X-MEN: Days of Future Past an Epic Battle through Time or a waste of it?
Usually, movies involving time travel are disasters and full of continuity errors and confusion. I was curious to see if X-men would buck that trend or not given that it's seemingly so many things at once. Reboot of the film franchise; repair job on the box office potential and a kickstarter for new sequels.
The plot is quite hard to explain and not quite what was expected. The marketing is also a little deceiving. It has been 14 years since the first X-Men film was released and this proves the series is far from slowing down.
Superhero film adaptations focused more on the darker, independent characters and comics before 2000 (Spawn, Blade, etc) outside of Batman. 20th Century Fox then reignited the business of comics and franchises. After the surprise success of X-Men, comics and the cinema became second nature with plenty of successes (Hellboy) and failures (Fantastic Four). Marvel again became a strong brand with growing interest from old and new fans. X-Men also cast relative unknowns/newcomers that were on the brink of superstardom. Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, James Marsden, and Ian McKellen were cast alongside what were only maybe two recognizable names in Hollywood—Patrick Stewart and Anna Paquin. The original film spawned two sequels, two Wolverine spinoffs, and a reboot/prequel.
From marketing and cast explanations, Days of Future Past was promoted as all of the X-Men, young and old, were reuniting to tell the tale of the Sentinels as originally told in two parts through the comics. Bryan Singer returned to the franchise—thank god it wasn’t Brett Ratner again—for an epic mutant reunion! In theory, the excitement is built in, but in truth, Days of Future Past was really just a sequel to First Class featuring Wolverine and some scattered in cameos by past X-Men. Not a negative aspect of the movie just some unfortunate confusion. First Class has been the best of the franchise anyways so a sequel or more-or-less fitting. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that the young cast is way more marketable now than the original cast—a la the brilliant JLaw.
In a brief spoiler free nutshell, the Sentinels have wiped out most of both the mutant and human population on Earth; Wolverine is the only one that can go back in time to prevent Bolivar Trask and Trask Industries from developing the Sentinels centering around the pivotal involvement of Mystique. Kitty Pryde now—somehow—has the abilities to send Logan’s consciousness to travel through time and unite Charles and Erik to reign in Mystique. X-Men is one of few action films that actually carries such strong acting that is not overwhelmed or forgotten by the action and special effects.
Each actor provides a strong and unique performance to each X-Men character. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender match if not top the sparring chemistry between Stewart and McKellen. With a mutation of his own, Peter Dinklage is a convincing villainous scientist; he proves that characters do not need to completely and perfectly adapt from page to screen. Despite being in high demand (and probably exhausted from nonstop filming), Jennifer Lawrence is prominently on display and brings more depth to Rebecca Romijn’s Mystique. The concept hinges on this character and the clear, emotional distinction between Raven and Mystique, which Lawrence nails. The star and fan favorite Hugh Jackman as Wolverine has never been better. Jackman has now fully embodied the character both physically and emotionally; his physique looks the best it ever has and Wolverine’s overall strength and struggle is clear. It probably helps that The Wolverine and Days of Future Past were filmed back to back for ultimate focus and immersion for Jackman. The one that stole the show was Evan Peters as Quicksilver, though. Despite the heavy handed outrage before release, Peters was perfect and so so funny. His speed effects were a highlight and were suited to a tee. It will be interesting now to compare X-Men’s Quicksilver to the Avenger’s Quicksilver.
The special effects are on point, especially regarding the Sentinels. The Sentinels are clearly CGI but done with such detail that it doesn’t matter; they look very similar to the comics and are completely menacing and believable. Sunspot, a personal favorite addition, was featured prominently has an X-Men of the future time with awesome effects. The final action battle was an amazing showing of Magneto’s abilities on a city wide scale.
Sure, there were continuity errors when placing Days of Future Past within the X-Men timeline already established. Some of these holes are confusing but none worth dwelling on. It seemed that Singer was honestly trying to overwrite the events of The Last Stand and ignore past mistakes with this film. Who cares if ages don’t match or relationship starting points are jumbled? If the newest iteration (even about rewriting the past) is good, it doesn’t matter. Days of Future Past fits into the forgiveness for mistakes column. There was a lot going on in this movie too, maybe too much. Many characters over a span of time with new and old faces is a lot to digest. Days of Future Past could have even worked as a two parter and given more of the future helping past feel.
X-Men: Apocalypse is set for Summer 2016 and excitement is already building. The post credits scene shows Ancient Egypt and a gray skinned man—the old mutant Apocalypse—is being worshipped like a king. This could prove to be an even bigger film than Days of Future Past and an ultimate foe for the X-Men. Hopefully, the next movie will also help clear up the timeline and characters’ situations. It is being set in the 1980’s so will stick with the younger cast. Days of Future Past has some minor bumps but is a fun thrill ride.
By Kasey Michael--a lover of all things entertainment. Born and bred in North Carolina, she has a degree in Film Studies and can usually be found in front of a screen.