X-Men: Days of Future Past Is Amazing

X-Men Days of the Future Past

A bunch of us who are playing this Marvel themed online game were super excited for a get together event to watch X-Men Days of Future Past. Some of us have not met each other before the show. But one passion binds us together – Marvel. So we met up. All of us were kind of surprised at how we look like in real life. For example, one best known as Iron-Man is actually pretty hilarious in person. And Dr. Strange is a lot taller than I thought. They in turn were marveled at my ‘multi-tone’ hair highlight and that I am much – shall I say – matured looking than who they think I am. What they don’t know is that my hair was having this special effect even during my younger years. It is just a matter of days of my present past. What do they think of Rocket Raccoon a.k.a. my wife? Err. OK. Next.

I did not like the previous X-Men movie back in 2011. But you know me. Short term memory. And I am always excited by what is to come. The story is set in the future, when the war between the mutants (and the humans that side with them) and the sentinels is almost over. Mutants are facing extinction. The future is bleak. What an incredible fight for survival these mutants have put up against the formidable foes. The amount of teamwork is amazing. Blink (Fan Bingbing) opens up portals at strategic places, Colossus goes in for the punch. Iceman and Sunspot tackle the enemies with ice and fire. Storm powers Bishop’s weapon and Bishop goes in for the kill at range. Even with such teamwork the mutants are not able to take down the sentinels. Because the sentinels manage to absorb and adapt to the mutants’ power. It is always Shadowcat (Ellen Page) sending Bishop back in time to warn the mutants so as to avert the attack (now, I had no idea that Kitty Pryde has this sort of power!). That breathtaking last moment between victory and total annihilation.

But the mutants are tired of running. Professor X and Magneto have decided to send Wolverine back into the past and prevent that one single event that led to where they are in the future – the capture of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). Eventually her DNA was being studied and used to enhance the sentinels as the ultimate mutant killing machines.

The story is intriguing. Although it may not be considered as a true Marvel story – since it is common to have alternative realities when it comes to Marvel characters -I found the plot of Days of Future Past acceptable. It has also undone some of the unpopular movie endings in the past through time travel. So I am cool with it and am looking forward to more X-Men movies.

The casting is fantastic. Hugh Jackman is so perfect for the role as Wolverine. Both the younger versions of Professor X and Magneto have done well too. Key to the story is Mystique. I was unsure how our Hunger Game heroine Jennifer Lawrence would perform as a blue mutant. She has handled the multidimensional character well. Being someone strong but yet emotionally fragile, threading a thin line that separates the good and the evil. She has a decision to make. Can she change the future? This movie got me hooked from beginning to end.

The Hunger Game: Catching Fire – A Spontaneous Watch

The second episode of The Hunger Game.

In a rare occasion, I managed to have a decent eight hours sleep on Saturday.  I can count how many times that has happened in the past seven months with my one hand.  Jolly mood I was at, without having this wanting to fall asleep every other minute throughout the day, I made a list of suggestions on where to go for lunch.  My wife Cynthia has picked a Chinese restaurant in the airport called Crystal Jade, which is around 25 km from our home.  I was lunching at the same place the day before with my colleague June.  My wife asked if it was OK for me to dine in the same restaurant two days in a roll.  I am happy to.  June has planned to bring her family to Crystal Jade on Saturday for dinner.  Imagine her surprise if I was to tell her that I too have brought my family all the way to Changi for food.  The love we have for Crystal Jade, try not to underestimate.

I did not plan to return home immediately after our little excursion to the east side of Singapore.  After our sumptuous meal, I took out my tablet and secretly check out the movie schedule near our location.  The Hunger Game was showing in a cinema 10 minutes’ drive away from us.  I asked Cynthia if she has an appointment at four and she said no.  So I booked the tickets online and then told her that we were going for a movie.  Everyone loves a little surprise, once in a while.

It was the first time we visited the mall Downtown East.  If Changi – where I work – is far from where we live, Pasir Ris is even more remote.  I do not know what places of interest are in Pasir Ris.  Downtown East is one.  Pasir Ris Park – where we had our dinner later on – is another.

The mall looks different from the rest that we have seen.  We felt as though we were in Malaysia, or in Bandung Indonesia.  There is nothing too exciting inside the mall and the cinema only has four screens.  Perhaps that is the very reason why we still managed to get good seats so close to showtime.

