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Film Review: X Men Days of Future Past

Written by Michael Dequina
23/05/14

 

 

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Days of Future Past is based on, but fairly liberally adapts, one of the most famous and beloved of storylines on the X-Men comics pages.

The botched third installment of the film series, The Last Stand, and this one provide a classic compare-and-contrast case study in how one can effectively take necessary liberties with the source material while still respecting and retaining the core arcs and themes–and Bryan Singer, returning to the X director’s chair after a decade-plus absence, not only gets the balance right but also further enriches the material and the ongoing film franchise with his own unique spin.

The basic scenario remains the same. Sometime in the future, humanity’s prejudices against super-powered mutants have escalated not only to outright war but genocide, with mutants being hunted down and exterminated by giant robot executioners known as Sentinels. With the free mutant population, much less the X-Men team, reduced a rapidly dwindling few, a desperate, last-minute plan to save the race is enacted: send the consciousness of one remaining X-Man back in time to prevent an assassination that serves as the literal and figurative trigger point for the chain of events directly leading up to that point.

Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg then adjust the details, both to keep in line with the films’ own unique continuity and, to be frank, satisfy certain commercial interests. Here, instead of that of a fear-mongering senator, the assassination that must be thwarted is that of the very creator of the Sentinels themselves, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage); but the biggest change is that the X-Man being sent back in time is, of course, Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) rather than the comics’ Kitty Pryde.

x men trioWith the fate of the very world, much less the entirety of mutantkind, at stake, this is one of the most epically scaled of X-Men comics stories, and the film version reflects that size and ambition in its large ensemble encompassing actors from both the First Class prequel and the original three films in the franchise. But even with an even larger cast than usual, this turns out to be the most intimately focused of the series to date, zeroing in not on Logan but rather Professor Charles Xavier.

While Kitty and the future Professor X (Patrick Stewart) send Logan back to the First Class era of 1973, the Charles he finds there is far from the battered-yet-not-broken one we last saw at the end of that film. Unkempt and living in near-seclusion, his vast telepathic powers suppressed by drugs that enable him to walk (developed by his one remaining young charge, Hank McCoy/Beast, again played by Nicholas Hoult), the 1973 Charles (James McAvoy) *is* broken, and rather bitterly so. A confluence of events and circumstances have drained all hope for and belief in his idealistic dream of mutant and human harmony. And so beyond the concrete physical particulars of reaching Mystique before she can fire her fateful bullet, the greatest task in Logan’s mission to save Xavier’s dream, is to resurrect the dream within the dreamer himself.

And so unlike both the previous films and the source story, Days of Future Past rather boldly plays strongest, not as a typical superhero action extravaganza, but as a truly character-driven drama.

The great irony in pushing Wolverine to the forefront in this version is that he doesn’t have a lot of big fight scenes, which, while possibly disappointing to fans of his trademark berserker rages, effectively reinforces that this is an older, wiser, and (slightly) more mature version of Logan than we’ve seen before.  Jackman does a terrific job conveying the subtler, differing nuances while still maintaining the familiar, devil-may-care core personality, and he and McAvoy have a great rapport with the Logan/Charles role reversal relationship here.

x-men-days-of-future-past - duoBut while Logan is the entry point into the story and concept, the heart is lies with Charles, Erik, and Raven, and Singer takes advantage of the embarrassment of acting riches that is the central trio of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence.  All three are at their most movie star charismatic here, with their formidable dramatic chops lending real gravitas and palpable emotional stakes as they continue their struggles and conflicts with each other and within in order to act for the greater benefit of their kind.

While the film could have used more glimpses of the post-apocalyptic future world Singer makes the scenes set there count as both action beats and solid support for the main story thread in set in the past.

But the biggest support Days of Future Past gives is to the X-film franchise’s future, building on and advancing the renewed fan and general audience goodwill generated by First Class and last summer’s The Wolverine.

Singer and company leave this film with a myriad of promising plot possibilities and directions on where to go next, but what most intrigues is how and where the *characters* progress from this point–a reflection of how well he has captured the true essence of what has made and will make the X-Men’s popularity survive and thrive in days of future and past.

Michael Dequina
http://themoviereport.com

watch the trailer here 

The Oscars – Kush Looks back

Written by Lamar Fergus-Palmer
12.03.14

The Oscars has long been the ‘centre piece’ of the awards season. Millions tune in from all over the world to watch the spectacle, and 2014 did not disappoint. Films are often judged and promoted based on how many nominations/wins they’ve received, so the evening itself is always full of shocks, surprises, emotion, and a huge amount of press.

The 2014 Oscars had arguably more talking points than the other Oscars in years gone by, and it was without a doubt the most talked about award show in recent memory. With that in mind, at Kush Films, we will take a look at the highlights of the 86th Academy Awards.

