X MEN: Days of Future Past (2014) Review

X-men

X Men: Days of Future Past. This story was created with a collaboration of Jane Goldman, Simon Kinberg, and Matthew Vaughn, with Kinberg writing the screenplay. Directing by Bryan Singer. This is an adaptation from the (Alternate Universe) or Marvel Mulitverse comic book series of Stan Lee by the same name. The movie details are slightly altered from the original conception. The story of the X Men has evolved, developing many subplots and character analysis along the way. Now, rules of space and time no longer apply. We are in a world where changing futures and pasts are possible. This leaves history wide open…….ripe and for the taking.

A future dystopia has occurred where mutants are being hunted. Wolverine, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Professor X, Magneto, Iceman, Bishop, Colossus, Sunspot, Warpath and Blink  are all that exist as the last of a dying breed of mutants. Wolverine is assigned to a mission that he may never recover from. He is the only one who is able to heal from the possible bodily damage and trauma that could be incurred by his journey to the past. Kitty Pryde teleports his mind to the past and must remain steadfast as his protector.

While Wolverine’s conscious is teleported back into 1973, the mutants still rage on against the killing machines called Sentinels, in the future. A mad scientist from the 1970’s, Bolivar Trask, has created and programmed adaptable, indestructible mutant-killers to eliminate any traces that the X Men ever existed. Wolverine must convince a young Professor X and a belligerent Magneto to stop the termination of this particular scientist. Beast (Hank McCoy) and Quicksilver (Peter Maximoff) help Wolverine and Professor X (Charles Xavier) break Magneto (Erik Lehnsherr) out of the Pentagon, who is also in solitary for supposedly killing JFK.

The possible assassination of Trask sets into motion an apocalyptic war with mutants fighting for their very lives in a bleak and gloomy future. Wolverine’s past and future are fused together as he recreates history. His mind is joggled eventually as he moves in and out of consciousness remembering moments of traumatic adamantium evolution with Colonel Stryker.

There must be a way to stop the elimination of the X Men! Things don’t go as well as planned and somehow Magneto and Mystique have their own agenda…. their own way about how things should turn out. President Nixon is tired of fighting (The Vietnam War), but is reluctant to get involved in any impending wars, until there is a fight among the mutants that the public witnesses at the Paris Peace Accords of 1973. Because of this upheaval, Nixon is convinced to sign off on the approval of the Sentinel program. Mystique must decide once and for all who she is and what she is fighting for. Her DNA holds the key to what could send both the Days of Future and Past crashing down forever.

Action. Suspense. Plot. Watcher’s Beware! You should have some prior knowledge of X Men history or bring a friend along to explain a few details. Overall, I thought the film was very entertaining, cinematic, and I cared about the characters enough to get involved. P.S. Don’t forget the ending after the credits. The next X Men (Apocalypse) comes out in May 2016! Until then….. I‘ll be waiting…. Yes!

Actors and Actresses: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Kelsey Grammar, Anna Paquin

 

 

 

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

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Directed by Gary Ross. Stars include: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Herrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Gena Malone, Lenny Kravitz, and many others. This film is the sequel to the controversial, but highly anticipated Hunger Game series. President Snow is upset about the Victory Tour because it is not going as planned. The people have gained a new sense of hope and are beginning to rebel. Snow knows that Katniss  has the pulse of the nation at her whim. Snow threatens her if she does not comply to his demands. There is an appearance of Phillip Seymour Huffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, the new Gamemaker, who encourages Snow to promote the 75th Quell Games.

Let me explain. This new obstacle, another round of  Hunger Games, the 75th Quell (the best of the Victors). I know. She just finished the Hunger Games….another set of games..!? No Way! Not Fair. Katniss and Peeta try to gain allies for this next round of thrills and spills. Great humor and adventure. Katniss does seem confused about where her heart lies….she has changed. And the stakes are raised even more. All the districts are watching to see what she does…there is no backing down now. Too much at stake. The Nation is outraged and they’re not taking any more crap from the Capitol. War is inevitable….. whatever will they do….?

Instead of reading these books, I chose to listen to the AudioBook version. Hunger Games had me screaming while I was washing dishes in the kitchen! Catching fire was just as good, although I’m pretty sure they took out some things in the movie. Oh yes. Not again. The ending didn’t impress me as much. Very strange visual ending. Don’t get me wrong, this was a good film, visually stimulating, humor and flow was okay. My friend was asking me about the three finger sign. I didn’t want to tell her because in part I didn’t want to explain and partly because I felt it should have been explained to her through the film (no fault of her own, can’t assume everyone has read the books.) In conclusion, I am afraid of what the third installment will look like. The book was confusing and disjointed. I’ll go see the 3rd movie, but not really looking forward to it. Just being honest… Love you Suzanne Collins and Lionsgate. I need to be truthful…

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

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This science fiction book began tragically.  Andrew “Ender” Wiggin was a young boy of six. He was born as a reject, a 3rd. Ender was not supposed to be born. He was born out of defiance of the government, a symbol of rebellion. Since Ender was small and appeared feeble and weak, his peers mocked him and attacked him physically, but Ender fought back. This was his final test. He passed with flying colors. His brother Peter was supposed to be groomed for combat, but instead THEY chose Ender for Battle School. Most of Ender’s fighting spirit he gets from his cruel older brother Peter, but his kindness and sensibility comes from his sister Valentine. He is the best of both of them. A perfect specimen. The military discovers that he is a military genius, fit to command armies.