Catching Fire is a two and a half hours movie.  It is a pretty lengthy movie, just like the first one.  At the end of last episode, both Katniss and Peeta from District 12 (I always thought he is ‘Peter’) have won the game – a first time in history to have two tributes surviving the game.  In this second episode, following the tradition, the winner or in this case winners have to make a tour through the districts and pay respect to the fallen tributes.  The concept is kind of odd to me.  I mean, there is this game whereby tributes against their will are killing each other in order to survive.  And in the end, the survivors visit the homes of the fallen ones to … I don’t know … to gloat?  To apologize?  To say, a battle well fought?  Only Panem can think of a sick tradition like this.

But here is the irony.  The movie has gone in great length dealing with character development that is lacking in action but essential in giving meaning to this meaningless game.  And then when the game finally came, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted it because it is so sick that I hate it.  I cannot pinpoint what I am attracted to.  Perhaps I wanted so bad to know how Katniss can beat the game again.  Other moral conflicts, I can deal with them another day.

When Katniss and Peeta are back in the game – think Survivor All-Star – the pace of the movie picked up tremendously.  It may not be as exciting as the first episode because I can more or less anticipate what is to come, it is still exciting to watch.

Like some other trilogies, Catching Fire being the middle episode sandwiched between a fresh beginning and a climatic ending is neither here nor there.  I wish the game was longer, the on-screen romance was more convincing and intense.  I can also understand that if it was so, it would look like a repeat of the first episode.  It is not quite an ending that concludes this second episode, but rather an opening for the third.  Since I am a fan of the franchise, Catching Fire is a must watch, for me.

After the movie, Cynthia and I have decided to have our dinner at Pasir Ris Park.  Long time ago, we used to frequent the place.  After the government has got rid of many of the eating places there (oh those BBQ chicken wings we so dearly miss!), we have stopped visiting.  On our previous visit, it was raining hard.  We still remember how all of us dinners squeezed into every last bit of shelter trying to have our meal without getting too wet.  The restaurant is by the beach and has an open area concept.  On Saturday, we have visited the same restaurant again.  The air was fresh.  Facing the beach in near pitch dark, it was rather romantic.  What a day.

The Hunger Games – Better Than I Expected, Despite Moral Conflict

I thought to myself, so this is one of those ‘reality show’ inspired movies, where audience seeks to be entertained by watching contestants battling each other to death.  Worse still, we are looking at contestants of age between 12 to 18.  Do we need another one of those movies?  And why the children?  Is this social liberation or a download spiral of human morality?  Who would enjoy seeing children of that age bracket killing eliminating each other?  Increasing, media violence has raised concern across the board.  I feel that we are pushing the limit further down.  Movies like Hunger Games.  Books like Game of Thrones where children wield swords and girls under the age of 14 have sex.  Some video games that are violence in nature played by children.  What would the long term repercussion to our future generations be if we endorse violence at that age bracket?  I do not know.

Now, if I may throw my moral hat away, ignore the conflict inside of me when seeing children of age 12 to 18 hacking, shooting, or killing each other with wits, The Hunger Games is a wildly entertaining movie.  It is said that because 12 districts have in the past committed treason against the central government, each year, each district must pick 2 tributes – a young boy and a young girl – to play the Hungers Game.  Only one will survive.  There is an overarching philosophy revolving around this.  Since I don’t quite get it or finding it quite silly, I shall not elaborate here.

24 contestants are placed in a game location and there is only one survivor.  The rest of the 23 contestants would need to die.  Yes, death to them all.  We love it.  There are tons of twists in the plot.  Because it is after all a TV show, it must be entertaining, especially to the ‘sponsors’ who may influence the process.  In short, not only do the children require to kill off each other, they have to do it in style.  They need to, kill to entertain.  The audience, including us, loves watching this.

Jennifer Lawrence plays the main character who represents District 12th.  I did not like her or find her attractive in X-Men: First Class.  Neither do I find her attractive in The Hunger Games.  Having said that, I grow to like her character as the plot unfolds.  She seems rather suited for this movie.  Genuinely innocent, and determined to stay alive.

I found myself shivering throughout the 142 minutes long movie.  The plot is intense.  More so, was the air-conditioning in the theater.