Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

 It's about 10 years in the future, and evil robots are killing both mutant and human alike.  So Wolverine gets sent back to the 70s to try to stop Mystique from killing the robots' inventor, Tyrion Lannister, because a) this causes the humans to fear mutants even more, and b) she gets captured, experimented on and her DNA used to make the robots invincible.  There's a catch, though:  to get to Mystique, Wolverine has to get Professor X and Magneto talking to each other again.  This is far from an easy task, as not only is the enmity between them strongest, but Magneto's in a high-security metal-free cell beneath the Pentagon for his involvment in the Kennedy assassination, and Xavier has forsaken his powers because 'Nam's such a bummer, man.

Like all the X-Men movies, Days of Future Past delivers highly engaging action sequences and loads of laughs, especially since time travel creates situations where we can laugh at people in the past's lack of knowledge of things to come.  (My favorite--Beast's monitoring system for 'all three networks--and PBS!')  And it was great to see so many of the characters we haven't seen since the last proper X-Men movie--Kitty Pride, Storm, Iceman, and the older Xavier and Magneto, and a few cameos that were awesome but way too spoilery to mention here.  It was a bit of a shame that some of less familiar mutants introduced in First Class were missing--they got drafted or worse--but at least we got to meet Quicksilver as a teenager straight out of That 70s Show. The sequence where he helps break Magento out of jail is brilliant.

The highlight of the film, though (aside from Hugh Jackman's rear or Jennifer Lawrence in blue paint--take your pick) is young Xavier's struggle to become the man we all know he'll be.  Massively depressed due to the closing of the school (students and teachers alike were being drafted in too great numbers), feeling betrayed by Mystique and Magneto, and unable to use his powers due to the cure for his paralysis, Xavier seems to have turned into a drunken selfish dickbag.  But we come to realise that what he really has to overcome is fear--fear of all the pain and suffering his powers expose him to.  There is a wonderfully heartwarming moment when young Charles meets older Professor X.  The only way the scene could have been better would be had Professor X told him to 'make it so.'

One thing that annoyed me about the Days of Future Past is what also bothered me about Wolverine:  Origins and First Class:  the massive slightly implausible battle at the end.  Now, all the X-Men movies have one, but in the past setting, they seem even harder to swallow.  It's a big leap of faith to believe mutants caused the Three Mile Island disaster or were involved in the Cuban Missle Crisis.  This time, it's even more bizarre, involving a baseball stadium and the White House.

The other thing I thought could be better was more time with young Xavier and Magneto working together.  X-Men 2 is still my favorite because I love it when they have to team up.  After the break-out, I was hoping to see this, but their time working as a team is shortlived, though, and soon Magneto is back to doing Magneto things.

Other than that, X-Men:  Days of Future Past is 2+ hours (was it really that long?) of solid entertainment.  And it's got pretty exciting prospects for the future of the X-Men franchise.  Without saying too much, the end basically reboots the entire universe.  Which means two things.  First of all, with no future continuity to worry about, we can see more of the retro origin story type films.  Second, with things changed, it means there's a whole new set of present X-Men stories to explore, especially given the reappearance at the very end of some much loved characters.

Imagine if The Last Stand never happened.  Beautiful.