X-MEN: Days of Future Past — A Full Review


In July 2000, when the original X-Men was released, the multiplex was a very different place as far as superheroes were concerned. Sam Raimi’s Spiderman was two years away, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins was even further down the pike and Marvel had yet to develop its own features, so Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers were not even on the horizon. But X-Men was a clever, sharply directed film with just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek humor as well as reverence to the source material.

Fourteen years, several sequels and two standalone offshoots later, we have X-Men: Days of Future Past, a film that collects all its characters and actors into one megasized package, a la The Avengers, but developed outside the Marvel stable. And with Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and seemingly every other superhero dropped into the theaters on what seems like a weekly basis, is there something new that the X-Men can bring to the table? The answer is not exactly, but that isn’t a bad thing. In short – you get what you want, and a little bit extra.

Opening with a flashy and loud action sequence with zero exposition, the film already has to catch up with itself only 10 minutes in. However, once the fireworks die down, it’s laid out for us: In the future, evil drones called Sentinels, which can resist the special powers that the mutants can dish out, have ripped civilization asunder and demolished all the worlds’ capitals. Only the few remaining X-Men, including Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Storm (Halle Berry) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) have allied themselves to fight the Sentinels. But mutant Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) has the ability to zap the other mutants back in time, so Wolverine volunteers himself to get transported back to the early 1970s, where fashion is loud and mutants still live incognito.

If ever there was an actor who was truly meant for a character, it would have to be Jackman and Wolverine. Bringing just the right balance of snarling rage and sardonic humor, Jackman is the series’ MVP – whether in his spinoff movies or with the other mutants. However, since the bulk of the film does take place in the past, it means that Stewart, McKellan and Berry take the back seat while the younger versions of Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) carry the bulk of the action, along with Beast (Nicholas Hoult), who appears to be a furry, blue version of The Hulk, and Raven aka Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who proves just as adept at karate kicks in blue body makeup as she does with a bow and arrow.

The thrust of the story involves the remainder of the X-Men trying to prevent Mystique from assassinating a scientist (“Game of Thrones’” Peter Dinklage), which will bring about the war between the Sentinels and the mutants, and the usual set pieces come into play: lengthy close quarters battle scenes, standoffs with monstrous robots, and a floating baseball stadium thrown in for good measure. Are any of these particularly groundbreaking or inventive? My answer is no, but at the same time the story moves at a fast enough clip, and the dialogue-driven scenes are compelling enough to make the exposition more palatable.

Returning to the director’s chair this time is Bryan Singer, who directed both the first film and 2003’s X-Men United. After the most recent installment, 2011’s X-Men First Class, helmed by Matthew Vaughn, Singer’s return gives the proceedings a welcome jolt, and though I had trouble keeping the myriad of mutants straight, the film provides enough diversion without making you feel guilty about it.

So, no, there’s nothing really new here. But then again, I enjoyed X-Men: Days of Future Past for hitting all the right beats, and leaving the door open for the series to continue even further.

Anne Hathway and James Franco — Worst Hosts in Oscar History

I’ve never appreciated Hugh Jackman so much in my life. There’s something to be said for picking seasoned performers to host the Oscars, and it’s fair to say that Anne Hathaway and James Franco do not qualify. Their opening video package was terrible, as was Anne Hathaway and James Franco’s feeble attempt at jokes. At one point the camera panned to Anne’s mother in the audience, who told her to “stand up straight,” and I almost changed the channel. For a moment I thought Hugh Jackman might come to the rescue and do a number with Anne, but no such luck. Instead, Anne sang a parody of On My Own, in reference to Hugh backing out of their performance. It wasn’t funny, and it was instead extremely uncomfortable to watch. Despite popular belief, it’s not my style to tear people apart on my blog, but choosing these two to host the Oscars is simply inexcusable, and it needs to be said. They should not have been asked and they should not have accepted. There are a lot of seasoned executives involved in this decision-making process, and they should know better. I’m furious.

Anne Hathaway and James Franco Will Host the Oscars — HUH?

I woke up from my long Turkey vacation to discover that Anne Hathaway and James Franco are hosting this year’s Oscars. When I first read this I had to check my calender to confirm that it was December 1 and not April 1, because this ridiculous decision has to be a prank, right? So what were the suits thinking? I can only guess, but here goes. Because Hollywood is so insanely focused on the ridiculous 18-35 demographic for ratings purposes, it only makes sense to choose two very young celebrities to host an aging awards show that is desperately in need of a pick-me-up. Anne Hathaway makes sense because she’s an A-list actress, and her previous performance with Hugh Jackman at the Oscars proves she can carry a tune for at least 10 seconds. As for James Franco — he’s a complete mystery. I read an article about how he’s a heartthrob, and how the students swooned over him during his appearance on Inside the Actors Studio, but I have no idea how that makes him worthy of hosting the Oscars. Also, I don’t mean to be rude — but I find the guy really boring in interviews. And furthermore, the Oscars should be hosted by a comedian. I realize that Hugh Jackman was incredible during his Oscar stint, but he compensated for the comedy by carrying the show with his own performances. Can Anne and James do that?

Kate Walsh Stops Show Over Hearing Aid – Time to be a Better Actor

Kate Walsh revealed on ‘The View’ today that she stopped her monologue in the middle of her Off-Broadway show, ‘Dusk Rings a Bell,’ because she thought someone’s cell phone was going off – it turned out to be a hearing aid.  Walsh isn’t the first actor to stop a show because of a distraction.  Hugh Jackman & Daniel Craig stopped mid-scene in their Broadway show, ‘A Steady Rain,’ because of a cell phone.  I have a couple of things to say about this.  First, if you cannot continue a scene because of an audience distraction, get your ass off Broadway (or in Kate Walsh’s case – Off-Off-Broadway).  I know that you are used to the Los Angeles way of filming, where you get to fart around all day while everyone else does the heavy lifting, but New York is for real actors.  And real actors can tune out distractions during a live performance.  Second, contrary to the ridiculous cowboy-like attitude of Jackman & Craig in the scene below, you aren’t proving any points by calling people out.  Instead, you are ruining the entire show for the other 99% of the audience.