REVIEW: X-Men: Days of Future Past
The general movie going populace will be very pleased with the latest entry into the X-Men franchise at Twentieth Century Fox, while true fans of the classic X-Men comic tale will wince at how this movie utterly guts what made the original story so compelling. With a mandate of not only linking the original X-Men trilogy and the burgeoning X-Men: First Class franchise, the filmmakers had A LOT of shit to clean up in one massive retcon, the fact that this film worked as well as it did should be applauded in itself – yet there were some definite bumps in the proceedings.
The story’s premise is that the war oft foretold between humans and mutants has finally come to pass and the mutants were on the receiving end of a mutant robot hunting ass whipping. The actions of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) in the past have created a desolate future where mutants are gathered into concentration camps for execution or simply outright hunted and slaughtered. The solution proposed is to send the rapidly healing mutant, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), back into the past to stop the events which lead to the creation of the mutant hunting Sentinels by Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) and prevent the war against mutantkind.
Sounds easy enough, right?
The story was written by Simon Kinberg, who also penned the hot trash that was X-Men: The Last Stand, slightly redeeming himself with the aid of director by Bryan Singer, who truly excels at character moments and providing an emotional thrusts to the events that transpire. Where he fails, as he has time and time again, is in bringing the action to big screen. There is an excellent action beat at the beginning of the film as viewers bear witness to the unrelenting power and capabilities of the Sentinels. These robots put the killer in Killer Robots! It is also in this initial scene that viewers are privy to one of many narrative failings that occur throughout the film.
In the future, the Sentinels attack and Kitty Pryde runs off to send fellow mutant Bishop back in time to warn the other members of their ragtag fighting force so they can move before the attack occurs. The only problem is that it is never clearly explained how she is even capable of doing this. She just takes off running with Bishop, does it, and it’s done. Does it make a lick of sense when you’re familiar with the character and comics – maybe? Do they even devote a throwaway line of dialog to explain “she can not only phase herself, she has learned to phase through time as a survival mutation?” NOPE! They don’t bother to explain it whatsoever. This is just a small example of the films many foibles, but honestly the story is so well told that you will only find yourself reflecting on all of these minor inconsistencies after you have already enjoyed the film.
Once again, Wolverine is purportedly the centerpiece of the film but he is actually not given much to do, nor does he even participate in the main story beats. The focus is on Professor X (James McAvoy/Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender/Ian McKellan), with healthy doses of Mystique thrown in – so she too can get a jump on wearing out her onscreen welcome. Characters from the X-trilogy and X-Men: First Class are sprinkled throughout, each given brief moments to wink at the audience before being whisked along in the narratives events or having their head crushed under the boot of a Sentinel. The newest addition to the franchise also provides the films brightest moments as Evan Peters brings a playful exuberance to his interpretation of the mutant speedster, Quicksilver. Though his role is small but pivotal, Quicksilver was definitely the character the audience walked away from the theater talking about. Also worth receiving an honorable mention is the character of Blink. I don’t think the actress speaks more than four words but she is responsible for some fun sequences that take place.
What the audiences won’t be gushing about are the action scenes. There are essentially two main battles in the future timeline and a ho-hum confrontation with Magneto near the story’s conclusion. Sprinkled throughout are some nice minor skirmishes that serve as a great breaks from all the character interplay and a much ado about nothing display of power that leads into said ho hum confrontation with Magneto. In what was his only real action scene, Wolverine is once more depicted as a “hack and slasher” instead of a skilled fighter, and honestly the X-Men of the future don’t come across as a skilled fighting force. For a crew that has spent several years fighting mutant hunting robots the X-Men of the future seem ill-prepared whenever the killer robots attack. Their main tactic appeared to be “Ahhhhh! Shit it’s the Sentinels. Let’s haul ass!” Which actually isn’t a bad strategy except for all the death that it seemed to cause them.
If you leave your brain at the door you will find X-Men: Days of Future Past to be a fairly entertaining popcorn film. It never reaches the heights of the year’s earlier comic book related release, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but the film manages to do its job well. X-Men: DoFP is intended to be a soft reboot of the X-Men franchise, eliminating everything after X-Men: First Class from the series canon. The next movie, X-Men: Apocalypse, will most likely take place in a contemporary setting that follows after the events of this movie. Given those marching order the film mainly does succeed at making you not shudder at the prospect of another X-Men movie.