Boy oh boy, do I love those Excellent Men! That’s what the “X” stands for, right? What else could it mean? Admittedly, I’ve never read Chris Claremont’s Days of Future Past storyline. Awful, right? I was somewhat familiar with it because of the animated series, but not the actual comics. This means I got to enjoy this film without having to constantly compare it to the source material. Isn’t it crazy that this is kind of sort of the 7th X-Men movie? Granted, two of them mostly just focused on Wolverine and only three of those previous six would I consider good, but still, good job for the X-Men! But what is this movie? Is it a sequel to X-Men: First Class? A sequel to X-Men: The Last Stand? Old cast and new cast coming together with the return of Bryan Singer? There are a lot of things that could have gone wrong with this movie, and some things do go wrong, but as far as a summer movie goes, X-Men: Days of Future Past has a lot of fun, entertaining elements, even if there’s not much substance to it.
It’s almost like that X is meant to represent something other than a retinal scan!
The year is 2013 and any person found with the mutated “X” gene is being hunted downs by giant robots. These “Sentinels” have reduced the mutant population down to almost nothing, with only a small resistance of mutants from our familiar X-Men. They’ve found a way to travel backwards in time to prevent key events from happening in their history that led to the mutant eradication. The only mutant who could possibly survive this trip is Logan (Hugh Jackman) who has to convince past versions of present day mutants to believe him. In 1973, he finds Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) recovering physically and mentally from the destruction wrought by Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). While Logan has to convince these two men that hate each other to work together, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) is developing the X gene hunting Sentinels, while Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) is on a path to assassinate him, solidifying mutant eradication. It’s mutant against mutant against mutant-haters in a struggle to change history while also wondering if the course of time itself can never be corrected and if these mutants are destined to be destroyed regardless of their efforts.
Token “Jennifer Lawrence is nice to look at” photo.
You know what concept can be pretty annoying in comic books? Time travel. You know what concept can be pretty annoying in comic book movies? TIME TRAVEL. I like Looper, I like Primer, and I like Timecrimes, but even those movies have moments that can be debated about. Unfortantely, X-Men: Days of Future Past goes even further beyond those movies in confusing timelines and made me they had contacted those filmmakers in regards to handling smart time travel. The inherent problem with a time travel movie like this is that it’s not a physical object, it’s not Logan’s body, but rather his mind that’s traveling. When Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) is sending Logan’s consciousness back through time, by the way, Kitty Pryde has added “sending someone’s consciousness back through time” to her mutant abilities, his body still remains in his “present”. How does time work in regards to the past vs. the future? It took Logan a few days in 1973 to do his mission, so does that mean he was laying there in his present for a few days? Maybe it seems nitpicky to try to figure out how that works, but while his body is laying in present, Logan has been warned that Sentinels are after them so he IS on a deadline. I won’t even get into any of the discussion over changing the course of history would “butterfly effect” everything else that happens in these characters lives, but with so much weight behind the time travel elements of the story, I can’t ignore that I thought the time travel was handled poorly.
Hey, Quicksilver, you are SO lucky that you had a good sequence because you look AWFUL.
Issues with time travel aside, the movie is still a lot of fun. Even though Jackman is the most prominent figure in the X-Men franchise, he mostly serves to bridge the connection between the younger actors and the actors from the original films. McAvoy shows us a great young Xavier who has his self doubts and Fassbender shows us a more retrained version of Lehnsherr than he had shown us in First Class, paving the way for the version of Magneto we saw in the original films. The sequences that take place in the “present” that feature more of the actors from the original movies were serviceable, at best, as there really wasn’t much for them to do. I was okay with this, as the younger cast was far more interesting. Dinklage was great, as always, and you could see how his physical limitations helped fuel his desire to eradicate mutants. His stature was a random genetic occurrence, yet unlike mutants, he wasn’t given special abilities. Another new character, Quicksilver (Evan Peters), looked absolutely ridiculous in any promotional footage I had seen, but that doesn’t at all compare to his role in the movie. In fact, he plays a key part in a sequence where Lehnsherr must be broken out of jail and is pivotal in making it one of the best sequences in the whole movie.
Singer’s attempt at recreating what movies looked like in 1973 was far more successful here than in Superman Returns where he tried to make present day look like a nostalgic 1950’s.
Even though I was burned by sticking around after the credits of First Class and not seeing a tease of what was to come, I stuck around after the credits and the sequence I saw really solidified where the franchise was going next, much to my dismay. I don’t think I’m giving away too much by saying that the title for the next film has been announced as X-Men: Apocalypse, so it looks like we’ll be seeing that big grey guy. And again, without giving away too much, the film effectively erased moments from the original X-Men films in both good, and awful ways. Going forward, it feels like the younger cast will have nothing to do with the movies, which sucks because they are all pretty awesome. There are some great sequences in the film and it was ambitious to combine so many different familiar characters into one narrative, but the time travel nonsense prevents me from completely supporting it. The whole movie is pretty enjoyable and feels more like a one-shot story than buildup for the next sequel, but I’m not in too big of a rush to revisit.
Wolfman Moon Scale