Director Bryan Singer set himself up for a daunting task when he took on X-Men: Days of Future Past. He had to reconcile two separate series currently at odds, present an already well known story line from the comics, all while setting up for the next films (Apocalypse). What’s the best way to handle two incongruous plots? Why time travel of course! That always works out great, right? Right?
Surprisingly, for the most part, it actually does. The film begins showing a bleak and dismal future in which, “only the worst of humanity remains.” Most of the population is dead, having been executed by sentinels (giant unstoppable robots of doom) for either possessing mutations, helping mutants, or having potential future mutant offspring. A pocket of mutants remain, escaping destruction by using a time travel trick by Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) to escape. In this bleak future, Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen) and the remaining mutants band together to use Kitty’s ability to take one final shot in the dark to change the world’s fate.
The movie switches back and forth in time between 1973, which they are trying to change, and the last stand of the mutants in the future. For the most part this is pretty seamless, and the makers of the film obviously had fun playing in the 70’s with the footage and costuming. The movie does also have a bit of fun tampering with past and previously well established story, leaving us with some mystery as to how the present will play out in the next films.
Naturally there are some time line problems that can’t be resolved simply because we can’t actually go back in time to change the previous films, and the combining of the time lines does present weird little glitches here and there. For example, I would have liked a scene showing how the world went from ‘relatively normal with a few killer robots’ in the early 2000’s to ‘oh my god, they’re killing everyone, this is the end’ to help clarify the timeline a little.
Some comic fans are also upset about Kitty being replaced by Wolverine as the protagonist, but I must admit, I’m actually not. Based on the rules they established (time travel via shifting your consciousness into a younger self) Kitty going would have been flat out impossible in the movies. She hadn’t even been born in 1973. You do have to obey the rules of time-space after all.
Overall the movie has a lot of great moments. The scenes of Quicksilver in the pentagon were some of my favorites. The cinematography was phenomenal, the music well selected, and the whole scene was simply hilarious (the added nod to Quicksilver’s lineage was awesome). The X-Men films have always done a great job with little moments of humor in tense situations, and this film is no exception. The writers excel at not only the big moments, but smaller, more subtle ones as well (Wolverine realizing he is in his 1970’s body).
The fight scenes were well done and visually interesting. Using mutants like Blink allowed them to use new fight mechanics and make the fights literally take on different dimensions. The acting was amazing as you might expect out of such a stunning cast. Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Peter Dinklage, I mean really, I could spend the whole day just listing out the entire cast.
All that being said I did have a couple issues with the movie. The time in the film was split between the past and present, which in and of itself is not bad, but it made it feel like both sides of the story were a little rushed. I didn’t get to see quite as much of the downfall of earth as I would have liked, and on the other side I also could have done with a little bit more development with Trask (Dinklage). It was just a lot of plot to cram into one movie.
Secondly, I couldn’t help but be acutely aware that the whole movie is essentially a giant reset button. Most X-Men fans would agree that the end result was a vast improvement, but because of its nature, it had a fairly predictable end (it was all just a dream-esque). As much as I loved the movie, I was very aware of its nature as a transition piece, and for me that distracted a bit from the overall plot.
Overall the movie was excellent. Time travel movies are very hard to pull off even as stand-alone films. If you are a fan of X-Men it is definitely worth seeing. Fans get to see a lot of their favorite mutants, as well as many new ones, some great action scenes and great acting, plus they get to see a cool story line from the comics played out. I highly recommend you go so see it. Overall I would give it 4 stars out of 5.