A mixed bag of mutants.
Much feels familiar in this next installment, the fifth or so generally and the second with this semi-relaunched cast.
However, the secret weapon in Days fo Future Past is Mystique, the sexy blue mutating Jennifer Lawrence character. The story hangs on Mystique and her actions, set up with an incident from the distant past, 1973, and then hinging on a time travel plot to alter history. Time travel can be interesting or cheezy, and this one is both. Laughs are played, anachronisms, one-liners. It’s Wolverine who gets the call, as he’s the only mutant with the wear and tear to survive the brain mangling.
It’s lighthearted, but it’s also very, very talky. The first half borders on obligatory yawns with the amount of exposition coming out of the mouths of the mutants. We’ve got old Xavier and young Xavier, Magneto and the young one. And everyone constantly needs to be brought up to speed.
As they say, “show don’t tell;” it doesn’t seem to have hurt this production with $700M in box office so far to show. There’s a do as I say, not as I do, sensibility in Hollywood, which is filled with know-nothing smarmy know-it-alls.
Back on track – the second half picks up. Actually the break-in to the Pentagon is a good adrenalin boost, with a unique scene involving a speedy mutant who’s a lot of fun to watch.
In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I won’t say much more, except for this. The film maintains a strong moral compass on the side of peace and non-violence. For that I was grateful (and surprised), and impressed. Much is made over the act of killing, killing one man. To kill one is to initiate a war. Killing and war are so closely related, and the mindset of a murderer is the mindset of a soldier. That was unexpected, and it had me by the end of the film hanging on the plot.
I’d rate the previous film First Class a tad higher than Days of Future Past. This owes to the scattered plot and diffused focus. The battle with giant robot drones was a letdown too, more sound and fury signifying not much.
On second thought, there is a theme involving power and weapons. The weapons have grown beyond the ability to control them. This makes sense in the 1973 world, but is less clear in the current one. The supposed modern timeline was a bit too reliant on special effects extravaganzas, and these distract. The blitzkrieg of CGI reduces the whole thing to video game sensibility, and the same barrage we see in every modern Hollywood FX movie. The director here is a bit smarter than most, but relying on the same old big light show at the end was disappointing.