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.

X-Men: First Class – Not My Cup Of Tea

I have a few issues with the installment of this new trilogy.  Considering the fact that “First Class” is a prequel, I am unable to reconcile how, say, McAvoy and Fassbender’s characters are going to grow up and become Professor X and Magneto that we are familiar with on a big screen.  I took a look at McAvoy and compared him with Patrick Stewart.  Nah.  I took another look at Fassbender and thought about Ian McKellen.  No way.  Is it important that the casting should somewhat reconcile with our mental expectation?  I would think so.  Star Trek has done a pretty good job in choosing their casting when the prequel was made.  McAvoy and Fassbender are good actors.  But the disconnection with the existing X-Men films is a bit too much for me to take.

From the story point of view, after the climatic ending of “X-Men: The Last Stand”, I doubt a prequel could top that.  And it does not.  The ideas of mutants against the humans, teaching the mutants to control their power and one super mutant wanting to take over the world – these ideas begin to sound old to me.  Who cares about the ability of creating whirlwinds when we have already seen what Storm can do?  Who cares about a stripper with wings of a housefly when we have seen a human boy with angelic wings?  Havok shoots beams from his chest but hey, we have already seen how Cyclops shoots beams from his eyes.  A boy who screams that enables him to glide in mid air with artificial wings?  Maybe the movie is not doing the comic books justice.  Or maybe it is what it is.

If I am to look at “First Class” as a standalone movie and to remove most of the mutants who are unimportant to the story, the film does offer more background on the friendship between Professor X and Magneto and who they are.  The linguistic ability of Magneto (or rather Fassbender) is charming.  Seeing a younger version of Professor X flirting and chatting up with girls is unexpected, but refreshing.  Hence, it is the drama bit that I enjoy watching.  What is disappointingly missing – besides more depth in Professor X’s romance would be nice – is the transformation of Magneto: the transformation from a mission of personal vendetta to a mission of one mutant (and his recruits) against the world and the disintegration of a friendship.  In one scene, a man was down on the beach.  Magneto could have had him teleported out for medical care.  Why the hurry to disappear from the screen?  That emotional part of a human, or rather a mutant, is missing.  And I am left with an empty feeling wondering if I still want to see more.

The good news is, “Second Class” and “Third Class” – if at all the rest of the installments are so called – are likely going to beat “First Class”.  It is likely that I will get to continue watching this trilogy, because Cynthia is a X-Men fan.

Inglourious Basterds – Can A Film End The War?

Inglourious Bastards

The script of “Inglourious Basterds” took Quentin Tarantino more than a decade to complete.  It shows.  Of his films I have watched, I am much intrigued by the quality of the story development of “Inglourious Besterds”.  It watched like reading a masterpiece story.  Divided into 5 chapters, the Nazi hunts the Jews, the American ‘commandos’ infiltrate the Nazi occupied Parisian territory, and the Jews’ uprising against the Nazi – a spaghetti like storyline told in a humorous, dramatic, and at times gruesome manner.  So, will the Jew or the American or even the German end the World War II?  The ending could be more than what you would expect.

Quentin Tarantino’s signature is all over “Inglourious Basterds”.  The music, the treatment to the scene down to the frame by frame level, and the orchestration of a team of talented European actors and actresses whom some of them are in their own rights a director and a producer.  Some metaphors are cleverly repeated cross the chapters.  Such as the interrogation and negotiation.  Some metaphors are linked to well known stories of the past.  I can understand how some may cringed at the scene of the gruesome execution.  However, I think “Inglourious Basterds” is a lot milder compares to some of Quentin Tarantino’s previous works.  In fact, it is so refined that some scenes are just beautiful to watch, however tragic they may be.

I read that Quentin Tarantino took some time to find the ending to this ‘best writing he has ever done’.  I am unsure if it is the perfect ending to the script, or I in fact like the ending.  Perhaps, I just didn’t want the film to end.  Quentin Tarantino is so talented.  He is a legend no less.