In the latest X-Men movie the X-Men have to save the world from the most dangerous foes they’ve ever faced, their past selves.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
(4 / 5)
Marvel Entertainment and 20th Century Fox
X-Men: Days of Future Past is a movie that tries to do many things. It doesn’t always deliver on its promises but one thing it never fails to do is keep your attention. It clocks in at 2 hours and 10 minutes but the action stays at a near constant pace and even in the moments where asses aren’t being actively kicked there’s always another timeframe to jump to. Shit is still going down elsewhere in the universe. There are very few lulls in the movie and those are, for most part, filled with deep introspection or our protagonists trying to figure out how unfuck a world class catastrophe. You are still engaged and thinking or in some form of suspense.
Did I mention the future is pretty dark? The future being grim and in need of systemic change is central to the plot of the movie If it’s not dark and brutal then why go to the trouble of bending the laws of physics like a gold-medal gymnast in order to change it? It is dark and brutal, so brutal, in fact, that I never really got a chance to know (even the name of) some of the future’s X-Men. Given that the movie mostly takes place in the past that’s not really that big of problem. Even less so for me since I recognized almost all of them from personal forays into various X-Media; however, if you’re only familiar with the cinematic world of the X-Men or, Magneto forbid, new to the franchise, you may wonder why you should care about whether the future is saved for these characters. Other than genocide is wrong.
At this point I’m going to admit that basically all of my knowledge of this story, other than the movie itself, is from the X-Men cartoon from the early ’90s. I haven’t had the opportunity to read the comics and determine how this storyline stacks up with them, but I do know it’s nothing like the cartoon. I’m not going to compare the two since I think they’re pretty much apples and oranges but I will say that I found the story they wrote for the movie quite entertaining and enjoyable. An interesting decision was made to hinge a lot of the plot on the battle for one characters’ soul, Mystique (or Raven Darkholme)’s, and the decision she must make. Luckily, Jennifer Lawrence, J-Law as it were, plays Mystique in this film and, as usual, knocks it out the park.
Michael Fassbender, as a young Magneto, doesn’t bother with balls and just decides to lift and throw the park itself as you might have seen in the trailer. In truth, one of the best parts of this movie is the incredible cast they managed to gather with what I can only assume is sorcery. Perhaps a spell called “Infinite Budget”. All of the performances are well done and if listed everybody I thought was great, this post would never end. I will say, however, that James McAvoy as a young Professor X did an excellent job of playing up the differences from his older self while still keeping the heart of the character, his empathy. Evan Peters also deserves a nod for his thoroughly enjoyable, but sadly short, portrayal of Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff). I hope Marvel’s version of the character in their future movies is as good.
There are few things that really bug me about Days of Future Past. I love a good fantasy/sci-fi movie or book and one of the things that defines one as good for me is an internal consistency to the world. The events that take place don’t necessarily have to make sense in our world but they damn well better in the world of the X-Men. In my opinion there are few places where the movie falls short of this standard. I want to keep the review spoiler-free so I won’t go into details but there is a scene in the movie where Magneto uses his powers to affect Sentinels but this ability seems to go far beyond metal manipulation or all but the finest use magnetic abilities. Maybe fans with more Mag-knowledge will scoff at me for this but if I thought it was suspect then I think a good number of others might as well.
Another thing that had me questioning the universe was the seemingly anachronistic technologies available in the ’70s. Most of it seems fine and I realize the X-Men universe is technologically accelerated but there is a time or two where they emphasize you’re in the ’70s with a Pong cabinet or a reminder that there are only 3 television networks (plus PBS) which doesn’t really seam to jive with even early Sentinel technologies. If I recall correctly Sentinels weren’t around until a little later, but remember, a lot of my knowledge is based on the cartoon. Surprisingly, the one area I expected to have some problems with, time travel, I didn’t. They explained the rules and then they followed them. There may be a few paradoxes with movies that take place later in the chronology, but most of this is explained pretty easily as a retcon. The one or two things that don’t make sense, even with time travel, I’m alright with hand-waving away because I think they’ll make things better in the long run.
Overall, I think director Bryan Singer has done an excellent job of uniting the two casts and providing a fun summer blockbuster that promotes the power of hope over cynicism and manages to separate the chaff of the later X-Men films from the wheat of the first couple of movies and First Class. He uses the power of the time travel retcon to make thing better and cauterize the wounds of X3: The Last Stand. It has some flaws and at times feels like bridging movie for what’s next (X-Men: Age of Apocalypse), but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the action and humor that all of these great actors can bring to the table.