X-Men is probably my favorite Marvel franchise. I have all the movies, even X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I am a very dedicated fan. And Wolverine is my favorite character, so I am always excited when he is a main player in the films. Review contains mild spoilers.
Synopsis: In a desperate attempt to alter history, The X-Men send Wolverine back to the past to prevent a catastrophic future from occurring.
Review: This movie is also known as: let’s pretend X3-The Last Stand never happened. Not that I am complaining, X3 is the weakest link in the original trilogy. Days of Future Past gives the franchise an opportunity to explore other storylines without having to contend with the fallout depicted in X3. This movie is also a semi-direct sequel to X-Men: First Class and most of the actors from that film appear in Days of Future Past. Helmed by director Bryan Singer, this is one of the more ambitious films in the X-Men franchise. Singer set out to create a “soft-reboot” of the franchise and tie together plot lines from the original franchise and the First Class prequel. The result is a fast paced science fiction comic book adventure that rarely slows down. Surprisingly, Singer and Simon Kinberg (the screenwriter) managed to keep all the plot lines in movement and the narrative concise yet complex. This is probably the best movie in the X-Men movie franchise.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is set in a near future where humans have developed a machine to eliminate all mutants. Known as The Sentinels, these deadly machines have the ability to mimic a mutant’s power and destroy them with little effort. In a last ditch effort to stop The Sentinels, Professor X and Magneto recruit the remaining X-Men in a suicidal attempt to alter the past to change the future. In the original comics, Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) has the ability to transfer her current consciousness into her younger self and uses this ability to warn everyone in the past. However, due to lack of development of Kitty in the film franchise, it is put forth that only Professor X has a strong enough telepathic ability to travel into the past. But his body would not survive the ordeal. Since Wolverine has the ability to heal instantly, he volunteers to send his consciousness back to the 1970s.
The problem with this plan is that Charles Xavier, Magneto, Mystique, and Beast are all estranged and hostile in the 1970s. So Wolverine has his work cut out for him because the plan will only succeed with their assistance. The events depicted in First Class led to the development of The Sentinel program. Portraying Wolverine for the seventh time, Hugh Jackman is funny, arrogant and extremely cool. However, while Wolverine is undoubtedly the action star of the film, Charles Xavier provides the voice of morality and reason to the story. In the 1970s segment, Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) are forces to be reckoned with. They both dominate the screen, though McAvoy has a meatier role. Magneto is reduced to some mangled philosophizing and not much else. But Fassbender does his best with the scenes he was given and hopefully has more to do in future films. Xavier has to deal with choosing his powers or the ability to walk, which gives him some emotional depth. McAvoy is excellent and I am glad he is in franchise.
The rest of the main First Class squad –Mystique/Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and Beast/Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) – build upon the previous film and are given some improved character dimensions. Mystique is given a short stick in this film, she is treated as a significant threat but her motives are incredibly vague. Her reasoning comes off as a lover’s revenge against Magneto. Hoult provides most of the comic relief and does a great job portraying the young Beast. However, I have a difficult time believing that Nicholas Hoult eventually matures into Kelsey Grammer. Jackman’s Wolverine serves as a mentor to Beast and it is nice to see Wolverine grow from the angry man in the previous films.
The series has yet to create a true villain, normally the conflict boils down to an ethical disagreement between Magneto and Xavier. Peter Dinklage plays Dr. Bolivar Trask, the human villain of this film and the creator of The Sentinel program. Dinklage does a credible job, but his character is never fully explored and is disappointingly flat. I am still waiting for a charismatic and slightly insane villain, like Loki from The Avengers. The inclusion of a young Bill Stryker (Josh Helman) seemed odd since he was not relevant to the plot. So now Stryker has been portrayed by Josh Helman, Danny Huston, and Brian Cox. Stryker gets taller with each installment. Perhaps the best new addition to the franchise is Evan Peters as Quicksilver. He is awesome and has some of the best sequences in the film. The scene where he helps break Magneto out of jail is both humorous and an amazingly well choreographed action sequence.
Singer excels at pacing and setting a scene. He also manages to weave in some nods to the events in the previous films, like when Wolverine passes through a metal detector without tripping the alarm. The story is confident and moves at a fast pace, though not fast enough to leave viewers out of breath. Visually, this film is gorgeous. The past and the future are both gorgeously rendered and the CGI is not obnoxious. Overall, Days of Future Past is a thrillingly dramatic superhero film and a strong addition to the franchise. I am incredibly excited for X-Men: Apocalypse.
Musings on Books and movies
Musings on Books and movies