Ender is promised to return home from Battle School at age 12, but he never gets the chance. Over the next  six years, Ender is probed, pushed, and strategically exploited for the sake of humanity. He gets weary of simulations; lines of reality and fantasy become blurred. He is allowed a small break for three months of asylum, where he visits his sister Valentine. This is a ploy to get Ender back into action after he no longer desires to play the games. He remembers why he has been chosen, to save all of humanity from the vicious “Buggers”. In the end, no matter what they throw his way, Ender manages to outsmart his opponent.  Ender must find the strength within to conquer his fears and complete his ultimate task.

I saw the poster for this movie two years ago and became frustrated because no one ever told me about this marvelous  book. I tried to pick-up this book this summer, but to no avail.  I had to put it on hold at my local library for several weeks. It was definitely worth the wait. This book is a science fiction masterpiece; years before it’s time. One of those stories that is timeless. Even though this story was created over 20 years ago it is still relevant today. Children being trained for combat in a world where crisis creates young leaders. Among these geniuses are individuals who forge history by persuading and influencing the elite’s political ideals. The events of this tale are Machiavellian in many ways. It was very detailed and intricately woven from the beginning. I felt empathy for Ender as the weight of the world was literally on his shoulders. I hope that the film does this beloved classic justice!

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

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This is a coming of age film  that was based on the novel by Tim Tharp. It is about a male teen called Sutter Keeley.  At the beginning, he breaks up with his girlfriend and is an alcoholic.  Sutter befriends a girl at school named Aimee Finecky and discovers that she is not what he expected. Usually he strolls through life pretending to not care. He is not taken seriously by his peers because of his nonchalant attitude, but he is really blocking out  pain. On a bet, Sutter is dared by his girlfriend to find out about his estranged father that he has not seen in over 10 years.

One thing I loved about this film was that it was real. It shows that life is not perfect, but people can change if they want to. Sutter develops a real conscious and finds a world where he can start fresh. When we are young it is important to revel in the moment, but the future also depends on the NOW. I enjoyed this independent film because it was not predictable and most of the actors I did not recognize as big names.  There was no pressure or real expectations, so I was able to judge honestly and freely. Overall, I think that this was a great film, so the book must be just as good or better.

LEGEND by Marie Lu

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This young adult dystopian book is about Los Angeles in the future. Los Angeles is called the “Republic” and the rebels are called “Patriots. The main characters are June and Day. June lives in the wealthy sector of Los Angeles and scored a perfect 1500 on her test scores which makes her a prodigy of the Republic. June only really starts taking an interest when her brother Captain Metais is killed while tracking down the notorious ” #1 criminal and public enemy of the Republic” called Day. Day lives in the poor sector where his family is infected with the Plague. Like Robinhood, he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. He is “legendary”. The real reason he is trying to stay alive is to find a cure for his family. June is determined to find her brother’s killer, whom she thinks is Day. She will stop at nothing to track him down. June finds out the truth and it is not what she expects.

This book is a roller coaster-ride of twists and turns. Romance, action, adventure, betrayal….what more could one ask for from a teen fiction novel! I loved this story! I was fortunate to meet the author during my visit to the Arlington Heights Library before the kids in the surrounding high schools actually knew who she was! Marie Lu was gracious enough  share her experiences about when she witnessed the student protest in Tiananmen Square (China 1989). She was a young girl under the age of 5, but she never forgot this pivotal event in history. The musical Les Miserables was also very influential to the author. I look forward to the movie coming out within the next few years. I just hope that the film is made in a way does the book justice!

Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Claire

City of Bones

City of Bones is about a teenager, Claire Fray, who discovers she is a shadowhunter. Half human, half angel. For centuries there has been a battle between angels and demons. Claire’s mother has hidden memories from her to protect her from her father. They are looking for a cup that gives life to mortals and makes them into angels or demons. The shadowhunters help her rescue best friend Simon from the Vampires. The warewolves also play a significant role in this tale. It was a lot to take in at once, between shadowhunters, warewolves, and  vampires.

It was interesting to discover that Cassandra Claire only a pen name for Judith Rumelt. I liked this movie, but I think probably I should have read the book first. The problem with making a film is that sometimes the characters are not developed because the action takes over too much. Overall, I like the special effects and the story plot even if I was on overload. This movie did entertain as I reminded myself this book was written for teens. Purpose served.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This young adult fantasy is a whimsical story about a “black and white” colored night circus that comes alive, but only at night. “The Night Circus arrives without warning.” It’s activity is mysterious and unpredictable.

I appreciated the evolution of the characters as well as detailed imagery of the scenes and dialogue.  The author allowed me to transcend time and open a gateway into the imagination and thoughts of each character. It will be interesting to see how the book is developed into film, because the Le Cirque des Rêves scenes (the Circus of Dreams), only exists in three colors (white, black, and red). I am anticipating the visual interpretation  of this amazing story. The author goes so far to suggest that the circus is a living breathing entity.

The two rivals of our mystical tale, Celia and Marcos master the magical skills of illusion and deception over the course of the book. The circus moves periodically, which many of the events take place in cities around the world at the turn of the 20th century. The descriptions of the tents and the bonfire are a unique and charming transformation. The characters of the night circus grow into an interdependent family. I grew very fond of the entertainers and their gifts as well as the author’s ability to tell a unique and refreshing perspective of the circus (Le Cirque des Rêves). The people that witness the magical circus (Rêveurs called dreamers) carry on the tradition by wearing black and white with a splash of red. Our characters vow to keep the dream of the circus alive. How will they do it? Read the book to see how this wonderful story ends!