X-Men as a franchise has been hit or miss over the last fifteen (wow fifteen?) years. The first trilogy of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine dominated films had at least two good movies, the follow up Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was all around mediocre. After that the studio decided to take a break from Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in order to center the film on the much more interesting characters of Professor X and Magneto in X-Men: First Class.
X-Men: Days of Future Past stars Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, fighting for the future with tag-alongs from all the other movies against the Sentinels; robots designed with the specific intent of rounding up and/or genociding the mutants, people born with special powers. One of Wolverine’s tag-alongs, Kitty Pryde, originally a mutant with the ability to phase through walls and floors now has the ability to send someone’s mind into the past and rewrite the future. With a limited amount of time before the Sentinels find where they are hiding out, Wolverine must go back in time and tag along with young Professor-X and young Magneto in order to stop young Mystique from killing the Sentinel’s creator, Bolivar Trask.
The big pull of the X-Men movies has also been its biggest problem. After fifteen (wow really, fifteen?) years of making these movies, only a couple have managed to really synchronize the ensemble cast. With so many characters, their development can feel a bit rushed and some things might go completely unexplained. For the most part all of these films have four or five big set pieces for individual characters to show off their powers, but in plot unaffecting ways. Besides that everyone will converse with each other about what it means to be different or how they’re going to break into the main bad guy’s base of operations like a super-Ocean’s 11. So how does D.o.F.P. do in that regard? Well, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The best parts of this film are when Professor X and Magneto butt heads over what it means to be different in a world that won’t accept them. The weirdest parts are when you spend time fighting with or for mutants (some of whom you’ve seen before) and then after their moment is over, never see them again. The special effects and choreography of the scenes themselves are fine, but when an overpowered character like Quicksilver steps in to solve a problem and steps out like the ghost army in Return of the King, it makes one wonder what the point of them being there really was.
The only other thing worth mentioning is that the science of this movie is really wonky. It’s never bad enough that it breaks the film, but there are some moments where you have to stop and ask yourself if what’s happening even makes “movie” sense. Like one particular scene where Trask unveils a mutant detector that can somehow read someone’s genetic code from several feet away. Does constant time travel actually erases events completely (while maintaining the traveler’s memory) or does it create a separate timeline altogether? When (SPOILER ALERT) Magneto rips apart train tracks and uses the metal strands to control the Sentinels in transport, one has to wonder just what kind of control his powers really are. Usually he’s shown lifting big objects or several small objects with precision and accuracy, but here it seems like he’s also controlling the electronic and mechanical components in several of these machines. How does that work? (SPOILER END)
If you’re a fan of the series so far, it’s definitely worth it to check out Days of Future Past. The wonky science and characters who are just passing through won’t deter you from having a good time with this movie. And it really is a good time. The action is fun, the set pieces are big, the powers are all varied enough to stay interesting, and it’s always fun to watch people impersonate Richard Nixon.
X-Men: Days of Future Past Premiers Saturday, April 11th at 8:00pm on HBO.
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