X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

PG-13   |    |  Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi


X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) Poster

The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.


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16 May 2014 | shawneofthedead
9
| A stunning achievement – a blockbuster movie packed with at least as much heart as spectacle.
With its mind-boggling premise and jaw-dropping cast, X-Men: Days Of Future Past blasts into cinemas bearing the weight of great expectations. Surely this mash-up of X-Men past and future has the potential to be the best superhero blockbuster our world will ever see? Well, yes and no.

To be strictly objective, Days Of Future Past can occasionally come off as a little too earnest, its enormous cast of characters getting somewhat lost in the grinding of its narrative gears. But, when it works (which is most of the time), Days Of Future Past comes pretty darn close to nerdvana – this is a smart, rich film that effectively mines its source material (both the movies and Chris Claremont's classic 1981 storyline in the comic books) and its incredible cast for emotion, power and depth.

Flash forward to the bleakest of futures. X-Men we have known – led by perennial frenemies Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Erik Lensherr/Magneto (Ian McKellen) – are being hunted mercilessly by a horde of intelligent, death-mongering robots known as Sentinels. With little hope for survival, the desperate X-Men decide to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to the 1970s. There, he must find the younger Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik (Michael Fassbender) – several years estranged after the traumatic events of X-Men: First Class – and get them to change the future before it can happen.

Sounds simple enough? Not really. Days Of Future Past frequently threatens to fall foul of its complicated puzzle-box of a narrative, one that involves time travel, quantum physics and a swirling mess of characters, action and motivations. There's Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), creator of the Sentinel programme, whose assassination in the past by Charles' pseudo-sister Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) brings about the dystopia of the future. There are prison breaks, astral projections, and several grisly mutant deaths. Truthfully, this incredibly ambitious mix of character, plot and spectacle could very easily go horribly wrong.

What's so impressive about director Bryan Singer's return to the franchise is how well he weaves all the disparate threads of his narrative together. This is emphatically not the Singer who gave us mediocre misfires like Superman Returns and Jack The Giant Slayer. Rather, this is the work of the Singer who made his mark with films like X1, X2 and The Usual Suspects, all of which featured a masterful blend of wit and wisdom, character and story.

In Days Of Future Past, Singer skilfully plays on the schism that opened up between Erik and Charles at the end of First Class to add welcome depths of emotion to the high stakes already in play. The deep, difficult relationship between the two men has always been the fulcrum of the series, and Singer allows it to breathe and grow. With the help of McAvoy and Fassbender (not to mention Stewart and McKellen), some of the best actors in the business, the director makes it possible to believe that resentment can give way to forgiveness, and vice versa, often in the blink of an eye. McAvoy, in particular, gives a shudderingly good performance as a man called upon to help others when he's lost his own way.

With such an enormous revolving cast of characters, Singer even manages to give many – though not all – of them their hearts and souls. (Alas, Storm/Ororo, we will never know ye!) Thrust into the unlikely role of mentor to the broken, heartsore Charles, Wolverine must find a different sort of strength and ingenuity within himself. Jackman plays the role beautifully, anchoring the two timelines with charm and gravitas. Though still something of an awkward fit for her part, Lawrence, too, plays Raven's dilemma very well, as she wavers between Charles' offer of hope and Erik's often bloody single-mindedness.

But Days Of Future Past doesn't just mire itself in the toss and tumble of its characters' emotional journeys. Singer throws in a few crackerjack action sequences, opening the film with a heart-stopping massacre that very effectively underscores the dire threat posed by the Sentinels of the future. Crucially, Singer also finds the time and space within the darkest shadows of his story to have a little fun, judiciously tossing quips and sight gags into the mix – particularly in a tour de force prison break sequence, in which the preternaturally speedy Pietro Maximoff (Evan Peters), better known to comic aficionados as Quicksilver, literally runs away with the entire show.

Make no mistake about it, this is a behemoth of a film that won't go down well with everybody. Newbies will almost certainly find themselves lost, bewildered, and perhaps even bored. Singer's tale sprawls in so many directions that, if you're not at least marginally invested in the characters, it could prove to be a trying experience.

But, for everyone else, ranging from casual fans to enthusiasts and obsessives, Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg have crafted something truly remarkable. Steeped in history and lore, both of the cinematic and comic-book variety, Days Of Future Past feels like a dark love letter to the spirit of that original band of mutants and the message of hope, tolerance and humanity that has always accompanied their attempts to find their place on Earth.

