X-Men an­other rea­son for mu­tant pride

The ma­jor movie fran­chise re­turns with retro style and a stel­lar cast promis­ing a geek field day for film fans and comic book afi­ciona­dos alike. The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports in Los Angeles.

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

Matthew Vaughn and a su­perb cast re-in­vig­o­rated the X-Men fran­chise with cool retro style and globe-trot­ting in­trigue in 2011’s X-Men: First Class. The se­ries’ orig­i­nal di­rec­tor, Bryan Singer, continues that mo­men­tum in the vig­or­ously en­ter­tain­ing X-Men: Days of Fu­ture Past.

The new film is shot through with a stir­ring rev­er­ence for the Marvel Comics char­ac­ters and their uni­verse. And it ups the stakes by threat­en­ing noth­ing less than the geno­cide of the mu­tant pop­u­la­tion, among them faces old and new.

Hard­core fol­low­ers will have a geek field day dis­sect­ing the chal­leng­ing pret­zel logic of writer-pro­ducer Si­mon Kin­berg’s screen­play, from a story by JaneGold­man, Kin­berg and Vaughn, who had orig­i­nally planned to di­rect. The cen­tral premise comes from the 1981 Un­canny X-Men comic Days of Fu­ture Past, in which Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) uses her con­scious­ness trans­fer­ence pow­ers to re­turn from a dystopian fu­ture and re­write his­tory.

Echoes of the Holo­caust have rip­pled through­out the se­ries, and Singer opens with present-day scenes of a des­o­late, burned-out New York, where mu­tants and mu­tant-sym­pa­thiz­ing hu­mans have been rounded up in in­tern­ment camps.

Jump­ing to a sim­i­larly dev­as­tated Moscow, we watch Kitty, Ice­man (Shawn Ash­more) and a small band of mu­tants face an at­tack from the deadly Sen­tinels. Dropped in from air­borne car­rier ships, these ro­bots are de­signed to track and de­stroy the mu­tant gene. They re­sem­ble tow­er­ing, mus­cu­lar ver­sions of the aliens from Close En­coun­ters of the Third Kind, con­structed out of mag­netic plates that al­low them to change shape and adapt to what­ever force is un­leashed against them.

The mu­tants es­cape and re­group in the rub­ble of an an­cient Chi­nese monastery with Pro­fes­sorX(Patrick Ste­wart), Mag­neto (IanMcKellen), Wolver­ine (Hugh Jack­man) and Storm (Halle Berry).

Threat­ened with extinction, the mu­tant hold­outs hatch a plan to re­turn to the postViet­nam Paris Peace Ac­cord(s) of 1973, when Mys­tique (Jennifer Lawrence) killed Dr Bo­li­var Trask (Peter Din­klage), aUS mil­i­tary sci­en­tist de­vel­op­ing the Sen­tinels pro­gram. Mys­tique was cap­tured and ex­per­i­mented on, with the trans­for­ma­tive pow­ers of her DNA tapped to per­fect the Sen­tinels.

Wolver­ine’s abil­ity to heal makes him the only one able to with­stand the 40-year time jump. Kin­berg’s script milks wel­come hu­mor out of send­ing the least diplo­matic of the X-Men back to con­vince the younger Pro­fes­sor X (James McAvoy) and Mag­neto (Michael Fass­ben­der) to join forces and stop the as­sas­si­na­tion that trig­gered an­timu­tant hys­te­ria. Hav­ing Wolver­ine awaken on a wa­terbed star­ing at a lava lamp and lis­ten­ing to Roberta Flack light­ens the mood at just the right mo­ment.

There are also af­fect­ing mo­ments when Wolver­ine en­coun­ters Ma­jor Bill Stryker (Josh Hel­man), trig­ger­ing trau­matic flash­for­ward mem­o­ries of his painful phys­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion and his love for Jean Grey.

