X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past photo starrating-3andahalfstars.jpgOne wouldn’t think the seventh entry in a series would be cause for excitement, but X-Men: Days of Future Past (DOFP) is a rousing episode in the franchise. For one thing, it is a deft merger of X-Men films. The cast of the original trilogy is united with their younger counterparts of the 2011 prequel X-Men: First Class. It’s a tribute to Simon Kinberg’s script that for all its characters and detailed exposition, DOFP still manages to present an intelligible story. The time-traveling that begins with a dystopian future in the year 2023 then jumps back to 1973 where most of the chronicle takes place. A word of caution: anyone not up on their X-Men history will require a brief primer to bring yourself up to speed with mutant lore. In addition to the ever-shifting allegiances and objectives, there’s a host of new people. The Avengers had a meager 6 superheroes. DOFP has an astounding 20+ mutants. Thankfully most of these (Storm, Iceman, Bishop, Colossus) are merely window dressing in the background. Others get a few lines (Shadowcat, Beast, Quicksilver). Only Wolverine, Mystique (Raven), Professor X and Magneto are truly indispensable mutants. The narrative wisely focuses on them.

The majority of DOFP takes place a decade after the events of First Class in 1973. A smart move, given that it was the previous apex of this anthology. Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) is an important new villain. A dangerous extremist, he advocates robots called Sentinels to protect humans from the mutant threat. We’re presented an alternate storyline of what originally happened. In an effort to put an end to his madness, Mystique assassinated him. Ironically this would ultimately cause more harm than good. As a result, she is captured and her shapeshifting power is harnessed to engineer the unstoppable Sentinel robots. They ultimately lead to the complete annihilation of life as we know it. That’s the grim scene that opens the film. So the mutants decide to send Wolverine back in time to stop Mystique from causing an event that triggers the Sentimental program. Will the mutants be successful? Wolverine will have to enlist the help of their younger mutant selves.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is the very best of a decent franchise. It marks the return of director Bryan Singer who helmed the first two respected entries before the collection took a serious nosedive with X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and those two Wolverine-centric movies.  He entertainingly combines multiple entries into a coherent tale that conveniently incorporates a lot of fan service. That this doesn’t feel like the climax it should be, but rather another setup to further sequels is a bit regrettable. DOFP doesn’t introduce innovation to the formula. “Humans cannot be trusted” vs. “Can’t we all just get along?” mentalities continue to propel the dramatic discussion with Magneto and Professor X each representing the respective arguments.  But why quibble? There are great moments here that transcend all others in the series. Chief among them is a jailbreak featuring new mutant Quicksilver (Evan Peters) who can move at supersonic speeds. He must free Magneto from a prison cell beneath The Pentagon at one point. How he accomplishes the task is a dazzling sequence in slow motion that displays more inventiveness and wit than anything else in the entire picture. It’s a peak that kind of makes you wish the whole saga had been about him.

05-22-14

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25 Responses to “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

  1. Great review. This a good, but I feel like I am in the minority in just not loving it. Story is fine, but time travel always movies always seem to be unrefined, to me at least. But the characters ultimately won me over.

  2. Good review Mark, and I fully support the notion of an entire movie dedicated to Quicksilver! Man that one scene was a laugh riot! On the whole I really was surprised by the quality and the pace with which this thing played out. I’m not recalling too much of X3: The Last Stand right now (maybe a good thing) but I do remember being consistently let down by both the Wolverine side stories. I kind of wish those just didn’t exist. This was much more like it!

    • Let’s call it X-Men Origins: Quicksilver.

      I’m not a big fan of the X-Men film series as a whole. Half of the movies in his series are good, the other half are meh. Thankfully this was a high point.

  3. Ugh. I’m so excited for this! Especially after The Wolverine. I know you didn’t like that one but I sure did. The teaser at the end was promising as well. Oh and the teaser they did mid credits in Amazing Spidey 2 (felt misplaced but more exciting than the rest of the movie).

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • I was a bit perplexed by that teaser for X-Men, which is a Fox property, at the end of rival studio SONY’s The Amazing Spider-Man.

      It was so jarring, having absolutely nothing to do with the story we had just watched.

  4. davecrewe Says:

    Nice review; I agree with most of this. I found the lack of a big climax a strength rather than a weakness, though; I think too many superhero films lately feel like they have to end the third act by levelling a few skyscrapers rather than resolving character arcs.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. Leveling a bunch of skyscrapers (Man of Steel) is a terrible way to end a film. This did it better.

      It’s just that Days of Future Past doesn’t feel like a standalone film but rather a prelude to another movie (Apocalypse).

  5. Good review. I liked the film, I mean I have some problems from a total comic nerd point of view but yeah its good.

    The visuals and 70’s timeline worked really well and the acting was really good. Quicksilver steals the show.

    This wasnt greatness but Apocalypse might 😀

  6. Great review. I had SO much fun with this one!

  7. Good review Mark. Glad to see the X-Men movies back on track. Hopefully this means they won’t screw it up again and give it to some hack like Brett Ratner.

  8. I agree with you. My favorite part of the movie was Quicksilver. If the whole movie was played that way it would have been better. Still, I enjoyed it enough, and the acting was good. 3 1/2 stars

  9. Great review. “X-Men: Days of Future Past is the very best of a decent franchise” – I agree with this a lot. The initial trailer had me skeptical but it turned out alright.

  10. I also think this is the best film in the series Mark. With all that it’s trying to do I was surprised it was an intelligible story as well. Like you, I wish it was a climax rather than a set up for more movies, because I think it wrapped everything up neatly. I don’t think there’s a lot of innovation possible on the human vs mutant thread that runs through the X-Men series though. There’s always that underlying issue that mutants are different and people will fear what they don’t understand. However what I feel like DOFP does better than other films in this series is to take that conflict and to make the emotional stakes much higher. The struggle is more than people being afraid and discriminating against mutantkind, it’s an evolutionary battle between two species. To me that’s pretty big.

  11. Amen on that Quicksilver scene. Awesome, that. Very.

    The film itself is also quite good – probably the best of the series. Though I too wish it had been a bit more climactic.

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