Saturday, April 18, 2015

X-Men: Days of Future Past


     Before I start my blog series (which will be early May), it would probably be a good idea to catch up with the X-Men series. My first actual movie review was X-Men: First Class and it's a little rough, but I don't have the heart to change it! I like to think I've come a long way since 2011! This movie was fantastic, though! It was another movie I had wanted to see last summer, but never got around to the theater and after I watched it on our DVR, it's what gave me the idea to do the blog series. (I'll also be doing a general overview of the X-Men trilogy soon!)

     In the not to distant future (roughly 25 years from now), mankind is at war with mutants and the humans that aid them. Professor Charles Xavier and his former nemesis Erik Lensherr (Magneto) have allied together along with what is left with Charles' mutant army, The X-Men. Worn down with fighting, Charles reveals to everyone the beginnings of the mutant war and how it started with Mystique in 1973 when she murdered a sadistic scientist of which became the catalyst for the destruction of all mutants from that point on. Charles believes that if someone can be sent back to 1973 and stop Mystique then the fear, the death and the ultimate war may be stopped. Only it can't be just anyone.

~ ~ ~

Logan//Wolverine
Hugh Jackman as Logan//Wolverine
     Due to his abilities of regeneration, Logan is the only mutant strong enough to withstand the travel 50 years back in time. His job is to convince a young Professor Xavier to find and Mystique and stop her and her quest for blood. That's not an easy task when Logan finds Charles at his closed down school, drunk and with no abilities to read or control minds, A side of Charles that Logan has never seen before. Taking out enemies is easy, but trying to save your friends is much harder. 

     When they try to stop Mystique at the destined place and time and only make things worse, Charles can no longer take it. He's angry with himself, with the world and above all with humanity that he was naive enough to believe in. Logan refuses to give in and insists that the Professor reads his mind to find his way to the future and see the world of happiness and hope he creates for mutant children. Logan tells Charles that there was a time that he was his most helpless student and that Charles did not give up on him. 

     Logan's personal experience and ultimate redemption through Charles Xavier and the X-Men is what ultimately saves humanity, not just his regeneration. The once angry and lonely fighter, desperate for family and home, found his place fighting for people not against them and that was due to one formidable teacher that saw the good and honor in him when no one else did and when Logan himself didn't see it either. 

     I love Logan! Ever since I first saw him in the first X-Men movie (when I was 9), he was always such a complex and confusing character. I've been following Logan's journey from the very beginning for over 15 years and you would think I would be bored by now, but I'm not and probably never will be. Logan is one of those characters that I think every person at one point in their life aspires to be. The loner who is given one chance and exceeds everyone's expectations including their own and (in the words of Dr. Erksine), remains a good man.

~ ~ ~

Professor Charles Xavier//Professor X
Patrick Stewart/James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier
     Being my favorite superhero (EVER!!), I could probably go on and on about the incredible Charles Xavier; his enviable gift of telepathy and mind control, his refusal to let his disability deter him from his mission-driven purpose or his constant understanding of the human (mutant) heart. So...you can imagine my surprise when I found out that my beloved Charles in Days of Future Past isn't exactly the Charles Xavier I'm use to seeing. 

Background Info from X-Men: First Class

     In 1962, energetic and brilliant, Charles Xavier graduates from Oxford University with a degree in genetics and human evolution. What he hides though, is that he is a profoundly gifted mutant who has the ability of telepathy. When he reveals himself to the CIA, in hopes of stabilizing human/mutant relations, they commissioned him to throw together mutants as a plan B initiative for world disaster. 

     Charles gathers a rag-group of individuals, such as his independent sister, Raven (a changeling), Hank McCoy (a genius scientist gifted with super speed due to his abnormal feet) and Erik Lensherr (a vengeful man who can manipulate metal) and other young mutants who are lonely, abandoned and afraid. He takes them to his family mansion in Westchester County, New York and trains them to hone their abilities, to live as proud individuals and above all, never be afraid of the world. 

     When Charles and his group succeed in stopping the Cuban Missile Crisis, he believes there is hope, but it is shattered when Erik betrays him by putting a bullet in his back during a fight, therefore crippling him for life. Erik leaves and takes Raven with him, having her believe that a life of fighting for their kind is better than protecting a world that hates and fears them. 

Caught up?

~ ~ ~

     Now eleven years later, the hope that Charles once had is gone. Shortly after the first semester, the war in Vietnam became worse and teachers and students were being drafted into service. All of Charles dreams were shattered as he saw young promising lives leave and never returns. He closes down the school, with only Hank to take care of him (great friend, but horrible enabler), and lives as a recluse. Using a special serum that wipes him of his telepathic gift, but gives him back the use of his legs, Charles lives day by day alone in his office or room, with no sense of purpose. 

     That changes when a hulking stranger barges into the house (gets into a brawl with Hank) and informs him that he was sent by Charles' future self to stop an incident that will cause catastrophic events in the future. Although skeptical at first, Charles reluctantly agrees and goes off to find and prevent his sister from starting the war that will end mutants. 

