REVIEW: X-Men: Days of Future Past

We can finally get our mitts on the DVD/Blu-ray and digital versions of X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, packed with fun extras and deleted scenes. Woo-hoo!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free review copy of this movie. My review below, however, is my own honest opinion.

BASIC PLOT

As most of you probably already know, DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is the follow-up to the well-received X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, which in itself was something of a reboot of the franchise after the original (and not so well received) X-Men trilogy. DAYS OF FUTURE PAST continues to follow the younger versions of our beloved mutants, though now things have gotten a little rockier. Their older selves– portrayed by the same actors as in the original, pre-reboot trilogy– face inevitable doom because of Bolivar Trask’s Sentinels, who have become stronger and more adept at slaughtering mutants fifty years into the future. Desperate, these future X-Men (plus Magneto!) send Wolverine’s consciousness back in time to contact their charming younger selves, in the hopes of preventing the Sentinel’s implementation in the first place. Naturally, nothing goes quite as planned.

STUFF I LIKED

I got on this ride with high expectations. FIRST CLASS was a breath of fresh air after X3, with a solid cast and a story that really embodied the comic book spirit without reading campy or unbelievable. Though I’m hesitant to say DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is at the exact same level, it is an enjoyable film. It’s undoubtedly got a few hiccups, but we’ll get to those later.

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Again, the casting was almost spot-on. Peter Dinklage has seen his share of fame since he started on Game of Thrones, and with good reason– the man can act! He was an unexpected but brilliant choice for Trask, able to balance downright murderous intention and cold, ruthless motivation with a genuine concern for the human race. Trask is Marvel’s Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias– he wants to save and unify humanity through the most bloody and chaotic means possible. His motivations are both noble and incredibly cruel. In other words, he’s an excellent antagonist.

James McAvoy also impressed me multiple times. The young Charles Xavier is a troubled character, not yet in touch with the patience and wisdom that years of guiding mutants and honing his mental abilities teach him. McAvoy easily stepped into that role, with expressive, often tear-filled eyes and great timing. His eventual change of heart doesn’t feel forced, either, which is what I had expected. His relationships with the other characters, too– especially with Erik and Hank– are fleshed out and meaningful. His line of “you abandoned me! You took them away and you abandoned me!” is definitely the most powerful of the film.

It’s nice to see Logan develop as a character, as well. As much as I love Jackman and Wolverine, the character has taken a main role so often that I thought I’d be bored of him, but his DAYS OF FUTURE PAST incarnation is a far cry from the “fuck off” of First Class. He has at least some degree of emotional depth and investment not only for himself, but also for his friends, who he wants Charles to remember despite the possibility of a grim future.

Other fun cast highlights include Sunspot, Bishop, Blink and Warpath, familiar faces from the comics that I was more than pleased to see on the big screen, particularly because of the added diversity on the team.

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If we’re going to pick favorites, though, I have to jump on the Internet bandwagon and admit that, out of everyone, it’s Evan Peter’s Quicksilver who steals the show. His delivery is flawless and both the cinematography and music choice for his big moment are the best in the entire movie. On top of that he’s just an extremely likable character, embodying the sass and capacity for petty crime that we all know we’d exhibit were we gifted with mutant powers. I even like his costume, despite hating it when we first got a look at the promotional images. It took me a while to realize that the gratuitous leather and painfully out-of-date color schemes are actually a job well done by the wardrobe department: they are perfectly retro.

More than the casting, acting, cinematography, wardrobe and music, however, I’m pleased to report that DAYS OF FUTURE PAST’s resolution is… good! I was glad to see Raven ultimately making her own decision, as her independence is a reoccurring theme carried over from FIRST CLASS. The ending is satisfying, though Erik’s outcome is admittedly a little strange.

STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE

What would this review be without some comic book nerd complaints? Obviously, DAYS OF FUTURE PAST doesn’t exactly follow the source material. Most notably, it’s Wolverine’s consciousness that travels back in time, rather than Kitty’s. I want to complain about this change, but we’re all well aware that Wolverine is a more popular and well-advertised character in the cinematic universe; it makes sense that they’d put him in the leading role, as much as I would have liked it to be otherwise.

One of my biggest problems with the film is Erik’s odd behavior. Part of me wants to justify his desire to hurt Raven as a result of too much time brooding in a plastic cell, but given the resolve this character has demonstrated in the past and his fierce moral code, it just seems odd that he would see no other way out of a situation than to hurt another mutant, let alone one he cared for so much in the past. This decision struck me as out of character on both viewings, and I still can’t wrap my head around why it was necessary other than to remind us that Erik isn’t an inherently “good” character. He is and always will be an antihero and an eventual villain– I suppose we’re just watching him grow into the latter.

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Another initial complaint is that while I love the group of mutants from the future timeline, I really wondered why it’s this group, in particular, that survived. Then I looked them up. Did you know that all of them, save for Magneto and Blink, are considered Alpha level mutants?! The categorization doesn’t help them appear any less useless at times, though. Warpath’s ability to predict the Sentinels’ arrival was very useful, for instance, but in combat he was the easiest to defeat. I would’ve enjoyed his scenes a good deal more if he had utilized a more impressive power set.

Side note: Halle Berry reprising her role as Storm isn’t something I can gush about. I never found that she fit the character well and had hoped she’d stay off the franchise after X3. There’s hope for me and my cranky ways, however: screenwriter Simon Kinberg suggests that she, along with several other characters, will need to be recast for the third and final installment.

Also, why didn’t Quicksilver keep a presence through the movie? I prayed that he’d show up in Paris, having snuck on board the plane with Hank, Charles, Erik and Logan… but alas, the best comedic element in the film really did end in the States. That, I feel, is the biggest tragedy of all.

OVERALL

Watch it. Is it a little long and a little repetitive at times? Sure, but it’s also a well-constructed movie that brings together some of the best actors in the industry and features one of Marvel’s most interesting storylines.

WHAT ABOUT X-MEN APOCALYPSE?

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Well, we don’t know very much yet. We know about the potential for recasting roles that actors like Halle may now be too mature to play, we know that characters like Jean and Scott now exist in the reconfigured timeline and we know that Apocalypse is bound to make an appearance, but that’s about it. Rumors are filtering in, however, including some that reference the Apocalypse-worshipping clan called the “Akkaba.”

OTHER NOTES

Definitely invest in the Blu-ray, DVD or digital version if you can. It’s packed with extras, including several deleted scenes. One of those scenes, along with showcasing Jennifer Lawrence’s penchant for gigglefits, really drives home the tension between Raven and Charles and Raven’s frustration with her surrogate brother’s controlling tendencies. I wish that had made it into the film, because it would have really backed up her desire to act against Trask as a free agent.

To promote the digital release of the film, the M Underground site is also now up and running. It boasts pro-mutant “propaganda,” including some really graphic images of the autopsies from Trask’s files.

Oh and, by the way, that scene where Logan wakes up in his younger body and gives us a view of his full moon? That was all Hugh Jackman’s idea. Thank you, Hugh Jackman!

1 Comment

  1. Sara November 8, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    But FIRST CLASS wasn’t a reboot…?

    Reply

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