Thursday, 11 June 2015

X-Men: Days of Future Past (4 Stars)

I finally bought this film on Blu-ray after seeing it in the cinema last year. Usually I'm critical of Marvel films the first time I see them and then like them more the second time round, but in this case it's the opposite. I don't understand why I gave the film a five star rating in my first review last year.

For me the problem is no longer about the deviations from the original comic book story from 1980. The film is just too confusing. What I mean is, at the beginning we see mutants battling against the Sentinels, but unless we have been reading the X-Men comics for years we have no idea who they are and what their powers are. For instance, we see other mutants laying hands on the big black guy with dreadlocks, but why are they doing it? Yes, I know it's Bishop, but I only know that because I'm a comic reader. How would anyone who doesn't read comics know who it is? Then there's the small matter that Bishop didn't appear in the 1980 "Days of Future Past" story, because his character wasn't invented until 1991, but I don't want to focus on the deviations this time.

The main part of the film, which takes place in 1973, is easier to follow. It has a few spectacular scenes, such as Magneto's attack on the White House. It was good that the adventures in time unwrote the events of "X-Men: The Last Stand", bringing the main characters who had been killed back to life.

I'm starting to wonder whether films are a suitable medium for re-telling comic book stories. At the moment they are the biggest blockbusters, especially the films about the Avengers and their members. But what will happen 20 years from now? What I mean is, a typical comic book tells a story in a quasi-soap opera fashion that meanders on for years. The characters hardly age, so the Fantastic Four's Johnny Storm (the Human Torch) was a teenager in the first issue in 1961, and 400 issues later (1996) he was still being referred to as a young man. This works well on paper, but in films the actors age too fast or even die. Three or four films telescope decades of comic book events into a few hours, sometimes successfully, as in the case of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, but sometimes a mix and match of random events, as in the case of the X-Men films. And what do we do 20 years from now when the actors are too old to continue? The stories will have to be rebooted and started again from the beginning. How often will Ben Parker have to die?

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