So I went to see the new X-Men film last night. Not the New York red carpet affair, Hannah already did that, but the London IMAX screening. This is not a review of X-Men Days Of Future Past. It's more of a stuff-that's-still-in-my-head-after-seeing-it-last-night piece, the like of things I want to tell people going in to see the film, stuff to watch out for, things to notice, and answering some of the questions people were asking me.
I am trying to avoid major plot spoilers here. But it will get more spoilery the further down it goes. Use your own judgement on how much you want to read. And if posting elsewhere, consider using spoiler warnings.
1. BLINKING FANTASTIC
Lots of people will talk about the Quicksilver scene. So I won't. Instead I'd like to praise the Portal style physics of the first fight scene with Blink. Multiple portals opening, with the audience able to see through the portal and the world (and angle) it is projecting onto. Remember how good the Nightcrawler White House scene was in X2? This is that. But with killer sentinels rather than Presidential security agents.
The Sentinels are closer to Nimrod here, while also having facial similarities to The Destroyer, seen in the Thor movie. They also have a little of The Fury about them too…
2. HOW DOES KITTY PRYDE DO TIME TRAVEL THEN?
Kitty Pryde can phase herself, and other matter than she touches, through other matter. Over time her power has extended, possibly a second mutation, so that she can phase minds through time as well. I reckon, anyway.
3. IT IS VERY SEVENTIES
When Wolverine awakes in 1973, the first thing he sees is a lava lamp. The next is that he's sleeping on a water bed. And that's the anachronism here, not that everything is from the seventies, but that very little is from the sixties. It's a shortcut shorthand but it does mean that the world is rather caricatured.
4. LIKE TWO CONTINENTAL SHEETS, SHIFTING AGAINST EACH OTHER
Yes, we get a very naked Hugh Jackman with full back nudity and a fair amount of front as well. With pecs and buttocks that move against each other like mighty – and lots of veinage too. It's ladies night… if you like that sort of thing. And gentlemen's night if you like that sort of thing as well. Very sexually exploitative – but then Mystique spends most of the movie pretty much naked as well, so hey.
5. THE TECHNOLOGY GAP – A DIFFERENT HISTORY OF WORLD WAR TWO?
There are anachronisms here. And not just the use of the word "weaponized" (which soudns odd but was actually first used in the fifties, I understand). We are shown a world in which in 1973 a scientist can build androids made of non metallic materials, polycarbons, and also begin to analyse DNA. So what's going on? The answer may be subtle. The film begins showing us a future that is reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps. And the imagery we see on Trask's experiments on mutants looks very similar to Nazi experiments too. I'm going for a no-prize here, but if mutants were treated by Nazis in the same way as Jewish people, black people, gypsies, the disabled, it's possible discoveries were made. And much as there was a rush for Nazi rocket scientists after the war for their knowledge and research, so there was a rush for genetic scientists in this world. We saw this with Sebastian Shaw (nee Schmidt) in First Class, who knows where else the influence may have reached and what technology may have been developed as a result? There is also an irony here, that Trask is himself a small person, and in Naxi Germany would have been sent to the camps.
Talking of history, the is no explanation about how Professor X got his old body back. Wolverine also has his adamantium back, again without explanation. But by the end of the film, you probably won't need one. Think JJ Abrams…
6. THE YOUTUBE GENERATION OF THE SEVENTIES
In a number of scenes we see the X-Men from the point of view of people's camera footage. Indeed there's one scene where several people are pointing their cameras at the action and we see the eventual footage, giving the characters a realistic footing in the footage of that time. It seems a deliberate callforward to the current reality where people film anything that happens with their phones – it gives the impression that no, not too much has actually changed.
7. DRUGS AND FOUL LANGUAGE
Well, it is the seventies. We've had the sex, there's plenty of rock and roll, expect the drugs. With a little mutant twist of course, we get the Holmesian trope of the genius drug addict, which also goes to explain Professor Charles Xavier's unkempt shaggy appearance – it's not just the seventies, though I'm sure that helps. Oh and yes, expect a call back to the Wolverine's cameo in First Class as well. Wolverine was hardly in that film. Clearly he's making up for it.
And because this is the seventies and a Nixonian presidency, expect the conspiracies. Who killed JFK is answered in a manner that, just as with First Class and the Cuban Missile Crisis, makes a lot more sense with mutant intervention than what actually happened. With secrets under the Pentagon, Nixon's recording machines and the post Vietnam United States Of America looking for a new enemy that it can actually defeat, this is just as political a film as the previous one.
We mentioned the cameos from Chris Claremont and Len Wein yesterday. Chris tells me "First time in nigh 4 decades I had a beardless face! (On the other hand, I re-upped my SAG membership. Now all I need is another job!) As above, so (now) below? What really got me was that all the other senators — Montrealers to a man, save for Len — had full heads of hair. I was the only (token?) baldy. It's a conspiracy, I tell ya! ;)"
The cameos from previous X-Men film. Yes we see Storm, Kitty Pryde, Colossus and Iceman, and they gets a fair bit of action, certainly compared to Jean, Cyclops, older Beast and Rogue, who all appear briefly (in order of screentime) played by the original cast. And do watch for what Rogue is doing with Bobby. Blink and you'll miss it.
10. POST PRODUCTION
And that final post-credit scene that you have to wait an age for? Reminiscent of the end of Avengers and the brief appearance of Thanos, here we see the young Apocalypse, En Sabah Nur, in ancient Egypt, playing Minecraft with pyramids. Some report that the character portrayed is female, but I think that's the combination of a thin fey man in cloak and hood with white skin/blue lips contrast that suggests lipstick. Indeed, he borrows more from the look of Genesis in Wolverine & The X-Men. For those unfamiliar, Apocalypse is an five thousand year-old Egyptian all powerful mutant who rose to conquer the land. And the subject of the next Bryan Singer X-Men film. If they let him make one.