X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
By Gary Murray
Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence and Ian McKellen
Written by Simon Kinberg
Directed by Bryan Singer
Running time 131 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating Matinee
What can be said about the X-Men after half-a-dozen flicks? It is one of the biggest series in history, making millions and millions at the box office and on DVD. It is one of the strongest working franchises from Marvel and Hollywood. X-Men: Days of Future Past is the latest chapter in the superhero in tights saga.
The film combines elements from both X-Men movies and X-Men: First Class with bits of the Wolverine franchise mixed in. The film starts in NYC in 2023 with the last vestiges of mutants battling sentinel robots.
With a tip of the hat to Metropolis, we see the last bits of humanity marching down the halls of their doom. The robots were once programmed to hunt down mutants but now they are hunting down humanity, the breeders of mutants. No one is safe under their tutelage. It is a bleak existence for everybody but a stunning battle sequence.
Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Professor X (Patrick Stewart) have devised a plan. They want to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to 1973 to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). When she martyrs him, she seals the fate of both the mutants and the humans. In this future, they also capture her and use her blood to reverse engineer the Sentinels. To create a new future, Wolverine must alter the past.
Wolverine, back in 1973 and with his old body, finds the old X-Men Academy in total disarray. Eventually he locates a young Professor X who is also Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and they decide to break out Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto (Michael Fassbender) from a maximum security prison inside the Pentagon. They need him to find Mystique.
In what is easily the coolest scene of the film, Quicksilver (Evan Peters) uses his super speed to help the X-Men break out Magneto. (This is probably what the scenes of the Flash will look like in the up-coming series.) It is comical and whimsical how Quicksilver stops the police and deflects bullets. Everyone wants to see more of him in the next movie.
On the other side of the screenplay, Mystique is slowly plotting and planning her revenge. With her ability to morph into another person, she is the perfect clandestine spy. Mystique becomes a part of the negotiations to end the Vietnam War and free some fellow mutants. She does this so she can get close enough to Trask to kill him. The film builds to a confrontation that will either split the time-line off or destroy their current future.
The question is—how does this film hold–up as a single unit. One does not have to have seen all the other X-Men films to understand this outing but it sure does help. Characters are introduced and shown in cameos so fast that one feels as if this is just a greatest hits package for the fans. With so many characters, there is scant little time to make an impression. If you blink, you may miss Halle Berry in her small part.
Out of the entire cast, Jennifer Lawrence delivers the most screen time. She shows once again that she is the most brilliant young actress working in Hollywood. Hers in the most conflicted character, trying to do what she thinks is right. Her character is so divergent that it becomes Shakespeare in Blue, with overflowing pathos.
Both Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart have what could be called over-sized cameos. The two actors are basically the bookends to the more important middle story. Michael Fassbender once again gives a strong reading with his character who will eventually become Magneto. He is funny and surly with the right mix of internal conflict. He gets to deliver a few quips all the while keeping the snarl on his face. The scene where he lifts up a stadium is a classic moment.
The film is directed by Bryan Singer, the man behind such hits as The Usual Suspect and the other X-Men films. Here he plays to his strengths and gives the audience what they want, loads of explosions and battles. While it may not rate high on the consistency scale, it does win hands down on the geek factor.
The 3D effects are on par with an animated film, meaning they work exceptionally well. With so much CGI, the makers are able to manipulate the image to keep focus on the element and not get lost in the backgrounds.
If one is an X-Men fan, this will be another course to satisfy the appetite. It has all the elements that please the masses—explosions, fights and pathos emotion. This is definitely one for the fans and the fan-boys. If you didn’t care for the other films in this series, why would you go see this one?