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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I'm Afraid That X-Men: Days of Future Past Has a Lot in Common with J. J. Abrams' Star Trek Reboot

Posted by on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 3:40 PM

WOLVERINE: Getting too old for this shit.
  • WOLVERINE: Getting too old for this shit.

It's entirely possible that I've seen too many superhero movies—maybe I need to take a rest from the genre, so the familiarity can fade away a little bit. Because I only thought X-Men: Days of Future Past was, you know, okay. Nobody's confusing DoFP for The Godfather or anything, but it's getting great reviews: The film stands right now at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, and critics that I really like are calling the movie "pretty good." But I just didn't see anything in DoFP that would make me want to watch the movie a second time, which is one of my pleasurability tests for summer blockbusters. In fact, the more I think about DoFP, the less I enjoy it.

The nerdy flaws of DoFP have been thoroughly argued about in comment threads around the internet this weekend. Why did this character develop a completely new power? Why is that formerly deceased character somehow alive, with absolutely no explanation? I'm perfectly willing to suspend my disbelief, but I need some sort of load-bearing weight on which I can bridge the logical gap. These are problems that could be solved with a throwaway line or two, but nobody in DoFP even bothered to throw those lines into the movie. I just don't think filmmakers should trust blog commenters to fill in these blanks on their behalf; I think that's shitty filmmaking. But I have more problems than fanboy quibbles, here. I think Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, for example, is played out. Everything about the character, except for Jackman's ropy-veined physique, has become perfunctory. Much of the cast felt checked-out to me. (Jennifer Lawrence, for maybe the first time in her life, displays absolutely no charisma.) The listlessness floated all the way to the top: Bryan Singer's direction, though admirably clear for a blockbuster of this size, lacked the energy and quirk of his earlier X-Men films.

The thing that worries me about DoFP is that I see blockbuster history repeating itself. I forgave the 2009 Star Trek reboot for any number of its sins—a lame plot device, rushed character motivations, a preference for flashy pyrotechnics over storytelling technique—because it was entertaining, and because I hoped that it would set the scene for other, better Star Trek movies. My hope for the future of the Star Trek movie franchise was squashed by Star Trek Into Darkness, a fuckwittedly dumb movie that made the previous cinematic outing seem dumber in retrospect. I'm afraid this X-Men movie, which fans are declaring to be a palate cleanser in the style of 2009's Star Trek, might just be a sign of lazier films to come. It doesn't help that the next X-Men movie is going to center on a lame villain who has no motivation besides a misunderstanding of what "survival of the fittest" is supposed to mean. If there was any passion or intelligence behind DoFP, I'd be more hopeful about the future of X-Men films. But I just didn't see anything in DoFP besides a perfectly....okay summer movie.


Comments (19) RSS

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Everything is explained by this one plot element: Logan traveled back through time and changed the future of all mutant-kind on Earth. Which means everything that happened in all the previous x-men movies (like certain characters dying) now didn't happen.
Posted by Henry on May 27, 2014 at 4:09 PM · Report this
sorry #1, nothing explains why Professor X was alive and kicking in the original timeline
Posted by albatross2 on May 27, 2014 at 4:17 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 3
@2 it's a film series. You need to watch everything.

Thing to remember #1: many mutants have "more than one power" or "powers that are variations" on a theme. Jean is a telepath and telekinetic. Scott can ONLY shoot eye beams. Nightcrawler has insane Spider-Man like agility, a tail and teleports.

In the beginning of X-Men 3, Charles specifically shows video of the Scottish scientist and talks about a body -- that looks suspiciously like him -- who is brain dead.

Midway through X-Men 3, Jean kills Charles. As he dies he smiles at Logan as if it's not a big deal.

As for Kitty's time power, they could have explained it better. Her "phasing" power isn't to just be ghostlike, she steps out of phase with space, and therefore time. It's a lot deeper, and that's what she does here. Like Iceman -- he doesn't 'make ice', he's specifically controlling molecular agitation and entropy. Some powers are a LOT stronger than others. Iceman and Kitty are almost Jean level for what they can do.
At the end of X-Men 3, Charles Xavier wakes up in the body from the beginning.

At the end of The Wolverine, Charles rolls right up to Wolverine and all, "Hello".
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on May 27, 2014 at 4:37 PM · Report this
Meh, this sounds a lot like the conversation I overheard between two nerds on Cougar Mountain this weekend, as they vociferously argued over minor plot-points and how certain elements of the film didn't "mesh with reality".

After about five minutes of this (I pulled a muscle and couldn't out walk them), I just wanted to scream "IT'S A GOD-DAMNED FANTASY MOVIE ABOUT PEOPLE WHO CAN DO THINGS THAT VIOLATE THE LAWS OF PHYSICS! GET OVER IT, ALREADY!"

I kind of feel like doing that, right now - oh, wait...
Posted by COMTE on May 27, 2014 at 4:45 PM · Report this
fletc3her 5
I thought it was pretty good, but at some point you just have to recognize the insanity of the whole concept.

