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Film Review: 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'

I've always been curious about movies, especially interested in how they create characters that resonate emotionally with the audience.

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X-Men: Days of Future Past is an exciting movie, one I think every X-Men fan would enjoy. It opens with some few remaining mutants holding out against a bleak future for their kind. In desperation, Wolverine is sent back to the past to undo this future.

Plot

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The movie opens on a bleak, dark future for mutants. A few who remain free are fugitive holdouts, hiding in a place that resembles an old Japanese castle, but with weird stain glass bricks everywhere, giving it a disco-y feel. (Future?)

They're about to be overtaken by these formidable fiery robots called Sentinels. In a final act of desperation before they're wiped out, the mutants send Wolverine into the past. His mission is to connect with 1973 Charles Xavier and help him stop Doctor Trask. Trask had experimented on Raven, aka Mystique. Wolverine's task is to stop his project, save Raven from being a human guinea pig, and warn Charles Xavier to stop Trask from completing his Sentinel project. The general idea of this project is to help the government subdue and capture mutants.

Info

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TitleX-Men: Days of Future Past

Studio

20th Century Fox, Marvel Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Bad Hat Harry Productions, & The Donners' Company; Distributed by 20th Century Fox

Year

2014

Producers

Bryan Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner, Simon Kinberg, & Hutch Parker

Director

Bryan Singer

Main Actors/Actresses

Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, & Patrick Stewart

Writers

Screenplay by Simon Kinberg; Story by Jane Goldman, Simon Kinberg, & Matthew Vaughn; Based on Days of Future Past by Chris Claremont & John Byrne

Cinematographer

Newton Thomas Sigel

Music by

John Ottman

MPAA Rating

PG-13

Run Time

2 hours, 11 minutes

Box Office

$747.9 million

Awards

Visual Effects Society Awards for Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal/Live Action Feature Motion Picture & Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal/Live Action Feature Motion Picture; Empire Award for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy; Saturn Award for Best DVD/BD Special Edition - X-Men: Days of Future Past (The Rogue Cut)

Review

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This movie explores time travel, a concept I'm interested in, and it had characters I like. But it was hard to get into this one. Since Wolverine is the only one going back in time, many of the mutants who are there at the beginning of the film are absent throughout most of the movie's run time. So you're dazzled by an admittedly glorious battle scene in the beginning of the movie, but it kind of falls flat in terms of interest or action after that initial hook.

The movie feels a bit more like an episode in a miniseries than a movie. As such it's not bad. The time travel and presence of Patrick Stewart calls to mind Star Trek: Next Generation and Doctor Who, which the movie feels similar to. There are some good performances here. Raven, and/or her stunt double, looks great during the action scenes she's involved in. Both past and present versions of Charles Xavier carry most of the emotional weight of the movie. The supporting cast don't do a heck of a lot past the beginning, but they do a lot to pull you in. Peter Dinklage is interesting as the antagonist Wolfie is trying to stop in the past.

The weak spots are that the movie feels, by focusing on the comic books' roots during the Vietnam War, out of touch with the present, as if the writers aren't at this point capable of writing a modern, updated X-Men story relevant to the era of the war on terror. It may please the die-hard comic fans, but being stuck in the past feels like failure to innovate. The presence of Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War are pretty big throughout the movie, but they end up playing little role in the story, less even than the Cuban Missile Crisis played in X-Men: First Class. In both cases, the history lesson is a minor background event that's part of a larger story about mutants. World War Two functions as this in The Wolverine, a catalyst for the plot, but mass human death is not that important compared to the one mutant who catches the camera's eye. Both seem to use the theme park version of war, without re-creating anything that evokes the horrors of actually being in a war.

One thought I had while watching this was that maybe the Marvel universe has so many different back stories for its characters, because that is the real consequence of a universe de-stabilized by time travel.

At any rate, the final impression is that the movie is interesting, but it somehow feels incomplete, like I said - more like an episode in a series.

© 2019 Rachael Lefler