Days of Future Past: Review

The Future is Prologue
Bryan Singer | May 23, 2014

If you wanted a sequel to First Class or The Wolverine, a prequel to X-Men and a spinoff to X-Men Origins: Wolverine then this is the movie for you. Alternatively, if you never saw an X-Men movie and want superhero film, this is a good jumping on point. Despite all Team Futurethe baggage and ridiculous convoluted timelines, there is an insular story that entertains audiences and makes sense (for the most part). The cast do an excellent job reprising their roles and the film wisely focuses most of its time on a smaller cast of heroes, saving scenes where a million mutants and the kitchen sink are on display for quick summer blockbuster fan service.

In the future, mutant hunting robots known as Sentinels watch over the world and destroy or capture anyone with an X-gene. This includes mutants and those humans who are capable of breeding mutants. The world is dark and dreary; a tone emphasized in the environment, demeanor and hopelessness of every character. There is one hope, and through a surprisingly well explained series of events Wolverine’s consciousness is sent to the 1970’s to prevent the Sentinel threat from ever being created. This creates a story of redemption, for specific characters and the entire future itself.

What is a Critical Hit!

After appearing in every X-Men movie, Hugh Jackman is Wolverine; his depiction of the character is more iconic than Logan’s current escapades in comics. Michael Fassbender as a young Magneto, James McAvoy as his friend/rival Xavier and the rest of the cast (mostly) do an amazing job bringing these characters to life. The groundwork regarding mutations and relationships was laid in Wolverineprevious films, allowing these characters to engage in conversations and use their powers without heavy exposition. Each character has their own distinct voice and they mesh well with each other to create believable character conflict.

The characters are the true heart of this entry. There is the ticking clock as Wolverine attempts to change the future but the transformations of Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique (unintentional pun), Magneto and Xavier are the driving force of the movie. There is a scene between every one of them that highlights their complicated relationships and why they are pillars of the mutant community. This is a story about family and redemption as much as it is large action sequences.

Most of the eye catching scenes occur in the future. Here mutants are fighting for their lives and throw everything into these battles. The Sentinels are able to match their strength and utilize a strong barrage of powers themselves. These scenes are quick, typically don’t drag out and emphasize the mutant struggle for survival. This is a great opportunity to showcase lesser known mutants and have new characters enter the fray of battle but doesn’t bog down the story.

Bryan Singer returns to the X-Men franchise and attempts to fix everything ‘wrong’ with the previous installments. This is accomplished through classic comic book tropes and is explained every step of the film. Fans will be glad for the changes and it is Magnetoan ambitious goal that is surprisingly pulled off well. Singer references every X-Men film within this entry and cleverly acknowledges characters who were prominent in First Class but absent during this sequel

Potentially a mixed bag, but more good than bad, is the usage of 1970’s references. The technology, music, clothes and world politics of the situation constantly remind viewers of what decade they are in. There are a few scenes where this creates a good framework for the story and interlays scenes with historical footage but it can go too far and beat fans over the head with it.

What is Not Very Effective…

Another section that divides viewers, but is more bad than good for me, is the inclusion of Quicksilver. The speedster utilizes his powers to the same special effects as television’s Smallville. That’s great for a TV show, but lacking in a summer blockbuster. His involvement is comedic relief the entire time and even the most dangerous situation our heroes find themselves in is resolved by the speedster prankster. As quickly (intentional pun) as he appears he disappears within the film; due to his overpowered abilities he would have been a great asset to the team for the rest of their mission…or not include him at all. His addition also comes with awkward references to who his father is, but it’s never explained.

As great as characters are in the moment, their motivations behind the situation are lacking. Magneto will change allegiances, agendas and drop a plan that he seemed passionate about throughout the film. Nothing done is out of character but it never is fleshed out well. Hank McCoy went through a retcon between First Class and DOFP. He is no longer, “Mutant and proud” but literally hides his mutation through drugs. It works within the film and allows McCoy to be in public without causing a stir, but feels like backtracking the previous character arc.

The “science” behind the scenes is explained but still falls flat. Beast’s drug to suppress mutations also allow Charles to walk…okay. Within the film, Magneto interacts with Sentinels in a way that doesn’t really make any sense no matter how you analyze it. Time travel is tricky, and once Wolverine delivered the message to stop the Sentinels his mission is complete but the future is still in flux Team Pastuntil the film’s conclusion. The creation of the Sentinels themselves is explained, but is used more to tie characters together than anything that meshes with previous knowledge of the giant robots.

Status Summary

DOFP is able to capitalize on the momentum from First Class and create one of the better entries into the series. Snyder splits the film between large spectacle scenes in the future and quieter character moments in the past. Fans are able to experience both eras seamlessly and the movie is able to tie in elements from each previous release. Before watching, there was concern that DOFP would crumble under the weight of too many mutants and Easter eggs; this is not the case at all.

If you prefer your movies to be grounded or contain a non-stop series of explosions, than this entry is one you should leave in the past. If you enjoy sci-fi action, superhero escapades and character moments; than this is an entry you will enjoy in your future…or you already did past days.

Score: 8.0 /10

+ Large Scale Action Sequences
+ Ties to Every X-Men Movie
+ Uncanny Cast
– Murky Motivations
– Comic Book Science


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