X-Men

X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

I usually don't review live action movies since my focus is in animation but I like X-Men this much so I'll do it. It also helps that I got to see it twice. First time in theaters and once again through a special invite from VES to watch a private screening of the movie at Dolby Labs' theater. It's nice that I got to enjoy the movie as it is the first time and then focus on analysis the second time around instead of thinking about every scene as it happens and jotting down a memory of note so I can review it later. Really enjoyed the movie. Go see it if you haven't already! I was never a big superhero fan as a child growing up and am only more into it now as I'm in the animation and visual effects industry. I didn't grow up reading the X-Men comics or watching the cartoon so I don't have a lot of back history with the series; I only started to become a fan after the first movie in 2000. I've read some of the comics in recent years, but the timelines were all after the House of M devastation. What I did learn from those few series is how bleak and depressing the world for the mutants is. The mutants are despised, feared, segregated, and discriminated heavily against and often killed through some of the most horrific means. To top all that off, in order to end the timeline and to start a new plot the comic often ends with all the mutant killed either by the hands of others or by themselves through someone going berserk. I have actually cried through reading some of the issues and makes me wonder exactly what the Avengers were doing. Particularly in New Mutants when a mass homicide happened to kill a bus full of children.

This is one factor that I really liked about Days of Future Past. The movie captured that bleak future and devastation of the comics that I remembered. However they then turned it around with a message of hope saying that there can be a better way instead of living in fear and discriminating others.

Just because someone stumbles and loses their way, it doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. Sometimes we need a little help.

Getting to see the movie a second time enabled me to watch for the little things and those little things were really fun and made me appreciate the movie much more. First up is when Wolverine is talking to the mafia thugs trying to intimidate them. I just found it hilarious that Hugh Jackman was flexing his chest while talking, adding to the "intimidation" factor. The other one that I really like is when Magneto hits his head on the pavement from being attacked by Beast. It's not a major or even a minor part to the plot and in no way affects anything but the movie remembers to make Magneto bleed while he's held underwater in the fountain and then him stitching himself back up afterward.

However, being able to analyze the movie a second time also means that I can spot plot holes and continuity issues. First up is Magneto's ability. Magneto's power is to control magnetism not to control metal. It's fine if the non-mutants chalk up Magneto's ability to control metal since they don't know that much but for Quicksilver to say that he was told that Magneto can control metal is strange since Xavier and Wolverine should know way better than that. Continuing on Magneto's abilities, he threaded metal through the Sentinels so that he was able to control them but in no way is he able to overwrite their system. Thus, it makes no sense when Magneto gives a voice command to a Sentinel to go "do what you're made for". As Magneto is saved from prison, the rescue finds themselves facing a group of security with plastic/ceramic guns and Xavier doesn't have his powers. Quicksilver comes to the rescue with his super speed and diverts the trajectories of the bullets and the guards' bodies. It was a fun and hilarious scene but the issue is that Quicksilver is listening to music as it happens. Unless he has a super sped up song it kind of can't happen. A confusing continuity issue is the jump from Paris, right after Mystique attempts to kill Trask, and then to Washington DC, when the President is having a meeting to discuss the issue. It looks like the same day and time and if a major issue of having mutants show up in public I assume that the President is responding immediately instead of waiting a few days to review the issue. The problem is that Trask is also at the meeting. How did he get from Paris to Washington DC in seemingly no time, assuming it's the same day and probably only soon after the event? Even more puzzling is to why is Trask at the meeting at all. This was a private meeting between the President and his council members. Trask is a businessman and developer but seeing as how the President knew nothing about the mutants or the Sentinel program, there would be no reason to have knowledge of inviting Trask to the private meeting.

Assuming all the movies thus far are on one singular timeline, as it seems to be from the flashbacks, there are some questions left. Mystique was captured by Trask and then experimented on to create the Sentinels but then she somehow escapes or is rescued but all in one piece even though Trask wanted to take brain tissues, spinal fluid, and bone marrow at the very least. After the future is fixed does the first X-Men movie still happen with Magneto kidnapping Rogue so he can turn the entire world into mutants? At the end it shows Stryker pulling Wolverine out of the water but it turns out it was Mystique impersonating. I assume Wolverine still gets his metal claws in the new future since it's party of his signature but then how did Wolverine get from being saved by Mystique to being back in Stryker's hands to be tortured and pumped full of adamantium?

Apparently Rogue was suppose to play a part in the movie. After Kitty Pyrde got cut by Wolverine, Magneto and Xavier were suppose to go rescue Rogue out of prison so that Rogue can take Kitty's powers and take over holding Wolverine in the past. I was glad that this part got cut out as it doesn't seem extremely necessary in the larger part of the story, it doesn't break the already going on continuity to go to a third location, and it adds to the urgency of the situation.

