Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

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Director: Bryan Singer (Valkyrie, Superman Returns, X-Men, X-Men 2: X-Men United)
Screenplay: Simon Kinberg
Producers: Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker, Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 131 min.


One would think that after successfully re-launching the X-Men with a new A-list cast a couple of years ago, the studio would stick to that cast but as is common with comic books, it seems that creators are always jumping around timelines, characters and stories, it’s only appropriate that a sequel that brings director Bryan Singer back into the fold would not only involve time travel but also include nearly every member, past and present, of the X-Men movie franchise. Looking on the surface, you’d think this is the movie to end the entire franchise rather than a next step.

X-Men: Days of Future Past opens somewhere in the 2020’s in a future that is dark, ugly, foreboding and just generally unpleasant. Kitty Pryde and her team of mutants are fighting apparently unstoppable robots who are able to adapt to the mutants they are fighting. Most of the mutants die. Except they don’t because jump forward a while and Pryde is now meeting up with Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine and Storm to explain her time-travel tactic. Everyone on screen seems to follow the explanation (though I still don’t really get it) and a plan is hatched to send Wolverine back to the 70s to change the past which will also change the future – they hope – for the better.


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It’s a lot to take in and though that opening fight sequence is totally badass, it’s a rather awkward way to set-up the fact that Pryde has developed this neat time travel trick that could be the answer to saving not only the mutants but humanity as a whole. Thankfully after this little hiccup, Days of Future Past moves on at a stealthy rate, balancing two stories without letting either of them overrun the other but the central story is definitely the past and the movie is far more concerned with the events developing in the 70s than with the impending doom of the future.

As someone whose X-Men education is limited to Joss Whedon’s run on “Astonishing X-Men”, a handful of additional comics (namely the two Chris Claremont issues from which this story is based) and the movies (there’s also a vague memory about a Saturday morning cartoon…), I always liked that the mutants were a visual representation of the outsiders; the kids and adults that didn’t really fit in anywhere finding a place where they belong. It’s a great message and one of the reasons I have such a soft spot for the franchise but even more than in previous instalments, Days of Future Past feels like a story of “us” against “them” fatality; a warning that being different isn’t the only thing to be frightened of and that humanity’s need to be in control will ultimately lead to our destruction.

In the mix of this end of world story are the personal tales of individuals dealing with their own struggles namely Erik and his well meaning but misguided attempts to save mutant kind, Charles and his inability to deal with loss and Raven and her struggle to forge her own path. The central character’s stories, particularly that of Charles, are well developed and there’s a real sense that despite the fact they’re fighting to save the world, first they have to fight through their own insecurities and troubles.

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Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine (let’s be honest, regardless of how many versions of the other X-Men there are, there can only ever be one Wolverine at a time or the universe will implode) is a really great addition to the powerhouse duo of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender (there’s almost more to oogle at in this movie than in Magic Mike) and despite all the doom and gloom and the downer personal struggle stories, there are moments of joy peppered throughout Days of Future Past. Some of it is situational (the 70s are a constant source of material though Wolverine in the 70s is even better than current day Wolverine) but the best moments, and the only sequence that garnered applause and woots from the otherwise silently enraptured crowd, come with Quicksilver in tow; I wish there was more of him but it’s clear why they didn’t use him in a movie that is already well stocked with interesting characters. One of the things I love about this instalment is that there isn’t a lot of unnecessary baggage and characters that are there “just because they’re cool.”

There’s a lot to love here and though the time travel aspects are rickety, the good of X-Men: Days of Future Past far outweighs any quips, all of which are minor. As far as I’m concerned, Bryan Singer can (and should) keep making X-Men movies until the end of time.

X-Men: Days of Future Past opens Friday, May 23rd.

PS. I’m sure this isn’t your first rodeo but just in case, stay through the credits for your X-Men Apocalypse stinger.


Trailer:


Links:
IMDb Profile
Official Website

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Sean Kelly
Guest

Quicksilver is already confirmed to return in X-Men: Apocalypse (of which there’s a stinger for after the credits)

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Kudos on wording of the post-script there, Marina!

Marina
Guest

I must have done something clever without even realizing it. Typical!

Sean Kelly
Guest

In many ways, this film is a curtain call for the original trilogy’s cast, who get one more chance to shine, after X-MEN: THE LAST STAND left a bad taste in many people’s mouths (it is probably my least favourite of the series).

I believe from here on out, the main X-MEN series is going to focus on the younger cast (though there is also another stand-alone Wolverine movie planned).

Marina
Guest

And I heard an interview with Jackman today that there’s a place for him in Apocalypse. We shall wait and see.

Goon
Guest

I’m trying to figure out how the Wolverine stinger works into what they did since it doesnt (to my memory) really make sense. And I’m sure there’s a bunch of people going “hurrr how did Xavier get his body back”. My general reaction to both is “Who cares”

Sean Kelly
Guest

Since they never say the future date out loud, it can be easy to miss that the action jumps ahead a full decade between the stinger and the film.

Here’s the math:
Future – 50 years = 1973
1973 + 50 = 2023

Kurt
Guest

Star Trek: GENERATIONS?

Goon
Guest

DOFP has left me wondering if I have turned on the Disney/Marvel universe permanently. Not in the sense that I’ll never enjoy one of their movies again (I absolutely will) but that I am not a fan of the direction. Not that DOFP is visually operating so far on its own playing field or anything, and despite the fact that I hate how the ASM films look, Disney/Marvel’s unity has reached a point where I go into their films feeling so… safe. There is not a lot of risk and ultimately thus not a lot of reward. Of the second wave the decision about the Mandarin character is maybe the only really ballsy thing I think I’ve seen.

