MOVIE MAN

New ‘X-Men’ flick a feast for fanboys/girls

By Movie Man | Published Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Movie Man did something he hasn’t done in a long time. He shoehorned himself in amongst hordes of fanboys and fangirls at an advance showing of a movie.

ABOUT THE FILM

We’ve discussed before how an audience can affect the enjoyment of a film – negatively through jabbering/phones/babies or positively when like-minded folks pack in to revel in a corporate experience.

In the case of superhero movies, the crowd with the Movie Man was infested with 20-somethings, who applauded at the end, waited for the final credits stinger while talking excitedly, then huddled outside the theater entrance to smoke and discuss.

Among their topics in the haze was the fact that Quicksilver was introduced. The speedster will also appear in the next Avengers movie, “Age of Ultron,” in May 2015. The catch? He’s played by different actors.

Fox owns X-Men while Marvel Studios holds most of the rest of its characters. The studios agreed that Quicksilver would appear in both, but the weirdness is that he will be played by two different actors. “Days of Future Past” Quicksilver is Evan Peters. In “Ultron,” the mutant is portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (such a dullard in the otherwise fun “Godzilla.”)

The two series look unlikely to merge. They exist in different universes, a traditional comic book trope.

Other hipster topics outside the theater entrance included time travel (“Days of Future Past” doesn’t mess with it too much) and the fact that Hugh Jackman set the record for the most times playing a hero since he’s been Wolverine in seven movies now. (Patrick Stewart has portrayed Professor X six times.)

A third mind-scratcher for the ski-cap adorned lovers of spandexed characters was lining up the X-movies in chronological order. That took a lot of cigarettes.

THE PLOT (SPOILERS)

The future is really bad for mutants and humans. Machines called Sentinels can detect mutants then mimic their powers to defeat them. Plus, they have weeded out any humans who might potentially birth a mutant. Now, the rampaging beings have destroyed all but a few mutants.

Trapped, Professor X (Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) hatch a desperate scheme – sending someone back in time to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing the creator of the machines, Trask (Peter Dinklage). When she gets captured after the murder, her blood/DNA is used to make the invincible Sentinels.

The only mutant who could handle the trip and would be alive in 1973 is Wolverine (Jackman). Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) transports Wolvie’s consciousness into his 1973 body where he must convince a drug-addled young Professor X (James McAvoy) to help him stop Mystique, and they’ll need the help of Magneto (Michael Fassbender), who happens to be imprisoned in the Pentagon.

With Professor X and Magneto being arch enemies and Mystique not about to change her mind, Wolverine has quite a chore ahead of him.

Meanwhile, back in the future, scads of Sentinels are closing in on the last stronghold of mutants – like Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Blink (Bingbing Fan) and Warpath (Booboo Stewart) – and killing them.

If Wolvie doesn’t succeed, the human race will be extinct.

WHAT WORKS (BIG SPOILER)

“Days of Future Past” is mainly a two-person movie – Wolverine and Mystique. Oh, others are vital, including a young Beast (Nicholas Hoult) as well as Prof X and Magneto. But Jackman and Lawrence are the catalysts, and both are really good.

It’s hard to imagine anyone else being Wolverine, and when he first rises from bed when transported back to 1973 unencumbered by clothing – well, let’s just say there were mighty sighs from fangirls … and a few fanboys. Jackman is mighty fit.

All the massive CG is superior, and this is a movie where the up-charge for the 3-D is worth it. The opening credits are dizzying.

While there are superheroes galore performing impossible feats, the movie is highly character-driven. Even Richard Nixon (Mark Camacho) has an important part.

Cameos are big fun late. The final scenes include quick appearances from James Marsden (Cyclops), Beast (Kelsey Grammer), and more potently for the fans and especially Wolvie, Famke Janssen (Jean Grey).

The end-of-credits stinger sent the charged-up crowd out happy. The extra scene involved a name being chanted by desert hordes while four horsemen are perched on a distant sand dune. Fanboys/girls know what that means.

BEST SCENE (SPOILER)

Wolverine has convinced Professor X and Beast to help him, but there’s the predicament of freeing Magneto from the bowels of the Pentagon. Wolvie says he knows a guy.

The trio visit Quicksilver who is a petty thief with cases of pilfered Ding Dongs stacked everywhere. Drafted to help, the speedy one has a great scene when the group tries to flee with Magneto. It’s in super slo-motion with Quicksilver seeing everything barely moving. He races around a kitchen, comically messing with the now-immobile attackers and casually flicking the deadly bullets away from their intended mutant targets.

It’s the scene everyone will be talking about – and look for sales of Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” to rise.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK

The movie is almost too talky for its own good. Several times the characters help the audience catch up by repeating the plot gambit.

It’s just impossible to give all the major characters any substantial screen time. Unless you’re a fan, those defending the final mutant holdout will mean little to you.

THE RATING

“Days of Future Past” is a pretty hard PG-13. It earns the rating by a comic callback of an f-word scene from another X-Men movie to Wolverine’s booty shot. The action is not heavy, but some mutant deaths are pretty graphic.

SUMMING UP

This is a good superhero movie. While it will appeal more to those with knowledge of the Marvel universe, the common filmgoer will find plenty to like, too.

NEXT UP

The Movie Man must decide between “Maleficent” and “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”

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