X-Men: Days of Fu­ture Past

Sound + Image - - Uhd -

In 2011 Bri­tish di­rec­tor Matthew Vaughn (‘Star­dust’, ‘Kick Ass’, ‘Kings­men’) took the enor­mously profitable but ar­tis­ti­cally ques­tion­able X-Men se­ries and semi-re­booted it with the su­perb ‘X-Men: First Class’. With ‘X-Men: Days of Fu­ture Past’, the orig­i­nal ‘X-Men’ and ‘X-Men 2’ di­rec­tor Bryan Singer re­turned to the se­ries, so the ques­tion was whether he could make a fit­ting se­quel.

Yes, he most cer­tainly did. A big part of that was thanks to the care­ful logic de­ployed by the team. Vaughn and his writ­ing part­ner Jane Gold­man along with screen­writer Si­mon Kin­berg came up with the story, but Singer too was in­volved in de­vel­op­ing the flow of what is es­sen­tially a time travel story. Not to say there aren’t flaws, but the id­io­cies that made me turn off the new ‘12 Mon­keys’ TV se­ries af­ter the first episode are mostly ab­sent.

Ex­cept, of course, a story in which Lo­gan goes back to the early 1970s to change things in or­der to avert the ter­ri­ble fu­ture with which the movie opens, means that all the ear­lier X-Men movies apart from ‘First Class’ could no longer hap­pen as de­picted. Singer ap­par­ently con­sid­ers them to ex­ist in par­al­lel uni­verses, even though the time travel par­a­digm looks a lot like one with a sin­gle time­line.

Still, the movie is ex­tremely sat­is­fy­ing and what could be an in­sanely com­pli­cated story is pre­sented clearly.

There are also lots of great set pieces, in­clud­ing the open­ing bat­tle which clev­erly em­ploys tele­por­ta­tion as a fight­ing tech­nique, and the great slow-mo­tion scene with Quick­sil­ver, who is played by Evan Peters. It’s good to see him tak­ing a break from be­ing var­i­ously vic­timised, vic­tim­is­ing, and dead in ‘Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story’.

The pic­ture was ex­tremely smooth and sharp with nor­mal view­ing, with strong colours, deep black lev­els and plenty of de­tail in the dark­ness. Only when paused did some grain be­come ap­par­ent. Oc­ca­sion­ally the UHD was a bit too re­veal­ing, such as the 1970s New York street scene in­serted into the win­dow of Wolver­ine’s apart­ment. It doesn’t work quite as seam­lessly as it did on the reg­u­lar Blu-ray. Run­ning the disc just now to check some things, the 24p frame rate seemed al­most jud­dery af­ter hav­ing so re­cently watched Billy Lynn’s 60p, but that’s due to a

change in my per­cep­tion, not the movie. The sound is stan­dard DTS-HD Mas­ter Au­dio 7.1 even though it was avail­able in the cine­mas with Dolby At­mos. I played it with Dolby Sur­round switched on and was re­warded with a very sat­is­fy­ing sur­round ex­pe­ri­ence, in­clud­ing plenty of over­head ma­te­rial.

Look­ing at this movie from 2017, we see how quickly things change at a tech­ni­cal level. This movie was likely not shot with Ul­tra HD in mind. Most of the pho­tog­ra­phy was on 2.8K Alexa gear (but still 2160p, just not as high in width res­o­lu­tion). Some was also shot on 16mm and even Su­per 8 film for spe­cial sec­tions. But that apart, most of the shoot­ing was in na­tive 3D. I watched this movie on a new LG OLED UHD TV which does not even sup­port 3D, like most other new TV mod­els from the ma­jor brands. 3D seems to be dis­ap­pear­ing fast.

An­other change: the Blu-ray ver­sion in­cluded in the pack ap­pears to be the orig­i­nal one re­leased two or three years ago and it sup­ports some­thing rarely seen th­ese days: BD-Live. Re­mem­ber that? The fact that you don’t see it on new re­leases sug­gests that cus­tomers didn’t find it use­ful or in­ter­est­ing. It isn’t even men­tioned on the box with this re­lease.

This BD-Live im­ple­men­ta­tion doesn’t take you off to the In­ter­net. In­stead you down­load an iOS or An­droid app which links in to at least this movie and ‘X-Men: First Class’, and fol­lows them along, of­fer­ing ex­tras on your small screen as the movie pro­ceeds on your TV screen. Much, per­haps all, of th­ese ex­tras repli­cate ex­tras on the disc. You can ‘drag’ some­thing you’re watch­ing on the screen to the TV, and then it ap­pears there. I’m fairly sure it isn’t be­ing wire­lessly com­mu­ni­cated. The play­back in­for­ma­tion sug­gests that the app is com­mand­ing the player to start play­ing the fea­turette or what­ever from the disc. I don’t think this is any kind of killer app that’s go­ing to res­ur­rect BD-Live, but

it is an in­ter­est­ing cu­rios­ity.

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