer, the first two X-MEN -- 2000's X-MEN and 2003's X2: X-MEN UNITED -- were both excellent comic-book movies. And then came Brett Ratner, who took over Singer and directed the ill-fated X-MEN: THE LAST STAND in 2006. Since then, subsequent X-MEN movies failed to live up the expectations of the first two movies with wobbly efforts from 2009's X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, 2011's X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and 2013's THE WOLVERINE. However, it's a real sigh of relief that Bryan Singer has finally made a comeback to the X-MEN franchise after X-MEN: FIRST CLASS director Matthew Vaughn chose to bow out. Here, I'm happy to say that the eagerly-anticipated X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is finally back in the game!
  
WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

Inspired from Chris Claremont and John Byrne's two-part storyline of the same name from The Uncanny X-Men comic book series, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST begins in the dystopian future where an army of killer robots known as Sentinels have successfully destroyed most of the mutants. Among the survivors which left alive are Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and his arch-nemesis, Magneto (Ian McKellen), who both become allies. In order to prevent total mutant extinction, they seek help from Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), who has the ability to transport people's consciousness back through time. And so, they send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to the year 1973 at which he is tasked to prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), a weapons scientist in charge of the Sentinels program.
  
THE GOOD STUFF
 
Ever since Bryan Singer chose to direct the overly melodramatic SUPERMAN RETURNS in 2006, he hardly regained his blockbuster status like he used to have in the first two X-MEN movies. But with X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, he finally manages to find a big-budget blockbuster project that truly showcased his directing talent. Like his first two X-MEN movies, he knows well how to engage the viewers with his strong sense of comic-book sensibility and engaging character-driven drama.

Despite the complexity of the plot that involves time travel which bridges the gap between the original and the current X-MEN movies, Singer and his screenwriter Simon Kinberg manage to streamline the story effective enough without looking convoluted. Not to forget also are the emotional depth within some of the well-written characters that feel genuinely heartfelt.

Visually speaking, the effects-laden action sequences are well choreographed while I'm particularly applaud Singer for his creative use of slow motion effects. The rest of the technical credits, including John Myhre's production design and Louise Mingenbach's costume design -- especially for the 1970s setting -- are equally top notch.

As for the ensemble cast, both James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender deliver terrific performances as the younger versions of Professor X and Magneto. Even though the appearances between Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as the older versions of Professor X and Magneto are relatively short, their emotionally poignant performances are good enough to make them worthwhile. Jennifer Lawrence is equally superb as the conflicted Mystique, while Hugh Jackman almost steals the show as Wolverine. In fact, kudos must goes to Singer who knows how to make full use of Hugh Jackman's Wolverine character with such effective result. Some of the supporting actors -- including Peter Dinklage's excellent turn as Dr. Bolivar Trask and Evan Peters' cool cameo as Quicksilver -- have their fair share of limelight. Despite barely spoken a word, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing is strangely effective as Blink, simply because of her impressive power to teleport people in a jiffy.
  
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)
 
The ill-fated battle scene between some of the mutants fighting against an army of Sentinels in Moscow; the quirky but cool slow-motion scene where Quicksilver uses his super-speed ability to take down the prison guards; the engaging action set piece between Mystique, Magneto and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) at a Parisian peace summit; and the spectacular effects-laden scene where Magneto lifted up the entire stadium and crashing it down on the White House lawn.

THE BAD STUFF
  
While the majority of the pace in this movie is efficient for a 131 minutes running time, there are some scenes tend to lag a bit. And as much as I enjoy most of the final confrontation scene at the White House, there are times it feels strangely anticlimactic. Another faulty move here is the heavy use of cross-cutting distraction between the White House scene and the battle scene in the future against the Sentinels at the China temple. Lastly of course, certain characters such as Storm (Halle Berry) and newcomers including Bishop (Omar Sy), Sunspot (Adan Canto) and Warpath (Booboo Stewart), are sadly neglected into underwritten roles.

FINAL WORDS

Despite some of the flaws, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST easily surpassed the previous installments as the best X-MEN movie since 2003's X2: X-MEN UNITED. And here's a friendly reminder: stay until the end credits for a teaser scene which paved way for 2016's X-MEN: APOCALYPSE.

* This review is written courtesy from 20th Century Fox Malaysia press screening *


 

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