X-Men : Days of Future Past
To sum up: Professor X, Magneto, Storm, the black guy who wasn’t really introduced, burning man, the clanking metal boy who had showed up for like two seconds in X2, China’s answer to that gun from “Portal” and a condescendingly portrayed native-indian type of fellow get slaughtered amongst some thee lines of dialogue in a not to distant future that has moved on form Harrier-like VTOL and machine guns to almost non-newtonian motion by shapeshifting killer robots in just a few decades while Wolverine, sent back by Shadowcat (who has hooked up with Iceman which tells us something about the fate of Rogue and possibly something other about the moral character of Bobby Drake), mucks about with the past to erase all memory of the stinker that was formerly known as X3 – The Last Stand.
Okay, so that wasn’t the most concise sentence ever but I propose that the problem is with the movie rather than with my writing. Which really is a bit of a pity, since for me personally this was the most expected feature this year and after it had turned out as a bit of a meh – experience (not really good, not really bad, just “meh”) all I have to look forward to this summer is a movie about a talking specimen of the species Procyon lotor.
First the good points: The wonderful escape scene from the Pentagon featuring Quicksilver accompanied by Jim Croce’s “Time in a bottle” – I have to admit that alone would have made the movie worth watching. Also a few of the in-jokes, like Quicksilver saying “So you control metal ? My mum used to know a guy like that”, or James McAvoy asking “who can curve a bullet” (he did, or at least his character, in “Wanted”). The rest was neither bad nor good, just, as I’ve said, meh.
What I had expected was indeed not meh but, as would befit a Marvel timetravel story, two carefully entwined timelines that interact with and influence each other. However the future in those days of future past is just a thin foil – we see just enough of it to get the action started, then it’s for most intents and purposes dismissed and forgotten (Meta-objection: this is the future that will not have happened, so it does not need to look real. Meta-objection hereby happily dismissed). And it seems rather gratuitous to deploy major Marvel assets like Bishop or Colossus (and yes, even Sunspot, Blink or Warpath) and send them to rather gruesome deaths without giving the audience any opportunity, or reason, to relate to them. That is simply not good storytelling, especially in a franchise that so far spent most of it’s time on building elaborate backstories for it’s characters.
And talking of bad, the science in the movie is even worse. And I’m not talking about telepathy or people who shoot flames from their body; with an X-Men movie that comes under “suspension of disbelief”. I’m talking about the quaint idea espoused in the Singer movies (also Vaughn in “First Class”, which has Singer as producer and with a story credit) that evolution works hierarchically and that there are “higher” and “lower” forms of evolved live. That is not at all how it works; evolution is not a ladder that goes upwards; Homo sapiens did not drive the Neanderthal to extinction because they were superior; Homo sapiens is the “dominant species on the planet” only inasfar as they are the ones who made up words like “superior” (if you’re the only one talking you might as well brag). “Survival of the fittest”  does not mean that the physically or mentally strongest (whatever that means) will inherit the earth; it means that an organism is adapted to fit a niche (think a Paramyxovirus in a kindergarten run by Jenny Mccarthy).
If you claim, as both the “good” and the “bad” guys do in X-Men, that it is the natural order of things that lower species are superseded by “superior” species you are no longer talking theory of evolution; your talking Social Darwinism, i.e. bloody, dangerous nonsense. With the rise of the internet the argument has not, alas, progressed, rather is has evolved to a point where it fills a thousand niches that haven’t existed before.
That brings us back, rather unhappily, to the topic of backstories. I think it was the first Singer movie that turned Magneto into a jewish survivor of the Nazi concentration camps (the idea has since adapted for the comics), taking on the old adage about the victim that becomes the perpetrator – a bit tasteless if you talk about a member of group that is regularly, if quite absurdly, accused of doing to the Arabs what the Nazis once did to them. However it is “First Class” that took “tasteless” to a new level when Erik Lensherr tells the Mengele stand-in Sebastian Shaw: “I’d like you to know that I agree with every word you said. We are the future. But, unfortunately, you killed my mother”. So the Jew is the Nazi, the only thing that separates them are some misgivings about a mishandled family matter. No wonder the homo goyim sapiens try to defend themselves in DOPF, especially as their society had already been infiltrated by mutant zionist fascists at the highest level (Kennedy!) .
At least that tells us where Singer et al. got there views about evolution from – not from Darwin, but from the likes of “evolutionary psychologist” Kevin B. MacDonald who claimed that Judaism (Magnetos Brotherhood of mutants) is a group strategy to acquire and maintain genetic traits superior to those of the goyim. So the X-Men movies are not only extremely well-made and entertaining, they are also anti-semitic and anti-scientific claptrap that will stick in our heads far more pertinently than the somewhat haphazard science lessons our educational systems occasionally afford.
What lesson do we take away from all this ? Well, if in the olden days a middle-aged man wanted to get really grumpy about something he had to turn to the Sunday newspapers and compose letters to the editor complaining that the funnies were not as entertaining as they used to be. Today I can replicate the very same thing using merely a blog, a pair of 3D glasses and a 200 million CGI-spectacle. Thus it would seem there has been some progress after all.