Per­haps the film’s stand­out se­quence fea­tures the much-dis­cussed new ad­di­tion of PeterMax­i­moff, aka Quick­sil­ver ( Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story reg­u­lar Evan Peters). The rights dis­pute that kept the char­ac­ter out of pre­vi­ous films has been re­solved, al­low­ing him to ap­pear in both the X-Men and Avengers fran­chises, al­beit with­out cross­ref­er­enc­ing. His su­per-speed skills are con­veyed by shoot­ing at 3,000 frames per sec­ond, no­tably when Peter runs around the walls dur­ing a fab­u­lously staged Pen­tagon break-in, whim­si­cally ac­com­pa­nied by JimCroce singing Time in aBot­tle. With his sil­ver shag, Pink Floyd T-shirt and mis­chievous sense of hu­mor, Peter is a ter­rific char­ac­ter who breathes play­ful­ness into the movie, and many will be sorry he doesn’t stick around longer.

Fass­ben­der’s young Erik/Mag­neto was the rev­e­la­tion of First Class, and the ac­tor again shows riv­et­ing self-pos­ses­sion and charisma to burn — not least when he’s stand­ing astride the roof of a mov­ing train in bell­bot­toms while tear­ing up rail­way tracks. But this movie be­longs to Jack­man and Lawrence.

Lo­gan/Wolver­ine has pos­si­bly never been more com­pelling. In his sev­enth turn in the role, Jack­man brings pow­er­ful phys­i­cal­ity, la­conic hu­mor and depths of sorrow be­neath his gruff­ness that make him an un­usu­ally nu­anced fig­ure for a sci-fi ac­tion movie.

Switch­ing from her hon­or­able Hunger Games hero­ine into badass mode with supreme ease, Lawrence is sen­sa­tional, whether slink­ing around in Mys­tique’s body-hug­ging blue rep­til­ian skin, dis­play­ing the shape-shifter’s bal­letic fight skills or adopt­ing se­duc­tive hu­man form. Her ro­man­tic friend­ship with Charles, stretch­ing back to their child­hoods, adds poignancy to Mys­tique’s strug­gle, no­tably in a won­der­ful air­port scene dur­ing which Pro­fes­sor X gets in­side her head via ran­dom people in the ter­mi­nal.

It’s hard to imag­ine fan­boys hav­ing too much to grum­ble about here, as Singer has pulled to­gether an am­bi­tious, sus­pense­ful screen chap­ter that se­cures a fu­ture for the fran­chise while fa­cil­i­tat­ing con­tin­ued rein­ven­tion. Au­di­ences should sit tight through the end cred­its crawl for an enig­matic sig­noff scene that pro­vides a taste of the next in­stall­ment, X-Men: Apoca­lypse. United States and China),” she says.

Ac­cord­ing to the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Press, Pub­li­ca­tion, Ra­dio, Film and TV, China’s box-of­fice rev­enue touched 20 bil­lion yuan ($3.2 bil­lion) in 2013, mak­ing its movie busi­ness the world’s sec­ond big­gest, af­ter theUS. This year, so far, box of­fice rev­enue in China has reached above 6.8 bil­lion yuan, a 29-per­cent jump over the same pe­riod last year.

China was a top money-maker for Hol­ly­wood films such as Avatar and Kung Fu Panda 2, and some films like last year’s re­lease Pa­cific Rim earned more in China than even in North Amer­ica.

Fan hopes to work in the next X-Men film as well.

“Formeit was such a good chance to learn in such a pro­fes­sional team,” Fan says.

“Jack­man was al­ways there for me, even if the cam­era was not on him. From him and other mem­bers of the crew I learned so much about pro­fes­sion­al­ism.”

Jack­man, of course, seems de­lighted.

“It was not a dif­fi­cult thing to look at some­one like Bing­bing,” says Jack­man, who was in Bei­jing last year to pro­mote The Wolver­ine.

“I am look­ing for­ward to see­ing her in the se­quel.”

The film will pre­miere in the US and China onMay 23.

equally

JIANG DONG / CHINA DAILY

Fan Bing­bing’s role in X-Men is an ex­am­ple of more Chi­nese el­e­ments in Hol­ly­wood films.

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