Marvel Comics characters have been trying to make the move from comic books to movie screen for some time. There was for instance a 1944 film of Captain America, but nobody remembers that. And then there was the TV series based on the Hulk character that was a success, and some animated attempts here and there, and then the big break for Marvel when George Lucas weighed in on Marvel's side and Marvel went big-time Hollywood with the production of the Lucas-produced Howard the Duck, but nobody wants to remember that. It wasn't until 1998 that Marvel began to get some traction in the theaters with the premier of Blade, with Wesley Snipes as the vampire-human hybrid who protects humans from vampires. Then in 2000, X-Men hit the screens with Patrick Stewart and the little known (at least to U.S. audiences) Hugh Jackman.
There may have been a few hiccups along the way (nobody really much liked Elektra, and there was a lot of yawning going on during Ghost Rider showings), but things just really started popping at Marvel. Spiderman, Fantastic 4, Hulk, more Hulk, more Blade, more Spiderman, and then Thor, Ironman, Captain America, and then, as if descended from another world, The Avengers. In the past fifteen years, Marvel has succeeded in filling our movie screens with the Marvel universe, and each and every movie includes a little clip at the end of the credits that whets our curiosity for the next movie. X-Men: Days of Future Past is the latest installment of the Marvel Universe, and the fifth X-Men movie (not counting the spin-off Wolverine movies). In it, the mutants (from whom the X-Men come), are facing extermination at the hands of the human war machines that were developed using technology using the genetic material of Mystique, a shape shifting mutant. Their last hope is to go back in time and (spoiler alert), using Hugh Jackman's totally naked butt, prevent the development of the machines, thus changing history and preventing their own annihilation.
Like all the Marvel movies, this is a slickly produced, high quality science fiction film. Credit for part of Marvel's recent success has to go to the simple fact that moviemaking technology now allows filmmakers to put on the screen incredibly realistic scenes of anything you can imagine, and this film is no exception. It is a good looking movie with incredible special effects.
This movie also happens to boast an outstanding cast: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy -- all fine actors and all doing good work.
What's not to love?
You should all run out immediately and see this movie, but ...
In the past fifteen years, Marvel has done a great job, and I would like to be able to visit their universe for many more years to come. But, there is so much continuity in their movies that it can be like going to someone else's family reunion. You can definitely feel a bit like the outsider, and you miss a lot of the inside jokes. If you haven't seen the other X-Men movies, you may have some difficulty in navigating this one.
Of course I've seen the other movies, loved this one, and can't wait for Marvel's next offering, Guardians of the Galaxy, this August. That one will be a whole new cast of characters in a brand new story arc, so we can all go to the movies together.
I've liked stories about time travel for as long as I can remember, especially ones in which the story is told back and forth, partially from the future or the present, and the past. Give me a good handful of characters to watch and follow, and there you have it, I'm a happy reader/listener.
X-Men: Days of Future Past was, for me, an engaging tale, with the central pivot being Mystique's assassination of Bolivar Trask, a man who captured mutants, experimented on them, and then killed them, all with an eye to developing robots who would sniff out and destroy anyone who wasn't human. That was the past.
The future shows that Trask's project worked all too well; robot "Sentinels" seek out and kill mutants, down to the last few, and the robots' ability to match mutant powers is the result of the capture of Mystique after the assassination -- the project scientists used her DNA to make the robots unstoppable.
Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) has a plan: to send his consciousness back through time, to a time before Mystique's murder of Trask, to find her and convince her not to kill him. Maybe that will be enough to change the way things happened; if not, the mutants will all die. However, the strain of being "sent back" is too much for most people -- only Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has the strength and healing abilities to withstand the procedure.
Back he is sent, to seek out Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) -- but young Xavier is a drunk, broken-hearted by the deaths and betrayal of people he loved. (See X-Men: First Class) Wolverine must somehow shake him out of his depression, as time runs out to stop Mystique's horrible mistake.
Wonderful story, good effects, great actors. You can look them all up on IMDb, but the icing on the story cake for me was a scene which put Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy face to face, nose to nose, and in that scene, although you know they're not the same man, I was convinced by their acting that they were.
This one is going on my list to have as a DVD when I write my letter to Santa this year.