Wolverine – sent back in time to destroy Brett Ratner. James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Peter Dinklage, Academy Award nominees Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender and Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence star in Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Cast of Characters:
Logan/Wolverine – Hugh Jackman
Charles Xavier/Professor X – James McAvoy
Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto – Michael Fassbender
Raven Darkholme/Mystique – Jennifer Lawrence
Ororo Munroe/Storm – Halle Berry
Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast – Nicholas Hoult
Marie/Rogue – Anna Paquin
Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat – Ellen Page
Bolivar Trask – Peter Dinklage
Bobby Drake/Iceman – Shawn Ashmore
Older Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto – Ian McKellen
Older Charles Xavier/Professor X – Patrick Stewart
Director – Bryan Singer
Screenplay – Simon Kinberg
Based on characters created by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Chris Claremont & John Byrne
Producer – Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg & Hutch Parker
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language
In what is I’m hoping the not so near future, the world has been ravaged by a war run by Sentinels – sentient robots designed to exterminate mutants, but are now also targeting humans. Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) – now siding together against the Sentinels – have come up with a plan to send someone back in time by Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) to 1973 to prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating scientist Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), the inventor of the Sentinels whose death as a “martyr” sparked widespread approval for the Sentinels. Kitty tells the Professor that time travel that far back would be too harmful on the body, so Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), being that he has the power of regeneration, volunteers.
Now back in the ’70s, Wolverine’s task is to find Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) and unite them in keeping Mystique from murdering Trask. He finds out that is easier said than done as Xavier has fallen into a deep depression over his life-changing injury (which has been healed from a power-suppressing serum) and Erik abandoning him. Meanwhile, Erik is being contained at the Pentagon for his involvement in the Kennedy assassination.
There you go, conspiracy theorists. Magic bullet mystery solved.
After dull mediocre letdowns like Neighbors and Godzilla for the month of May, I feel compelled to say thank you, X-Men. I was beginning to think the summer blockbuster season this year was gonna suck, and we haven’t even gotten to the Michael Bay films yet.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is the 7th installment of the X-Men series, and while X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine may have set the series on course for a collision, X-Men: First Class, thanks mostly to a strong cast (most of whom returns here) and Matthew Vaughn’s confident and stylish direction,put it back on track. This time, Vaughn’s not returning to direct with Bryan Singer taking control of the director’s chair. It’s been awhile since Singer has done anything noteworthy lately. I hated Superman Returns, Valkyrie was nothing special and although I enjoyed Jack the Giant Slayer, it was a box office bomb. There was some reason to be concerned with Singer coming back, particularly since Vaughn did so well with First Class; however, on the flip side, let’s not forget that Singer also directed X-Men and X2: X-Men United (the best of the series). He knows this world and he knows these characters, and it couldn’t show any better here.
Combining the best of both his and Vaughn’s worlds, Bryan Singer has put together a near-perfect narrative of time travel storytelling that’s as compelling as anything I’ve seen in any of the comic book films. Time travel is not an easy narrative device to pull off, yet Singer and writer Simon Kinberg, delivering his best work to date (not hard at all to pull off following XXX: State of the Union, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Jumper, This Means War, Sherlock Holmes and X-Men: The Last Stand), create a fluid structure to the story that never throws the viewer off. To be fair, there are enough character nods in the past to where it’ll help to brush up on your X-Men film history, but as far as the time travel aspect goes, Singer seamlessly blends both worlds together.
By the way, using the biggest “Get out of jail free card” plot device, any continuity errors found in any of the past films – Abracadabra! Gone!
While set in the future, Singer and his crew layer the action scenes with some dazzling visual effects. Although Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart lend their typical gravitas to the roles of Magneto and Professor X, respectively, the effects are a nice touch that compensates for the lack of depth found in any of the remaining characters (Ellen Page’s Kitty Pryde is an exception, but Halle Berry is somewhat wasted). The meat of the story and what is the bulk of the film is Wolverine sent back to the past, and that is where the film is at its most engaging.
Most of the cast from First Class (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult) returns. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are absolutely magnetic when they are onscreen together, and add more depth and heartbreak to the fragmented friendship of theirs. Their torn relationship also adds a strong, touching poignancy to McKellen and Stewart’s scenes set in the future. Jennifer Lawrence reveals a more tormented side to Mystique that shows a glimpse of the Mystique that we saw in the first set of X-Men films. Of course, no explanation is needed for Hugh Jackman. By now, we know he’s gonna do what he does best in these films, although he does bring a more restrained approach to his character, which is a nice touch.
Despite the A-list cast that centers around the film, in only a handful of scenes, Evan Peters literally steals the entire movie and then some as Peter Maximoff, aka Quicksilver (Magneto’s son, which isn’t explicitly mentioned, but is still alluded to). Evan Peters pitch-perfectly captures exactly how you’d expect a teenager, whose superhuman speed abilitiy (Singer shot Quicksilver’s scenes in 3,600 frames per second) makes him easily bored by the slow-moving world around him, to handle his powers, which involves playing ping pong by himself and stockpiling his room with stolen boxes of Twinkies. His involvement in breaking Magneto out of the Pentagon is the highlight of the entire film and is a terrific blend of comic relief and brilliant editing (credit to longtime Singer collaborator John Ottman, who also composed the score).
By the way, to all those that bitched and moaned and boohooed how Quicksilver looked (never taking into context that this film is mostly set in the ’70s, so the costume choice was fitting), it’s nice to see you all hop on the bandwagon. The bar has been set for Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who will be playing Quicksilver (for studio rights reasons between Fox and Disney, he won’t be mentioned as either a mutant or Magneto’s son) in next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, and if his tour de force performance in Godzilla’s any indication, as Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Well.. good luck with all that.”
The great Peter Dinklage provides depth and layers to his role as Bolivar Trask – the creator of the Sentinels. This could’ve been played up like a cartoony Bond villain, but thankfully Dinklage gives Trask a small dose of humanity and dimension. Trask doesn’t believe he’s evil. He wants world peace. He doesn’t hate the mutants either. In his words, “Oh, on the contrary. I’m fascinated by them.”
It should also be noted that in the span of a little over two hours, Singer’s direction and Kinberg’s writing provide the film with three villains (Trask, Sentinels and a part villain/part misunderstood antihero in Magneto) and it never once feels forced, overstuffed or underdeveloped.
Take notes, Spider-Man.
Most of the 2014 summer blockbuster season may have been a disappointment, but X-Men: Days of Future Past corrects that in entertaining fashion. Vaughn got moviegoers excited again for the X-Men with First Class and now Singer has firmly set the series back in top form with this entry that’s slightly better than its predecessor and is just as good as X2. The action sequences and CGI (which includes Magneto levitating RFK Stadium) are riveting, and there are a couple pleasant cameos at the end, but its the quieter moments of heart and humanity, brought to life by this talented cast, that really brings this film to its most engaging level.
I give X-Men: Days of Future Past an A (★★★½).
REVIEWS COMING LATER NEXT WEEK…
5/26/14 What the Hell Were They Thinking?!
5/27/14 Benjamin’s Stash
5/31/14 A Million Ways to Die in the West