X-Men: Days of Future Past has had a rocky road of expectations. When we first heard that there was a sequel to the beloved First Class, excitement ran high. Then there was the truck load of characters that were announced…then the time travel dilemma (which films struggle getting right mostly)…and then the pictures of the cast came out (Quicksilver = meh). Lows were had all around. And then the extended trailer hit; I lost my mind with how amazing it looked! So, in the end of this emotional roller coaster, expectations were very high for a summer movie that is jam packed with other superhero movies. Did I get what I want? Nope…I got more.
Hero movies usually start their movie with an introductory action sequence; Amazing Spider-Man 2 had the opening chase scene, The Dark Knight had the Joker robbing a bank and even Iron Man 2 had a spectacle of what Tony Stark is all about. Nothing, and I mean nothing, could set up a movie better than the opening of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Some of the X-Men are on the run from some suped up robots. Iceman, Colossus, Warpath, Blink and Sunspot are busy fending these unstoppable monstrosities off while Kitty Pryde is busy zapping Bishops head with one of her powers. After some truly brutal deaths at the hands of these monsters, Kitty tells these invaders “Too late, a**holes!”
We then find some more familiar looking X-Men, including Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McCellan), Storm (Halle Berry) and the ultra-popular Wolverine (Hugh Jackman…reprising this role for the seventh time!), touch down in a mountainous area in the Blackbird. When we see everyone who just died come strolling out of a temple, the natural question is; BWAH?!? Apparently, Kitty (Ellen Page) was busy sending Bishop’s consciousness back in time a few days so that he can warn the team when these robots, dubbed Sentinels, will be attacking them. Professor X and Magneto came to find Kitty so that someone can go back to the 70’s and stop Mystique (a blue skinned, red haired shape shifter that has been a fixture in all of the X-Men movies) from killing Bolivar Trask, the creator of the mutant hunting Sentinels. This assassination created legislation that would expedite the use of Sentinels; the shape shifting, power stealing Sentinels of the future come from the capture and analysis of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and her unique ability. Kitty expresses that she has never done that before due to the fact that it would tear the mind of the person apart. Then ol’ Wolvy steps in and volunteers; you see, Wolverine can heal almost as fast as he is hurt so shredding his brain would only sting for a bit. The only problem? Wolverine, or Logan, must stay calm in order for him to not be drawn back to the present/future. Uh oh…
As soon as Logan is back in the past, he needs to seek out Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and convince him that he is sent from the future as well as teaming up with the person who betrayed Professor X in Magneto (Michael Fassbender). With Magneto being held in a glass/plastic/concrete prison under the Pentagaon, the newly formed team (Beast, the teams heart and scientific mastermind, is along for the ride as well) must find a way to free the master of magnetism. Enter Quicksilver. Quicksilver (Even Peters) drew the ire of several fans for a number of reasons including the two that were most discussed: his look and him not being Magneto’s son (for the comics nerds; this was due to legal mumbo jumbo). I will admit that I was one of the detractors and let me tell you something…I was waaaaaay wrong! The look is still a little goofy, but the scene that he is in is set in the 70’s and everyone looked goofy. Anyway, Quicksilver stole the movie in any scene that he is in; his quick wit (see what I did there) was spot on and not too over the top. The scene that seems to stop, because Quicksilver is moving faster than anyone can register, was one of the more breathtaking moments in movies that I can remember and should not be missed by anyone. It’s that good.
Once Magneto is freed, the team head off to stop Mystique from ruining the future. Once the crisis is averted, Magneto does his evil thing (shocker!) and turns on Mystique. The ensuing fight not only wounds Mystique but sends Logan on a hissy fit since he’s lost his calm. Xavier can’t do anything to stop the ensuing chaos since he’s using a chemical created by Beast that helps his spinal cord mend but inhibits his powers; so instead he sends Beast out to stop Magneto from killing Mystique. This fight scene is quite intense and shows off, along with his altercation with Wolverine, how truly badass Beast is in not only his scientific mind but also his fighting prowess. However, there were several people and cameras there…uh oh. Looks like the cat’s out of the bag for keeping super powered mutants under wraps.
