X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Directed By – Bryan Singer

Screenplay By – Simon Kinberg

Cinematography By – Newton Thomas Sigel

Starring Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence & Peter Dinklage

131 min.

I don’t know but there’s something about the first sixty minutes of this movie that gets my engines going! It exciting and exhilarating, thrust into a world of death and segregation, where humans are killing mutants and human alike. Where sentinels have no weaknesses and will only settle for death. With an opening scene where more X-Men die onscreen than in all the other movie combined you quickly realize Days of Future Past isn’t playing around. But then you have Ellen Page with an awesome power to send someone’s consciousness back in the past, someone who can stop all the madness. Of course Logan is the only one who can survive the trip that far back in time and so the world’s last hope rests with Wolverine’s ability to reconcile battered friendships.

So basically the first hour of this movie is crazypants awesome, going 160 mph with death and destruction, a crazy (consciousness) time traveling scheme (which also allows for this to be a really cool period piece), and a totally awesome prison break scene. Of course few movies can maintain this type of momentum and Days of Future Past is no exception. However, the second half of the film builds upon the omnipresent X-Men theme of human compassion and understanding of others. And while the pacing might slow down in this second half the movie doesn’t go south, still giving us epic moments like Magneto raising an entire baseball stadium.

The beginning of X-Men: Days of Future Past is possibly my favorite hour in a superhero movie since The Dark Knight, and while it doesn’t sustain that level of entertainment it does give us a lot to think about and absorb with an awesome mastermind scientist in Dr. Bolivar Trask played by Peter Dinklage. I love this movie.

God Bless America

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X-Men: First Class (2011)

Directed By – Matthew Vaughn

Screenplay By – Ashely Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn

Cinematography By – John Mathieson

Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence & Kevin Bacon

132 min.

There’s no doubt about it, First Class is a first class film. There’s just so much going for this movie that it easily gave a much needed jump-start to a superhero franchise that was fading from public appeal. Let’s begin with the story.

The story is completely enthralling. In the past movies Professor X and Magneto are the leaders in terms of their respective groups, but there’s always a mystery as to who they are and how they relate to each other. We know that they are “old friends” but there’s always a lingering blockade between the audience and them. First Class reveals the men behind the curtain with these two as for the first time the two of them and their friendship are at the forefront of the storyline.

However while we learn who they are and how they met, we also find out how the X-men started. And, not only do we get the origin of the X-men we get a very cool villain in Sebastian Shaw who is trying to start an historical WWIII between the humans which ends in the notorious Cuban Missile Crisis. It all comes together to give the audience insight into esteemed characters, a very cool origin story, and a fascinating revision behind an historical event.

Now the story for First Class instantly attractive but the caliber of actors and acting in this movie is phonemail and definitely adds to the appeal of First Class. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender (MICHAEL FASSBENDER HOT-DAMN!) make for perfect perfect perfect younger versions of Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr (Magneto). Both these actors work perfectly off one another and almost have the identical rapport that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen have which mightily adds to the authenticity that these two really are the young Prof. X and Magneto. Besides the two the cast is littered with talented actors including Jennifer Lawrence and Kevin Bacon, not to mention even someone like Oliver Platt shows up to add weight to his small part or Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, and January Jones all doing their parts.

This is a terrific origin story and a much needed movie that adds humanity to a superhero genre overrun by emotionless blockbusters.

God Bless America

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

Directed By – Francis Lawrence

Screenplay By – Peter Craig & Danny Strong

Cinematography By – Jo Willems

Starring Jennifer Lawrence

123 min.

Mockingjay Part 1 is a great set-up movie for Part 2. It might not have the action we’ve become accustomed to with The Hunger Games first two installments and some of us might find all of these Part 1 and Part 2 trilogy movies ridiculous, but Mockingjay Part 1 is an entertaining movie with great acting and sincere moments.

Jennifer Lawrence is back in full effect as Katniss Everdeen and comes with passionate fury to make this Part 1 work. If Lawrence wasn’t so convincing with her yelling and tears and heartfelt singing then the story of the girl on fire could have sizzled out. Lawrence wasn’t going to let that happen.

Josh Hutcherson also comes in the clutch-erson in this Part 1. Hutcherson finally gives us the Peeta we deserve, showing both fear and bravery in the face of The Capital. Whether Hutcherson lost weight for this movie or the make-up artist is a genius or Part 1 just used a lot of CGI, Hutcherson adds much needed depth to the gaunt face of The Capital’s symbolic prisoner.

Mockingjay Part 1 is a big set-up for the next movie but it doesn’t let itself get lost being the overshadowed sibling. It gives its necessary exposition the heart it needs to make us all look forward to the craziness that will be Part 2.

God Bless America