Im a big fan of Director Jonathan Glazers previous work Sexy Beast so I was looking forward to this after reading many positive reviews but I cannot entirely agree with the critics consensus. It has some plus points (chiefly Johansson) but it's way too inaccessible, strange and at times very disturbing for me to recommend to others. It reminded me a little of The Man Who Fell To Earth in a number of ways which is no bad thing as I remember being very impressed by that film. Despite this I think it is worthwhile if you give it a chance but I'm not sure many will in all honesty.
The basic premise of the story is set in Scotland, an alien life form takes the form of a woman (Johansson) and whilst in a transit van subsequently proceeds to drive around trying to entice men with the suggestion of sex. Instead of making the beast with two backs they are treated to a pool of gunk and some not very nice things happening to them. The cynic in me cant but help think that this kind of thing would happen to me if I was propositioned by such a beautiful woman. The alien also has one of her kind in tow who rides a motorbike around the highlands like a mentalist clearing up after the abductions. One thing leads to another and I cannot really say what happens except to say that the alien begins to question her actions and motives. These questions lead to an inner conflict within herself that has severe repercussions.
On the downside some aspects of Under The Skin didn't make sense to me. One example was the motives of the aliens. Maybe that's the point and I agree to a certain extent as I don't necessarily think that all aspects of a story should be spelt out to the viewer. However, shedding a little light on this may have helped. It was too slow paced at times and I definitely got the impression that it was trying to be arty farty and possibly even pretentious. Many wont like the myriad of shots of the Scottish public going about their daily lives without (I am assuming) their knowledge of this. It's like watching CCTV footage of a day's shopping at Lakeside at times. I do accept that it's trying to show how our daily lives might seem to an alien and how strange it would seem to them. Onto the good. I'm very pleased that a mainstream Hollywood star such as Scarlett Johansson undertook what is essentially an independent film role. It's nothing like I've ever seen from her and she is magnificent. Not surprisingly she looks the part and her on screen presence manages to command your attention each and every time she is on the screen but manages to be distant and remote at the same time. Finally, I think the film succeeds in attempting to show both the very best in human nature and the very worst parts and all are relevant. The location is also nothing short of stunning and I loved the way its shot with multiple scenes of the Scottish Highlands. Interesting, yet odd and not always in a good way.
Ill confess that I am not a big comic book fan although I am a fan of many of the films that derive from these franchises. Days Of Future Past ranks up there as one of the finest of its type. It is immense in almost every aspect. The pace of the film is exactly right and doesn't feel one bit of its 2 hours and 11 minutes. The effects are marvellous, it has good humour (tips cap to the amazing kitchen scene with Quicksilver), the story is very good and the direction and performances are what I would expect from class acts such as Fassbender and Singer.
The X-Men are in crisis, they are being exterminated as a species by the Sentinels. These are man-made devices that as a result of the capture of shape changer Raven\Mystique can mimic and counter any power used against them. The last surviving band of X-Men send Wolverine (Jackman) back in time to try to thwart Ravens (Lawrence) capture and thereby change the course of the future. Problem is that Wolverine once arrived has the task of persuading perennial opponents Magneto (Fassbender) and Xavier (McAvoy) to not only believe his unlikely story but to also team up to prevent the outcome that will destroy them all. But as far as diplomats go, Wolverine is probably on a par with someone like Attila the Hun.
I'm not saying this is crucial to a good film but what I really like about this is that I was able to understand all motives in Days Of Future Past. The humans may have a twisted, suspicious view of the X-Men but you can see why they act the way they do. Evil scientist and creator of the Sentinels Trask speaks of the war against the X-Men as a unique opportunity to unite mankind. It reminded me a little of Watchmen in this way. The same goes for the various factions within the X-Men with Xavier in the one corner, Eric in the other and Raven torn with divided loyalties between the two. There is an underlying message that prevails throughout and series like Star Trek with an emphasis on unity above those things that divide us. Living in Europe like I do with the worrying recent political trend towards extremes I think this is a message a lot of places in the world could do with more of? Taking things to a base level (way too serious for a moment there) you get to see Hugh Jackmans bare backside and more than a little bit of Jennifer Lawrence's "in and outey bits" (albeit in Blue). And oh, have I mentioned the truly awesome kitchen scene, I think I might have done but it's so good its worth mentioning twice?