Well, here we are again – another summer, another X-Men movie. At this point, we’re looking at five “proper” X-Men movies (not counting the Wolverine spin-offs), and while many people still consider X2 to be the best in the franchise, I tend to enjoy First Class far more than any of the others. Personally, I think the X-Men stories (and characters) are at their best when exploring their different philosophies when it comes to surviving in this world – do we sacrifice a few to save many, or do we look for a less violent alternative for peace? While Days of Future Past certainly touches on that argument in some scenes, I felt that this idea was mostly overlooked in favor of an overall fight for survival.
But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is a time travel story.
The beginning of the tale shows a war-torn world in which mutants, mutant sympathizers, and even humans with the capacity to bear mutant offspring are rounded up and executed. The Sentinels carrying out the dirty work are incredibly efficient, leaving no hope of winning this war. The only option is to send someone into the past to warn the others and change history for the better.
If you enjoyed the pacing of X2, you won’t have an issue with this movie. It’s not terribly paced, but honestly, I was hoping for a little more mutant action. There’s a fun scene toward the beginning, and Quicksilver’s scenes are consistently entertaining (sadly, he doesn’t have much screen-time), but most of the action scenes go to Mystique. She’s constantly shape-shifting her way to tracking down a certain somebody, and in a lot of ways, this movie is completely centered around her. It’s an interesting choice for sure, and while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t exactly love it either.
Visual effects are solid for the most part, but it’s nothing extremely new. We’ve seen the fire and ice powers, we’ve seen Colossus and Storm – but I did think that Blink’s teleporting was well done. Aside from that, Beast looks much better here than he did in First Class.
I’d be a total moron if I forgot to address the cast here (which I actually did forget to address in earlier versions of this review).
James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender dominate in their roles, with Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence rounding out the most solid performances. But even while these four actors are great with what they’re given, I know for a fact that they’re all capable of much more. I saw it from McAvoy and Fassbender in First Class, and I’ve seen it from Jackman and Lawrence in films outside of this franchise. And as for the rest – I almost feel bad for Nicholas Hoult, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen – their characters are almost after-thoughts. There’s a lot of talent here, but I can’t help but feel that it’s wasted.
The climax of Days of Future Past was engaging, although when it was finished, I found myself expecting a bit more. The actual final battle (if you can call it that) isn’t much waged in the past, where the story is mostly set, but in the future – and I’m finding it hard to explain why it was a letdown for me without spoiling the whole thing. I think the main issue with the climax is that there’s not really a “bad guy” here – there are forces that need to be stopped, but it’s all very ambiguous. Sure, I guess you could argue that the Sentinels are the main threat – but honestly their portrayal left me cold as well. When we’ve been waiting for so long for these things to show up on film, I wanted the real deal.
As I mentioned earlier, there are references to the different philosophies held by Magneto and Professor X, but it wasn’t a huge part of the story-line.
I felt that First Class really went into this, and gave us tons of motivation for each character and their rationales – so maybe that’s why it wasn’t focused on so much here. I will say that there’s a great scene between Magneto and Mystique that really shows how dedicated Magneto is to his beliefs – I wish there was a bit more of that kind of thing.
Something else I wanted to bring up: this movie, as well as First Class are all part of the same continuity as X-Men 1-3. With that being said, does anyone remember Professor X being vaporized by Jean Grey in X3? Sure, I know, there’s a post-credits scene that implies his consciousness is still alive, but I would’ve appreciated a little bit of setup before simply throwing the Professor back into the story-line. Seriously, he’s just back – no explanation as to why or how. And having said that all X-Men movies are linked together with Days of Future Past, the final scene will make a lot of fans happy. That’s all that I’ll say.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is a pretty solid comic book movie and definitely one of the best X-Men movies. It doesn’t really do anything for the genre, but it really doesn’t need to. If you’re a fan of the characters, you may find something to enjoy here. If not, you’ll feel ok watching it once and moving on.
2.5 / 5 stars
And with all of that being said – here are some gripes that I had (including SPOILERS, so stop here if you don’t want to know anything about the story-line).
The more I think about it, the more I’m annoyed with the way this story is set up. The main narrative of the story takes place in the past (since they have to change the past to fix the future) – but for the most part, the only “future” scenes of interest take place at the beginning of the movie and the very end. This might not have been a huge issue, if it wasn’t for the fact that we have maybe 10 mutants hanging out in the future, waiting to be saved from their imminent demise. So what this boils down to is this – another huge cast of mutants, and another let-down. All of the mutants in the future scenes are basically relegated to cameos, and it’s never satisfying (considering the story-line, they’re all doomed to die.)
I get that there needed to be some stakes set – there needed to be some terrible consequence for failure, but having all of these characters show up basically just for cameos doesn’t sit well with me. It doesn’t feel like efficient film-making or story-telling.
Aside from that, why is it so damn hard to get Sentinels on the screen that people are going to cheer for when they appear? The Sentinels in Days of Future Past are either super old (the first run in the 70s) or super new (the futuristic ones that are wiping out the population). Either way, they’re only slightly recognizable as the machines they were based on (the future versions are even less recognizable). I’m not saying they need to look exactly like the comics, but come on. And even though they’re the main threat, I’d go as far as saying they manage to be underused. Also, am I the only one that thinks the future Sentinels look like Gort from 2008′s The Day the Earth Stood Still?
The mutants that the story focuses on (Xavier, Magneto, Wolverine, Mystique, Beast) even find a way to be less interesting this time. Wolverine rarely does anything, same with Beast. Xavier does some of his psychic stuff, but it’s never very impressive. As far as seeing these guys actually use their powers, that focuses mostly on Magneto and Mystique. And don’t get me started with Quicksilver – he’s basically abandoned after he’s served his purpose.
That’s about all I have right now, but I’m feeling less enthralled the more I think about the movie.
Tell us what you thought of X-Men: Days of Future Past in the comments below!