Most remarkably of all, Days Of Future Past practically radiates a bravery and freshness that you'd never expect from the seventh film in a blockbuster franchise. Instead of playing it safe and sound, Days Of Future Past mashes up past, present and future, sweeping up a lot of what has been taken for granted in the X-Men cinematic universe and, well, chucking it out of the proverbial window. The ending of this film truly opens up an intriguing plethora of narrative possibilities that stretch in any and all directions. On the strength of this outing, that's something to be anticipated, rather than feared.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Peter Maximoff is never called Quicksilver in the film. He is always being referred to as Peter.


Quotes

Professor X: The future: a dark, desolate world. A world of war, suffering, loss on both sides. Mutants, and the humans who dared to help them, fighting an enemy we cannot defeat. Are we destined down this path, destined to destroy ourselves like so many species...


Goofs

(at around 49 mins) The newspaper that Wolverine prevents Magneto from picking up has the headline "Peace Treaty to be signed in Paris". The article then proceeds to describe the Paris Peace Accords of 1973 in the past tense.


Crazy Credits

SPOILER: The X-Films' title sequences features a weapon used by the villain of each film, backed by the X-Men's Cerebro device. In this film it is Boliver Trask's Sentinel machine, which is a mixture of circuitry and Mystique's cells.


Alternate Versions

In the extended cut, the following scenes are added:

  • There is additional footage of pictures of deceased mutants on a wall and there is extended dialogue, when Wolverine and the other mutants are discussing what can be done by going into the past and changing it.
  • There is an extra scene with Kitty Pryde and Iceman, before she sends Wolverine into the past.
  • The fight that Wolverine has when he wakes up in his past body is longer and grittier.
  • Wolverine gets into a car and tells an old girlfriend to lie low for a few days.
  • The whole sequence inside of the X-Mansion, when Wolverine is talking to Beast and Professor X about the future, is longer, with extra reaction shots and dialogue, from Professor X.
  • There is a small scene, where Iceman talks about going to find Rogue, since Kitty is losing a lot of blood, after being attacked by Wolverine.
  • The conversation that Charles and Raven have in the airport is longer and ends differently. Charles tells the others that he has no idea where Raven is going and they tell Charles that he needs rest.
  • There is a small scene of Beast asking Logan about his fate in the future, though, when he finds out that he is doomed, Logan eases him by saying that the future can still be changed. This scene was altered and came later on, in the film, in the theatrical version.
  • Raven goes to the X-Mansion to stay for the night, when she meets Beast and tells him that she has nowhere to go. The two share an intimate moment, on their own and Mystique tries to coax Beast into being proud of his appearance.
  • Iceman and Magneto go to the future X-Mansion and break in. There, they find Rogue, who has been experimented on. They take her out of the mansion, but Iceman sacrifices his life to save them, as soon as the Sentinels arrive. Magneto takes Rogue with him to Professor X, who fights off another Sentinel, and they escape the ruins of the Mansion. This entire sequence is inter-cut with the scene in the film of the younger Magneto going to retrieve his own helmet. There is even an alternate shot of him looking at the glass case, spotting the small coin that killed Sebastian Shaw, in the last film. In the rest of the 'future' scene, the arm of the Sentinel is stuck to the X-Ship, showing how the Sentinels find the X-Men in the end of the film. In the Theatrical version, it seems that the Sentinels just happen to come across them, later on.
  • Mystique goes into Cerebro and destroys the helmet, so that Charles can't track her down.
  • Rogue arrives with the other X-Men to tell Kitty about what has happened to Iceman and uses this moment of tragedy, for Kitty, to take her powers and carry on helping Wolverine stay in the past. All of the later scenes that take place in the future are now altered, by having Rogue be in Kitty's place, so all shots of Kitty, from this point on, have her sitting beside Rogue or on the floor. In the Theatrical version, all of the shots where Rogue is present, were changed to shots of Kitty and Iceman.
  • There is a short scene of the younger Charles, Beast and Wolverine talking about Mystique's sabotage of Cerebro.
  • There is more dialogue when Charles hides in the crowd, during the unveiling of the Sentinels, of the 1970's.


Soundtracks

Hail to the Chief
Written by
James Sanderson
Arranged by Will Schaefer
Courtesy of APM Music

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi | Thriller

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