REVIEW: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014)
STARRING: Patrick Stewart, Ian
McKellen, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender
2014, 131 Minutes, Directed by: Bryan Singer
takes a bit to set up the story in X-Men: Days of Future Past. In the
2020s the world is a charnel house as robotic Sentinels have spent decades not
only tracking down and murdering mutants, but any “normal” person whose genetic
code indicates their children or grandchildren might become mutants. Friends
turned enemies turned friends again, Dr. Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto
(Ian McKellen) lead a dwindling number of mutants in fighting back, but it
doesn’t look good. However they have a plan.
It turns out that they have
been saved more than once by Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) being able to send
someone’s consciousness back before an attack to warn the others so they can
escape before the attack occurs. Now she has to attempt something never
tried before, sending Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back fifty years – to 1973 –
to prevent the moment that would lead to the creation of the Sentinels.
Raven, now known as Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), had murdered Dr. Bolivar
Trask (Peter Dinklage), who has been conducting experiments on mutants. As a
result of the murder Mystique is captured and her DNA as a shapeshifter is
incorporated into the Sentinels.
Wolverine not only has to
shift gears to 1973, but he has to do what it takes to get young Dr. Xavier
(James McAvoy) and young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to work together
again. Unfortunately Xavier is strung out on a drug that lets him walk
again, but suppresses his mental powers while Magneto is imprisoned in a
secret non-metallic facility deep beneath the Pentagon. Whew. That’s a lot
Once the story gets rolling, though, it does a solid job of telling its
story, mostly through set pieces filled with special effects, mutant powers,
and action. The Pentagon escape, for example, involves bringing in a young
man (Evan Peters) who can move at superspeed and who may be Magneto’s son.
There’s only a hint of that relationship, but the film is chock full of
references that will play well with long time Marvel fans while not always
getting picked up by the rest of us. The scene after the closing credits
features a character who is neither seen nor referred to anywhere else in
the movie. The Marvel fans in the audience will instantly know who it is. If
you’re not one, make sure you see the movie with someone who can provide the
"X-Men: Days of Future Past isn't the best of the series
. . ."
The film features a large
cast with brief appearances by Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, plus a host of
shoutouts for various mutants from the comics who don’t play major roles
here. The key characters are the young Xavier and Magneto, Wolverine, and
Mystique. They’re the ones with the most screen time and whose characters
actually develop over the course of the story. All are played by actors who
have played their roles at least once, with Jackman having played Wolverine
several times. All turn in solid performances. The only disappointment on
that score is with Peter Dinklage and that’s only because he’s not given
nearly enough to do. He’s at the center of the story, but his character is
really little more than a plot device.
Visually the film varies
from the murkiness of the future scenes to crisp action scenes set in 1973
at the Paris peace conference and on the White House lawn. Director Bryan
Singer, who helmed the first two X-Men films, knows
his way around the mythology and, in fact, is reportedly already prepping
the next one.
X-Men: Days of Future
Past isn’t the best of the series but it lets fans enjoy younger and
older versions of some of the characters and play in this corner of the
Marvel Universe. Next time, though, let’s have a bit less gimmicky plot and
instead focus on the real strength of the series, which are its complex
Daniel M. Kimmel is a
veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. He recently
released his first novel, Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood
and the Bartender’s Guide. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.
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