Movie Review: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014)
This summer’s latest X-Men movie wanted to combine the continuities of all the other X-titles before it into one established storyline, fixing all errors and solidifying one supreme vision of these sporadically established stories… well, somewhat. Be warned: Spoilers & Discussions to follow Here’s my take on X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST!
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST ( DOFP from here on in ) had a daunting task ahead of itself: Combining a story that takes into account all the previous films before it while attempting to establish all of them as being current and continuous, when the previous films disregarded that need for continuity themselves. Director Bryan Singer did this amazingly well, and despite some mis-steps, X-MEN: DOFP is a very well told story that respects its past, while forging a new trail ahead of it. DOFP is quite possibly the first ever sequel that not only reboots the entire franchise by the end of the movie, but does so in a manner that happens within the story of the movie itself. Not to mention, what I personally think, are the best ever action sequences ever featured in a comic book movie adaptation. The scenes in the future of the X-Men duking it out with Sentinels is almost reminiscent of similar scenes from the 90’s X-Men Animated Series, and just as visually breathtaking. It was a gorgeously stunning display of comic book action that I’ve ever seen on screen. Not to mention the surprise of Quicksilver played by Peter Evans.
The story opens with a desolate future where Mutants are trying to survive in a world where they are hunted to extinction. Fan favorite characters with brand new ones comprising a new X-Men team, have one last hope to save their present, by changing their past. The apocalyptic future is a result of mutant hunting robots known as Sentinels. A misguided action in the 1970’s causes the capture of Mystique, Professor’s X’s adopted sister (as seen in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS) and Magneto’s lieutenant (as seen in the original X-Men Trilogy) leading to the use of her DNA to perfect these machines that end up being responsible for the genocide of mutant-kind. So now, Professor Charles Xavier and long time fr-enemy Eric Lensherr, a.k.a. Magneto, combine forces to save their own kind. The plan: send Wolverine back in time to the 70’s to reunite a younger Professor X & Magneto in order to prevent Mystique’s capture, thus changing history and preventing the desperate future that comes to fruition. For a film that attempts to do the impossible in real life, the set up to the story is fairly simple. Even the physics behind the time travel elements for such a complicated film, is kept relatively straightforward, in comparison to other films that have used the plot device, such as STAR TREK (2009)
Mutant & Proud!
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is one of the best comic book action films ever made, even more so when taking into account the convoluted franchise that was going against it from the inception of this film and the return of Bryan Singer in the Director’s chair. As much credit as Singer can take, a lot of kudos must also be given to the extraordinary (and colossal) cast behind these characters. The return of A-list Hollywood actors riding high in their career, along with all the other actors returning for this movie, shows just how much faith everybody has in this franchise, despite any commercial box office success of the films themselves. Possibly the largest ensemble cast of any film franchise, DOFP reunites original Trilogy cast members with the new, and everyone is amazing given their brief presence in the film. Do I wish Storm had more to do and say? Of course. Had I hoped that Bishop would have had more significance than being a blunt weapon? Definitely. Did I want to see Blink pull off her amazing portal jumping fight scenes in daylight with other mutants? Oh hell yes! However, with a list of characters as long as my arm, and then my other arm, it’s understandable that not everyone will get major screen time. However, each line of dialogue, scene and interaction between the characters accurately reflect the carefully thought out planning and dramatic impact that went behind it all. There are very few scenes that don’t cause one to sit back and hold one’s breath in anticipation of the drama unfolding on screen.
One thing that definitely impresses about X-MEN: DOFP is that it was not a Wolverine movie. This time around the cash-cow character is relegated to being the plot device, while the story focuses more on the younger versions of Professor X, Magneto & Mystique, played by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence respectively. Charles Xavier has always been shown to be the radiant light that all X-Men and mutant kind are drawn to, however, DOFP fleshes out this unflinching reason for hope, by showing us a Professor X who is broken by the hatred for mutants, and needs help getting back up. The events of this movie add so much more depth to the unwavering faith and belief that the character is famous for in both the comics and film.
