Title: X-Men: Days Of Future Past
Release Date: May 23, 2o14
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Bryan Singer
Release Format: Theatrical
Though X-Men: First Class was hugely successful with critics and audiences (I thought it was okay at best… but to each their own, I guess), Laura Shuler Donner, the head producer of the X-Men film series, still couldn’t shake the feeling that there were more stories to be told with the original cast. “There is forty years worth of stories. I’ve always wanted to do ‘Days of Future Past’ and there are just really a lot of stories yet to be told.” So, given that, the studios felt it was time to bring back the original cast for an adaptation of the famous X-Men: Days Of Future Past storyline. While it would differ from the comic book story (what else is new?), the studios felt it would be the perfect way of merging the X-Men from the original series with the X-Men from the First Class series, as X-Men: First Class was always intended to be the start of a new trilogy anyway. However, the film would not only see the return of old cast members and characters but also the return of the franchise’s original director, Bryan Singer and the return of my favorite screenwriting punchline, Simon Kinberg. I have stated in the past that “Simon Kinberg should not be allowed to write movies” and, in many respects, I still stand by that statement.
Just to recap, this man wrote Fant4stic, XXX: State Of The Union, X-Men: The Last Stand, This Means War, Jumper and even did an uncredited rewrite of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. How does this man keep getting work? I don’t know, I don’t want to know but, in the case of X-Men: Days Of Future Past, I have to eat my crow, swallow my pride and bury my dignity this time because, for all intents and purposes, Simon Kinberg wrote a brilliant film. X-Men: Days Of Future Past is the best X-Men film ever made and one of the best science fiction films I have ever seen, period. Yes, I actually loved something that Simon Kinberg wrote. I am convinced he sold his soul to Satan just for the ability to write something good for once. So in ten years, if we’re reading the paper and the main headline reads “Simon Kinberg Torn To Shreds By Hellhounds”, we’ll know that was the case. If it’s not that, it’s like David Goyer with Man Of Steel; everybody gets one, I guess. So yeah, in any case, good job Simon… ew, I feel so dirty. Now, before anyone asks, I will be talking about The Rogue Cut of the film toward the end of the review. It is by far the superior version of the film and is nothing short of perfection, so not talking about it would be pretty dumb on my part. That being said, what’s the story? Spoilers Ahead!
X-Men: Days Of Future Past begins years into the future, where an army of mutant killing robots, Sentinels, have enslaved the world in the hunt for mutants and all the humans who help them. Evidently, in 1973, a scientist named Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) invented The Sentinels as a way to hunt and kill mutants but was killed by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) before he could perfect them. Using Mystique’s DNA, the government, over the course of 50 years, managed to perfect and create the Sentinels themselves. Before long, the vicious robots laid waste to the planet in their hunt for mutants. In an effort to survive, the remaining X-Men have managed to stay one step ahead of The Sentinels with the help of Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), who has gained the ability to send people’s consciousness back in time to warn them of any future attacks. Because of his mind can heal rapidly, Kitty Pryde sends Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to 1973 to stop Mystique from killing Bolivar Trask, in an attempt to rewrite history and stop the Sentinels before they are self-aware.
When you really think about it, the plot of X-Men: Days Of Future Past is eerily similar to another science fiction classic; Terminator 2: Judgement Day. However, there are three perfectly good explanations for this. First, in an attempt to actually write something worth filming, Simon Kinberg researched several time travel films including Terminator 2 and Back to the Future. Second, needing advice on the time travel aesthetic of the film, Kinberg actually consulted Terminator 2‘s director, James Cameron, for advice. Third, if you’re looking for inspiration for a time travel film, Terminator 2 ain’t a bad place to turn. Regardless of that awkward similarity however, the film manages to work beautifully on its own. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even notice the similarities until I saw the Honest Trailers video (no pun intended). It’s a film that works brilliantly as the fourth X-Men movie as it does the second First Class movie. The elements of both franchises mesh together so well, I didn’t want the movie to end. Like with most of the X-Men films, I sat in my chair saying, “Okay X-Men: Days Of Future Past, you’re doing great so how are you going to piss me off this time?” I’m so happy to say that it never did. John Ottman even does the score again. Excuse me while I cry tears of absolute joy.
