REVIEW: ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’

Screen shot 2014-05-22 at 2.17.58 PMEveryone who dislikes time travel movies, stand up. … Is anyone left sitting? Dislike is perhaps the wrong term, it’s just that they seem so cheap, the sci-fi equivalent of the tearjerker. When a guiding principle of your story is that you can always start over and erase everything that came before it, and conceivably do that over and over again, what’s the point? So, when X-Men: Days of Future Past starts in a dystopian landscape of just a few years hence, and posits the notion that Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, whose vascular physique and butt shot are alone worth the price of admission) must travel back to 1973 to correct everything that’s happened since … well, since the first X-Men movie, it feels as if all the emotional energy you’ve invested into all these characters for more than a decade was for naught. Just erase and start over. Video games do that; movies are supposed to be above that.

It is with that caveat that I can still recommend this nth sequel in the Marvel franchise, a kind of smaller-scale Avengers series that keeps adding stars and superheroes as quickly as it kills them off. Jackman’s Wolverine is the unifying actor, though the characters of Professor X (Patrick Stewart as an adult, James McAvoy as a younger man) and Magneto (Ian McKellen/Michael Fassbender) are fairly constant as well — the big boys who give the X-Men story its arc.

And what a gay arc it is. Mutants are so vilified, they might as well be gay, which is the underpinning to the entire series. Mutants come out, and get bashed, and seek equal rights … sound familiar? But it’s hard to feel too sorry for them when they can stop time, command metal and listen into every brain on the planet.

At least until a scientist (Peter Dinklage) turns their own DNA on them to create super-robots who can track them down and use their own powers against them — Terminators to Sarah Connor’s survivor.

The story becomes a convoluted mess that relies too heavily on matters such as subtle political reactions, good PR, convincing psychopaths to behave sensibly and such, but the visual effects are stellar, and despite some lulls in the telling, the action is entertaining. There are quite a few Oscar winners and nominees among the cast, actors who know how to zero in on some emotional resonances. They sell this summer comic book, giving color to the drab world of the future.

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Out director Bryan Singer accused of 15-year-old sex crime

DBryan Singer, the openly gay film director who shot to fame with The Usual Suspects and has since helmed Superman Returns and launched the X-Men franchise, has been accused of sexual abuse in a federal civil lawsuit. The thing is, the alleged abuse occurred in 1999. The accusation is also of sexually abusing an “underaged” male, though the plaintiff was in fact 17 at the time (the abuse allegedly occurred in both Hawaii, where the age of consent is 16, and California, where it is 18).

Singer has disputed the charges. And considering that the acts supposedly occurred as long as 15 years ago — and the statute of limitations for rape would have expired more than seven years ago — the claim is rightly viewed with some suspicion.

The timing also seems curious — Singer’s next film, X-Men: Days of Future Past, opens next month. No better time to make a stale claim than when the defendant is anxious to avoid bad press.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas Comic Con this weekend

Professor X in the flesh

What is likely the Super Bowl for comic and sci-fi fans in Dallas, this year’s Dallas Comic Con looks to impress big time. With guests like Patrick Stewart, pictured, from X-Men films  and Marvel godfather Stan Lee in the lineup, the two-day event is like Nirvana. And we’re kinda hoping to see a bunch of hotties in tight superhero costumes as well.

DEETS: Irving Convention Center, 500 W. Las Colinas Blvd. Through Sunday. $20–$25.  DallasComicCon.com.

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: X-Men ‘Born This Way’ parody

“X-Men, baby, we were born this way!”

As Arnold Wayne Jones noted in his review earlier this year of X-Men: First Class, filmmakers for the X-Men series of movies have never shied away from very obviously drawing parallels between the movies’ mutants and LGBT people in real life. Apparently the non-gay X-men fans have made the connection, too.

This morning my 14-year-old son came into the living room with a big grin on his face, telling me that he had just found a video on YouTube in which a bunch of X-Men fans had made a parody of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”

“It’s hysterical!” he told me.

This is the same son who, when I took him to his first Comic Con here in Dallas when he was 12, heard angels sing and saw the celestial light. I will never forget the look on his face when he turned to me and said, “My people! I have found my people at last!” He also, by the way, happens to be a big Gaga fan, too, and he is quite smart. So when he told me the video was funny, I decided it was worth looking up.

So I found it and watched it, and you know what — he was right. It’s funny and quite clever. So I decided to share it here with you so you can judge for yourself.

—  admin