X-Men: Days of the Future Past
In the cowardly new world of rebooting and the dreaded reimagining’ of lucrative franchises, there’s been a tendency to follow the moody and gloomy path set by Christopher Nolan when he kicked the Batman series back to life. This approach did for the last
A portentous voiceover from Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier introduces us to a dark future world where robot sentinels are intent on destroying the remaining mutants. Hiding out in a mountain fortress in China we see Xavier, Magneto (Ian McKellan), Storm (Halle Berry) and others trying to fight off the relentless hordes of scary-looking machines in what appears to be a desperate situation.
However, when Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) hatches a plan to send the consciousness of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to prevent these creations being deployed in the first place we’re in very familiar territory indeed.
Before you can say terminator’ the future mind of Wolverine is waking up in the New York of 1973 with the intention of preventing Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing industrialist Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage from
Before he can do so he enlists the help of the young Xavier (James McAvoy), who’s a washed-up drunk living in his derelict school for mutants, who in turn realises that in order for the plan to succeed they’ll need the assistance of Eric Lensherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender).
Magneto just happens to be held captive in a metal-free prison ten floors beneath the Pentagon but, in arguably the film’s most exciting sequence, Xavier, Wolverine, Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) spring their target and off they head to the Vietnam War peace talks in Paris to prevent a future catastrophe.
Singer pulls out all the stops at this stage of proceedings, lacing plenty of physical humour amid some stunning slow-motion special effects. Hell, even the 3D actually adds to one’s enjoyment for once.
However, once our merry mutants reach Paris things become a tad muddled, with plot confusion aplenty and several gaping holes in the story becoming apparent.
The usual problems arise whenever the concept of time travel is introduced, ones which the
Namely, how can Wolverine’s mission be a one-off, mustn’t fail deal when if things don’t pan out they could just send him back again?
Anyway, this is a movie review not a forum for discussion about the merits or otherwise of mutants travelling back to the 1970s to prevent a robot army destroying the future and, on a basic level,
The scenes set in the future are somewhat on the muddy and garbled side admittedly but the central core of the film looks good, with Singer helped enormously by the likeable interplay between Jackman, McAvoy and Fassbender.
The latter pair in particular appear to be having great fun sparring with each other, and Jennifer Lawrence’s shape-shifting Mystique manages to look alluring even if her skin is bright blue most of the time. You could do a lot worse this summer. Three stars
(Drama/Comedy. Starring John Turturro, Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sofia Vergara, Vanessa Paradis, Liev Schrieber, Bob Balaban. Directed by John Turturro. Cert 15A)
Maybe it’s just me but movies set in New York in autumn are already ahead of the pack. There’s just something about that great city framed against browning leaves and gentle light that’s irresistible no matter what the story happens to be, and John Turturro’s second film as a director certainly uses the Big Apple to his advantage here.
Billed as a comedy/drama — although there are scarcely any real laughs to speak of and the dramatic aspect is borderline ludicrous — the film tells of hard-working florist Fioravante (Turturro) who’s persuaded to become a gigolo by former bookseller Murray (Woody Allen) after the latter’s dermatologist (Sharon Stone) indicates that she and her friend Selima (Sofia Vergara) might fancy a threesome.
Hang on a minute here: Woody Allen’s a pimp while Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara are willing to pay John Turturro to have sex with them?
There is a rather touching subplot in which Fioravante — and, to be fair, Turturro’s charm shines like a beacon throughout — falls for a Hassidic widow (Vanessa Paradis), much to the chagrin of the neighbourhood watch officer (Liev Schrieber) who admires her from afar, but honestly you’ll have been so seduced by the cityscape that it’ll only dawn on you an hour after you leave the cinema that what you’d been watching is, essentially, a load of scarcely believable drivel. Two stars
The Punk Singer
(Documentary. Featuring Kathleen Hanna, Adam Horovitz, Kim Gordon, Joan Jett. Directed by Sini Anderson. Cert IFI)
As the lead singer with Bikini Kill, Kathleen Hanna was one of the key figures in the Riot Grrrl movement, a feminist-inspired railing against sexism in music and art which emerged in the US in the early ’90s. Its protagonists were incensed by stereotypical portrayals of women in the media and in music and weren’t too shy about calling it like they saw it. Good for them.
I’ve never had a problem with gobby malcontents kicking up a fuss and generally annoying the establishment but where Sini Anderson’s hagiography of Hanna falls down is that she’s clearly so in thrall to her subject she fails to give any real context to Bikini Kill.
Indeed, were one to come to this cold and without any knowledge of punk since the mid-’70s you’d think that Hanna and her bandmates were the very first women (plus the token bloke playing the hard bits on the guitar) to get on a stage and make a noise.
Thus, despite the fact that Bikini Kill’s music was an uninspired mishmash of Patti Smith, X-Ray Spex and the Slits those pioneers are never even mentioned in passing, which if it’s an oversight is sloppy and if it’s deliberate is downright insulting to the audience’s intelligence.
The personal aspect of Hanna’s life is far more interesting than all the whining and sermonising, with the singer describing how her performances with Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin after Bikini Kill split gradually became untenable.
Finally diagnosed with the debilitating Lyme disease, Hanna and her husband, the clearly devoted Adam Horovitz of the Beasttie Boys, make for intelligent interviewees as they describe how they deal with the increasingly common condition.
There probably is a decent documentary to be made about the Riot Grrrl movement and how it was a necessary riposte to Neanderthal sexism and misogyny but, alas, The Punk Singer certainly isn't as it feelsm more like a love letter from a besotted fan rather than the work of a rigourous movie-maker. Two stars