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X-Men: Days of Future Past - Spoiler-free review


Nathan Strum

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I'll admit I didn't have much interest in seeing the latest X-Men film. While I thought X-Men: First Class was good, the rest of the films in the series were very hit-or-miss. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was pretty bad, X-Men: The Last Stand was awful, The Wolverine was kind-of boring, and even in the first two movies which overall were pretty good, I felt that some of the characters were never really captured very well (Cyclops, Kitty, Rogue, Nightcrawler). The actors or writing for them just missed the mark. Plus we never got to see the X-Men work out in the Danger Room. That should have been one of the first sequences we got to see, and was a missed opportunity to show to the audience who these characters are, how they interact, and what their powers can do.

 

And I've never been that fond of the leather costumes. Too bland. Too similar looking. They needed some color in them.

 

But the cast did have their strong points - Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine, Storm, Mystique were all pretty-much nailed, and the films did a pretty good job of touching on some of the "persecuted because they're different" themes that are prevalent in the X-Men comics.

 

Besides, I was a huge X-Men fan back in my comic-collecting days, so when they decided to bring the Days of Future Past storyline to the movies, I pretty-much had to go. It had the potential to be either excellent, or catastrophically bad.

 

As it turned out, it was excellent, but they had to make some changes to the story to make it more palatable to movie audiences. For example, with Hugh Jackman being the franchise star, he had to be the one to go back in time instead of Kitty

(although apparently her phasing powers since the last movie have mutated to include psychic time-travelling - go figure).

 

 

XM:DOFP (really… they have got to start shortening these titles) manages to merge both the cast of The First Class and the previous movies into a cohesive unit. The time shifting works, and you really do get the sense that these two timelines and generations of characters are tied together (although I do wish they'd spent some more time in the future). Time travel is always a tricky subject, and can be confusing if not handled well, but it worked here. The goals and rules were established up front, and they (mostly) stuck to them. Keeping the audience on board with something potentially this complicated is challenging. Most people seeing this are certainly used to superhero movies by now, but that doesn't mean they know the back-catalog of X-Men comics. So there has to be a balance struck with keeping newbies on board with an understandable plot, and satisfying the comic-savvy viewers who are excepting more depth.

 

Across the board all of the characters worked for me, and I'd say this is the first X-film to achieve that. They didn't attempt to bring everyone from both sets of the films' casts into this movie. It would have just become a cluttered mess. They chose key characters carefully, and gave them important roles. The standout new character for the film is Quicksilver. I had always considered him to be a minor Flash-knockoff in the comic books, but he has the best moment in the new film. His role in the film is limited, but it's one of the best things about it, and I think one of the best superhero movie moments ever. It fully captures everything about his abilities and personality, and gives the best - and most fun - glimpse we've ever had from a superhero's point-of-view. It's that good. I'm now really curious to see what they do with that character in Avengers 2. Even though it's a completely different world, character and actor, there are going to be inevitable comparisons, and frankly, Joss Whedon has his work cut out for him.

 

One minor gripe - Beast is too light-blue. His fur should be a lot darker. It makes him look like a bad 70's shag carpet.

 

The story works very well. It has the sort of weight and importance a superhero movie should. There's an urgency about it, and an uncertainty about the outcome until the final conflict plays out. One of the things I like best about it, is the scale of the threat. It's on a planetary scale, and it feels like it. Unlike Man Of Steel, where you only had a hole being drilled through Metropolis and just two super-guys punching each other in the face, or even The Avengers where such a small part of New York was being attacked that just six people could hold the aliens at bay, this feels much bigger, because we see the ultimate consequences of actions in the past that play out in the future. Good stuff.

 

The filmmakers did a pretty-good job of setting the film in the 1970's. They must have raided every Goodwill store in the country to come up with that many fake leather jackets and bell-bottom pants. Some of the technology, however, looked a bit too modern. There's a mutant detector in particular that looked like something Apple would have designed just recently. It should have had chrome switches and fake woodgrain.

 

The special effects and action sequences (again, Quicksilver being a standout) were all top-notch. The past's Sentinels worked very well, although I expected them to be much bigger, as they had been in the comic books. The future sentinels (based loosely on Nimrod) were also well done, although their design reminded me a bit too much of the Destroyer from Thor.

 

Now then… a spoiler section. Since this is a spoiler-free review, I won't actually spoil anything specific. But still, if you haven't seen the movie yet, skip this part. Oh, and use Spoiler tags if commenting where appropriate.

 

 

One puzzling thing, which is never fully explained, is how Professor X is still alive in the future. He was outright killed in The Last Stand, and suddenly just showed up at the end of The Wolverine alive and well (apart from being in a wheelchair). The

from Last Stand showed he'd transferred himself into a vegetative man's body, so I guess this was apparently someone who just happened to look exactly like Xavier and also couldn't walk? But frankly, Last Stand was such a bad movie that it didn't bother me they took the opportunity to fix that. In fact, one of the best things about XM:DOFP is that time travel gives you an opportunity to fix many things, and they used that to a very satisfying effect by the end of the film.

 

 

The next movie (X:Men Apocalypse) is rumored to follow up with the First Class cast in the 80's, which I suppose is fine (time to raid the Goodwills again for parachute pants and shoulder pads). After all, it'd be difficult to keep making movies with two different casts in two different time periods. But still, I hope we do get to see some of the original cast again.

 

Anyway, X-Men: Days of Future Past is well-worth seeing on the big screen. Grab some popcorn and go!

 

It gets an 8.5/10.

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One thing that took me a long time to realize: The dark dystopian burnt-out future was the PRESENT! I thought that it was meant to be the future/near future, and I expected Wolvie to shift between the past, the preset and the future.

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