First and foremost, I have to acknowledge that Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique did a complete 180 in personality between X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days Of Future Past. She’s no longer the whiny little brat we saw last time and for the first time in the entire series, is done perfectly. Took them five movies with this character to finally accomplish this feat, but by god they did it. Mystique is out on her own, she’s no one’s lackey and is finally, at long last, the mysterious assassin that she was in the comics. She is cold and calculating and we rarely ever see her in “Jennifer Lawrence mode”. She is in her blue makeup for a good 80% of the film and she looks glorious. However, she isn’t just a killer that needs to be stopped. There’s actually some serious development with her character this time around and it works all too well. This is a character who hates being controlled and hates being told what to do, whether it be by Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Xavier (James McAvoy), The Government, etc; It’s because of this that Jennifer Lawrence is able to bring a new edge to the character in X-Men: Days Of Future Past that the other films didn’t deliver on, especially First Class.
Another seriously improved character was Beast (Nicolas Hoult). Not only does his make-up look significantly better than the slapped on hack job he was given in X-Men: First Class, he’s nowhere near as whiny and acts far more like a team player in this film. His first encounter with Wolverine was beyond hilarious. Whereas the scenes with Beast and Wolverine seemed obvious and juvenile in X-Men: The Last Stand (albeit with one or two funny yet forgettable lines), X-Men: Days Of Future Past has the humor with these two characters come naturally. The humor never feels forced for the sake of a lame joke. If I have any complaints it’s that, in the same way, I’m not a fan of Jennifer Lawrence being shown out of her blue form as Mystique, I’m not a fan of Hank McCoy being able to flip flop between his human and beast form. It wasn’t really something Beast could do in the comics and seems to only be there to give Nicolas Hoult more face-time. That being said, unlike Mystique, Beast being able to do this does lead to some humorous moments in X-Men: Days Of Future Past, so it’s a bit hard to complain too much.
But while both Jennifer Lawrence and Nicolas Hoult were undoubtedly great this time around, for me it was James McAvoy as Charles Xavier that stole the show here. In X-Men: First Class, it was Fassbender’s time to shine as Magneto. In X-Men: Days Of Future Past, it was McAvoy’s time to shine as Professor X. Don’t get me wrong though, Fassbender is still great and always will be great as Magneto. When Wolverine first visits Xavier in the past, he is very different from where we last saw him. Since the events of X-Men: First Class, Charles Xavier has closed down his school due to most for his students being drafted. The loss of everything he held dear was too much for him to bear, forcing him to become a drug using alcoholic who has been suppressing his powers with a drug produced by Hank McCoy (Nicolas Hoult). McAvoy demonstrates the character’s mental anguish and instability perfectly, showing us a darker side of Xavier we hadn’t seen before. The idea to make the time traveling Wolverine the one who mentors him back to sanity was a brilliant idea as it was Xavier who had to do the same for Wolverine in the first film. It was as if the story of these two characters was coming full circle in the best way possible.
There’s actually a clever dig at X-Men: The Last Stand in this film, where Xavier reads Wolverine’s mind, sees clips from that film and says “So much pain… I don’t want your future!” It’s quite brilliant as it works as both an emotional moment for Xavier and a giant middle finger to the worst film in the franchise. But the best scene with Xavier by far is when he telepathically links to the Professor X of the future. Seeing them both interact in such a poignant moment is as tearjerking as it is meaningful. I’m not quite sure how the future Professor X is still alive if X-Men: The Last Stand is still canon. I know he jumped into another body in the end credits sequence but what are the odds that he would look exactly like Professor X and also be a paraplegic? But whatever, if it means I can see great moments like the ones in this film, I don’t care.
Now, let’s talk about the one scene everybody was talking about when the movie was over; Quicksilver in The Pentagon. I’ll be honest, when the promos for the film were released, I was 100% not sold on Evan Peters as Quicksilver. That, however, had nothing to do with Evan Peters, but rather the fact that he looked nothing like the Quicksilver I knew. He looked more like a stereotypical 70’s rock teen and it really did nothing for me. That being said, I was completely wrong. Quicksilver is made of awesome and has the best scene in the entire movie. Evan Peters perfectly captures the witty, sarcastic and fast-talking nature of the character from the comics and while they don’t outright say it in this film, they even allude to the fact that he is Magneto’s son. He is perfect and even the outfit he was wearing seriously grew on me. If Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class proves anything, it’s that looks sure as hell aren’t everything. By the way, big thumbs up for the Pink Floyd T-Shirt (Dark Side Of The Moon FTW!). Now, there are two big plot-holes surrounding this character. The first is why didn’t they bring quicksilver with them after they broke Magneto out of prison? I mean, they have to stop a man from getting shot and they clearly have a mutant who can stop bullets, so why not use him? The second hole that everyone brings up is how Wolverine knows Quicksilver, even though we’ve never seen Wolverine interact with this character in any of the other films.
