X-men Days of Future Past movie review
Back in my Amazing Spider-man 2 review, I mentioned how the original Spider-man trilogy were some the first superhero films to make the medium popular. X-men came out first. The first X-men film was one of the first films to prove superhero movies could work, and be successful. Since then, several X-men films have been released, to varying success. X-2 is considered to be the best amongst the franchise, where the third film, X-men: The Last Stand is considered to be the film that killed the main movies. Then, whatever The Last Stand didn't ruin, X-men Origins: Wolverine finished off. Then, several years later, a reboot came along called, X-men: First Class. A lot of people liked the new approach, going back in time and seeing the beginnings of the team with a new cast. Next, another solo Wolverine movie was released, The Wolverine, which as my readers know, I adored.
The franchise had great films, but the franchise created several plot holes with Origins mostly, and a couple in The Wolverine. Now, we come to the magnum opus that is, X-men: Days of Future Past. The film is based on a classic X-men book that is mostly beloved, but considered one of the most complicated and complex stories in the X-men's history (and that's saying something.) The film attempts to not only bring back most of the original cast of X-men from the first trilogy, and have the new cast from First Class present in the film as well, while introducing new X-men from both time periods as well. Now, that's a lot to balance out in one film, and as we've seen in Amazing Spider-man 2, the film can not always pull it off well. Not only does Days of Future Past pull it off, but it also cements itself as one of the best superhero films ever made.
We open the film in the future, I'd guess maybe a decade or a little more since the third film, based on everybody's apparent ages. We see the X-men fighting for survival from Sentinel robots, and it is not looking good. We learn that at this point in time, the Sentinels that were originally created to kill mutants, not only have become near invincible to take down due to their ability to adapt to any mutant, but they also killed most of humanity along with them. Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) decide this is a battle they can't win. The answer, lies in the past. They use Kitty Pride's (Ellen Page) new ability to send consciousness's back in time to the person's body at the time they need. Now, Kitty can only really do a couple days or weeks safely. X and Magneto need to send someone back to the 1970's, when the Sentinels were first created after a tragic event. Kitty said the trip would kill someone who couldn't heal from it, but Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) says he can do it, because his brain can heal on the fly during the trip. So, it is set. Wolverine needs to go back in time, to find the younger versions of the X-men around at the time, to stop the young Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing the person who came up with the design of the Sentinels, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage.)
So, it works! Wolverine is successfully put into the body of himself at the time and eventually finds the young Charles Xavier, aka Professor X ( James McAvoy.) He finds him at the old X manor, which is now in shambles. It's only himself and Hank aka Beast (Nicholas Hoult) living there now, not really doing anything. Hank has created a serum that suppresses mutant genes, so that now Hank can just transform into Beast when needed, and Xavier can actually walk again, but only at the cost of his powers. Wolverine eventually convinces the 2 of them to help him, and they explain to him how many mutants they've already lost, so they need to break out Erik aka Magneto (Micahel Fassbender) from the Pentagon to help them find Mystique. So, the race is on! Can Wolverine and the young X-men work together to stop Mystique before it's too late and save the future? Or will the Sentinels get to the future X-men before the deed is done? Will past Magneto revert to his old ways and threaten the future?
I could go on and on with the plot, because this is such a rich and heavy plot, yet, it is surprisingly not too complicated. This film shows it is possible to juggle so many characters and a complex story, and not flop as a quality film, and this movie had a lot more to set up than Amazing Spider-man 2. Yes, there have been previous films in the X-men franchise to help set this up, but there is still ALOT of new material to cover, and the film handles it beautifully. The plot takes a lot of twists and turns, and honestly, you don't know how it is all going to go down, there were a lot of surprises in store. Granted, if you read the book, you know some things, but I haven't heard anybody complain about the film's compatibility with the book, so it must be pretty faithful. Even if it isn't faithful, at least it is still a fantastic movie, something Iron Man 3 couldn't accomplish. Not to mention, the story is well paced, with plenty of heavy, slow scenes, and awesome action scenes.
But the real strength of this movie, is the cast. As I mentioned earlier, the pacing is wonderful, as is the distribution of attention to the characters. The movie gives the appropriate amount of attention to the characters that need it, and at a run time of only 2 hours and 11 minutes, that puts other various superhero movies to shame, with how much it can fit into the plot with this amount of time (here's looking at you Dark Knight trilogy and Amazing Spider-mans.) Since Wolverine is the time traveler, we get a lot of time with him, because he is central to the plot, but he isn't in the movie as much as you expect. In the beginning of the film, in the future, we get a good amount of time with Professor X, Magneto and the main players because they are setting up the need to jump back in time, while we see the other future X-men fighting off the Sentinels, to no success. They hardly have any lines between them, but they aren't needed, and it's fine. That's even including introducing new future mutants like Warpath, Bishop, Blink and others, while still bringing back Storm, Colossus, Iceman and others. But they aren't the focus of the story, so it's ok they aren't given too much attention. Would I like to have heard more about Bishop and the other new mutants? Sure, but it would've just been unnecessary plot fluff, because again, they aren't the focus. Then, once we cut to the past, we rarely see the future mutants aside from a few scenes to showcase their struggle with the Sentinels, because the focus is on trying to fix this problem in the past, yet the movie gives us just enough to be emotionally invested in the future's fate.