I complained about how at one point the fuselage of an airplane is crumpled and then, spoiler, straightened back out. You can crumple a beer can, but you can't uncrumple it. However, Magneto is magic! Also aluminum isn't really magnetic...

Also the central plot point is one big Deus Ex Machina.
Posted by fletc3her on May 27, 2014 at 5:52 PM · Report this
Magneto doesn't actually control magnetism. He controls metal. All metal. Hence his ability to control lead bullets.
Posted by Spike1382 on May 27, 2014 at 7:05 PM · Report this
seatackled 7
The "Days of Future Past" comic book story arc blew me away back in the day. It was Kitty Pryde being sent back telepathically to occupy her teenage self's body to lead the team on its mission. But the X-Men films never really quite impressed me. They're kind of watchable, sometimes, but I don't think I have great expectations for this film.
Posted by seatackled on May 27, 2014 at 7:08 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 8
Paul, maybe you shouldn't wait to hear what everyone else is saying before you write your review. Because it kind of sounds like a narcissistic reaction to hate whatever is other critics say is good.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on May 27, 2014 at 7:11 PM · Report this
I liked the part where Professor X got super duper zonked on dat quality bambalacha and read Jean Grey's mind while she was fiddlin' her vittles.

Hey, do you think Wolverine has a adamantium boner? That would be cool.
Posted by a deep, sonorous fart on May 27, 2014 at 8:04 PM · Report this
I got incredibly bored with First Class I never finished it. DoFP was much more entertaining, as far as superhero movies go. With that said, X-Men, the comics in general, are so f'ed up to begin with, you just learn to just go with it.

Same with the new Star Trek movies, they're not scientists on a philosophical voyage of discovery, at least not yet.
Posted by Drew2u on May 27, 2014 at 8:37 PM · Report this
MarkyMark 11
I thought that it was ultimately pretty boring. CGI creatures kill CGI heroes with CGI flames, zzzzz. Plus there's not like the slightest doubt of how its going to turn out. But what really puzzled me was the black hole that was the almost-not-there performance from Peter Dinklage - who, as we know! can get really cracking under the right circumstances.
Posted by MarkyMark on May 27, 2014 at 9:49 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 12
In the comics, magneto could control magnetic fields in general and create force fields of magnetism. His powers are pretty toned down for the movies.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on May 27, 2014 at 10:17 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 13
I vomited when I read that Apocalypse is a "lame character." He's fucking Apocalypse, he is THE MOTHER-FUCKING BADASS! What the fuck does Paul Constance know about comic books?
Posted by collectivism_sucks on May 27, 2014 at 10:19 PM · Report this
MarkyMark 14
Also I kept wondering all through the movie just how many million$ and million$ all these hot, hot (mostly Brit) actors got paid for showing up and wandering around in front of the green-screen. Especially Nicholas Hoult, who's hit the MegaMillion$ jackpot at a very young age. Its like they've collectively unwittingly backed their asses into a leprechaun's giant pot of gold that keeps flowing and flowing...

Regarding the Star Trek "reboot", who knew that it was possible to make The Trouble with Tribbles seem like Citizen Kane in retrospect?
Posted by MarkyMark on May 27, 2014 at 10:30 PM · Report this
The cast and director phoned it in. It wasn't horrible, it just wasn't special.
Posted by RVPMB on May 27, 2014 at 11:28 PM · Report this
Josh Bis 16
@14 As far as I'm concerned, Nicholas Hoult earned every one of his millions of X-Dollars as payoff for his breakout role on Skins. It's also kind of adorable that he and J-Law are dating and both spend half the movie under blue makeup.
Posted by Josh Bis on May 27, 2014 at 11:54 PM · Report this
Be careful not to criticize nu-STAR TREK.

JJ Abrams fans have delicate fi fi's and don't like it when people make points that fly in their belief that HE IS THE GREATEST FILMMAKER THAT HAS EVER BEEN.

They're almost as bad as Batman fans.
Posted by AgentofChaos on May 28, 2014 at 12:35 AM · Report this
I have really mixed emotions about this movie getting good reviews. On the one hand, I would like to see a good X-men movie. On the other, I would like the FOX X-men franchise to fail and be rebooted (preferably by Marvel/Disney). First Class also got some positive reviews, so part of me also just doesn't trust the good press DoFP is getting. It's getting to the point where I'm just starting to hope Ian McKellan or Patrick Stewart will die soon and force a re-evaluation. And that's kind of a sucky thing to hope for.

Also I REALLY liked the 2009 Star Trek. I cry when Chris Hemsworth dies. So disappointed by Into Darkness!
Posted by LukeJoe on May 28, 2014 at 8:54 AM · Report this
This edition of shit old man Paul hates: Movies with not enough explanatory dialogue!
Posted by j2patter on May 28, 2014 at 11:13 PM · Report this

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