     Just when they think they may have succeeded, Erik (who they brilliantly break out of a secret prison in the Pentagon), once again, betrays Charles and only makes events worse. Now angrier than ever, Charles sinks deeper into sorrow and despair. When Logan tells him to read his mind and see the future he eventually creates for young mutants, Charles comes face-to-face with his future self who tells him that the suffering he feels (he also has the ability to feel people's emotions, especially pain, and can even take that pain away from them) is what fuels him to be the leader that the world will need, to be the teacher who teaches courage, kindness and compassion, and always, hope. Finally, Charles has the incentive to track down Raven and end her diabolical plan before it even begins.

     James was just....wow! He's a great actor to begin with, but as Charles, he's just amazing! Like I said, seeing Professor X as a angry and frustrated man with no mission or purpose was a shock for me and I don't think many people could have done it, but James was brilliant. And his one scene with Patrick Stewart (his older self) almost had me in tears! That is the second time that James McAvoy has made me cry in a superhero movie!!

~ ~ ~

Erik Lensherr//Magneto
Ian McKellan/Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr//Magneto
      He's rated as IGM's #1 comic book villain and it's understandably so. Magneto is the absolute paragon of the tragic villain and the enigmatic character that always keeps you guessing. In First Class we witness Erik's despairing life as a German Jew in 1944 who is forced into a concentration camp and is separated from his parents. While trying to reach for his parents, Erik unleashes his ability to move metal, which marks him as a mutant and a lab rat for the cruel Nazi scientist Klaus Schmidt. Erik's life as Schmidt's project plants inside him a seed of growing hatred against humans and puts him on a path of revenge to track down Klaus and murder him to avenge his mother who was shot by Schmidt when Erik didn't fulfill his purpose as a mutant. 

      20 years later, Erik crosses paths with young Charles Xavier whom he befriends while finding mutants to train for the government. In spite of Charles' attempts to dissuade Erik from his destructive nature, Erik lives by his own rules and after he kills Schmidt, he separates from Charles, taking with him several other mutants, and starts his own life as a mutant against the world. 

      In Days of Future Past, we meet up with Erik in 1972, where he is in a top secret prison in the Pentagon for allegedly killing JFK (he was actually trying to save him, because JFK was a mutant). Charles, Logan and Hank all break him out (with the help of a super speed mutant) all with the hope that he will convince Raven to stop herself from  murder and self-destruction. Except, instead of helping Raven, Erik tries to kill her and the time loop goes from crazy to insane. Erik's one fatal mistake almost becomes the world's future destruction, but even he is not invincible and underestimates Charles belief in humanity which puts his plans of world domination on hold...for now at least. 

     Michael Fassbender as Erik//Magneto is what sealed Magneto as my favorite villain. As wonderful as Ian McKellan is, I had a hard time seeing him as the bad guy (especially since I was also watching him as Gandalf). Michael brought out every emotional aspect you would want in an up and coming anti-her/villain. Revenge, anger, compassion, joy, sorrow, betrayal and ultimately loyalty to the man who never gave up on him.

~ ~ ~

Raven//Mystique
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven//Mystique
     Considered to be one of the most extraordinary mutants to ever walk the earth, all Raven ever wanted was to be ordinary. Her ability to shift into any human form is incredible, but the flip side is that her true form is a blue, scaly creature that isn't beautiful in human standards. In the beginning, Raven despised being mutant, but overtime, she became proud of her natural blue form and passionate for the preservation of mutant life. Her passion to protect other mutants becomes ignited when she discovers that her friends have been killed and used as tests for scientific and evolutionary research. 

     Filled with hatred and rage (similar to Erik's), Raven goes on an endless crusade to track down the scientist responsible for the inhumane slaughter of her friends. Just when she think she's gotten her chance to avenge the mutant race, she is stopped by Charles and almost considers putting an end to her plans. Only when Erik tries to kill her instead, she is only more determined to carry out her former desire to hunt down and kill. 

      Raven gets one final chance to kill that will be mutants future destruction or she can show mercy which will be the salvation of all mutants. In spite of her anger and fear, there is still a good heart and a good soul and Raven herself cannot deny that. In her darkest moment, Raven must find her humanity or the race she is trying to save will ultimately be destroyed by her own hands. 

     This was the first role I saw Jennifer Lawrence in and (like I said in my First Class review) I found Raven somewhat annoying, but also there was a relataeable element to who she was. Everyone feels insecure, out of place and wants to fit in and be accepted. Jennifer Lawrence brought a wonderful dynamic as Mystique as a person who can never be understood, not even by herself, but is always that one person that is on the balance between good and evil. 


~ ~ ~


     So, now I've caught up with the prequel X-Men universe! This movie was brilliantly done, but I've also never read the comics, so I'm looking at it from a movie perspective. What I enjoyed about Days of Future Past is that oftentimes, sequels tend to be darker and more serious than the former movie and First Class had a great amount of charm and whimsy, and that same charm was found in the sequel as well. Of course, it had its deep and dramatic moments, but everything was balanced out very well. 

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