Friday, May 30, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past (a movie review post)

There are times when a movie fails to work for me because it's an adaptation that fails to actually adapt the source material. However, the source material for this movie has become so broad that you can't accuse it of not being faithful to it because you just can't tell what it's trying to be faithful to in regards to said source material. That said, there is one image that will always be associated in my mind with the "Days of Future Past" story line:
And, yes, Wolverine actually dies in that issue but 1. It ended up being a future that was prevented. 2. It was before Wolverine had become "too big to fail" (too popular to die). You'll see none of that in this movie. No, my problem with the movie is that it fails to be faithful just to the Fox X-Men franchise and, really, there's not so much there that it's impossible to do.
But more on that in a minute.

Yes, there will be spoilers. Consider yourselves warned.

As a movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past is fine if somewhat (a lot) predictable. The opening fight against the sentinels is fantastic. Well, except for the part where Kitty Pryde can send people into the past. What the heck? The powers of Kitty have long been established, not just within the comics but within the Fox X-Men universe, so giving Kitty the ability to send people consciously back in time seems a bit gratuitous. If they wanted a mutant to do that, why not just put in a mutant to do that rather than give that power to someone who shouldn't have it? Or, you know, include Forge in the lineup, because he would have made a nice addition to the movie.

The other main issue I had with the movie was Xavier's struggle with what amounted to drug addiction. That whole thing felt easy and contrived and, while I get that they needed to present Wolverine with some obstacles to overcome to complete his mission, that one felt gratuitous. The idea that Xavier would sacrifice his mutant ability so that he could walk again and pretend to forget his pain was too far outside of the character we know to really be believable. At least, that's true coming at it from the standpoint of the comics. Maybe, it's plausible looking at it from just the movies, but I'm not feeling it that way, either.

But, really, the movie is fine. Well, except for the appearance of Quicksilver, which was completely out of context. We get Quicksilver but not the Scarlet Witch nor even any mention of her. Also, there was no acknowledgement that Quicksilver is Magneto's son and only even a very vague possibility of that even being true in the movie. So why use the character if you're not actually going to use the character? Just make that some other character that only exists in the movie universe. Honestly, it felt more like a jab at Disney and Marvel Studios who have Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch lined up for the next Avengers movie.

However, the scene where he saves everyone in the kitchen is fantastic.

But, really, the movie is fine. It is. It's enjoyable. The cast is great. Of course, Jackman carries the film. His performance of Wolverine continues to be flawless. And Jennifer Lawrence was so much better in this one than she was in First Class. I continue to like Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake, and I really wanted to see more of Bishop and Blink, and I don't mean more of them in combat. It would have been nice to see them as characters, too.

All of that said, the thing that disturbed my enjoyment the most was the feeling that the whole movie was an excuse for Bryan Singer to fix all the problems he caused when he dropped out of X-Men 3 to go off and make that horrible Superman movie. So let's look at that a moment:
Singer had a plan for X-Men at the time. No one really knows what that plan was because he didn't share much of it and I kind of doubt he even knows, now, what he was doing then. But, in the middle of pre-production for X-Men 3, not only does he go off to make Superman, but he convinces James Marsden (Cyclops) to go with him (and some of his writers from the previous X-Men movies). Understandably, Fox gets pissed at both of them and vows that neither will ever work with them again and, just to prove their point, kills Cyclops off during the opening sequence of The Last Stand.

From there, a bunch of stuff happened in X3 and the other X-Men related movies that Singer wouldn't have done but, you know, he wasn't there. Fox and Singer make up; Singer returns to X-Men; Singer wants his characters back, those characters being Cyclops and Jean Grey. Basically, Days of Future Past is a story that creates a brand new X-Men world and allows Singer to ignore all previous X-Men continuity. He gets to bring back Cyclops and Jean and do whatever he wants from this point on. Until he decides to, again, abandon Fox's X-Men and leave someone else to try to figure out what he was doing. The whole thing lessens my enjoyment of Days of Future Past, which may not be fair to the actual movie, but Singer bothers me enough that I can't just ignore it.

In the final analysis, if you've liked the X-Men movies, there's no good reason that you won't like this one. Probably, it's one of the top three out of the, what?, seven movies. I think my count there is correct. As a series of movies, the X-Men movies still fail to approach what Marvel has been doing over at Disney but, as a single movie, this one is probably on par with the Iron Man sequels. It's good; it's just not awesome.


  1. I guess if you see so many movies you get to make comparisons. If you are like me and get to see them once in a while, you wouldn't notice all the things you had problems with. If I ever get to see this, I probably will enjoy it without reference to other movies.

  2. This movie covers the part of X-men that I really enjoyed in my younger years so I'm sure I'll get around to seeing it eventually. Thanks for the heads up about the dead returning. That will spare me from a wait, what? moment and missing ten minutes of the movie while I wander off in my head to attempt to remember if they were or where not in fact dead in the previous movie because I was pretty sure they were.

