Release Date: 5/23/2014
Dir. Bryan Singer
Starring: Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), James McAvoy (Charles Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Erik Lensherr/ Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Raven/ Mystique), Nicholas Hoult (Hank/ Beast), Peter Dinklage (Dr. Bolivar Trask), Evan Peters (Quicksilver), Lucas Till (Havok), Patrick Stewart (Charlies Xavier), Ian McKellan (Magneto), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Halle Berry (Storm), Omar Sy (Bishop), Bingbing Fan (Blink), Booboo Stewart (Warpath), Shawn Ashmore (Bobby Drake/ Iceman), Daniel Cudmore (Colossus), Adan Canto (Sunspot)
Days of Future Past was billed as an epic event from the very beginning. We learned it was going to be a game changer meant to revitalize the original part of the series that went off the deep end in X-Men: The Last Stand. This was confirmed when a massive portion of the original cast was brought back for this film. Thus with a massive cast and high expectations, Days of Future Past was primed to disappoint, but it didn’t. In fact it delivered a somber look at a popular storyline from the comics in an intriguing way. Sure, there were some logical missteps, but nothing that would or should deter the audience, casual or not. If you are an X-Men fan, this movie is a definite must see as it changes everything. If you just want to spend a few hours having some fun, then you won’t regret seeing this. One thing that is certain though is the fact that the X-Men Universe is now one confusing jumble, but I’m sure the dust will settle in X-men: Apocalypse.
No time was wasted as we were thrown immediately into the situation that the mutants in the future were facing. The situation was dire as it was shown that not only mutants are being targeted, but also humans who aided mutants and humans who would have mutant children or grandchildren. Not a person is spared from the gloom is everything is portrayed dark and we quickly see Blink, Bishop, Sunspot, Collosus, Kitty, Warpath, and Iceman fighting for their lives. Their plan was to have Kitty send Bishop back in time to warn them of the incoming sentinels. Weary of this life style, they decide to send Charles back in time to the 73 to stop Mystique from killing Bolivar Trask and heading them down that road. But that is impossible because the effort would tear Charles apart. Instead, they have to send Wolverine back to convince Charles to stop them from going down their path.
So Wolverine goes back to 73 and immediately reaches Charles who lives alone with Hank. The serum that keeps Hank’s transformation in check allows Charles to walk, but at the cost of his mental abilities. Though Charles wasn’t willing to give up the serum, he did agree to help and that meant recruiting Erik because he would be the only person Mystique would listen to. Quicksilver aided in breaking Erik out of his metal free prison, before the four men headed to Paris to stop Mystique. While they managed to prevent her from killing Trask, it also caused a media frenzy and nearly made the situation far worse. Erik took matters into his own hands and when the president was set to reveal the sentinels with Trask to the public, Erik arrived with a baseball stadium. In the chaos that ensued, Charles was able to talk Mystique down from assasinating Trask, but only after she’d already incapacitated Magneto.
In the end, Wolverine returned just as the X-Men of the future were fighting their final battle. The past was changed and thus the sentinels never became a threat. In fact, we saw that a number of characters who we saw perish in The Last Stand had returned.
/End Plot Summary
Time travel is never an easy subject to tackle on screen, or even in books. The entire concept is contrived and we have no way of identifying what is in fact the truth. Days of Future Past managed to handle the complexities of the subject matter rather well. In many ways, this because it wasn’t traditional time travel, but more so a mental projection into one’s past self. Although, I didn’t buy that the process of sending someone back too far was super stressful to the point that only Logan could do it.
One of the most compelling aspects of the film was the dire situation that everyone in the future was dealing with. This was a world where everyone’s spirits were crushed. People were being branded for being mutants. It was a scary place and seeing the mutants fight for their lives was devastating. This was a day to day thing for them. The stakes were high and this was their last chance of survival. The quick pacing in the opening scenes really paid tribute to that fear and anxiety. These characters were facing this daily grind, realizing that death was a constant threat against beings that could use their unique abilities against them.
