Favorite

A forever franchise 

'X-Men: Days of Future Past' suggests there's no stopping series.

click to enlarge movie_review1-1.jpg

Alone among the major comic book film franchises, the "X-Men" flicks have been able to navigate seven films now without pressing the "reboot" button on any of its major characters. Think of the redundancy of the new Spider-Man films, the cringeworthy Bana-to-Norton-to-Ruffalo saga of the Hulk. Meanwhile, you still have Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier, Halle Berry as Storm, Ian McKellen as Magneto. Somehow, too, Hugh Jackman has hung around long enough to appear in nearly every one of the movies, including two standalone "Wolverine" titles. They've even pulled the same characters out of time with "X-Men: First Class," exhuming the mutants' backstories from the early '60s and bringing in new faces with old names.

The question becomes, how long can they go without breaking down? The answer comes in the form of "X-Men: Days of Future Past," which is a clunky name for an otherwise outstanding genre movie. It's also, conspicuously, the point at which the franchise opens to any and all possibilities (except for Jackman leaving; at 200-odd-years-old, and impervious to aging, we're stuck with him as Woverine as long as he'll have the part). This is where we fold the old-guard mutants back onto their younger selves, allowing James McAvoy to claim Xavier as his own and, to a greater degree, giving Michael Fassbender the reins of Magneto and Jennifer Lawrence the definitive Mystique.

We open on a gnarly future in which awesomely powerful robots called Sentinels hunt and exterminate mutants, and pretty much anyone else they feel like wiping out or enslaving. They're imbued with the chameleonic DNA of Mystique, allowing them to absorb mutant powers and retort with the same. Some of these fight sequences ... gracious and good golly. They are ferocious and they are high-stakes. Bryan Singer, directing again, has mastered at least part of this comic-book movie thing. Kill a few heroes and everyone perks right up.

Ah, but here's the twist. Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page, Juno-riffically) has the ability to do some kind of mental time-travel thing with Bishop (Omar Sy) and save everyone just in the nick o', but eventually they figure the only way out of this hellhole of a 21st century is to do a proper "Back to the Future" time-swap and have Wolverine go slap some sense into Xavier, Magneto and Mystique back at the dawn of the Sentinel program ... (cue wakka-wakka electric guitar) ... in ... NINETEEN SEVENTY-THREE ... Three ... three ...

Wolverine gets the gang back together before there's even a gang. Ten years after "First Class," Xavier is a veritable junkie on a serum that dulls his psychic powers but keeps his legs functional. Magneto is doing extraordinarily hard time a country mile beneath the Pentagon for his apparent role in whacking JFK. Also, Beast is hanging around. But Mystique is on a rampage and if she puts a bullet into a fellow named Trask, the military contractor behind the Sentinel program (Peter Dinklage, owning a role not written specifically for a little person), then everyone will hate mutants and fund Sentinels and the future will turn out like "Blade Runner" crossed with "The Matrix."

Schlocky time travel, A-minus-list actors, true brutality by the Sentinels, a menacing turn by Fassbender and a general tone of high play make this probably the best film in the series, somewhat of a lesser spark than Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" masterpieces but nearly as satisfying. It also contains what might be the single most memorable scene among the "X-Men" installments to date: a whirlwind shoot-'em-out moment that a young Quicksilver (Evan Peters) owns with such casual aplomb, and Singer depicts with such moviemaking joie de vivre, that for an instant the whole venture crystallizes into a moment of Zen. This should be dark fun, emphasis on the dark, emphasis on the fun. "Days of Future Past" balances both.

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Sam Eifling

  • Fear and wonder

    'Arrival' makes room for 'linguistic relativity.'
    • Nov 16, 2016
  • Sip it, grip it, rip it

    Dardanelle golf legend John Daly's story next up in ESPN's '30 for 30' series.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • 'Seven' keeps it simple

    Antoine Fuqua's remake formulaic, but still a crowd-pleaser.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Gay diamonds

    Scenes from Rodeo in the Rock.
    • May 7, 2015
  • Not much to 'Love'

    In Judd Apatow's new Netflix original series.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in Movie Reviews

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Belk bowling, b-ball

    Before Pearls breaks its brief silent treatment about Razorback basketball's latest bid to shake off listless irrelevance, we'll spend a word or two on the Belk Bowl, where the football team draws a Dec. 29 matchup with Virginia Tech in Charlotte.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Belk bowling, b-ball

    • Good analysis, something completely lacking from the daily newspaper's sports reporters/columnists.

    • on December 9, 2016
  • Re: Resurrection, reflection

    • http://hairtransplantncr.com/ hair transplant in delhi hair transplant ncr hair transplant cost hair transplant cost in…

    • on December 8, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation