The newest mutant comic book movie to hit theaters, "X-Men: Days of Future Past," is an all-out X-Men reunion that highlights the greatest parts of the franchise to date. This film uses a variety of superhuman abilities, a combination of new and old characters from the X-Men world, and complimentary comical relief to create a dramatic, action-packed, special effect-filled fantasy thrill ride. Although the movie may be confusing for those that didn't grow up on the mutants and features a somewhat convoluted plot, "Days of Future Past" is arguably the best film for this franchise and is an absolute blast for fans of this content.
To give a little background, there have been seven X-Men related movies since 2000. The first three, "X-Men," "X2," and "X-Men: The Last Stand," ran one after another and involved the same storyline. After that, there were two standalone films featuring the character Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman in all seven X-Men installments) which were "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and simply "The Wolverine." Since then, there has been an X-Men reboot (in a sense) in "X-Men: First Class," which presents some of the characters from the original three movies in the 1960s; serving as a prequel of sorts. This newest release, "Days of Future Past," is a sequel to "First Class," picking up shortly after the events of this film and following the same people. In a way, it is also a sequel to "X-Men: The Last Stand," as it uses time travel, characters and stories from the original three movies. Confused yet? Me too, but let's move on.
"Days of Future Past" begins in the dystopian future of 2023, where large robots called Sentinels have just about wiped out humans and mutants alike. Left alive are old friends and mutants from the original X-Men trilogy such as Wolverine (Jackman), Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Storm (Halle Berry), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), and Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), as well as new mutants, Bishop (Omar Sy), Blink (Bingbing Fan), Sunspot (Adan Canto), and Warpath (Booboo Stewart). In an attempt to change the past and save the world, these mutants decide to send Wolverine back in time to find their younger selves and try to prevent the creation of Sentinels by stopping the assassination of Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage),the lead designer of the Sentinels, by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). Once in the past, Wolverine must find young Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), young Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender), young Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), and Raven/Mystique (Lawrence) to convince them to help stop the current future from happening.
Even for an experienced X-Men fan, "Days of Future Past" can be hard to follow in the beginning. Characters we haven’t seen in awhile are back, the future world has drastically changed after mankind has all been wiped out by the Sentinels, some time has past since the previous X-Men film, and we are treated to a handful of new mutants with a multitude of powers. When the team decides to send someone back in time Terminator-style to reverse the events, it can only be done by Wolverine, whose cells have the ability to regenerate at a rapid pace and can survive the intense psychological journey. The audience is quickly whisked away from the future and placed back in the past, where things seem much more in line with the most recent movie. The remainder of the film goes back and forth between the past and future as both sides try to overcome their individual struggles.
"X-Men: Days of Future Past" is what you would call an extreme fantasy sci-fi movie. From superpowers such as teleportation, mind reading, telekinesis, super speed, super strength, various elements of fire, wind, ice, etc., to concepts like time travel and mutants, there is no shortage of fictional and sometimes unbelievable or even absurd content. The power of technology and vast advancements in the film industry have allowed filmmakers to bring popular comic book stories and unimaginable worlds to the screen with computer-generated effects, imagery, and various special enhancements. Like other depictions of this genre or comic books, this film pushes the limits of science fiction, fantasy, nature, believably, and more. As far as other similar cinematic presentations, looking at the visuals and special effects, "Days of Future Past" is just about as good as any of them.
The film uses a decent amount of comical relief, sarcastic humor, witty banter, fights, feuds, and odd relationships, which keeps the film light and funny. There is a bit of cheesy or corny comic book dialogue, exchanges between characters, and several actions, but this content and the comical relief is not the usual cheap humor that takes away value from films like this. The movie is fairly dramatic as it presents deep discussions between characters, personal struggles, decision making, fighting for power, changing the future, humans’ fear of mutants, friends or past acquaintances combating each other, and more. There is a lot of fancy talk and deep, emotional speeches as one character or group tries to persuade another to do or believe something.
There is a variety of Easter eggs, teasers, cameos, and references to other elements, characters, or events in the X-Men world. In addition to a revisit from multiple characters we’ve seen in previous films, there are several new mutants, characters, and influential people who are either involved in the story somehow or come from the comics. One of the best parts of the movie is a short sequence of events and brief slow-motion action scene with actor, Evan Peters as Quicksilver, the son of Magento, whose special ability is super speed and whose screen time will more than excite audiences and fans. The beauty of this movie is that it centers around time travel, flashbacks, flash forwards, out of body experiences, and changing events, so any character from this comic book universe or previous films, dead, alive, or not yet discovered, can potentially pop up in this film, and just about anything can happen.
Any complaints one might have with this movie are way overshadowed by the positive elements, and it does more than enough to overcome imperfections to keep audiences satisfied. It’s clear that the filmmakers geared it towards a primarily X-Men fan base, but there is plenty for average movie lovers to appreciate. This film requires a fan of these elements, someone who enjoys fantasy, has seen the previous X-Men films, or has an open mind. As you can tell by now, I’d love to spend all day writing about this movie, but you’ll have to see it for yourself this weekend and find out everything it has to offer!
Rated 4 out of 5 stars
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"X-Men: Days of Future Past" is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language. Running time is 2 hours and 11 minutes.
Hayden Pittman is a special contributor to WFAA.com and a freelance film critic and entertainment blogger out of Dallas. More of his content can be found on YouPlusDallas.com and his author archive here. For more of his reviews on WFAA, click here. He is a film, TV, and sports enthusiast, and when not writing reviews or covering an event, he works in film production. As an average, passionate film lover who rarely misses a film, his reviews are straightforward and his way with words will let you know in a simple way what he thinks. Don’t like what he has to say? Let him know at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @HPMoviePitt.