X-Men: Days of Future Past

Posted: May 23, 2014 in Movie Reviews

In the 7th film in the X-Men series, the Wolverine must convince Charles of his vast potential.

In the 7th film in the X-Men series, the Wolverine must convince Charles of his vast potential.

The X-Men franchise has been one of the longest running series in film history. The fact that it’s been 14 years since the first film and it still hasn’t been rebooted or remade is a testament to its vast potential as a working storyline and the immense talent that bring it to life. But only now, on our 7th run, do we get to see how truly extensive and awe-inspiring the X-Men films can really be.

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Summary: (No spoilers)

In the not-too-distant future, mutants have been hunted down and killed by Sentinels, massive humanoid machines whose origins are rooted in the past. Humanity has been diminished and enslaved. Life as we know it has been obliterated. With only a handful of mutants left, both Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) decide that the only way to save humanity from its devastating fate is to send Logan—–the Wolverine—–(Hugh Jackman) forty years into the past to prevent the mutant genocide before it even happens. Professor X instructs Logan to find the younger Charles and convince him of what needs to be done: take down Dr. Boliver Trask (Peter Dinklage), the man behind the mutant massacre, before he has the opportunity to build his mutant-hunting Sentinels.

After being sent back to 1973, Logan discovers that Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters has been shut down and that a much younger Professor X (James McAvoy) has succumbed to despair and misery. Forced to instill hope in the man who first instilled the same in him, Logan must accomplish the most impossible task of mending the rift before Charles and a younger Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and alter the course of events that will forever change the X-Men’s devastating future.

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Time travel is a tricky plot element that can either make or break a film. When done well, such as in Back to the Future and Star Trek, the two timelines (present and past) must work parallel to each other and flow effectively. When not done well, the product is a confused, jumbled mess. Thankfully, however, X-Men: Days of Future Past belongs in the former category.

Dealing primarily with time travel, the plot gets a bit dense as is expected in these sorts of films. There are so many elements and subplots happening throughout the film that even my meaty summary doesn’t cover all there is. There are several other significant characters that weren’t mentioned because even they weren’t the primary components of the story.

Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy_X-Men: DOFP

One word emerges from this immense plot, though: hope. X-Men: Days of Future Past is indeed a film that grounds itself wholeheartedly in the magnitude and the vast potential that something as seemingly trivial as hope can have. And even more important than hope is belief—–belief in the ability to overcome all adversity and to achieve your true potential. As hackneyed as it may seem, it’s done so brilliantly and effectively. It takes a truly skilled film maker and storyteller to be able to successfully pull off such an immense film dealing with multiple story elements and themes, all in which having to happen within two timelines corresponding simultaneously.

The film takes explicit measures at ensuring that there’s continuity and that no loose ends are left opened. Generally, a film such as this dealing with a broad storyline is surrounded by criticism of plot holes and inconsistency. But not so in this case. The film does an excellent job at making sure everything flows at an even, consistent pace, with little to no confusion.

Much of the original cast is back, as well as some of the X-Men: First Class cast. Playing the Wolverine for the 7th consecutive time, Hugh Jackman has had 14 years to properly grow into this complex and amazing character. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, though not in the film quite as much as most X-Men fans would like, still play these characters with perfect gravitas. And we even get some brief as well as extensive cameos of some past X-Men characters. But one brand new character in particular brought some added flavor the film and was at the center of perhaps the funniest scene in X-Men history that will have you laughing out loud.

But perhaps one of the less obvious facets that I enjoyed about this film was the fact that there are so many characters (and believe me, there are), but never does the film feel convoluted. The X-Men films have always had a host of characters, yes, but never this many at the same time. Despite this fact, however, it never becomes bogged down with superfluous plot or characters, much like The Avengers. In essence, the film feels balanced. It easily could have teeter-tottered between excessive and lackluster, but always it remains stable. Even the action was well-adjusted and never bordered on the extreme.

Michael Fassbender_X-Men: DOFP

In a nutshell:

X-Men: Days of Future Past merits all of the positive feedback it’s been receiving. It’s a complex and compelling chapter in the ever-evolving X-Men franchise that’s sure to enthrall even the general viewer. All negative elements would be nitpicks, and merely that. In essence, this is . . . dare I say it . . . brilliant and the best X-Men film ever made.

 

9 stars

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