Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Days of Sequels Past

My comic book reading has taken something of a back seat lately, and even when I do it’s rarely something new.  I haven’t read anything Marvel or DC in months, well nothing DC really, Marvel is another matter.  Despite the fact that I grew up as a fan of Marvel Saturday morning cartoons I never really warmed to their books, preferring the world and the characters of the DC Universe.

Whenever I do read Marvel, however, the only titles I actually acre about are the X-Men books.  It might be because I enjoyed the 90’s cartoon series, it might be because of the great range and selection of female characters they have on offer.  Or perhaps I, like many others, identitfy with the mutants and their plight due to being part of a minority.  Especially one that is often at the centre of hate crime, political debate and media attention.

Whatever the reasoning I’m an X-Men fan, and like other X-Men fans and comic book readers in general I eagerly looked forward to each new instalment of the mutant franchise.  I really enjoyed the first two films, and even managed to find some things in the terrible third film I actually liked.  Kelsey Grammer as Beast being the main one.  ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ was so dire though that I thought that my beloved franchise had gone and imploded like so many film series seem to inevitably do.

The X-Men fight for their lives like never before.
Then ‘X-Men First Class’ came out and blew me away.  Not only was their now a good X-Men film that explored the origins of the franchise, it also gave us some brilliant characters that had not had the chance to take centre stage before.  Plus it was just a damn good movie!  I challenge anyone to watch the scene where Magneto confronts a pair of former Nazi’s in a south American bar without saying it’s a great scene.

So as soon as ‘Days of Future Past’ was announced I was very, very excited.  We were about to be given a film directed by series legend Brian Singer.  It was going to be based upon one of the most famous comic book stories of all time.  The cast from the original trilogy and First Class would appear.  Plus a whole load of new characters such as Bishop and Blink appear.  This film was set up to be nothing short of amazing.  And you know what?  It delivered.

Opening with an action sequence set in the nightmarish future timeline that not only showed just how high the stakes were for our heroes but also gave the X-Men a chance to really show off their powers in a way that the other films in the series have only dreamed of.

Old favourites return to fight alongside new characters like Blink.
With the Sentinel controlled future firmly established the film shifts both tone and style rather dramatically as we’re taken into the past and end up in the 1970’s.  The film works brilliantly in this time period, especially with Hugh Jackman bombing around in the 70’s style shirt and wolverine hair.  Jennifer Lawrence in particular looks stunning in her period clothing, lighting up the screen whenever she’s around.

What follows is a fun romp through the past with enough comedy and heartbreak to feel genuine and realistic without becoming a parody of itself or the time it’s set in.  Each cast member is given their own moment to shine, not an easy feat with such a large cast of characters and actors to juggle. 

Despite being a time travel film that could have very easily fallen into the ‘none of it happened/counts’ trap that similar films have fallen into in the past, but this time ‘Days of Future Past’ dodges that particular trap to deliver a well thought out and emotionally driven piece that gives the audience a satisfying conclusion.  With some surprise character appearances and some knowing nods the conclusion of the film not only sets an exciting stage for 2016’s ‘X-Men Apocalypse’ but gives a sweet farewell to the original trilogy cast that fans will love.