Main cast: Hugh Jackman (Logan/Wolverine), James McAvoy (Younger Charles Xavier/Professor X), Michael Fassbender (Younger Erik Lensherr/Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Raven Darkholme/Mystique), Peter Dinklage (Dr Bolivar Trask), Nicholas Hoult (Dr Hank McCoy/Beast), Evan Peters (Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver), Shawn Ashmore (Bobby Drake/Iceman), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat), Omar Sy (Bishop), Daniel Cudmore (Peter Rasputin/Colossus), Fan Bingbing (Clarice Ferguson/Blink), Booboo Stewart (James Proudstar/Warpath), Adan Canto (Roberto da Costa/Sunspot), Halle Berry (Ororo Munroe/Storm), Patrick Stewart (Charles Xavier/Professor X), and Ian McKellen (Erik Lensherr/Magneto)
Director: Bryan Singer
X-Men: Days of Future Past is a sequel to X-Men: First Class, and I really recommend that you watch the previous movie first before tackling this one. There are also many cameos and Easter eggs that would be lost on people who are not familiar with the X-men, but missing out on these won’t really spoil one’s enjoyment of the movie.
This movie takes place a considerable time after the previous movie ended. We start in the future, where we get lots of blatant parallels to the Nazi genocide of the Jews in the opening scenes. You see, humanity is waging war on the mutants, and the powerful mutant-busting squad, the Sentinels, are robots that can mimic the powers of many powerful mutants to get the best of these mutants. If you throw fireballs, for example, the Sentinels would turn on their powers to freeze your fireballs and use ice to nullify your flames, so oops, you’re now dead. Humans who sympathized with the mutants are wiped out along with the mutants, as are humans who carry mutant genes that can cause them to produce mutant offspring some time down the road. The world is now a happy place.
The mutants are left to a ragtag bunch led by Iceman and Shadowcat. They are joined by Professor X, Storm, Wolverine, and Magneto in a final showdown with the Sentinels in a monastery in China. They have a plan, however. Shadowcat can send someone’s consciousness back to inhabit the body of that person in the past. Naturally, Wolverine is the only one whose brain can survive being sent back all the way to 1973, due to his fast healing ability, so he’s the one who would be the Marty McFly of this movie. What they plan to do is this: Wolverine would go back to 1973 and change the past for the better.
What happens is that, in 1973, Mystique kills Dr Bolivar Trask, a scientist who created the first generation of Sentinels after experimenting on mutants, but she is overpowered subsequently and arrested. The government decided that they needed something to deal with the mutants, after all, so the Sentinels became the backbone of the world’s mutant-busting army. Worse, Mystique’s DNA was used to give these Sentinels the ability to adapt and mimic mutant powers, making them very efficient in wiping out their targets. Therefore, if Wolverine can contact Charles Xavier of 1973 and they can together prevent Mystique from killing Dr Trask, then the future may be prevented.
Alas, Wolverine discovers a Charles Xavier that is mostly drunk, as the poor guy is unable to deal with Mystique’s decampment to Magneto’s faction and the subsequent breakdown of his mutant school due to the Vietnam War. He takes some drugs provided by Dr Hank McCoy to let him walk again, but the serum also inhibits his telepathic abilities. Also, they eventually decide to rope in the Magneto of 1973 too, which may not be the wisest thing they could do. Can they succeed in preventing the future from happening?
I know, the plot seems like a kitchen sink filled with elements from films like Terminator, Back to the Future, and such. To be fair, the comics are also full of alternate timeline plots and such, so it’s not like these folks are being spectacularly unoriginal just for this special occasion. Just like in X-Men: First Class, the plot here is nothing to get excited over.
In fact, the reason I couldn’t give this movie a higher score is because I find the story pretty daft at various instances. I am especially annoyed by 1973 Charles’s insistence that nobody should hurt or kill anybody, even if doing so would actually make things better for everyone. For example, killing off Magneto would free the world from one less crazy extremist who constantly demonstrates that there is nothing he won’t do to get his way. If Charles is really serious about improving the human-mutant relationship, he would make sure Magneto is at least behind bars. However, that’s not the case here, because, you know, nobody should get hurt and, also, we need a sequel and Michael Fassbender is the most exciting thing to happen to this franchise so killing his character off is the dumbest thing these folks can do. But in the context of the movie, Charles is always pulling an epic dumb stunt in his desire to be a Pollyanna. The resolution of the whole “What should we do with a problem like Mystique?” is also unbelievably simplistic to the point of insulting my intelligence.
Erik is pretty nasty and ruthless – and thus, sexy as hell – in this movie, which says a lot about Charles and the good guys in 1973 when he also ends up being the smartest and most pragmatic character in this movie.
Still, the movie works very well because, just like in the previous movie, this one lets the trinity of Charles, Erik, and Mystique continue to dominate the story, and the three lead actors have as always great chemistry with one another. Nicholas Hoult and the usually obnoxious Evan Peters provide great support and comic relief in their respective roles. Hugh Jackman plays Wolverine as he always does, and while Mr Jackman is very easy on his eyes in some clothes that are more porn star than X-Man – it is 1973, after all – Wolverine is Wolverine and the last few movies with him have not exactly been fun. Fortunately, this movie wisely lets Wolverine be more of a supporting character than limelight hog, so Wolverine’s shtick doesn’t feel as played out as it normally would. The movie focuses on the right thing – the complicated relationship of Erik, Mystique, and Charles – and this allows some degree of emotional poignancy to leak into the story. In many ways, this is Mystique’s story, and by the last act, she breaks out of the shadow of the two men that tended to make decisions for her, so I guess I can say that she has finally come into her own.
The movie ends with the future changed, so this movie is a retcon of the atrocity that took place in the previous X-Men movies that came before X-Men: First Class. It is unexpectedly sweet to see Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Rogue alive and well again by the final scene of this movie. I actually missed those times before the people making these movies decided that Wolverine should hog all the limelight to the detriment of the whole franchise.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is not as good as the previous movie, but it still makes all the right moves here. The focus is on the right people, and there is plenty of heart and soul to humanize the pyrotechnics and explosions in this movie. It retains all that is good about the previous movie, the guys are hot, and the film repairs much of the damage done to previous movies in the X-Men franchise. I could think of far worse ways to have a good time.