You know I’m not a big fan of Wolverine, right? The rise of Wolverine is one of the things that killed the X-men for me. In the same way the arrival of Venom killed off Spider-man. Wolverine’s mere existence offended me, largely, I suppose, because all of the characters I had grown up with and had an emotional investment in were suddenly sidelined and somehow made less important that a Canadian midget with anger issues.
I’ve mellowed a bit, although it still galls me that the movies, so far, have all been Wolverine-centric. We couldn’t even get through “First Class” with him having to make an appearance.
So on hearing that Days of Future Past was getting the big screen treatment, I was ecstatic. A Kitty Pryde centred movie! Fantastic! She was always second string in the movies so far, so it would be brilliant to see her take centre sta….. oh. What? Wolverine? You’re kidding right?
It’s another fucking Wolverine movie.
One of the beautiful things about the DOFP comic is the Kitty Pryde/Colossus relationship. They always had a ‘thing’ and she’d watched her beloved destroyed by the Sentinels in the future only to find him alive and well in the past. It was a beautiful moment and again, there was a marvelous emotional investment because of that relationship. It somehow made the story more “real”.
I entered the cinema with arms folded, a doorstep pout and a look that said “Go on. Impress me”.
And Holy Mother of God it did!
Singer has pulled a blinder here. He’s almost matched the opening of X2 – the bit with Nightcrawler in the Oval Office, the single finest representation of superhero powers on screen- with the first showdown between the X-Men and the Sentinels. It’s an absolute joy to see the X-men being so . . . kinetic. Mostly, the X-man stand there, raise are arm, scowl a bit and stuff happens. To see them moving and actually using their powers as tools to get the job done is simply brilliant. We see it again in the denouement and despite the downer, it is, again, brilliant to see all of those comic-book Danger Room scenarios brought so vividly to life.
Actually . . . you know that Nightcrawler sequence in X2? I wonder, I just wonder whether it’s actually been surpassed by the uber-brat “Quicksilver” sequence. The scene in which he aids Magneto’s escape is wonderful and done with such blasé aplomb. Sadly, we don’t see that much of him, and nothing of his sister. Shame.
There’s also a general vibe about it that is truly “1970’s”. In places, it looks like it was filmed using 70’s stock and using 70’s printing techniques; for most hip early 70’s movie there was a “trip” scene; even that gets a look in.
The plot, at times, threatens to collapse in on itself, but that’s pretty much standard for time travel movies and what it lacks in coherence, it more than makes up for in balls out chutzpah!
If I have a problem with it, then it’s that some of my favourite X-men were either not in it or not in it enough – Havok being the prime example – but at the other end of the scale, I always had a soft spot for the New Mutant Sunspot and frankly, he rocked!
But the best thing, for me, is that Wolverine’s presence is a catalyst. He doesn’t save the day. He doesn’t beat the crap out of things and suddenly everything’s okay. He is discarded in a manner that foreshadows the events of Alkali Lake and doesn’t even get to see the resolution.
After the ‘flash-bang’ of the Sentinel onslaught, it’s good to see that the plot is resolved in the quietest of ways in among the mayhem; a small moment of humanity. Beautiful.
For all the bombast, there is some very deft story telling going on here and I can only applaud Singers return to the X-men universe. True, it doesn’t quite make watertight sense (least of all the cameos towards the end) and when all is said and done, it isn’t the story we know and love, but it’s 148 times better than it ought to have been and –once the euphoria dies down – probably the second best of the movies to date.
Bearing in mind how little I thought I’d like it, and how apprehensive I was about seeing it, I left with a massive grin on my face.
So, yeah. See it. Marvelous fun!
(Incidentally, there is a post-credits sequence, but unless you are well versed in X-Men lore, it makes no sense and isn’t that interesting).