Effects and CG wise I thought they looked great. I wish they had Blink with her purple skin, even tinted slightly, and that Sunspot looked more like the comic book version with him being largely black with a fire-y halo/glow around him as I feel the current version looks somewhat like Human Torch from Fantastic Four. Small nitpicks though and not all that important. I can see why they decided to go with the direction of Sunspot as everything was really dark in the future and he would have been hard to see. Loved the future Sentinels and how they would ripple when changing. As always, love Mystique's transformation effect. Props to Jennifer Lawrence and the make up team for having to go through seven hours of prosthetic makeup to create Mystique. The only part that I felt was awkward and not integrated completely was when the metal tracks were flying alongside the train. I think the specularity on them may have been too high or the black and white values were somewhat off.

Remember to stay to the end, not only for respect of all the artists who worked on the movie, but there's also a sneak peek into the next movie, X-Men: Apocalypse. We get a teaser with Apocalypse building a pyramid and then off in the distance are the silhouettes of four people on horses!

I'm glad that the movie is doing well as that means it paves the way for more movies to be made. X-Men movies are probably ridiculously expensive to make as not only are there all the visual effects needed for every mutant but there are quite a few large named actors which most likely costs a pretty penny and they can't really be replaced as they've long been established as their characters already.

The Wolverine Review

Had an amazing night out with some friends and we all went to see The Wolverine! X-Men is probably my favorite superhero series despite the depressing endings. Whilst Wolverine isn't one of my top favorite characters it was a good movie to see, especially in preparation for the next movie, Days of Future Past.

So much better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine but I wouldn't place it above the first X-Men movie. I haven't followed all of the X-Men comics so I can't say for sure how true to the original comics that the movie was being but I felt that the movie was somewhat very stereotypical action movie with of a big manly hero and getting the girl. I grimaced so hard when Wolverine leaned in to kiss Mariko and they end up having sex. The two characters barely have any real connection other than "Oh, there is this big white manly man who just saved me and the one I used to love isn't around...so yes I'm totally in love with Hugh Jackman's giant biceps and broad chest"; it just felt very contrived. By the way, so glad when Wolverine got a hair cut and cleaned himself up. I'm not sure if it was planned or not but it was somewhat amusing how none of the non-asian characters couldn't pronounce Mariko's name correctly. It is Ma-ri-ko but they always say something along the lines of Mary-ko.

The VFX was better integrated this time instead of the travesty that was in X-Men Origins. I'm still not completely sold on it as it uses a lot of metal but they were always the super shiny chrome type and there were never any solid reflections. The metal was lit nicely with blues and oranges and such to match the environment but I found the surfaces lacking actual reflections of the surroundings. I was confused about Wolverine's claws at the end. He had them sliced off so what is going to happen to him? The bone protrusions can be regenerated back but the Adamantium covering wouldn't. What became even stranger was Wolverine's claws in the raw bone form are really just straight sticks of pointed bones but somehow when he regenerated them back they were big and curved and looked similar to his Adamantium claws.

Maybe it's because I don't go see live action movies in 3D often enough but I didn't really think that stereoscope did anything for this movie. There were shots that look nice but it wasn't anything extravagantly amazing like when I saw Epic in 3D with all their layering of elements together. If anything I felt that the movie was harder to watch in 3D with all the extravagant fighting scenes. The movement became very hard to follow and instead of a smooth motion blur I would instead see afterimages of certain poses that stick in midair for a second.

Another factor that I found strange were the English subtitles for when some characters spoke in Japanese. The issue being that it wasn't consistent. They didn't subtitle everything and it wasn't like they were only subtitling the important dialogues as there were subtitles that would start only partway through a dialogue or even worse, partway through a sentence. Thankfully, my many years of watching anime, I was actually able to understand what was being said in Japanese even without subtitles. An interesting fact that was never pointed out in the movie was the sword that Yashida tries to give to Wolverine had kanji characters written on the blade that says Un-aging, Undying, and Un-something. Unfortunately I couldn't catch what the last character was but it was interesting how well the sword fits Wolverine.

Just something completely off topic. A random thought that occurred to me while I was watching the movie was how Wolverine must have beautiful hair as he wouldn't get split ends or dandruff or anything. Just something to amuse myself with, but more important, as a friend pointed out, is if Wolverine would have hair since technically hair consists of dead cells with the only the living portion being in the follicle. Hm.

Stay through the credits to catch the little prologue to the next X-Men movie! I'm looking forward to Days of Future Past as all the original line up of X-Men are coming back; Ian McKellen as Magneto and then some of my favorite X-Men, Cyclops and Storm!