Of all the superhero movies, the X-Men are my favorite. Except, of course, for X-Men 3 – an atrocity we fans avoid speaking of like it’s the movie equivalent of Voldemort. X-Men: First Class was one of my favorite movies ever. I was looking forward to Days of Future Past, not just because it’s the sequel, but because it promised to erase X-Men 3 from history.
Wolverine is sent back to 1973 to stop an assassination that will lead to an apocalyptic future full of invincible mutant-hunting super-robots.
I had some slight worries regarding time travel rules and the huge cast of mutants, but I’m happy to report that they were groundless. Though there were some themes that were repeated from other movies, everything else was great. I’ll buy the DVD for sure.
Days of Future Past opens like The Terminator. It’s the future, there are a lot of skulls lying around in the dirt, and giant invincible robots called Sentinels are hunting down and killing mutants and humans who are likely to be parents or grandparents of mutants (so… everyone).
Welcome to the Sentinel Community Barbecue, where YOU are the hot dog.
A plucky band of mutants: ice-making Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), matter-phasing Shadowcat (Ellen Page), metal-skinned Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), energy-absorbing Bishop (Omar Sy), portal-making Blink (Bingbing Fan), super-soldier Warpath (Booboo Stewart), and flamey Sunspot (Adan Canto) spend their days getting killed by Sentinels and their nights going back in time to warn themselves of their impending doom.
The Sentinels are coming! Also, tonight’s lottery numbers are 5, 1, 3…
I don’t remember Shadowcat having that power, but whatever. When Professor X (Patrick Stewart) hears about it, he comes up with a plan: send himself back into his younger body and stop this whole thing from happening. The only problem is that nobody’s mind is strong enough to handle the journey… except Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), who has super-healing.
Unfortunately, super diplomacy is not one of his many talents.
While Shadowcat’s band plus Storm (Halle Berry) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) play keep-away with the Sentinels, Shadowcat sends Wolverine back to 1973. The rules for this are clear. As long as she keeps him there, past and future both exist. But when he de-phases, the future will change and Wolverine will be the only one who remembers the old future. And the movie never beaks these rules, which earns it two huge thumbs up.
Past self: I have an important question for you: where did I leave my car keys?
In 1973, there’s a new bunch of mutants and some overlaps. On the ‘good’ side is Professor X’s younger self Charles Xavier (James MacAvoy) a bitter paraplegic who uses drugs to deaden his psychic powers, Beast (Nicholas Hoult), a scientist who can turn into a hairy blue thing, and Quicksilver (Evan Peters), whose super-speed is so super-amazing and super-useful in battles that they had to send him home halfway through the movie because otherwise all their problems would be incredibly easy to solve.
While you were standing there like lumps, I cured all the world’s diseases.
On the ‘bad’ side is Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) – who invented the Sentinels and wants to use them to kill all the mutants – and the Young William Stryker (Josh Helman) – whom you may remember from X2: X-Men United. Technically both are human, but Trask has a seemingly magical ability to show up in closed meetings of politicians and Generals.
Not now, Stryker. My money sense is tingling.
On the ‘yo-yo’ side is the young Magneto – Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), a metal-controlling mutant whose only goal in life is to protect mutants, even if it involves murdering a lot of people, and Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), the shape-shifting mutant who went over to Erik’s dark side in First Class. Her actions will doom the world unless Charles can reclaim their old friendship.
Dammit, why couldn’t you be an ugly dude who doesn’t care about me?
So there are a LOT of characters, but since many of them only show up briefly, there’s a huge dividing line between past and present, and they have such great dialogue, it doesn’t get too confusing. Plus, you don’t have to remember their names – only their powers – in order to enjoy the unusual tactics that come from a battle in which everyone can break the laws of physics in a different way.
Portal fights = most awesome thing ever.
One of my favorite things about First Class was the Anakin/Obi-Wan friends-who-became-enemies aspect of Charles and Erik’s relationship and Raven’s struggle to decide which of them she wanted. These relationships don’t really develop any further in Days of Future Past. I would even consider them something of a re-hash.
CHARLES: You were my brother, Anakin!
ERIK: You said that already.
My other complaint is that part of Wolverine/Charles/Beast’s mission was to stop the humans from seeing them as a threat. That’s the same thing they were trying to do in X-Men 2, and I think it’s a bit of a stretch to have humans think positively of mutants after their very public extravaganza of destruction.
Mom, some blue hairy guy is drowning a man in a fountain. Oh, and the stadium’s gone.
However these minor flaws are completely erased by the spot-on use of humor and by the ending, in which Bryan Singer makes it clear that a) he’s back, so everything will be alright again and b) X-Men 3 can go f*** itself. I look forward to future Bryan Singer X-Men movies in the “present” and I urge you all to see Days of Future Past, especially if you’re still pissed about X-Men 3.