Well, there actually is a very good explanation for both of them. Quicksilver wasn’t supposed to be in the movie. I’m dead serious, Quicksilver was actually a last-minute addition to the film. When Wolverine says “I know a guy, he could get into anywhere,” in the original script, he was actually referring to Juggernaut. Yeah, Juggernaut was originally going to help them break Magneto out of prison, which makes more sense being that we’ve seen Wolverine fight Juggernaut before (albeit in a terrible movie). However, when Fox learned that the MCU was going to do their own retconned version of the character in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, they opted to use Quicksilver instead of Juggernaut as a form of competition. So yes, Quicksilver being in the film does raise an eyebrow, but not only did this change turn out the most memorable scene in the film, it also gave us a Quicksilver that was a million times more interesting than the one shown in the MCU. So, it was a form of competition that paid off beautifully in fox’s favor. if you are giving me a character this amazing, please, create as many plot-holes as you please with my sincerest blessing.
But the heroes of a film are only as good as their villain and X-Men: Days Of Future Past has an excellent villain in Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). While Trask was actually a tall imposing figure in the comics, the choice of Peter Dinklage for this role did not bother me at all, mainly because Peter Dinklage is a phenomenal actor. His size is in no way an issue because he’s still a great villain. What is so intriguing about Trask is that, despite the fact that he kills and experiments on them for his sentinel program, he doesn’t hate mutants in the slightest. He actually claims to admire them and their abilities and his only goal throughout X-Men: Days Of Future Past is simply to keep human beings safe; to make sure that they will not fall harm to a potentially dangerous race of individuals. That is so much more interesting and compelling than a commando who wants to exterminate all mutants for his own peace of mind (Stryker), a senator who wants them all registered (Kelley) or a stupid mutant cure (God, I hate that movie). If I have any complaints with this villain, it’s that his presence isn’t felt as much as it should and that is in no way on Peter Dinklage; that is the movie that didn’t have enough of him in it. He’s still great but a few more scenes with him wouldn’t have hurt.
How do the sentinels look? They look different than the ones in the comics, but still look amazing regardless. I love how these sentinels resemble The Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation, in the sense that they can adapt to all mutant powers, making them almost impossible to take down. The futuristic settings in the film, look breathtaking. I think Singer and Kinberg consulting with James Cameron paid off well. This looks like something I’d see in a Terminator film and there is nothing wrong with that. The opening action scene of this film was just amazing and had me on the edge of my seat. Seeing all these different mutants working together to take down just a couple of these things was like a dream come true. Blink is there, Bishop is there, Sunspot is there, Colossus is there and is actually used this time (he’s better in Deadpool but I’m not complaining), and, of course we have Kitty Pryde and Iceman who have apparently developed a romantic relationship since Rogue’s disappearance. Oh and I never thought I would see the day but for the first time in the four movies that have featured him, Iceman finally does the frickin’ ice slide! I had to wait 14 years to see it, but it finally happened. Seriously, it’s his signature move, where were you on that OG Trilogy?
Now, let’s talk about The Rogue Cut of the film. This featured alternate scenes not offered in the theatrical version and was released on Blu-Ray & DVD some months after the initial cut was. Now, even without these scenes, X-Men: Days of Future Past was still the best X-Men movie ever made. However, with these scenes put back in, I would argue it is the best Marvel Comic Book Adaptation ever released, period. I was scratching my head watching The Rogue Cut, wondering why the hell any of these scenes were cut because, if you are a fan of the series, these scenes are not only important, they are near indispensable. Remember that scene where Wolverine was thrashing his claws around and accidentally cut Kitty Pryde? Yeah, did you ever wonder why they never brought it up again after that? It’s because in the original cut, Magneto, Professor X and Iceman went on a mission to rescue Rogue so that she could absorb Kitty’s powers and take her place, leading to a scene where Rogue reaches out to Wolverine, just like he reached out to her in the first film and… my god, why was this cut?
