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Sunday, May 25, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Director: Bryan Singer

A sensational film and a 'would-be' progenitor to many more forthcoming, smashing X-Men blockbusters! 

Plot: X-Men must alter the past by traveling back in time and nullify a key incident that ultimately results in end of humans and mutants alike. 

X-Men: Days of Future Past

FIRST CLASS was 'the' perfect film and many wondered how Singer would topple it. He actually doesn’t, but what he made is the best possible follow up film that could have been made.Singer had his task cut out; not only he had to make a good sequel to FIRST CLASS but also work his way around previous incongruous films in the franchise, without discrediting any. 

The 3rd X-Men film was the biggest hurdle; makers simply did not foresee more than half a dozen films, and franchise still going full steam ahead. Singer successfully cleared away all mess without impacting any of the origins stories or key highlights of characters. Wolverine still gets the adamantium, Magneto continues the evil/vigilante route, and back-bone of X-Men gets fortified again with Scott and Jean back.

It is one of those few films that were better made on-screen than originally written—SIN CITY and, up to an extent, V FOR VENDETTA to name a few others. Sending Wolverine back into past instead of Kitty was a masterstroke. Time travel conundrum is handled beautifully—no surprises though, after all Cameron was involved consultatively. Quicksilver’s connection to Magneto neatly slipped in the story too (The Marvel-Fox standoff means we will see a different Quiclsilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron!).  

First Class remains the best because it was an intelligent and genius film, yet an all-out mainstream entertainer. On the other hand, Days of Future Past is a dazzling display of genius direction and ingenious screenplay—brings the X-Men universe back on track.

Some Awe-inspiring Scenes and Components

Quicksilver saving the hides of Xavier, Magneto, and Wolverine in Pentagon.

Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Future Sentinels: astonishing creativity and impeccable design; clearly a lot of thought behind these. Hats off to the SFX too! (More than Mystique's, I felt Rogue's powers were the key, though.)  

Desolate Future: gives the exact feel of a despondent, gloomy world; even comicbook pages didn't capture it this good!

Whitehouse breach and being palisaded within the 'structure' (too awesome to be spoiled!) Magneto uprooted.

Associations to previous films; at times humorous (best ever pay back 'F--- off' :) and metal detector to name a few), at times elucidating (mentions of Azazel, Banshee, etc.) 

Overall, a brilliant film that opens up the X-Men franchise to possibilities anew. Some might find it little lacking in action, however, considering what all it had to deal with and what it is building up to, it was perfect dose of action.
Original Timeline: Haywire!

Timeline Now:
  1. FIRST CLASS (1960s around Cuban missile crisis
  2. DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (1970s around JFK assassination | Future: 2020s
  3. X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (1840s-1980s | Wolverine’s memory loss)
  4. X-MEN 1, 2, 3 [2000s | story/incidences conveniently merged into a collapsed timeline; school is formed but Multiverse accounts for Xavier being unacquainted with Wolverine, the events of LAST STAND (Phoenix Saga), deaths of certain characters, etc.]
  5. THE WOLVERINE (2010s)
 Upcoming Films:
  • X-Men: Apocalypse (? | plot undecided)
  • Wolverine 3 (sequel to The Wolverine)

Drawbacks: Hardly any. One minor disappointment was Warpath—his look (facial features and getup) did qualify but stature was very smallish; the guy is 7 feet+ giant in X-Men universe.   

Post Credits: Age of Apocalypse is nigh! Shows En Sabah Nur in action; the Four Horsemen stand guard closely.

JFK Assassination: Magneto was accused of President’s murder, found a related video here - Bent Bullet

Special Cast: consisting of Oscar winners: Halle Berry, Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen Page, and Anna Paquin, Hugh Jackman, and Ian McKellen.
Other acting stalwarts and promising talents include: Patrick Stewart, Peter Dinklage; of course Michael Fassbender is due an Oscar soon :)


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Godzilla (2014)

Director: Gareth Edwards

King-size monster has resurfaced from depths of the planet to roam ‘our’ sea and land.
Godzilla 2014Godzilla, and ONLY Godzilla, stood out in the film.