Unfortunately, that same sense of urgency that we felt from their situation was lost when we went into the past. We knew that Kitty and the rest were in the future sitting ducks. As long as Logan was taking his walk in the past they were in the future hoping that everything went by. Now part of my confusion may come from the fact that it was mentioned that time would continue to pass for as long as Logan was in there. My assumption was that however long it took them that much time passed in real life. That would have meant days went by as Kitty sat there continuing the project. Time had to have been moving differently, but I’m not sure how. I do know that as they were essentially waiting to die in the future, the sense of urgency never carried over into the past.
The past in fact had a very different vibe to it that centered around arcs of redemption and being good people. We spent much of the time with Charles as he struggled to find himself. It was never fully clear what actually sent him into such a dark spiral after only one semester at the Institute, but it left him looking and acting like an addict. It was quite evocative to see him preparing a syringe before we learned it was the secret behind what allowed him to walk. Slowly over the film we saw Charles regain confidence in himself. The more confidence he gained the more willing he was to embrace his abilities and forgo walking.
This was as much a journey for Charles as it was for Mystique. Raven’s arc was in fact a bit less compelling. We’d seen that Raven was a good person, who’d been led astray. And if we didn’t know or remember that from First Class, it was mentioned repeatedly in this film. It is Mystique’s actions that drive the plot of the film. It is her ability that makes sentinels strong in the future. It was her actions that pushed the sentinel program forward. Throughout the film we saw Mystique as this assassin, with brief moments of the Raven we once knew from First Class. While she did eventually see the light, she also left Charles. The road she takes from this point onward is still unclear, but at least she now is beginning to see things with both sides.
Balancing a massive cast is a difficult task for a director. It is easy to become overwhelmed by trying to explain characters and flesh them out. Days of Future Past didn’t do that and this is mainly because we moved swiftly from character to character only dwelling on someone when they were important to the plot. Thus many of the mutants in the future were seen doing their thing and being name dropped, but we never really dropped in for their opinion. The focus was on the characters that truly impacted the plot.
In the days leading up to the movie, people continually talked about how foolish and garish Quicksilver looked. Unfortunately, it didn’t look any better in the film. Quicksilver still had a terrible wig and the worst fashion sense ever. That said, Quicksilver was also a nice highlight to the film. Like many of the mutants, the film didn’t dwell on him long, only giving him a few scenes. Each and every one was a joy to see him in. there was something great about seeing that kid who to him life was so slow and he was bored. His moments also provided some nice comedic beats and I’ll be looking forward to seeing him in the future.
The decision to go with Wolverine a the link between future and past was well done. Yes, the reasoning behind not just sending Charles back was clearly contrived, but it also made sense if they had to do it. Obviously they are going to want to cash in on Wolverine, since he is arguably the most popular character in the films (although, I love me so Bobby Drake). As Wolverine, he doesn’t age, so sending him back in time gives us a visual link which is nice in a time travel story.
Like every X-Men movie, one of my favorite things is seeing what new mutants are going to be introduced. Every mutant has their own powers and thus seeing them manifest on screen is always something fun. While, we didn’t get to see Warpath real made of much use, we did see some great actions from others. Bishop’s energy absorption looked pretty cool on screen as did Sunspot turning into molten lava. However, it was Blink who really stood out as the awesome new mutant. It was amazing seeing her create her portals and manipulate them to not only redirect sentinels, but also to attack. I’ll be looking forward to seeing more of her in the future.
Days of Future Past delivered a solid movie. While it occasionally lacked tension, it delivered a compelling story that, like First Class, focused on the human aspect of a mutant. The result was a story that was more about redemption and second chances than anything. That’s why if I have to tell you to go see any movie this weekend or for the coming weeks it is going to be this: Get your butt to the theatre and see Days of Future Past.
Tag (EXTRA SPOILERS!)
The tag opened with the camera panning over hills of sand. As it came up, we saw a caped figure raising their hands as they built a Pyramid. All the while, people before this person chanting “En Sabah Nur”. As it panned around we saw the pallor of the face that could only be a young Apocalypse.
Check out the gallery here. What did you think of the movie?