Going back and re-watching the second film in the newest X-Men trilogy still makes me smile because all the crappy things we all hated about The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine was either erased by the end of DOFP or ignored completely. Spoilers!
Released: May 23, 2014
Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Simon Kinberg, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Stars: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Josh Helman, Ian MKellen, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Evan Peters, Omar Sy, Daniel Cudmore, Bingbing Fan, Booboo Stewart
The future is not good. Sentinels created to hunt down Mutants and all those who help them have turned the world into a war zone with many deaths on both sides. Professor X (P. Stewart), Magneto (McKellen), Wolverine (Jackman), and Storm (Berry) team up with Kitty Pride (Paige), Bobby (Ashmore), Blink (Fan), War Path (B. Stewart), Colossus (Cudmore), and Bishop (Sy) to send Wolverine back in time to the 70s to team up with Charles (McAvoy), Erik (Fassbender), and Hank (Hoult) keep Mystique (Lawrence) from killing Bolivar Trask (Dinklage), a scientist who experimented on Mutants and created the Sentinels to destroy them. His assassination was the lynch pin in giving the government a reason to build the Sentinels to hunt down Mutants. It is a fight against time as the Mutants from the future are hiding from Sentinels. If Wolverine doesn’t compete the mission in time, it could mean the end of all Mutants.
Time travel movies can be tricky. To make them interesting, they have to be somewhat accurate to the time period, but not try to bog itself down in too many details that the story becomes hindered in some way. One thing that bugged me about First Class was the fact that it had to incorporate this one big event in our history as a part of the story. DOFP kinda sorta did that, but not really. There was a part in the beginning that took place in the Vietnam War and another big moment that was during the Paris Accords, but no real historic events drove the plot like the Cuban Missile Crisis did in First Class. Those moments just happened to be taking place during the storyline. Taking the film back to the 70s helped to add a bit of fun to the plot much like the origins of First Class went back to the 60s. That added flavor of the music and fashion just gave another layer of entertainment to what could have been an overly serious film.
Another issue that can make time travel movies a bit sticky is the way the person or group has to travel back in time. Make the method of time travel too complicated and the doors are left open to pick apart big plot holes. Make it too simply and the audience is going to call shenanigans. Giving Kitty the ability to send someone’s mind back into a past version of themselves is a great way to get around all of the land mines. It is a Mutant power so it is not too complicated, but not overly simple. I know that is not Kitty’s actual power in the books or previous movies, but it could stand to reason person’s abilities may grow or chance over the course of time. Dare I say, Mutants can further evolve.
Singer coming back to the X-Men franchise was great for both sides of the house. Fans got back the director who understood the spirit of the films and Singer got a chance to make up for the last couple of HUGE failures he just made. The Mutant rights as a stand in for Gay Rights wasn’t there as much, but the relationship Charles Xavier builds with his fellow Mutants and students was where the series really can shine. Matthew Vaughn brought that back in the spotlight with First Class and Singer further built upon it.
Charles in the 70s is suffering from depression big time not just because he is no longer the active and able man he once was. He is lost because those he wished to save have been taken from him. Erik has been implicated in the assassination of President Kennedy, many of his students were drafted into the Vietnam War then killed in Trask’s experimentations, and he has lost Mystique to Erik’s cause. Holding everyone’s pain and fear had become too much for the brilliant man, so he started to take a medical cocktail Hank designed to dull his powers and it helped to regenerate his spine. In an interesting allegory for addiction, Charles forgoes his telepathic abilities to keep the ability to walk making him a shadow of the man he used to be when we knew him in First Class.
McAvoy is really the star of the show. Jackman helps to carry the story as we experience this time thru Wolverine’s point of view mostly, but it is Charles that we emotionally connect to. When Wolverine first comes to him with the overly fantastic story, Charles doesn’t care and attempts to throw the man out. “We all have to die sometime” is his pithy response when Wolverine tries to explain that the lives of so many depend on Charles helping him. Eventually it is his love for Mystique that brings Charles in to help Wolverine and break Erik out of prison to help convince her not to go thru with the assassination.
As far as action sequences go, there are not too many. There is the wonderful sequence with Quicksilver (Peters) that stole the movie and made the nerd trolls swallow their criticism of his costume, and the end when the Sentinels are under the control of Magneto. Really there isn’t too much else. Lots of talking to one another about the mistakes they have all made or planning ways to stop Trask from getting government approval for his Sentinel program.
Overall for me the movie was great and fun to enjoy again and again. Poor UberApe saw this one in theaters with me when it was released two years ago and he was hopelessly lost throughout. He had seen First Class, but that was during its initial run and he didn’t remember a lot of the events. He had never seen the original trilogy (something I’m trying to rectify) or Wolverine’s standalone films (something I’m okay with him not experiencing). Even though I gave him a quick rundown of all the things I thought he might need to know, he was still hopelessly lost mostly because I didn’t know what to fully expect. This is not a film for a causal fan to stumble upon and become interested in the franchise as a whole. The viewer has to know all that came before to appreciate all that happens. Especially that wonderful ending that negates the events of The Last Stand. There is a chance of a do over for the franchise that made me (and many other fans) so happy.
How things continue with Apocalypse, I won’t know until Thursday night when I get to attend my screening. The reviews don’t look too great, but for the most part people don’t love it because it had the unfortunate timing of coming after Civil War. I’m going in with as open of a mind as I can and will be back on Friday with my spoiler free review. Hope to see you guys here.
What did you think of X-Men: Days of Future Past? Were you excited by the two franchises crossing over? Did the ending make you happy? Let me know what you think in the comments section below and please don’t post any spoilers for Apocalypse if you have had the pleasure of seeing it already.