In order to find Mystique and stop the terrible future from occurring, Xavier has to kick his healing drug habit and use his powers in conjunction with Cerebro, the mutant finding mega machine. It appears as if Mystique is heading to the Sentinel unveiling, so Xavier, Beast and Wolverine head that way to stop her shenanigans. Magneto has other ideas, though. He hijacks the train that is carrying the Sentinels and rigs some metal into the otherwise ceramic robo-cops. He uses this metal to turn the Sentinels on humans to prove his point of mutant superiority at an event designed to show off the mutant hunting Sentinels . In the midst of all this chaos, Mystique uses the opportunity to try and finally off Trask. Xavier manages to convince her not to murder Trask, thus ending the future Sentinel threat (which is good since Kitty’s mutant protectors were slaughtered). Mystique then turns on Magneto, removing his helmet and letting Xavier calm the situation as Mystique and Magneto flee the scene. Wolverine wakes up in the “present” to find not only the dystopian future mutants alive and well but also the previously dead Jean Grey and Cyclops (Famke Jansen and James Marsden reprising their previous roles). All is well in the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. For now…
First and foremost, I will admit that I was pretty excited for this movie…at first. I adored First Class and thought that the relationship between Xavier and Erik/Magneto was so endearing and built on their future rivalry. I was excited to see where this would lead to in DoFP and it delivered significantly. Erik wants mutant equality through any means necessary, even if it includes murder while Charles abhors violence; this paradoxical relationship is the foundation that has allured so many X-Men fans and made the comics and movies so popular. The huge accompanying cast was worrisome at first, but director Bryan Singer delivered. The future mutant characters didn’t need a lot of backstory and the action was well paced and excellently choreographed. The payoff on some of the mutant powers, especially Magneto (he drops a stadium around the Sentinel unveiling for protection for crap’s sake!), are very impressive and showcase what good superhero film making takes. Since this is an alternate storyline, Singer was allowed free reign to deliver a ton of brutality, including killing blows to some beloved characters, without threat of rebuke…and it was glorious! The acting, especially by principles McAvoy and Fassbender, was top notch and head and shoulders above many in the hero movie genre.
No movie is without reproach and I do have a few squabbles with Days. The most egregious point of contention being the entire train heist scene. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good train heist (read: watch Firefly), but the fact that Magneto can add metal to these robots and take control of them just doesn’t make any sense; wouldn’t these things have some sort of circuitry in them? Does Magneto know how to circumvent this to use all of their abilities? I doubt it. Also, the part where Magneto flies onto the train and rips the tracks up to use in his Sentinel hijacking was some truly awful green screen usage and totally took me out of the movie. This scene aside, I had no big problems with the flick but it is worth mentioning.
The last thing I want to mention is the post credit scene. No one does these super teasers better than Marvel and this one is a doozy! If anyone is familiar with the X-Men comics then you’ll know about the super mutant Apocalypse. Apocalypse, also known as En Sabah Nur, is the world’s first mutant and one of the more powerful beings on the face of the Earth. His abilities in molecular and energy manipulation, teleportation, telekinesis and psionic powers are unrivaled in comic book mutants. Oh, and did I mention that he is immortal? Every time he resurfaces, it takes all of the X-Men to thwart his plans and even then he never dies, he just gets delayed a bit. The very brief scene shows a robed, younger Apocalypse building the Egyptian pyramids with but a thought while his four horsemen look on in the background. The next movie is already known to revolve around this super-badass so this teaser wasn’t a huge surprise but it was awesome nonetheless.
If you have any interest in comics, superhero films or just movies in general, this movie is a must see. The visual effects (with one small exception) are bar none and the action is some of the best I’ve ever seen. Ever. The relationships built in First Class are expounded upon and the chemistry of the cast is tangible. The huge ensemble cast is mixed together very well and the acting is top notch for a film of this nature. The future looked bleak at the start of this film, but cast and crew changed all that in the course of a few hours with no mutant abilities to aid them. With the impending apocalypse upon us, we are safe in the fact that the X-Men will save us from the inevitable doom of death and movie theater boredom. Is it the apocalypse yet?