12 Years A Slave Wins Best Film
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Regardless of what happened, it only seems right to start with what will now be considered the best film of 2013/14 as the winner of both the BAFTA and Oscar for the Best Picture 12 Years A Slave.

Directed by 44 year old, British Steve McQueen, some thought that 12 Years A Slave may finish behind Gravity in the running, as it has taken almost seven times as much money at the box office. However, it was 12 Years A Slave that prevailed much to the delight of a star-studded producer and cast list, which included; Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Lupita Nyong’o.

McQueen, who gave the acceptance speech, dedicated the award win to all those who suffered and still suffer slavery today. He said, “everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live,” in a very moving speech that eventually saw him jump into the arms of his cast and crew to celebrate.

Lupita Nyong’o wins best supporting actress for role in 12 Years a Slave
Nyong'o, best supporting actress winner for her role in "12 Years a Slave", racts on stage at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood

Following on from the above, Lupita Nyong’o took the Oscar for best supporting actress beating out strong competition, most notably from Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle). The Mexican born Kenyan had previously won 23 of the 31 ‘major’ awards she had been nominated for in her very first feature film role on 12 Years a Slave.

Lupita Nyong’o took the time to thank the real-life slave who guided her to shape her moving performance as Patsy, and she also thanked Steve McQueen, and fellow cast members, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender. She closed with the line “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”

Gravity picks up seven academy awards

While the team involved with Gravity would have been disappointed that they did not pick up what could arguably be considered as the biggest awards, the movie did win the most awards of any film of the night, seven in total, including:

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Best Director – Alfonoso Cuaron

Achievement in Visual Effects

Achievement in Sound Mixing

Achievement in Cinematography

Achievement in Sound Editing

Achievement in Film Editing

Best Original Score

With seven Academy Award wins on the night Gravity now sits alongside other films like; Schindler’s List, Shakespeare in Love and Lawrence of Arabia who have also all won seven Oscars.

Dallas Buyers Club wins both major male awards

Dallas Buyers Club also had a night to remember, as it picked up the two main male awards; Matthew McConaughey won best actor, and Jared Leto picked up the award for best supporting actor.

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Both winners gave emotional speeches with McConaughey thanking his father, who passed away when he was just 23 years old and Leto, who praised those who had died from AIDS, as his character in Dallas Buyers Club had the condition.

The other antics
The Oscars are known just as much for the red carpet, presenting and skits as it is the awards now, and this year’s 43 million viewers (the most in a decade) were not disappointed with the entertainment.

The historical selfie that almost broke Twitter
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When Ellen Degeneres (the host) decided that it would be a good time to take, and post a selfie of her and several of Hollywood’s elite, including; Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Spacey, Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt she probably didn’t realise just how popular the post would be.

Until that post on her account, Barack Obama’s Victory Photo was the most re-tweeted tweet ever with over 750,000 retweets. In just a few hours the Ellen selfie surpassed one million, then two and now sits on 3.3 million re-tweets.

Jennifer Lawrence falls over again
After falling over on the way up the stairs to pick up her 2013 best actress Oscar, Jennifer Lawrence was hoping that 2014 wouldn’t bring the same fate. Well, while she avoided an on-stage fall, she did stumble on the red carpet, and it was caught by camera, much to her disappointment.

Leonardo Di Caprio – the man overlooked
With five personal Academy Award nominations and no wins, Leonardo Di Caprio (Wolf of Wall Street) put on a brave face as the best actor award was handed over to Matthew McConaughey. Of course, Twitter blew up with memes and statuses about how Di Caprio would seemingly never win a best actor Academy Award.

While he might have some way to go to overtake the late Peter O’Toole, who was nominated for best actor eight times without winning, those on social media did have some light-hearted fun with Di Caprio’s loss.

The pizza delivery guyellen-degeneres-serves-pizzWhen Ellen says she’s ordering pizza you better expect a few large boxes to turn up, regardless of the timing. Delivering the pizzas to some of Hollywood’s elite, Edgar Martirosyan, who WAS a real deliveryman from a local pizza establishment, seemingly had no idea that he would be delivering to some of the biggest stars in the world.

Martirosyan hand delivered the pizza to stars, including; Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, Jared Leto and many others before making his way back to work, sans tip. Ellen collected for him and then gave him $1,000 the next day on her show. What a night for Edgar Martirosyan and Big Mama’s & Papa’s Pizzeria that experts say received up to $10,000,000 worth of free advertising because of their appearance.

The 2014 Oscars was action packed to say the least. Congratulations to all the winners, especially 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen and Lupita Nyong’o and commiserations to the runners up, as they say the show goes on – hopefully the line-up of films for the 2015 Academy Awards will be just as great as those in 2014.

© Kushfilms.com 2014