X-Men: Days of Future Past - Review


X-Men will probably never team-up with the Avengers on-screen, but what if the X-Men of the original trilogy would meet up with the younger First Class X-Men? - Wish granted.
With X-Men: Days of Future Past, director of the originals, Bryan Singer, takes on one of the most iconic story archs from the X-Men comic series.
Balancing such a huge cast, handling the time travel plot and having a satisfying ending that would pave a way for the old and new X-Men at the same time, makes this movie seem like a monster of a project.
Days of Future Past might easily be the most ambitious entry in the franchise yet with there being just as much that can go right as it can go wrong.
Now that it's released, does it withstand the hype and odds?   

The plot:
The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The characters from the original X-Men film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from X-Men: First Class in an epic battle that must change the past - to save our future
Source: Twentieh Century Fox 

In a dark dystopian future, mutants are hunted and exterminated by huge robots called Sentinels. There, mutants as well as humans, who helped them, are either instantly killed or put in concentration camps by the Trask company, who is out to cleanse the world from every mutant.
Posing as the last few rebells against the Sentinels, the original X-Men (Wolverine, Professor X, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Colossus, and even their one-time enemy Magneto) establish a plan to avoid this grim future from even happening: With the help of Kittie Pryde's time-period-crossing-telepathic-abilities, she sends Wolverine's future conscious back to his 1970s self to prevent Mystique from assassinating the lead director of Trask Industries, which would lead to the activation of the Sentinels.

Understandably, the future part of DOFP mostly only serves as kind of a backdrop for the main plot, which focusses on Wolverine and the First Class X-Men to actively change the future in the 1970s.
Logan's quest of reuniting the First Class X-Men makes DOFP a very plot-heavy entry in the franchise.
After the events of the previous First Class movie, Logan finds Prof. X and his school in shambles, with the Professor himself having seemingly given up all hope on being able to save other mutants and change things to the good.
Therefore, with Logan having quite some talking to do, DOFP is quite heavy on the dialogue side. Whereas conversations to convince the young Prof. X to believe in himself , and arguments between Prof. X and Magneto, are actually pretty well done, some other dialogue parts grow a bit tiresome after seemingly being repeated a bit too often, like the desperate convo-tries to change Mystique's mind from killing Trask.

"Hm...back in the 70s...groovy."
With that said, Mystique herself has become quite a key-character in the overall main plot of DOFP. The main goal of the Logan and friends is not to fight something or anybody this time around, but rather to prevent Mystique from assassinating Dr. Bolivar Trask and therefore automatically prevent the creation of a villain (the Sentinels).
Having Mystique and other more low-key mutants given such a big focus in DOFP is a nice change of pace for the franchise. Therefore, even though Logan is THE time-traveller in this flick (and THE favorite character of most fans), his role as the main star in the movie is balanced (or even rivaled) pretty well through the other characters in the movie, most notably Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Prof. X (James McAvoy). This makes DOFP's weight on each of the "past characters" feel much more even to each other, avoiding that one of the characters feels unjustifiedly more important or favorited above the others.

The right balance in DOFP was always argued to be the most critical aspect of the movie, seeing what a large cast of mutants/actors had to be handled.
And while the original X-Men in the future setting end up serving more in terms of cameos or FX eye-candy (fighting Sentinels while Logan's conscious is in the 1970's), the deserved, and definitive focus lies on the "past mutants" (Mystique, Prof. X, Magneto, Wolverine, Beast).

Although some fans might easily be disappointed of not seeing a massive team-up brawl with ALL X-Men against the Sentinels (ala Avengers), such a team-up wouldn't even make sense in the grand scheme of things. And that's completely okay, seeing how the story develops well enough switching between the future setting and the 1970s.

Changing the future with a water gun!

However, what is way more likely to anger fans is how partially exhausting DOFP feels due to its constant flashbacks and hints at events in preceeding X-Men movies in the franchise.
It's therefore a no-brainer to say that viewers, who are not familiar with the events of every single X-Men flick, are most likely to get lost in DOFP's story and several flashbacks.
Nevertheless, even fans and geeks of the franchise will eventually feel exhausted at the end of DOFP. Without spoiling anything about the ending, time-travel plots are always...ALWAYS extremely complicated with so many things changing the way other future events end up. DOFP is no exception and time travel buffs will pull their hair out seeing how many things in DOFP's understanding of time-travel won't add up with their own views and theories (as always).
Yet, this is not what is the problem here. The problem is that, while Bryan Singer respectably and surprisingly manages to avoid many plot holes making most of DOFP's plot make sense for the franchise as a whole, it can be quite frustrating when viewers can sometimes still easily spot plot holes that seemingly completely ignore a major certain event from a previous X-Men flick causing several continuity mistakes.
It therefore gets pretty obvious that each X-Men flick was originally designed as a standalone movie and not as part of a pre-structured giant story.
After the "carefully" constructed DOFP time-travel-story, the entire X-Men franchise might easily feel like a giant house of cards for fans. And while this house of cards might be pretty impressive seeing how ambitiously constructed it looks, it's very easy to make it entirely fall apart when spotting one single plot hole in the construction. Never has this been more the case for the franchise, since DOFP.

