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New X-Men is two halves that never feel whole

The latest X-Men kicks off the summer

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" movie


Bringing Bryan Singer back for the latest installment in the comic book favorite X-Men saga may have been a mistake after all. True, he was not to blame for the atrocities of “X-Men: The Last Stand” or “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” the latest sequels have featured a freshness that the newest greatly lacks. One could argue that, due to the changes in the past altering the future (a la “Star Trek”), “X-Men: Days of Future Past” redeems the mistakes of earlier films by hitting the reset button. Still, it instead feels rather cheap, bringing back old has-beens of the Marvel universe to appeal to old fans rather than to continue with the rise in quality spawned by Matthew Vaughn’s “X-Men: First Class” that was starting to revive interest in the series for new fans, fans better learned in discerning the good comic book movies from the bad.
Now that is not to say this film is bad, it actually is quite engrossing for the most part, but its greatest flaw unfortunately is based completely in its overly-ambitious structure. Bringing the old heroes in with the new is exciting in theory but in practice the viewer is left disappointed, getting thrown into a totally different temporal plotline only as they just start to get their teeth into the current one.
The action is superb and, at the end of the film, having the camera shot emulate the quality of television from the 1970’s is clever, but there is never enough of an individual actor’s performance on screen to say it was anything more than what was minimally needed. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are both incredibly gifted actors but you would never know it after watching this film. Hugh Jackman too, even though he by far receives the most screen time, is nothing special; he is the same action-hero brute he always is, always hinting at a complexity he never actually shows onscreen. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are always a delight to see so it was especially disappointing that they are barely shown, as is an always-loveable Ellen Page. And not only is any onscreen chemistry between Nicholas Hoult and Jennifer Lawrence thrown out but also is any interest in either’s character at all.
Perhaps the best example of how this movie always teases but never truly satisfies is in the character of Quicksilver played by Evan Peters. Peters was easily the most interesting person much less mutant in the entire show, hinting at a kooky demeanor that is then cruelly ripped from the audience’s eyes almost as soon as he is introduced. And still, Peter Dinklage is perhaps the most frustrating of players in the whole affair. His performance is fine, not great but fine, due mostly to the writing of his character, a man that has a reason for hating and yet also admiring mutants that is never fleshed out. To offer a villain such as he and to never describe much less tease his motivation makes no sense.
Plot holes abound left and right, acknowledging plotlines of previous films in the franchise when it is desired and ignoring them the rest of the time. The biggest affront though seems to be that Old Magneto has his powers back and Old Professor X, well, has a body, both being details that are ripped away from each in the terrible “The Last Stand.” And to bring back Famke Janssen, even for a moment, seems a slap in the face to the actually talented actors brought on board in the latest few films.
The film is entertaining and most definitely a summer blockbuster poised to crush box offices into submission, just be prepared to feel led on by the whole affair when it is done. When the director tries to dip his toe into two temporal ponds he barely makes a ripple in either.