Movie Review: X-Men: Days Of Future Past
X-Men: Days of Future Past is based on the iconic comic book story of the same name by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin in which the consciousness of X-Men Kitty Pryde in the future is sent backward in time to prevent the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly by Mystique, unleashing a wave of anti-mutant hysteria that leads to a Dystopian future in which mutants are being systematically hunted. But, due to the changes between the comics and the movies, the change from Kitty Pryde to the more established Wolverine was made. And, instead of the assassination target being Senator Kelly, it is now Bolivar Trask, the creator of the Sentinels.
Before I go any further, I do want to warn you that there will be SPOILERS. So, if you don't want to know what happens, please read this after you've had a chance to view the film yourself. Again, this is your SPOILER ALERT.
Okay, that said, here we go...
I'm not talking about holes as in, "Hey! This didn't happen in the comics." I totally understand comics have to be adapted for the films, especially because there's so much continuity involved that would boggle the mind of the average filmgoer. For example, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is very different from the iconic "The Winter Soldier" storyline by Ed Brubaker. But, they had the spirit of the source material. I also believe X-Men: Days of Future Past has the spirit of the source as well.
And, it's not that I'm all about continuity. The X-Men films have changed up the classic roster of characters and, for me, as long as it's interesting and there is reverence for the source materials, I'm fine with change ups. There are so many X-Men and mutants that have been created over the years and I know that some are more interesting or popular than others.
But, adapting comic books for the movies does create its own continuity that I would hope they'd adhere to, unless they outright reboot the franchise as Sony has done with Spider-Man. Now, admittedly, that's no easy task. The first three X-Men films are very different than 2011's X-Men: First Class, even though they are supposed to be in the same timeline.
Now, melding all these films together so that they fit into the same continuity, I'm sure, was no easy task and I do think, for the most part, Bryan Singer managed to do it well. My biggest complaint about X-Men: First Class was that, while I enjoyed it, it did not feel like an X-Men movie to me. Bryan Singer brought it back to feeling less emo and more like a superhero comic book movie to me. It honestly lacked the joy or the nod-nod-wink-wink of an X-Men film. The opening scene in the future featuring the X-Men battling the adaptoid Sentinels was quite breathtaking. And, whenever I am watching a superhero movie, I LIVE for moments in which I feel like a little kid watching my childhood heroes come to life. These scenes really made me feel this way. Blink using her blink powers! Iceman in ice form! Sunspot! Bishop! Warpath! Even Halle Berry as Storm felt so much more like the Storm I know in this film.
Speaking of great moments, the scene in which Quicksilver (Evan Peters) helps break Magneto (Michael Fastbender) out of his maximum security prison is absolutely wonderful. In fact, it is, perhaps, one of the only truly joyous scenes in the film. While this Quicksilver is not necessarily the Quicksilver I've known and loved, I did think he was a great character. Honestly, I loved the scene so much I'd pay full price just to see it again. And, based on what I've read from other people's reactions, he's left a big impression on people which will make it interesting to see how people react to Marvel Studios' version of Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron which will be an entirely different Quicksilver.
[A side note: For those of you not in the know, Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch are two characters that fall into two different franchises. They are mutants and were introduced in the X-Men comics, they are also members of the Avengers. So, when Marvel and Fox negotiated the contract, these were the two characters that could exist in both worlds. The rub is that Fox's X-Men movies can not reference them as Avengers and Marvel Studios' films cannot call them mutants or X-Men.]
Another thing that the film does well is it makes Mystique much more interesting than she ever was in any of the other X-Men films. The first three films, I felt, while she was badass, seemed like an over glorified lackey of Magneto. She just seemed to be his blind follower and that's not really the Mystique I knew in the comics. One of the things I did like about X-Men: First Class is that it made Mystique a contemporary of Magneto and Professor X, leaving the door open for being the seasoned mutant villain she eventually comes. So, with X-Men: Days of Future Past, I really got to see the Mystique I feel I know. And, it's amazing how much Jennifer Lawrence has matured as an actress in the last three years. To me, her performance in this film eclipsed Rebecca Romjin in the first movies.
Okay, now...going to the holes that bother me. Now, the premise of the film is that Wolverine jumps back into his past self to stop the assassination of Bolivar Trask by Mystique and her subsequent capture that leads to the development of the adaptoid Sentinels. Wolverine must work with a young Professor X (James McAvoy) who knew Mystique when she was younger and appeal to the part of her he knows is good and would not kill. This is my first major hole. Why did they change her assassination target from Senator Kelly to Bolivar Trask? Well, doesn't anybody find it ironic that, in the movies, Magneto, with the help of Mystique, end up killing Senator Kelly in X2? Maybe not at gunpoint, but he does die by their actions. And, in the first films, that's not the only killing she contributed to. So, if future Charles Xavier didn't think she would kill, why did he not remember many of the other people she killed or helped kill?
And, in the final showdown, after Magneto has attacked the White House and is about to kill the President, his Secret Service Men, Trask and a bunch of politicos, Mystique saves them all and nobody kills anybody. Again, not that I want Magneto and Mystique to really kill anybody, but the premise that Charles knows they are better than that just doesn't fly for me because they've already proved themselves to be killers in the future.
Here's another big hole for me. Why didn't Magneto's ultimate actions of attacking the White House in the way that he did ultimately ignite mutant hysteria where people would want to see something protect them? Was it because Mystique saved the politicos? It doesn't make any sense to me because she was really there trying to kill them in the first place. I feel like people said, "Oh, well! Even though this mutant just laid waste to Washington, DC with his powers and basically threatened everybody on television, this other mutant who tried to kill our nation's leaders just saved them. I guess we don't need to worry about it." And, honestly, did we think this was going to actually stop Trask from developing more anti-mutant weapons or stop at getting more of Mystique's genetic materials considering he already has her blood? It just seemed a convenient ending.
And, speaking of convenient endings, I get how changing the action was supposed to change the future and possibly to a brighter future, but, how would it all lead to Jean Grey not becoming the Dark Phoenix as she was destined to become? Admittedly, I rolled my eyes, even though it was really cool to see James Marsden and Famke Jannsen reprise their roles as Cyclops and Jean Grey respectively.
All this said, I'm not saying that X-Men: Days of Future Past is not worth the price of admission. Again, there is lots of great things to be said about it, but I couldn't help but get caught on some of the holes that just bothered me.