Tag Archives: X-Men Days of Future Past

A few quick words on “The Rogue Cut” of “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

If you are a die-hard “X-Men” fan, then I do recommend checking out Bryan Singer’s non-canonical “The Rogue Cut” of “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”  You might enjoy it just for its novelty — it actually is a very different version of the original movie.  It has a lot of scenes that are either entirely new or shot and edited quite differently.  (The most notable difference, obviously, is an entire subplot concerning the rescue of Anna Paquin’s Rogue, which was deleted from the 2014 theatrical release.)

I get the sense that this will come across as a better film to “X-Men” purists.  There is greater attention to a multitude of characters, far more character interaction, and greater detail about the apocalyptic future segments.  (I myself was happy to finally figure out why the dystopian mutants were housed in such a strange looking building.  It turns out they were hiding in a Chinese temple as part of an ongoing global evasion strategy.)  “The Rogue Cut” also has greater continuity with more of the prior films — it feels integral to the films’ ongoing mythos, and less like a standalone adventure.

But “The Rogue Cut” might not be better at pleasing general audiences.  It clocks in at just under two and a half hours, and the overall result did feel far slower to me.  There is a reason why movies are edited down — their unabridged versions have problems with pacing that really can affect the average viewer’s enjoyment.

I will also point out that this version of the film fails to rectify what I’ll reiterate is the theatrical version’s biggest story flaw — why would the shape-shifting Mystique be the key to developing the Sentinels power-stealing technology.  Why not the power-stealing Rogue herself?

Anyway … speaking of what is canon and what is not, there is a damned interesting fan theory floating around about the “X-Men” movies following this year’s release of “Logan.”  That movie stood out for many reasons, but two in particular are relevant here.  The first is the radical change in its tone and storytelling, which makes it feel like it takes place in “the real world.”  The second is its odd, apparently meta-fictional inclusion of the “X-Men” comics themselves within the story.  (Copies of the comic books are discussed by the characters, and even serve as an important plot element; Wolverine complains that they are horribly inaccurate.)

Many fans are having fun wondering if there has, in fact, been only one canonical “X-Men” movie — and that is “Logan” itself.  The brutal, subdued reality of “Logan” alone is “the real world” of the X-Men; all of the fantastical prior films (which occasionally contradict one another anyway) are merely the stories inside the last movie’s comic books.  I thought that was pretty damned clever.



A review of “Deadpool” (2016)

I’ve never read a single “Deadpool” comic book, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the movie.  It’s  a fun, creative and …  unconventional entry into the “X-Men” film  franchise that actually made me laugh out loud a few times.  I’d give it an 8 out of 10.

It isn’t high art.  It’s got a thin story based on a rickety plot device, nearly no exposition, and it includes some cartoonish action that I thought was just too over the top, even by comic book movie standards.  (Our hero dodges bullets and survives a stab to the brain.)

It helps to bear in mind this movie’s real purpose — fan service for the infamous niche character’s evident legions of followers.  “Deadpool” isn’t meant to be densely plotted, like “X2: X-Men United” (2003), or genuinely cinematic, like the Christopher Nolan “Batman” films.  It’s a long awaited, R-rated feature film to please loyal fans of this profane, adult-oriented antihero, who would be out of place and necessarily bowlderized in a mainstream superhero-teamup flick. (And I kinda get that — I loved the “Wolverine” comics when I was a kid, and, trust me, his film incarnation is tame compared to its source material.)

“Deadpool” is damn funny.  The movie succeeds by making us laugh.  And combining a raunchy comedy with an “X-Men” film gives it a weird, cool, subversive vibe.  It makes you wonder if Stan Lee would approve of this sort of thing … until you see Lee himself in a cameo at the story’s strip bar.  It’s fun to know that dirty jokes indeed do exist within the “X-Men” movie universe.

The lowbrow jokes made me cringe one or twice (“baby hand.”)  But you’ve got to give the movie credit for delivering its bathroom-wall humor if that’s what the original character is about.  (Are the comics like this?)  Ryan Reynolds is genuinely funny, and his deadpan delivery is perfect.  The film might not have even worked at all with out him.

