Cinema Siren’s 5 Star Spoiler-Free review
by Leslie Combemale
Unless you are currently living off-world on Thor’s home planet of Asgard, you’ve witnessed the colossus that is the X-Men: Days of Future Past marketing campaign. From the “X-Men Assembled” surprise appearance at last years San Diego Comic-con with most of the cast, to the recent X-Men Live tour that had the co-stars flying all over the world for premieres from China to San Paolo to London and New York, the promotion for this release fairly screams either that the $250 million budgeted movie is a disaster demanding a wide marketing grenade, or it has tested out as so truly exceptional they have backed it with unprecedented promotional power to make it the beloved and record breaking blockbuster it deserves to be. In either case, the sheer volume of adverts has built an almost insurmountable level of expectation. This trepidatious superhero-loving siren is thrilled to report it not only lives up to the hype, it surpasses it. You’re in for the ride of your moviegoing life.
photo credit: Alan Markfield 20th Century Fox
Just what is the star power wattage represented here? Just to scratch the surface, the project involves two sirs, (Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart) a hot Scot just off winning a British Independent Film Award for his aptly named indie Filth, releasing here in the US on May 30th, (James McAvoy), director-of-the-moment Steve McQueen’s muse (Michael Fassbender), a pec-tastic singing Aussie and famously nicest-guy-in-show-business (Hugh Jackman) and the actress who not only has proven headlining power as a female lead, but has been recognized by the Academy 3 times before her 24th birthday (Jennifer Lawrence). That doesn’t include international actors or the awards heaped on them and the aforementioned for their stage work or by other countries. If anyone has wondered how high the bar can be raised for a comic book movie through a great script and thespian skill, they need but see Days of Future Past.
The storyline is so easily spoiled, it is hard to reveal much of the plot. A few really bad choices made by powerful people have lead to a bleak future, dangerous to the continued existence of mutants. Those struggling to survive endeavor to change the current course of events by sending back the consciousness of Wolverine into his younger 1970s self to alter the past and save the future.
The scripting within this plot allows for the perfect balance between personal confrontations and interaction between the characters, and dazzling action sequences wherein they have the opportunity to show their mutant muscle. Each scene is just long enough for the audience to connect with viscerally or emotionally before it bounces back to the other side. The excitement of the more physical or effects-heavy scenes is carried through to the more character driven ones, which makes viewers almost need to choose where to focus their attentions. As a result, this is a movie fans will want to see more than once. The first time they can watch the plot unfold, and see the action, and on subsequent trips they can go to appreciate the portrayals in all the more intimate or intensely emotional moments.
The theme of being misunderstood and feeling alienated in a bigoted world resonates with many who will see DOFP and have come to love the X-Men series, and it is what makes this franchise have so much more potential weight and personal meaning than other superhero movies. This theme has never been used to greater effect than in DOFP, where everything is at stake. No matter how little screen time they get, all the characters have an essential role to play in securing the future, and in telling the story. Although the arc of the story rests on Professor X, Magneto, and Mystique, many others have actions necessary to the story as a whole. Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) in particular have memorable scenes that stay with viewers and will build the numbers in their fan base.
Every moviemaking dime spent seems to show onscreen. The cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel, editing by John Ottman (who also supplied the score), production design by John Myhre, and the many effects houses contributing the visual and special effects (MPC, Rhythm & Hues, Legacy Effects, Gentle Giant, Mokko Studio, Digital Domain, Cinesite to name a few) all come together to create artistic cohesion, especially as they juxtapose the invented world of a desolate future and the believable past of the “real world” Vietnam era. They are knitted together seamlessly, showing further advancements in technical achievement.
It is heartening to see so many special and visual effects artists of these effects houses actually credited at the end of the film. Although no doubt there are countless more not mentioned, it speaks to the support and respect offered them by the filmmakers. Of course, one of the reasons to stay to the end of credits is the stinger. As is often the case in superhero movies, those not in the comic-know will find it fairly indecipherable, but the last little scene leaves a little cinematic breadcrumb trail or amuse bouche for the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse. (explanation of the post-credit teaser can be found online)
I can’t wait. For now, i’ll be seeing X-Men: Days of Future Past again this weekend, just to take in all the more nuanced actors’ moments missed by watching the riveting action onscreen. Cinema Siren suspects you’ll want to do the same.
5 out of 5 stars.
About this column: Leslie Combemale, at www.cinemasiren.com, is a movie lover and aficionado who aspires to get more people back into the beautiful alternate worlds offered in the dark at movie houses across the country, and is owner of ArtInsights Animation and Film Art Gallery. She interviews actors, directors, and production artists from all over the world, and often is invited to present at conventions sch as the San Diego Comic-Con, where she has been a panelist and host for The Art of the Hollywood Movie Poster, Classic Film History, Disney & Harry Potter Fandom discussions. Visit her art gallery for great art from film at www.artinsights.com and see more of her reviews and interviews on www.cinemasiren.com.