Review: ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’
X-Men: Days of Future Past is your typical story of everything goes to hell so you send the conscience of the one guy who can withstand the punches of time travel back to the 70s to talk to your old selves and stop all the crap from ever starting. That’s our first problem right off the bat when one starts questioning the usual time travel conundrums, why not go further back and do this, instead of that? Time travel tends to open a whole can of plot hole worms every time it’s introduced in a story, but the show must go on so I’ll just ignore the logistics, if the plot tells us we need to be in the 70s, so be it, that’s where we’re heading.
Set 10 years after the events of X-Men: First Class (as well as a far reaching chaotic future decades after) our heroes must stop so and so from doing so and so, so that this and that doesn’t happen (I can’t say much without spoiling everything) and herein lies another problem, while most of the story takes place in the 70s post First Class, with Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) leading the fight, the conflict still pertains to the Bryan Singer timeline and we get no real advancement in character, no real evolution (ironic since it’s one of the franchise’s main themes) and all to tie in all of the X-Men movies together supposedly to right the wrongs of the past (some of the best parts are the cameos from previous films, but they’re just that, cameos). Couldn’t this be a movie were Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels to the past to stop both X-Men: The Last Stand and Wolverine: Origins from ever happening? While Days of Future Past does gives us a clean slate of sorts and a potential fresh start, we’re still left with unanswered questions posed by the aforementioned clunkers, so if you’re going into this movie with the idea that all will be tied neatly in a bow, don’t get your hopes up. There will always be questionable moments that create bumps in the X-men film canon.
The whole movie gets bogged down by the weight of the previous installments and the need to fuse First Class and all the X-Men movies before it, I do have to admit that integrating one of the best story arcs from X-Men lore was a very clever way of going about it, but does the end justify the means? Considering everything that had to be included, some sacrifices had to be made, including the purpose of Kitty Pride (Ellen Page) and Bishop (Omar Sy), we got only but a glimpse of what the future ends up being (disappointingly this also meant there was no homage to a certain classic comic book cover), the sentinels were criminally underused, they had to remove a whole chunk of characters to accommodate all of the story elements and left us with only a couple of mutants, the “important” ones, which in the end didn’t really leave us with anything new and all I wanted to see was what happened during those 10 years that passed by and felt a bit bitter that after introducing a couple of cool new characters in First Class they just nixed them all willy nilly. Some bits are left open ended so there’s the possibility of some of them coming back but Days of Futures past was basically, X-Men: The Bryan Singer mutant reunion tour, and reconciling the old with the new is but a double edged sword.
I do have to be thankful that this didn’t become the Wolvie show, this is more about Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) than it is about Wolverine and it’s all evenly balanced between them and the Magneto and Charles dynamic. One of the major strengths of the film is the cast, as silly as Fassbender looks with the Magneto helmet on, his scenes are full of greatness, oozing power, bending metals, being all handsomy and awesome, just great. McAvoy provides most of the movies dramatic beats as Charles struggles to find his own footing. Lawrence does the best that she can considering she has to be all broody and blue (figurately and literally) and basically as Mystique she just ends up being a sort of human McGuffin but that doesn’t mean we don’t see her kicking major ass and shape shifting all over the place, and then there’s good ol’ Wolverine, I’ve grown tired of the character but I can’t deny that Hugh Jackman has done an excellent job of bringing him to the big screen and no matter the outcome, if there’s one thing that has made watching Wolverine in the past films worth it, it’s Hugh Jackman, just like Robert Downey Jr and Iron Man, Jackman has made the character his own.
I had some worries before seeing this movie, mainly that by having Bryan Singer direct, there would be too much of his films muddling what had been established by Matthew Vaughn’s First Class and those concerns came true. There was no room left for what made First Class cool. It’s not a bad film, it has a lot of redeeming qualities, there’s several fun scenes involving other mutants, especially one involving Quicksilver (Evan Peters) but unfortunately those get relegated to just tiny waves in a sea of plot exposition and character drama, in the end it’s a strange amalgam of all the films about the X-men and I don’t really know how to feel, yet I’m already stoked to see X-Men: Apocalypse. They must be doing something right.