By the way, this movie actually reminded me a hell of a lot of a long-ago flick that I absolutely loved, but which I’m guessing is largely forgotten — Andrew Dice Clay’s “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane” (1990).  That movie also had a foulmouthed, lone, maverick antihero who often broke the fourth wall, and that also made me laugh like hell.  I know it sounds like a strange comparison, but they’re very similar films.

Finally, I’d like to think that the Wade Wilson we see here actually IS a version of the Wade Wilson that we first met in the widely lamented “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2009).  (And how can he not be, if that movie is canon?)  If “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2014) rebooted the timeline, then the Deadpool we’re rooting for here was never recruited, corrupted and experimented upon by William Stryker.  So you can have your cake and eat it, too.




Avengers Assemble … Again!!! (SPOILERS!)

[WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR “THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.”]  Fun, fun, fun!  Earth’s Mightiest Heroes roar back onto the screen with nearly all of the action, humor and spectacle of the wonderful original — I would give “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015) a 9 out of 10.

It’s got everything that you could ask for in a superhero movie, including another great villain in the form of James Spader’s “Ultron,” beautifully animated by CGI.  A surprise standout was Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch.  She’s a great young actress whose work I really liked in 2011’s terribly under-appreciated horror-thriller, “Silent House.”  She’s got perfect line delivery.  I’d love to see future Avengers films include her in the lineup, so that she can trade quips with Tony Stark.

There’s some great writing — the backstory for the twins was suitably dark, and was a perfect motive for a hatred of Stark.  The banter might not be as funny as the first film, but was still quite good.  And there’s some nice thematic continuity with Marvel’s planned “Civil War” storyline.

The movie falls short of perfection with the occasional misstep.  For example, the flashbacks/hallucinations that various characters suffer were clumsy, overdone, and sometimes befuddling.  Compare them with similar scenes in movies like “12 Monkeys” (1995) or “Donnie Darko” (2001), or well made television shows like “LOST.”  Captain America’s worst fear is some lame “The war is over” existential bullshit?  No.  Cap is supposed to be the personification of freedom and democracy — his worst nightmare would be a totalitarian state.  Or an undead Bucky.  Or better yet, being a man out of time, it would be the loss of his friends, his family and his true love.

A key conversation between two key characters at the end about mankind’s future is just a little too depressing for an Avengers movie.  Also a little sad?  The suggestion that the team’s lineup would change.  Our existing roster is terrific — the fan’s love ’em and I believe all the actors are under contract.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Postscript: this movie is interesting because it shows the same superhero starring in competing film franchises.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s “Quicksilver” is the very same Marvel Comics’ speedster we saw played (and scripted with much more fun) last year by Evan Peters in “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”  (There, he’s simply referred to as “a guy” or “Maximoff,” for copyright considerations, I guess.)


Just a few quick thoughts about “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

And, no, that is not a lame attempt at a “Quicksilver” pun.   Honestly.

I really, really liked it.  It isn’t my favorite “X-Men” movie — those will always be what is arguably the darkest of the franchise (“X2: X-Men United”) and the lightest (“X-Men: First Class”).  But it’s definitely a nice addition to the series.

Here are a few reactions, with minimal spoilers, in no particular order:

  • What a radical shift in tone from “First Class.”  Way to bring the pathos, Bryan Singer.  The opening scenes are brutal, and there are many major character deaths.  Some of them occur off screen; others do not.  Some are violent.  I do believe this is the first superhero movie I have ever seen in which a major character and fan favorite has his or her head crushed, in close-up, during the opening action set piece.
  • Speaking of the opening segment, will somebody please validate my uber-nerd-dom and tell me that they saw what I saw?!  I KNEW that the overflying airships that are dropping The Sentinels looked familiar.  Am I nuts, or are those none other than facsimiles of the lone “Valhalla” airship depicted in the woefully underappreciated “Marvel 2099” universe from the mid-1990’s?!  If Singer intended that, it’s a terrificly obscure and fun shout-out to 40-year-old comic book fans.  (Ahem.)
  • There isn’t any unnecessary exposition to bore us.  This is a major issue in comic book movies.  We can forgive the Christopher Nolan films for revisiting Bruce Wayne’s metamorphosis, because those films were exceptionally well made.  The new Spider-Man films?  Not so much.  In “Future Past,” we have thankfully no flashbacks for every single character.  We’re briefly told that there is a global pogrom waged by The Sentinels against mutants and innocent humans, and that Xavier and Magneto have joined forces to fight the good fight.  Then we’re shown various heroes with various superpowers fighting.  We don’t need to know all of their backstories.
  • The action scenes were very well directed.  Nice work, Mr. Singer.
  • The special effects were top notch.  What great fun it was seeing Blink, Iceman, Quicksilver and Bishop do their thing.
  • Given the movie’s central plot device … why on earth are we concerned with Mystique, and not Rogue, given their respective powers?  There are a few obvious guesses … One, Mystique is a more popular character.  Two, Jennifer Lawrence has more star power than Anna Paquin.  Still, this bugged me throughout the film.
  • I personally hate the plot device itself, in which various characters can steal or borrow others’ powers.
  • Time travel is also a frequently unwieldy plot device, but I think it was capably handled here, thanks to careful writing and a little restraint.
  • It would also be just great if somebody could explain to me how Mystique apparently alters her body mass.
  • I love how this movie and “First Class” integrate the comic book mythology with real world events.  It’s pure fun, especially the nod at JFK.
  • Sigh.  I lied about my age above.  I’m almost 42.
  • Once again, we have an “X-Men” movie in which the darker characters are less predictable and more fun to follow.  A better adjusted and more grounded Wolverine makes perfect sense.  (We don’t need to endlessly revisit the same character arc.)  But he actually is less interesting when he becomes more stable.  And characters like Beast are flat out boring.  I’m happy that we spent a nice amount of time with Magneto, Mystique, and the human antagonists.
  • Speaking of which, Peter Dinklage was perfect as Bolivar Trask.  What a performance — especially with respect to making weighty dialogue sound natural — look again at his reaction to the suggestion that he hates mutants.  Incredibly good line work.  Is this the same guy as in “Games of Thrones?” I refuse to watch that show simply because I am tired of hearing about it.  But the “X-Men” movies seem to do a great job providing us with human adversaries that are threatening despite an absence of super-powers.
  • Michael Fassbender is simply a wonderful actor, and he is perfectly cast as Youngneto.  He vocalizes and emotes just like a raging, charismatic ideologue.
  • If I said that Patrick Stewart’s and Ian McKellan were fantastic, that would just be belaboring the obvious.
  • I like Jennifer Lawrence.  I do.  She was great as a strong, sympathetic protagonist in “The Hunger Games.”  And she deserves her fanbase.  But here, she just doesn’t demonstrate range enough to play a vengeful, homicidal woman. Rebecca Romjin did a better job of giving us a good, scary, bogeyman to make us think that humans needed protection by Xavier’s kids.  Or, for an amazing example of a young actress portraying anger and vengeance, look no further than co-star Ellen Page’s amazing performance in the brutal, incredible movie, “Hard Candy” (2005).  Furthermore, Mystique, as written here and in “First Class,” just isn’t as much fun.  No, she wasn’t really an identifiable character in the previous movies, but she was a great bad guy — something that a doe-eyed, redeemed Mystique just isn’t.
  • Quicksilver steals the show.  Evan Peters was awesome. Unsupervised teenagers with superpowers are always fun.  This movie takes a lighter look at what transpired in the extremely enjoyable “Chronicle” (2012).  What would happen if this kid met those kids?
  • It’s rather nice seeing how this movie placates fan complaints with “X-Men 3: The Last Stand.”
  • If you’re the kind of flick nut who enjoys movie marathons, good luck figuring out where this film fits chronologically with the other movies!  😀
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