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[Movie Review] X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Official Website Plot Summary: 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. Director: Bryan Singer Writers: Simon Kinberg (screenplay), Jane Goldman (story), Matthew Vaughn (story) Runtime: 131 min Main Cast:

  • Hugh Jackman as Logan / Wolverine
  • James McAvoy as Charles Xavier
  • Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr
  • Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier
  • Ian McKellen as Erik Lehnsherr
  • Jennifer Lawrence as Raven / Mystique
  • Halle Berry as Storm
  • Nicholas Hoult as Hank / Beast
  • Anna Paquin as Rogue
  • Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde
  • Peter Dinklage as Dr. Bolivar Trask
  • Shawn Ashmore as Bobby / Iceman

Review: by Anthony and Lee

We enjoyed X-Men: First Class, so we had to see the sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, which brought together both new and old generations X-Men.

What We Liked:

The acting in X-Men: Days of Future Past (DoFP) was definitely solid for the most part.

James McAvoy nailed the role of Professor Charles Xavier again.  His acting skills were definitely put to the test as he portrayed such a lost, defeated version of the Professor, the likes of which we have never seen in an X-Men adaptation.

Michael Fassbender captured the raw emotion and power of Magneto in a way that Anthony described as “brilliant.”  His scene on the airplane with Xavier is one of the most interesting in the entire movie.

Jennifer Lawrence did a pretty good job herself, portraying a very conflicted Raven/Mystique.  She did a solid job of conveying the internal conflict her character faced in deciding who she was and what ideals she held.

Hugh Jackman must have the Fountain of Youth in his backyard and, beside that, the personal gym of Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Hugh Jackman was jacked once again playing Logan/Wolverine, and, since he found his Wolverine groove long ago, it was apparent that he could play this role in his sleep.  He managed a very capable balancing act, weighing seriousness against comedic one liners, taking center stage when necessary but blending into the background when not — like the veteran actor he is.

What would any comic book movie be without some good action scenes and cool special effects, though? In addition to a bit of solid acting, we are very glad to say that DoFP delivered on both fronts.

Out of all of the announced characters that were announced to appear in this film, we were most apprehensive about Quicksilver.  Capturing a speedster is always weird, partly because there’s only two real ways to display super speed.  Either you have the environment around them frozen and they walk at a normal pace, or you have the inverse, which is everything moving a regular speed with some blur or teleportation-like effect.  DoFP utilized a clever mix of both effects, creatively used to make Quicksilver one of our favorite new characters.

In the future timeline there were several great fight scenes with Blink, Warpath, Colossus, Iceman, Sunspot, and Bishop working together as a team, and the effects used to display and highlight each person’s power were awesome.  The fight scenes reminded us of something you would see the X-Men practicing in the danger room.  The synergistic use of each other’s powers to take down larger, more dangerous foes was classic X-Men.

Mystique had a bunch of fight scenes as well, with the majority of them displaying her adeptness at overcoming her enemies despite being outnumbered.  It was cool seeing her flip, twist, and twirl, knocking out her foes left and right with gymnast-like kicks.

Last but most certainly not least was the Master of Magnetism.  From the trailers, we knew that he was going to lift RFK stadium, but that didn’t hinder the awesomeness of the scene at all.  If levitating football stadiums isn’t your cup of tea, he did a bunch of other classic Magneto moves as well, like manipulating large scraps of metal, flipping cars, and taking firearms and turning them back on their owners.

Big name actors, flashy effects, and action-packed fight scenes can only take a movie so far, and we expected those to be at least of decent quality. However, we feared that the plot just would not pull its weight.  We thought this would be another X-Men movie that was secretly a Wolverine focused film. We were pleasantly surprised.  Although the entire premise of the plot was hinged on Logan’s success in the past, the movie was really a follow up to the Professor Xavier vs Magneto story, and McAvoy and Fassbender made it interesting once again.

Perhaps the best thing about the plot of DoFP, however, was how they “fixed” the weird story lines from the first X-Men trilogy and two Wolverine movies.  This was actually a point of contention between us, though, hence the quotation marks around the word “fixed.”  While Anthony felt that DoFP repaired the other movies’ plots, I contended that erasing something does not repair it. Either way, we appreciated how it resolved some major issues and oversights from the previous trilogy and paved the way for a wealth of possible future X-Men movie plots.

We would like to mention as a final note that we saw this screening in 3D, but, aside from one scene in particular, there weren’t a bunch of scenes that were heavy with 3D effects.  The 3D did not give us massive or even slight headaches, however, so we will count it as a positive attribute.

What We Didn’t Like:

While there were a multitude of things we liked, there were definitely also a few things that we found irksome.  No comic book movie is safe from messing up and confusing things from the source material, big and small, and things only get more confusing if there are previous movies to consider, movies that laid out faulty timelines of events, character ages, and character relationships already.  However DoFP tried to “fix” the other movies, much was left confused or just plain wrong.

First, since when did Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat get the mutant power to send a person’s consciousness into the past?  We would have been pretty understanding on this front if they had only slightly tweaked her powers to allow for it, but this particular power was not even slightly related to what Shadowcat’s real abilities were.

Second, why did they change Quicksilver’s name?  What was wrong with calling him Pietro?  Why Peter?  Was his name not American enough?! It was stupid and unnecessary.

Third,  how was Alex Summers/Havoc enlisted in the armed forces back in 1973 when his older brother, Scott was approximately thirty-ish fifty years later, in 2023?  Were they not supposed to be related? Wouldn’t this snafu ruin some potential future X-Men movie plots?

Fourth and finally,  how did Wolverine have his adamantium claws in 2023 at the beginning of the movie?  At the end of second solo Wolverine movie, he only had the bone claws because his adamantium ones had been severed.  How did he get them back?

Those were not our only problems, however.  We had two huge additional ones: Mystique and Beast.  Their make-up/special effects were horrible.

For X-Men: First Class, Jennifer Lawrence wore full-body prosthetics, but for DoFP, she wore a body special bodysuit.  The change was noticeable, and it looked cheaper, shoddier.

Nicholas Hoult/Beast just looked terrible.  There is no other way to say it.  Before the movie came out, there were articles explaining why he was in his “human” form instead of full time beast. We didn’t like the explanation then, and time hasn’t healed that wound.

Summary

We enjoyed the movie, though Anthony though much more highly of it than I did. Considering it only as a movie, it was definitely good. As an X-Men movie, it was the best one yet, but the franchise still has plenty of room for improvement.

4

Images courtesy of IMDB

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