Fantastic special effects and creative look of the monster—the anthropomorphic design startles you at first but you eventually get used to it and even admire the look—are film’s USP. The other two MUTOs (purposely keeping to just the acronym) seemed somewhat averagely done, female one more so than the male.    

Film definitely intends to pass through as a special effects spectacle (and does so to a large extent), though, it doesn’t hold a candle to Pacific Rim’s visual grandiose. Few scenes do leave you agape with wonder: 
  • Godzilla’s radioactive blast, both the times (second one delivering fatal  blow was better than first) 
  • Skydive: male MUTO’s headfirst, full-stretched plunge into sea
In the name of story there isn’t much, in fact, saying anything more would ruin the somewhat little plot there is. Maybe just me...I was actually sleepy-eyed once or twice; film could also have been a little more pacy. And...what a big letdown to see Bryan Cranston follow “Breaking Bad” with such a film.

Overall, you won’t be missing much if you skip it, or...just go ahead and watch for that guilty pleasure!

I understand the aim was to make a character-based disaster flick with focus on lead character, and the lead character does justify itself. However, everything else, script, acting, direction went haywire.

Worth big-screen watch once.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Director: Marc Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx

The sequel to Amazing Spider-Man is a tried and tested formula film that will deliver gold at box office. Other than raking big bucks, it has its share of weaknesses and good points but there is nothing ‘amazing’ about it as such.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Spider-Man continues his struggle with himself, his life (love and otherwise), conclusions, and pretty much everything a normal adults does. This makes him a superhero everyone identifies with easily (perhaps the reason there is never an apparent overdose of Spidey). 

Strong points of the film:

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey: Emma is a vivacious actress who lights up the screen every time she enters the frame. Personally, she was the reason I actually decided to watch the first film when it clearly seemed unnecessary. The sequel has her carry on the good work; she and Andrew Garfield together, still sparkle. In fact she is what keeps Spidey grounded and thinking clearly. Without her guidance, we all know how confused our web-slinger gets.  

Supporting cast: primarily Dane DeHaan (Harry Osborne), Aunt May (Sally Field), and Paul Giamatti (Rhino) deliver strong performances, even though they had very minimal screen time to make any more impact. Osborne looked the right amount of ominous and can be looked forward to in upcoming films.  

The final 10 minutes: sum up everything a Spidey flick is all about, and energizes the audience. With no hope of deliverance, a kid picks up the mantle against an undeniable threat. Finally, Spidey gets over his slump and gets back in the battle field.

In addition to these, Garfield does well as Spidey, the film starts-off pretty well too, and there are some good laughs here and there. After a long time, got a chance to enjoy an effects-laden film in good old 2D, thoroughly enjoyed the 3D-less experience.   

Weak points of the film:

Script is in complete disarray, and no matter how perky a chemistry Stacey-Garfield share, there is no salvation for a film scripted this poorly. 

Electro: Jamie Foxx simply...well, sucked—such a waste of potential. Rhino in his few minutes looked a much better villain.

All in all a decent one time watch. You enjoy it and the same time wonder what is the need of continuing with the franchise.

Upcoming film: Sinister Six have been given a sneak preview: Doctor Octopus, The Vulture, and Mysterio are more or less going to be unleashed. Rhino and Osborne look promising, others better be good because with Emma Stone (Gwen Stacey) departing from the film there may be no saving grace, unless film is made perfect.

Post-credit: there is an X-Men: Days of Future Past scene that runs after the credits. It has a young William Stryker, Mystique, Toad, Spike, Ink, and Havoc. No apparent connection with Spider-man’a next film.


P.S., of course, Stan Lee has a cameo!

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