Future looks even better

2014-05-28 00:00

FOR the past few weeks, I have been physically and mentally exhausted and now I can finally sleep like a baby. Months have turned into weeks, which have turned into days and the moment you have waited so patiently for is here … well at least for those who are interested in it. The battle of the superhero films continues on the big screen and X-Men: Days of Future Past is definitely a heavyweight at the top of the ranks.

In the year 2023, giant man-made robots known as Sentinels are the dominant entity on Earth, killing both humans and mutants. The earth is a wasteland, a dystopia of suffering and pain with the Sentinels in total domination. A group of mutant survivors try desperately to fight off the Sentinels and find a way to stop the slaughter, but it is only when they are reunited with Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) that they have a glimmer of hope.

Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) — who has the power to send a person’s consciousness back into the past — sends Wolverine back to the 1970s to try and change the outcome of their future. Wolverine’s mission is to prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing scientist Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), which will be a crucial turning point in the creation of the Sentinels.

But before Wolverine can do this, he has to seek the help of the younger Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Xavier — with his shaggy hair and messy beard — is worlds away from the last time we saw him in X-Men: First Class. His school is shut down; he is a drunk, an addict at his lowest point in this life and mostly noticeable — he has given up on all hope.

Wolverine is once again in the lead role of an X-Men film, but this time we see the most genuine version of this character. Seen in the previous films as the “wild animal”, Wolverine plays a vital role in the plot of the film and more importantly the character development of others as well as himself. Jackman gives a commanding performance of sincerity, serious acting ability and is the heart of some well-deserved comic relief mounded together to give the film balance.

The elder version of Xavier is a respected teacher and the person who leads and guides other mutants; however, it is McAvoy’s younger character that needs the guidance. McAvoy has fun with a side of Xavier never seen on film before and does a superb job of portraying the professor in a way that audiences can finally relate to.

Dinklage, however, steals the show for the stand­out performance in the film. His scenes are short, but what he brings to the big screen puts in the running of one of the most sinister character seen in the X-Men series. Dinklage’s character is malevolence without even trying, delivering a threatening performance without the caricature of the classic “bad guy” act. Lawrence has a large amount of screen time with acting of her normal high standard, but this time with acrobatic and entertaining fight scenes.

Days of Future Past’s great scale — with a reported budget of $200 million (around R2 billion) — is highlighted in the A-list cast and elaborate CGI, but the costume and set design also give it that extra enhancement for a wholesome summer blockbuster.

From the futurist X-Men uniforms worn in 2023 and the fashion flair of the 1970s, the costume designers should be given a nod. With its blend of desolation of a post-apocalyptic world, vibrant colour and history and culture references, the standout set design is the monastery in China which works well as the films reaches its climax.

The action scenes — the few that they are — are impressive with the highlight being Quicksilver’s scenes during a prison escape. But the character-driven story arc takes presence over the action set-pieces and really puts the film in the first class category, making it far superior to any film in the Avengers series.

If you are a fan you will definitely not be disappointed. After First Class we wanted to see more of McAvoy and Fassbender’s characters in action and the film does just that, giving these actors perfect material to showcase their acting ability.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is paced well, has sterling dialogue, superior acting for a comic book adaptation film, and the balance between the action and the narrative works hand-in-hand to produce a well crated film. For what the film sets out to be, it delivers on all levels. We can rest easy knowing that the series can go only up from here.

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