This is beautiful and dramatic and important to the characters’ growth. It’s such a meaningful moment between Wolverine and Rogue because of how close they were in the earlier films. Much like Wolverine mentoring the young Xavier, it was like the relationship of Wolverine and Rogue coming full circle in a very poignant way. It’s only made more dramatic when you see Iceman die for both Rogue and Kitty, the two loves of his life. When Rogue showed up and told Kitty that Iceman was dead, I cried. It’s such a sad scene and Ellen Page’s acting sells it perfectly. But Rogue isn’t all that was cut out of X-Men: Days Of Future Past, there’s also some nice scenes with Beast & Mystique, more moments with the mutants of the future and more of Xavier and Wolverine. Look, both of these cuts are great movies but ever since watching The Rogue Cut, I have all but thrown the theatrical version in the garbage because I can’t watch this movie anymore without these scenes in it. They are too important and too wonderful to be ignored and if you haven’t seen The Rogue Cut of this film, I highly recommend it.
Finally, I have to talk about the ending of the film, which was nothing short of a miracle. we have had so many mistakes, thanks to a number of misfires with this franchise and Bryan Singer went out of his way to try and fix those mistakes. How did he do this? By wiping the slate clean with a new timeline. Yes, this erases a great deal of history, making it so X-Men: The Last Stand never happened (to be fair, I was pretending it never happened anyway). Take that, Brett Ratner! Personally, I find it hilarious how the man who wrote the X-Men film that royally ruined the franchise, Simon Kinberg, had to write a movie that completely erased it from the timeline. I just think it’s really funny.
Overall, I am hard-pressed to think of things I didn’t like in this movie and, in all honesty, the few things I didn’t were just personal nitpicks and nothing that really hurt the film. X-Men: Days Of Future Past is a masterpiece, both as comic book film and a science fiction film. The Rogue Cut of this film, or “The Only Cut” as I like to call it, is by far my favorite adaptation of any Marvel Comics property. It’s beautiful to look at, a wonder to experience and one of the most well-acted movies of the last decade. The characters are memorable, the story is brilliant, the stakes are always high and the action is thrilling. I loved X-Men: Days Of Future Past and if you are a fan of this series or of sci-fi in general, I can’t think of one reason you wouldn’t love it too.
- Characters: There is not a single bad character in the movie. Every character shines beautifully with Professor X, Bolivar Trask & Quicksilver being the standouts.
- Cinematography: X-Men: Days Of Future Past looks breathtaking in every frame. Bryan Singer does a beautiful job recreating the 70’s and an even better job at creating a dystopian future. Every action scene is top notch and brilliant.
- Story: While it differs heavily from the comic source material in parts, it captures the essence of what made Days Of Future Past such a compelling storyline. It’s a great comic book adaptation and an even better science fiction film. The changes made, were all done unbelievably well.
- Acting: This is one of the most well-acted movies of the last decade. There is not a single bad performance in the entire film and everyone does a spectacular job, with James McAvoy stealing the show as professor Charles Xavier and Evan Peters getting one of the most memorable cameo sequences of all time.
- Fantastic Storytelling
- Wolverine As Xavier's Mentor Was A Nice Touch
- Mystique Is Finally The Lone Assassin We Know And Love From The Comics
- The Blend Of X-Men, Both New & Old, Is Wonderfully Handled.
- Quicksilver Is Made Of Awesome
- Peter Dinklage As Bolivar Trask Was A Perfect Casting Choice
- James McAvoy Gives One Of The Best Performances In The Entire Franchise Or In Any Comic Book Film For That Matter
- Brilliant Humor
- Expert Pacing
- The Grim, Dystopian Future Looks Outstanding
- Iceman FINALLY Does The Ice-Slide
- Great Intimate Moments Between Characters
- The Best Action Scenes In The Franchise
- The Franchise Feels As If It Has Been Brought Full Circle
- Hank McCoy Flip-Flopping Between Human Form And Beast Mode (No Beast Wars Pun Intended)
- Could Have Used More Bolivar Trask
- Emma Frost & Banshee Being Dead Was A Bit Of A Letdown Considering How Important They Both Are... But As Long As I Don't Have To Sit Through January Jones Again, Kill Her With My Dearest Blessing.