Thursday, November 1, 2012

X-Men: Days of Future Past

While overshadowed by Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm, and the announcement of plans for Star Wars: Episode VII, there was other big news in the land of big-budget science fiction movie franchises: namely the return of Brian Singer to the X-Men series to direct Days of Future Past.

The film, apparently, will be a continuation of X-Men: First Class, which I found the most entertaining of the X-Men films so far, certainly where grandiose plotting and spectacle are concerned, and particularly enjoyed the atompunk element (on display in everything from the Playboy-era feel of the Hellfire Club to the movie's version of the Cuban Missile Crisis's unfolding). The critics were generally favorable to it--but, as has generally been the case with retro-science fiction, general audiences were less than enthusiastic about it. Between the film's budget, and inflation, it was probably the least profitable entry in the series.

I suppose that bringing back Singer (who helmed the first two films), and evoking one of the most well-known and well-liked storylines in the history of the comic (a creation of the storied Chris Claremont era), is all about playing it safe. That gives me pause--since not playing it so safe was what made First Class fun. This is all the more the case given that the last time the series went with such a storyline--the handling of the Dark Phoenix saga in Last Stand--the results fell far short of what they could have been, again, because the producers were unwilling to take the risk involved in shooting it as the spectacular space opera it originally was. Fortunately, the time travel at the heart of the Days of Future Past storyline (assuming the producers actually intend to shoot it) seems less of a stretch than the cosmic forces and alien worlds of Dark Phoenix, and Singer has done well with the series in the past, so there are certainly grounds for optimism.

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The 2011 Summer Movie Season
The End of James Bond?

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