Studio: 20th Century Fox (2 hrs. 11 min.)
Plot: Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Halley Berry, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
Cast: The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.
Bottom Line: ***
By J.R. Johnson
The X-Men franchise has been riding an erratic wave of awesome to awful the past 14 years with fans landing on both the good and bad sides of the fence. Suddenly things took a turn for the better with “X-Men: First Class (’11).”
Enter “X-Men: Days of Future Past” which doesn’t dive back into where “X-Men: First Class” left off. Instead, “Future Past” takes an enormous leap into the future where destruction and despair reign. Mutants, and all of humanity for that matter, are nearing extinction as a corrupt government rules a dystopian world with a race of machine-gunning robots called Sentinels.
With the last few X-Men fighting a loosing battle, the mutants fall to the only option they have left. Borrowing a page from “The Terminator (‘84),” the X-Men send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time with the hope of changing a key moment in the past, so the relentless war they’ve barley survived never happens.
Veteran X-Men director, Byran Singer returns to the helm and the film defiantly acquires a different tone. It’s all about the action. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” takes a little adjusting to the way the characters are utilized in this sequel, but it eventually finds a similar voice. With many familiar faces popping up throughout the film, i.e. Patrick Stewart, Halley Berry and Ian McKellen, it’s easy to fall back into the X-Men world.
“Future Past’s” plot is modest and thin. Taking place in the 70’s, the scriptwriters take advantage of the decade’s mod culture – punctuated with jokes and subtle references. Unfortunately the narrative isn’t at the top of “X-men: Days of Future Past’s” list.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” does have a decent amount of character development focusing on the X-Men themselves, but it still revolves back into a thrill ride. The storyline is crafted to allow Singer to go wild with ridiculous battles and special effects, but that’s most of what comic book movies encompass, so the line crossed to sacrifice story for activeness isn’t that shocking.
One thing Singer did well was the transition between the present time and past. It’s exceptionally fluid and it helps propel the story forward. But this type of strategy wouldn’t be possible without the performances of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, who play Professor Xavier and Magneto respectively. They tie everything together.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” is a solid sequel to “X-Men: First Class.” At times it feels more worried about setting up a universe for the next film, but “Future Past” finds a way to stand alone as a blockbuster with many impressive moments.
This was printed in the July 15 - June 28, 2014 edition.