Of all of the X-Men films so far, “Days of Future Past” is easily one of the best. But it’s not as though that’s difficult to do. The romp through the early 1970s is thoroughly entertaining, and if you’re a long-time X-Men fan it’s worth a trip to the theater, but it’s hardly a great film. The film starts in the near-future, where Sentinels have all but wiped out the general populace from the planet. We see a few mutants – Warpath, Blink, Colossus, among others – stave off the Sentinels while Kitty Pryde sends Bishop’s consciousness back in time to warn the rest of them of the threat. How she does this is not actually ever explained. In every iteration of Shadowcat, she’s really only been able to phase through solid objects. This whole glowing-white-light garbage coming out of her hands that allows her to transport someone’s consciousness has never been one of her powers, and the movie never bothers taking the five seconds to explain it. You’d think that one of the other mutants that’s known her forever would have said something, but no. That doesn’t happen.
Anyway, Xavier, Magneto, Wolverine and Storm show up at the place where the rest of the mutants are holed up and decide that the only way to end the Sentinel threat is to erase them from the history books. And the only way to do that would be to send Wolverine’s consciousness back 50 years to 1973 to stop certain events from unfolding. So that’s what they do. Wolverine wakes up in his only-slightly-less-grizzled body in 1973, you see a nice shot of his naked ass, and then he’s on his way.
I’m going to gloss over the rest of the plot because it’s mostly muddled garbage and hardly anything is explained with enough detail to follow. Xavier of the 70s is on drugs (developed by Beast) because he “lost everything” after the events of “First Class,” and these drugs help him walk, but no one explains how these drugs help him walk beyond a “spinal treatment.” I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how paralyzed people walk again… and if it is, why wouldn’t Beast sell them to the public? Wouldn’t that be a huge medical breakthrough? And speaking of Beast, he’s basically a furry blue Hulk now. He created drugs to “control his powers” but never bothered to say why he needed to control them (beyond his actor’s desire to not be in a makeup chair for eight hours a day). If I recall correctly, Beast came to terms with his furry blue self during “First Class.” So why did they decide to erase that bit of character development? Ugh.
After convincing Xavier and Beast to go along with his plans, Wolverine seeks Magneto, who is being held underneath the Pentagon because he killed JFK. They recruit Quicksilver, who looks about as stupid as we all thought he would look. Bulky jacket, goggles, the works. He looks awful, especially compared to the glimpse we got of the character in the Cap 2 stinger. Anyway, he does his whole running-while-looking-stupid thing, gets Magneto out of the Pentagon, and then, thankfully, we never see him again. The important characters leave in a jet and Quicksilver goes back to being a petty thief, and I was totally cool with that. Quicksilver’s scenes were entertaining, but at times I wasn’t sure if I was laughing because I was supposed to, or if I was laughing at how bad it all looked.
The band of merry mutants – Wolverine, Xavier, Magneto and Beast – try to stop Mystique from killing Bolivar Trask and setting in motion the events that would leave to the not-so-fantastic future. Magneto’s interpretation of “We need to stop Mystique” apparently is “I have to kill Mystique,” because apparently Magneto is an idiot. All Trask needs is her body in order to create the Sentinels. So why would Magneto kill her instead of stop her?? Didn’t make any sense.
Anyway, they chase Mystique all around the world and eventually end up back in DC. President Nixon unveils the Sentinels after being convinced by Trask that they’re the only option to stop the perceived mutant threat. But of course, things go totally awry, because Magneto is a douchebag. That’s basically the entire plot right there – bad things happen because Magneto is a douche. But they stop him, save the future, etc. Movie over.
The actors in the film are all great, but they’re all much better talent than their parts and the writing allows them to be. I love Jennifer Lawrence, but her performance as Mystique was totally flat. Peter Dinklage was pretty good as Trask, but the film never bothered explaining any of his motivations for creating the Sentinels or why he hates mutants, so he’s a totally stale character. Michael Fassbender is really the only actor who shines in this film.
As far as the action goes, it’s pretty… meh. There’s really no “wow” moment in this film. The closest thing we got was when Magneto lifts RFK Stadium’s seating bowl out of the ground and then slam it down.
Speaking of this scene, I had a few issues with it. Mainly, the film takes place in 1973. The Washington Senators left town two years before, and yet the stadium in the film was in baseball configuration – and not only that, but there was a grounds crew member there lining the diamond for a game! There were a pair of exhibition games hosted at RFK stadium in 1972, but according to my research, there wasn’t a single damn baseball game played at RFK stadium in 1973. So that entire goddamn scene is factually incorrect.
Despite having entertaining moments throughout the film, a muddled plot, poor writing, and a lack of truly impressive action leave me wanting more from “Days of Future Past.” Hopefully, having pushed the reset button on the franchise with this, the next one will be much better.
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