Magneto has always been the greatest enemy the X-Men have ever faced. He is their Joker. So it’s more than appropriate that despite the future repercussion storyline, Michael Fassbender’s young Magneto, will be the ultimate villain in the story. Michael Fassbender does an amazing job of portraying a bitter and resentful Magneto, hating the world. As great as Ian McKellen is, his portrayal of Magneto staggered between the 1st & 3rd X-Men movies. Fassbender however, is able to rekindle the origin of Magneto, with such rage and hate behind his actions, that no act of kindness on the part of Professor X can ever bring him back from the brink. Not until decades in the future anyways. Or, not anymore. It’s a brilliant take on the character, and further establishes the iconic relationship between the two Mutant leaders. These elements ground the core concept of the story to these 3 younger versions of established characters, allowing the events of the story to have an impact on their future selves, creating a sort of ipso facto character development that only prequels and time travel stories can allow.
Standing on its own two legs
The scope of story within X-MEN: DOFP is very much inclusive of the previous films in the franchise. There is very little exposition in the story of mutant-kind or X-Men or anything that describes this world to us. X-MEN (2000) and its subsequent films very nicely explained the socio-political impacts, including the social parallels to real world racism & discrimination. DOFP wastes no times in doing any of that, as the movie makes it almost a requirement to be aware of, or have watched the other films in its franchise. This is not a movie for newer audiences, and it makes no attempts to appeal to a new crowd, but is proud to be a film for the fanboys and film & comic book enthusiasts. But that’s not a bad thing. The film almost challenges its audience to understand the inside references, the hidden story lines about Wolverine’s past. It’s a story that is dripping with dialogue that refers to history, the ignorance of which doesn’t take away from the film, but the knowledge of which makes the dramatic impact of the story that much more intense and the relationships between the characters that much more enjoyable to watch on screen.
Despite a stellar attempt by Director Bryan Singer and Screenwriter Simon Kinberg to wipe the slate clean and merge the stories of all the past movies, there are still questions and issues that were not addressed. It’s almost as if the audience is meant to ignore those issues. Granted, a full-fledged fixing of continuity cannot be expected to perfection, however, these are just a few of the problems that I noticed left hanging from DOFP.
- Professor Charles Xavier’s return after his apparent death and the cliffhanger at the end of X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006)
- Magneto’s power returning, as seen in the end of X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006)
- The inclusion of Alex Summers from X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (2011) in the 70’s Military scene, however, no mention or connection of him to Scott Summers.
- The return of Wolverine’s Adamantium claws in the future scenes, despite him being stripped of them in THE WOLVERINE (2012). Especially when noticing that the new Claws are angled, in a way…
- Time gap between THE WOLVERINE (2012) & DOFP not explained, as end of THE WOLVERINE showed him being approached by Charles & Magneto, but beginning of DOFP has him looking considerably older.
- Kitty Pride’s ability to send people’s conscious-ness into the past, when her original powers involved phasing through objects.
- If Hank McCoy (Beast) had come up with a temporary serum to repress Mutant genes in 1970’s, why was the Mutant Cure such a big deal in the original X-Men Trilogy?
Back To The Future
The ending of X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST leaves the door open for the continuation of the adventures of The X-Men with younger returning cast members, younger characters in general, or even spinoffs featuring characters introduced briefly in this film. The film successfully reboots the franchise through the events of the story itself, while allowing for newer stories to come pass the torch from the original and (now) massive starkest of the entire franchise. One sad thing to note however, is that if the X-Men’s adventures continue chronologically from today onwards, then for the younger cast of characters such as McAvoy and Fassbender, this might be their last movie as these characters. Jennifer Lawrence may still continue to be Mystique in any possible future films, however, the same can’t be said of the aforementioned two.