Movie Review - X-Men: Days of Future Past
Thank you, Bryan Singer.
You see, there was a lot of hullaballoo before X-Men: Days of Future Past hit theatres. Mr. Singer had been accused of participating in parties that…um…see…do I even need to talk about this? I mean, yeah, part of me, after seeing Days of Future Past wanted to say “Hey, if that’s what it takes for him to make a film that awesome, go for it!” But you, me and the entire internet…okay, not the ENTIRE internet, sadly…but 99% of the internet…agrees that a statement of that nature is totally wrong.
Still…if it works…
NO! NO! NO!
Okay. Back to being strictly a reviewer. X-Men: Days of Future Past is both bittersweet and a revelation. It is both the closing of a door and an opening of another…all the while leaving that door you thought it closed slightly ajar.
When Singer first left the franchise, we were building up to the Dark Phoenix Saga. Nerds everywhere wondered whether or not he’d be able to pull it off. Will it go like the comic and dabble in the cosmic…introducing the Shi’ar? Will it stay earthbound? Will there actually be a giant flame-bird? So on and so forth. But then Singer moved on to Superman Returns instead and the third X-Men movie went from Matthew Vaughn to, ultimately, Brett Ratner. And we know how that turned out. Fast forward 8 years and here we are…the man who started the series has returned. And given what his return brought us…it makes it all the more tragic that he DID leave X3, because…wow…what that could’ve been.
Granted, as a side note I do have to say I’m one of the 5 people on the planet that loved Superman Returns, so I’m glad for that…but still, even I can admit that what Singer could’ve done on X3 is a tragic missed opportunity.
And apparently, he thought so too…because by the end of Days of Future Past, that bad taste in your mouth from both X3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine has been completely rinsed out. Like, strong-ass Listerine rinsed out…this movie will be the only thing you taste for the next 3 hours. Maybe that’s a bad analogy…because it’s a really awesome taste for the most part.
We start off ‘in the not too distant future…’ (la la la…but not ‘next Sunday A.D.’) where we see some of the old school X-Men cast: Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Ian McKellen as Magneto, Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde, Shawn Ashmore as Iceman, the guy who played Colossus as Colossus, Halle Berry as Storm and, of course, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Plus we have new additions of Bishop, Blink, Warpath aaaaaand, yeah, I can’t remember. I’m sure there are more. So, here we are, mutant apocalypse…actually just plain apocalypse (we get to the mutant Apocalypse later!). Sentinels have overrun humanity, searching out human and mutant alike. The remaining mutants under the joint leadership of Xavier and Magneto have been using hit and run raids (which use a little mutant trial and error) to get what they need for one last grand stratagem: to stop the Sentinels before they start.
Rewind to the Nixon 70s because, let’s face it, if there were any historic US president that’d be cool with giant robots “neutralizing” citizens, it’d be Nixon. Here we pick up with the new school crew from X-Men First Class. Xavier is a recluse taking a mutation suppressor so that he can retain the use of his legs with Beast taking care of him, Magneto is in prison under the Pentagon and Mystique is a loose cannon who aims to kill Bolivar Trask and end the Sentinel program…which, we learn from the future, is actually the thing that ends up triggering the Sentinel program.
So, we need a time traveler. And no, the Doctor is not an X-Man. You notice how I said earlier that the future guys have been using a bit of trial and error to accomplish their raids? Well, here they decide to use the technique big time. Of course, this technique somehow involves Kitty’s mutant powers…which, last time I checked, had more to do with passing through solid objects and not so much the space-time continuum. Meh, whatever. And…OF COURSE…as opposed to Kitty being the one sent back through time as it was in the original comic storyline, you KNOW it just HAS TO BE Wolverine. Grudgingly, I have to admit this makes sense…in a Dune/Duncan Idaho sort of way.
There are two things I can say which amount to the highest praise I could ever lay upon this movie. First, unlike every other single X-Men film (save for First Class), this one DOES NOT devolve into “The Wolverine Show”. Nearly everyone gets their time to shine…and yes, Quicksilver does steal each scene he’s in…as few as they are. You’ll never listen to Jim Croce’s ‘Time in a Bottle’ the same way ever again. In saying that, it means that the cast chosen to play these characters does their jobs well. I can even say that about Halle Berry. Now, I’m not on one side of the argument or the other regarding her acting ability, but I will say that her Storm has never really been particularly…good. The second, as I alluded to in the lead in, this movie wipes out practically the entire franchise…kind of like what the recent Star Trek reboot did. The film ends with the ultimate of call-backs…nearly every former X-Man from the previous films is back, including my favorite (and, yes, I know I’m weird for this) Cyclops.
It’s the way that this story is constructed, that it doesn’t become “The Wolverine Show”, and the way the film ends with everyone present, it filled me with hope for the future. It felt like Fox has set up its X-Men franchise to compete against Marvel Studios’ own Avengers driven movies. It feels like you could spin-off not just a Wolverine movie…but…well, pick a mutant! There are rumbles of an X-Force movie in the works...and after this, I’d go see it. This is where this film succeeds where Amazing Spider-Man 2 failed. Both had narrative challenges to establish a wider universe. Amazing Spider-Man 2 didn’t succeed. It continued to feel same old, same old and more tangled, jumbled and rushed than anything else. Days of Future Past pulls off a soft reset and makes you want to go deeper. They have the option to pick up any strand and follow it…and with the way this film was crafted, you want them to.
And then there’s the stinger. “En Sabah Nur! En Sabah Nur!” We see the pyramids of Egypt, fresh and new and a crowd chanting. And above it all is a robed, gray-skinned fellow…
Apocalypse is coming. And if it’s anything like Days of Future Passed, it will be awesome.
Oh, I nearly forgot...honorable mention for Peter Dinklage and his 70s porn 'stache. This little guy rocks hard...and...provided it's not Game of Thrones...his performance will make me look out for anything he appears in.