DOFP has a lot of fan service, but it also subjects you to damage upon its characters that the Disney/Marvel films have gone nowhere near approaching.

And the weight of the world the characters carry on themselves, and the connections they have with each other, are also severely missing from the Disney/Marvel films. That doesn’t bug me with Iron Man becuase that is Tony Stark in a nutshell, but otherwise there’s not a whole lot of other superhero movies where it feels like anyone actually gives much of a shit about each other. Alfred with Batman yes. The Hellboy crew yes. The Raimi Spidey films, absolutely. The first Ninja Turtles movie? What else is there that really showcases any strong bonds?

Kurt
Guest

I agree with this ‘keep the brand going forever, so risk-aversion is king’ makes the Marvel Universe so vanilla.

The contrast between the Marvel-Disney-verse ‘safety’ and something like Game of Thrones free-for-all is in a word: STARK.

Goon
Guest

Marvel couldn’t even let Agent Coulson stay dead for chrissakes.

Goon
Guest

and here now we find out today Edgar Wright has left Ant Man.

I have to believe that the creative differences are all about Marvel imposing their vanilla sheen over his voice.

http://variety.com/2014/film/news/edgar-wright-leaves-marvels-ant-man-1201190458/

Goon
Guest

” Familiar Story: Bravery leads to success. Success leads to fear of losing success. Success leads to fear of losing success. Fear leads to safe, homogenous thinking.” – FilmCritHulk a few hours ago. Caps removed for the benefit of your eyes.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

I full expect Avengers 3 to be against Thanos, where all but one of the avengers get brutally killed before someone gets the Infinity Gauntlet and hits the reset button. Killing everyone off and then having something hit the reset button is an old comic book trope. X-men just got around to it sooner, with the franchise having been around long enough that they could build to something like this and killing off characters could mean something.

Same thing about characters really caring about each other. Most of the characters only just meet, although all of them cared about Agent Coulson.

Speaking of which, I imagine Coulson would have stayed dead, if Joss Whedon didn’t want show focusing on SHIELD. Whether or not he fits as a lead character (I liked him best as a side character, but I haven’t seen the last half of SHIELD yet) Marvel needed someone to lead them into the SHIELD tv show. They wouldn’t have managed to finished the season with no connection to the movies a brand new cast.

Now enough defending Marvel Studios, I’m horribly disappointed that they pulled Edgar Wright from Ant-Man. I was really looking forward to that movie, but on it’s own I couldn’t care less about Ant-Man. Also a Wright Ant-Man and a James Gunn Guardian of the Galaxy felt like Marvel Studios was taking a few risks outside of the main Avengers.

Sean Kelly
Guest
Goon
Guest

Stray observations after second viewing:

– That Nixon is a 7.8 out of 10 on a background movie president scale where I don’t know who the 10 is that sets the standard.

– Bill Duke was Bolivar Trask in X3. Whoops. For continuity’s sake, let’s all agree that Peter Dinklage’s engineers built him a Krang-like android body of a large black man that he controls from his mid-section.

– Some will be left wondering how Xavier got his body back. I don’t care. My BS explanation though is that he projects his appearance in front of other people pretty often, so maybe he is doing that all the time and actually has another body as indicated by X3’s stinger.

– The Wolverine’s stinger obviously also doesn’t fit into what they did with this film. My only BS theory is that based on the timeline that scene is them recruiting Wolverine to teach at the school after he returns from Japan and after the events of DofP. Which means The Wolverine takes place in the new timeline and was never ‘undone’. That stinger though, does have a Trask commercial. However it is talking about mechanical limbs. So…. maybe it’s a red herring and Trask moved on to something more noble.

– If Singer wanted to be a real retcon master he should have stuck a CGI hybrid of the two at-odds Sabretooths somewhere hidden in the background, maybe in Cerebro flashes.

– If they successfully changed the future the likelihood that a lot of these other younger mutants are born drops significantly, so maybe Rogue and Iceman and Shadowcat may not be at that school, hmm. However maybe some things are meant to be, and after all, it’s not like we see Pyro, Jubilee, Siren, Archie or any other familiar faces. I will pretend that they were wiped from history by X-Shenanigans. Way to go, guys, now who’s gonna change the TV channels with their eyes?

Goon
Guest

Attempting to make sense of the timelines:

http://ht.ly/2H5Eps

Sean Kelly
Guest

Screw You Ratner 🙂

Andrew James
Admin

Now I’m just more confused. I prefer to just “go with it.”

Kurt
Guest

So, the new X-Men movie. It’s pretty darn good! Good on Singer and Company for making me care about the comic book superhero genre again for 2 hours. Happy to see the X-Franchise return to ‘choices and empathy’ path under singer’s watch. This picks up handily from the 2nd X film and eradicates the disaster of the Brett Ratner version (ironic considering the writer of DoFP is the writer of X3)

All it took was a little shading from James T. Kirk’s (“I need my pain.”) speech from Star Trek V. (It is erhaps coincidence, but maybe not, that Kirk makes a cameo during the time travel philosophy session with Beast, Xavier and Wolverine, but having an old star trek show play in the background)

Sean Kelly
Guest

The Best and Worst of X-Men: Days of Future Past via IndieWire – http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/the-best-worst-of-x-men-days-of-future-past-20140527

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