Seeing that "universe-construction" has become quite a trend now in comic book movies, DOFP marks an entry in the X-Men franchise that proves that X-Men movies actually (or at least from now on) DON'T stand on their own, but are part of a constantly evolving universe that gets bigger and more complex throughout every single X-Men movie (much like the Avengers-cinematic-universe).
DOFP's ending and reshaping of events surely doesn't completely make sense and won't please everybody, but are without any doubt a very brave new take on the franchise, opening up many fresh and new possibilites for the franchise's unpredictable evolution.

"I saw you die in X-Men 3...what the heck?!"

Of course, coming from Bryan Singer, DOFP's action sequences are top-notch in terms of excitement, spectacle and choreography.
DOFP is not a full-on action fest like other Marvel movies like Avengers and has the already mentioned bigger focus on developing a plot-heavy story, yet it balances it very well with point-on action segments, which serve as good pace-changers in a satisfying frequency.
Action segments like the standoff in Paris or the impressive showdown in Washington are well designed highpoints, although the great Magneto-prison-break easily marks the best action scene in the entire movie through it's great balance of effects, comedy and action (with that said, those three aspects mostly center around the show-stealer Quicksilver).
A negative aspect however, is that, despite being largely displayed on the official poster, Wolverine has mostly only a very small role in the action scenes. Seeing that his past self only has bone claws instead of adamantium ones, this quickly makes viewers notice that "non-metal Wolverine" isn't even all that powerful or useful. Sure it is nice to have an X-Men movie not fully focus on Wolverine as the main star, yet having him having to do so little in action scenes remains kind of a bummer.

Furthermore, the great action scenes and high stakes spread throughout the movie's story are greatly emphasized by DOFP's action being exceptionally violent and gruesome at times. Though far not as heavy as the extended cut of The Wolverine, especially in the future segments of the movie, mutants are killed in very brutal ways by the Sentinels, underlining the desperation and overwhelming power of said robots. 

Quicksilver turns out to be a real show-stealer.

Actingwise, DOFP delivers mostly solid to good performances from its large cast.
As already mentioned, many cast members like Halle Berry as Storm or even Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart only have fairly little screentime and have only functional, expository and action driven roles in the future setting, while the big focus of the movie is definitely put on Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), James McAvoy (Prof. X), Michael Fassbender (Magneto) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).
With the performances and characters of Prof. X and Magneto easily being the most complex, McAvoy and Fassbender deliver once again good performances that credibly show the tension between the two former friends.
Mystique's key-character-role also is well portraied by Jennifer Lawrence, despite the fact that the oscar-winning actress this time around impresses far more through the well choreographed martial arts action scenes than the pretty repetitive conversations with Prof. X.

With all the focus being put on the mutants trying to save the future, it's kind of surprising how shallow the supposedly main villain in DOFP gets.
Peter Dinklage, powerhouse actor of the Game of Thrones television series, sadly isn't given good enough material or great dialogue scenes to make his character really stand-out.
Seeing how much of a weight is put on the life or death of his character, makes it even more unfortunate, that, though his motivations are obviously made clear, Dinklage's performance of Dr. Bolivar Trask never truely takes flight and remains kind of stock, resulting in DOFP feeling like it doesn't really have a definite villain to root against.

With Trask being a dwarf, isn't he technically a mutant too?
Overall, X-Men: Days of Future Past easily ranks among the most enjoyable entries of the X-Men franchise, while considerably raising the stakes and changing the past and future not only in terms of DOFP's storyline but the franchise as a whole.
Bryan Singer for the most part effectively manages to balance the big cast of actors in this giant combination of old and new X-Men to great effect. Whereas this doesn't result in every character getting the same amount of screentime or attention, the emphasis on every character nevertheless mostly feels justified in relation to the plot.
Though DOFP's story is mostly centered around moving the story forward through conversations, Bryan Singer expectedly delivers enough eye-candy with his trademark combination of well choreographed action, effects and tension to make for a great experience.

Days of Future Past is without any doubt the most ambitious and "game-changing" (yet imperfect) entry the X-Men franchise has seen yet. Although the movie might ultimately heavily polarize fans' opinions about some of the plot holes and the new way the franchise has evolved into, Days of Future Past's brave take on altering the franchise's timeline and combining mutants from different time periods is quite an entertaining and fun trip, if you can look past some of the movie's continuity shortcomings.

Final Verdict: 7 out of 10 

No comments:

Post a Comment