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Sunday, 25 May 2014

XMen days of future past. The review.



The future is rubbish. (Isn't it always in sci-fi epics?)
Shape-shifting Transform...er...Sentinels have laid waste to the mutant world. 
Making a Last Stand, (another one), Storm, Professor X, Magneto, Kitty Pryde, Frozonefrom The Incredibles (oh, apparently not), and a few other mutants playing Portal (for real) take on the mighty Destroyers from Thor (oh, apparently they aren't, though they seem to be variations of them).

Thankfully Ms Pryde has the power to send the long suffering X types back in time so they can get their collective derrières kicked again.

What our heroes need is someone who can go back to 1973 and stop Miles Dyson inventingSkynet... er, the little guy from Game of Thrones - Trask (the always wonderful Peter Dinklage).

The 'Sarah Connor' in this Terminator-style X-Men epic is Raven, aka Mystique, who still looks very blue and rather plastic. At no point does she 'put metal in the science oven'. Or will she get an Oscar for this. But Jennifer Lawrence is still one of the greatest young actresses you've ever seen.

So while she tries to kill Trask in 1973, Hugh Jackman shows off his stunning pecs (like crumpled wrapping paper stuck on an Action Man) and his rear end, for which millions of mums were truly grateful.

As Logan, aka Wolverine, is sent back to his 1973 body, he has to persuade Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and the young, doped up but still groovy Professor X (the brilliant James McAvoy) to help him break Magneto (Michael Fassbender) out of his plastic Penatgon prison and stop Mystique killing Trask.

Of course Magneto is the uber villain whose friendship with Xavier usually consists of a game of chess, saying "Charles" a lot, promising to help, and then betraying him with OTT set pieces involving twisted metal. It's like GroundX Day.

On the plus side, Fassbender is as great as ever and looks very cool in a hat. A bit like Bowiein the 1970s. All cheekbones and intrigue.

Thankfully our heroes are helped by Quicksilver, the breakout new star of the show whose lightning-fast reactions give us the movie's best set piece. A bullet-time kitchen scene filled with wit, style and panache.

Geeks of course spent part of the movie explaining to indifferent partners how Quicksilverwas also that kid in the post-credits sting for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Only played by someone else. And his sister is Scarlet Witch. Or will be. Only not in 1973. 
Still following? Good.

Director Bryan Singer has a lot of fun with his best film since X-Men 2. Yes he's spinning about 20 plates at once, but does a good job of keeping most of them rotating, even if he spends a little too long on young Xavier meeting his aged self.

The movie is hugely ambitious, brilliantly made, nicely edited and scored (both by John Ottman), and you can see where the budget went just by watching the credits. 15,000 people worked on the movie, and I'm guessing 14,000 were just slaving over laptops creating the impressive effects.

The whole thing is engaging enough and features some of the best thesps in movies. But for me it needs a sucker punch moment. That scene which grabs the heart strings and makes me a little misty eyed.

Sadly there was none of this here, possibly because when every other person in a movie has a gift, it's hard to be amazed. It's like the old Python sketch, Bicycle Repairman. In a world where everyone is a superhero, you yearn for someone normal.

Naturally I'll be among the millions who flock to see X-Men: Apocalyspe in a couple of years, and imagine another 15,000 folks will be kept busy animating bits of fractured metal and the like. However, I'd rather see a movie shot like the outstanding NT version ofCurious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, without a single effect on a simple stage, for the sake of one sucker punch moment, where I care about the fates of the protagonists instead of just being indifferent to their inevitable resurrection.

Sometimes less really is more Bryan.


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