Then in the past, it's just as well handled. Charles and Hank explain to Logan all the mutants from First Class that have died, so it clears up the roster to give focus to those we need to focus on, Charles, Hank, Erik, Raven (Mystique) and the introduction of Quicksilver (more in a bit), not to mention Wolverine. The screen time priority distributed amongst the cast is very well handled and this movie sets the standard for how to handle a cast this big in a superhero movie.
Plus, the acting throughout is incredible. Again, this is a big cast, and the fact that there wasn't really a weak performance amongst it, is pretty impressive. The standouts, for me were the central players obviously. Jackman once again adds to his already impressive resume as playing a near-perfect Wolverine. He just captures this character so well, it is always impressive. Stewart and McKellen return to their prolific roles and once again knock it out of the park. I've never really liked Ellen Page, but she does good here with what she is given. The other future X-men give a fine performance showing us the blight of what they are going through as well, doing good in their roles.
McAvoy and Fassbender also give incredible performances once again. McAvoy gives us a Charles Xavier I never expected to see, and yet he is totally believable and incredible, he has done a fine job living up to Stewart's legacy. It's also really interesting to see Fassbender's Magneto rising up and becoming the mutant terrorist we all know and love, in darn good fashion, and see McKellen's Magneto of the future who has changed his tune and is fighting alongside his former enemies. The contrast is a wonder to watch. The other returning First Class X-men also turn in great performances, Hoult is a great Hank, both mentally and physically as the prolific Beast. Lawrence also gives a great performance, even better than First Class in my opinion, because now I think she really has come into the role of Mystique. Dinklage is a great cast, but considering he is one of my favorite actors, I wish we did get more of him, but he isn't a big focus. The scenes he is in, he is good, Dinklage can do no wrong. Plus, the Sentinels, look awesome. The ones in the past look incredibly faithful to the comics, and the new version of them not only looks incredibly cool, but they were intimidating and frightening, even more so than Winter Soldier in Captain America 2. But, the standout performance, is Evan Peters as Quicksilver. Holy cow, I did not expect this to be pulled off, because the costume looked stupid. It still looked, silly, but Peters' performance is so funny, energetic and cool, it stands out amongst this massive cast. Seriously, he is hysterical and awesome. There is one slow-mo scene in particular, that really shines amongst the rest.
Now yes, there are a couple of nitpicks. The big one is, Kitty's newfound ability to do this consciousness time jump thing. I don't recall her knowing this, and it definitely is not established in the movie franchise. If it is something from the book, that's fine. As far as a movie franchise though, it just kind of shows up like "Oh, ok." And yes, there are still some plot holes a to how we get to this point and throughout the plot, but by the time the credits role, it doesn't matter. Yes, there will be some fans disappointed that the new future mutants didn't get more attention, but like I said, they weren't the focus, so it's not too bad. Also, there is a scene where Mystique breaks out Havok and a coupe other mutants from the military, but we don't where they went or why they were even together, would've liked an explanation on that one.
Overall, Days of Future Past has set a bar. Not only is it a great superhero flick, and a great action flick, but it manages to balance this massive cast and a complex time travel scenario, and not be incredibly confusing or feel like it is too cluttered. It really is impressive to think how this movie manages to balance so much in one flick, where other movies with a fraction of this much content fail to not feel like a cluttered mess. This movie has action, drama, comedy and a great story and cast to boot. There really isn't a lot this movie can't do. Is it the Avengers? No, but Days of Future Past not only saves the X-men movie franchise, but paves the way for the younger cast to keep making movies, and I hope they do. It is rumored online (at the time I type this) that this movie is the sendoff for the future cast (Stewart, McKellen and such), except for Jackman as Wolverine. If it is, I can't think of a better send of for them. The final scene in the future for this movie leaves it a incredibly satisfying place that would be perfect for them to bow out on. Now yes, you need to see the other X-men movies (except Origins, that technically isn't continuity anymore) to really get the most out of this movie and for it to make sense, but it is worth it. The X-men movie franchise has fully been reborn, and I can't wait to see how they handle their Apocalyptic sequel, I know I'll be there for the ride.
I give X-men: Days of Future Past, 5 Dinklage smirks out of 5
Come over to the Facebook and give a like! Thanks for reading!