  3. I'll have to see it at some point. I'm sure part of the reason they have Kitty do that is A) Ellen Page is far more recognizable now than back in 2006, thus we need something for her to do which leads to B) Since they changed it from Kitty to Wolverine going back into the past they needed to come up with some other way to work her into the plot.

  4. I must be the only one I know who hasn't seen any of the films.

    I have heard good things about this one though.

  5. Great review, Andrew and I agree with pretty much all the points you make.

    I loved seeing Warpath (even though he was totally underused) and Sunspot, but cringed at them giving Kitty Pryde the power Rachael had in the comics.

    My wife and I went to see this with my friend's (who owns a comic book store with his wife) 20 y.o. daughter and her boyfriend. Both were confused at how Kitty acquired her new power and I had to explain that they took a few....liberties. Though, now that I think about it, since both Jean and Scott both had died in previous films, it would be hard to explain how their daughter (Rachael) was around.

    I could be reading way too much into it, though.

    Again, I liked your thoughts on it and I haven't liked an X-Men film this much since "First Class".

  6. Jo: Well, in a sense, I'm only comparing it to itself, or, at least, the world that Fox has set up for the X-Men movies. And I don't actually think you can see this one without at least seeing First Class, first.

    Jean: All I can say is block the comics from your mind. Completely.

    Pat: Yeah, I'm sure they needed to expand Page's role, but I think they could have done that without giving her the ability to project people back in time.

    Anne: The first X-Men movie is still my favorite.

    Mark: It would have been nice to see some of the characters doing something other than just fighting. Bishop is the only one they really focused on.

    The "hounds" really wouldn't have fit within the universe they have set up.

  7. Actually I don't think I've ever seen any of the X-Men movies yet and you haven't encouraged me to see this one either. The concept of Wolverine sounds stupid enough. I'd rather see just see a movie about somebody who sends people into the past.

    Instead of watching this movie maybe I'll listen to the Moody Blues album instead.

    What is the best short story ever written?
    Tossing It Out

  8. This isn't the first time I've heard that the movie was basically written to fix the mistakes from Singer leaving the franchise. I never really thought the movies were that great, but they are a lot of fun to watch, even if they aren't as epic as the Avengers.

  9. I've never watched an X-Men movie, and I wasn't really a fan of the comic books, either. The film is getting good reviews from fanboys, so I suppose it's all okay with them.

    I don't otherwise have much to add here. Your review made me less likely to see it than I already was.

  10. I've never read the actual comics, so they can do whatever they want that differs from the books and it won't bother me :) I enjoyed it a lot. I really love McAvoy and Fassbender in their roles, and I loved the blending of the two time frames.

  11. We get around to the X-men movies and I think I've seen them all. I gave up on continuity and just watch them as popcorn movies. I can do that because I've never read a comic book, so I wouldn't know when they strayed from the source.
    It's an excellent review though, provoking thoughts all over the map, leading to a good discussion, and that's what I come here for :-)
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

  12. Lee: Wolverine is awesome. Which concept are you talking about? Because, actually, some of the stuff they've done to him recently, from what I've heard, is... absurd.

    Which Moody Blues?

    Jeanne: I think you have to appreciate the first X-Men. It was the movie that actually showed that super hero movies could be done.

    Briane: So less than zero?

    alexia: Fassbender's okay. Better than anything else I've seen him in except, maybe, 12 Years a Slave. McAvoy's good, but he doesn't quite feel Professor Xish enough for me.

    Tina: The problem with the X-Men movies is that they don't even hold to their own continuity, even before this one. However, Singer just made the continuity issues cease to exist since we no longer know what happened and what didn't. There are now only two movies that matter: First Class and Days of Future Past. Well, and part of the Wolverine origin movie.

  13. I'm bored with superheroes I guess. I've never seen a Wolverine movie or read a comic book, but from previews and what I've heard about him, Wolverine just sounds kind of preposterous. I should probably watch one of the movies to be sure though.

    My Moody Blues reference was to the album they made back in the 70's with some symphony orchestra. The album was called Days of Future Passed and included the song "Nights in White Satin".

    What is the best short story ever written?
    Tossing It Out

  14. I stopped after the spoiler warning as I do hope to see this eventually. I am way behind on X-Men movies. Maybe that's what I can do with my summer!

  15. Lee: "Night in White Satin" is a great song.

    Do not watch one of the Wolverine movies to get a grasp of the character. You'd really have to go to the comics. Specific story arcs and stuff.

    TAS: There are worse things you could do with it.

  16. Alas, yet another movie I haven't seen yet... rather than comment on all future posts with "couldn't read due to spoilers" I'll just assume you know I read up to the point where you say there are spoilers, and then couldn't read any more. :P

    I hated the first movie of this reboot, so I am worried about this one. We'll see though, I guess.

    BTW, Dallas Buyers Club was great. Thanks for the recommendation.

  17. Alex H: I liked First Class well enough, I suppose. I think I like it more now than when I first saw it. Except the training montage.

    I'm glad you liked DBC. I actually want to see it again just for McConaughey's performance.