Sunday, June 1, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past review

Summer. The time for movies with big explosions, big stars, and bigger budgets. Often, these movies are shameless CGI fests with barely a plot (I'm looking at you The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Once in a while, a film will come around that not only satisfies our hunger for things blowing up, but also is a good movie in general. The newest X-Men film does that. X-Men: Days of Future Past is the newest installment in the canon of X-Men films. It's set in a dreary post-apocalyptic future where mutants are being hunted by giant super-robots called Sentinels. The plot involves one of the mutants, Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), sending Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to the early 1970's to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). Trask is the scientist who invents the Sentinels and killing him would only kick start the mutant hunting program and ensure the mutants a dark and painful future. Plus, there's a bunch of other stuff that happens involving more time travel and mutant stuff that I don't need to mention here. I know, that sounds incredibly convoluted. Movies about time travel often fall victim to being convoluted, even more so when you throw in a bunch of superheros and government plots. Yet, somehow X-Men: Days of Future Past doesn't feel convoluted and overtly confusing at all. It glides along at a pace rarely seen in a Bryan Singer movie, and doesn't stumble at the parts when things get tricky. It's probably Singer's most confidently directed film since The Usual Suspects. Best of all? It's fun. Like, really fun. Most of the past X-Men flicks have been too serious for their own good. The X-Men comics are very funny and tongue and cheek. A dark, serious tone doesn't work all that well for it. That's why the last film, X-Men: First Class was so great. Sure, it kept a straight face during the intense battle sequences and moments of extreme duress, but it never forgot to relax and smile a bit either. Bryan Singer never seemed to be able to fully grasp that concept in his X-Men movies. Not to say they were all bad. X-Men 2 was decent and fun, but it still had many issues. It seems Singer has learned a thing or two since then. X-Men: Days of Future Past is probably the best X-Men film since First Class. I sincerely mean that. It balances tension and comedy marvelously. The actors here are all at their best. Michael Fassbender, who's mostly a dramatic actor, plays his character with an expertise rarely seen in superhero films. James McAvoy is doing the same. My only complaint on the acting spectrum is Nicholas Hoult. He didn't do a bad job, but he really didn't stand out either. Hoult just kind of looks surprised and gasps when needed. The script didn't give him a whole lot to do, so it's not entirely his fault, but he could have tried a little harder. The screenplay itself dealt with the plot and characters very, very well. I've seen time travel movies butcher themselves from problems with that. This movie dances around it's time travel anomalies quite well. Despite all those great things, the dialogue here wasn't very good at all. It wasn't actively atrocious, but it came out very cliche and flat. Some memorable lines include "No!" and "Why did you abandon us!". I couldn't help but chuckle a bit at parts. Other than that I thought the movie was incredibly solid and super (pun very much intended) entertaining. I really liked how they set this film in the 70's. It worked really well with the characters and material. As I said above, the fun and light vibe is so much better for the X-Men films than the dark and brooding. That's why the last two films have been, in my opinion, the best of the series. Superhero movies are meant  to be enjoyable popcorn entertainment. Yet, they also need a heart and some actual plot that's at least somewhat original. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 couldn't do any of that, and that's why it was bad. X-Men: Days of Future Past was able to pretty much completely achieve equal levels of entertainment and emotional and thematic weight. I'll admit it. I kind of loved this movie. It was good. The ending (which I won't spoil) did irk me a little, but I can let it slide in favor of the rest of the movie. This isn't the best movie of the year, but it certainly isn't the worst. And it probably will end up being the best superhero film of the year. If you want to have some fun at the theater, this is the movie to see. I give X-Men; Days of Future Past 4 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing. Also, if you haven't done so already: you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at 


  1. Nice review, Whit. Certainly a nice, well balanced film, and I'll agree that this is a vast improvement over Singer's previous entries. Those weren't bad, but they weren't great, either, while this one pretty much is. Probably the best one to date, in fact. :)

    1. Totally man! Although I think I like First Class a little better.

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