X-Men: Days of Future Past
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.