The 7th film in the X-Men franchise does more right than wrong, but still fails to reinvigorate the series with any new information. The bleak tone, combined with the ticking clock served to detract from the sentimental pieces that hold the film afloat. Apart from being a complete disaster, we see a more intimate group of mutants who can’t seem to make up their mind which side they’re truly on. When one character made up their mind, another seemed to change their for no real reason other than to be an antagonist for the plot.
The film also introduces a lot of deliberate-yet-unexplained devices that contradict what we’ve been told for 14 years. How does Professor X return from his disintegration in X3? Why does Wolverine have adamantium claws when he lost them in The Wolverine? And since when did Kitty Pryde get to time travel? All of these questions linger in my mind as the film ends on an all too familiar note, Magneto and Xavier parting amicably in opposite directions.
The emotional development of the characters is somewhat refreshing and realistic in the time frame given. Drugs were big in the 70s, even if they’re taken by mutants, and I found the underlying connection suitable for the era. The Xavier and Logan dynamic is one that truly shines throughout the film, as a teacher has become the student and vice versa. James McAvoy is truly a young professor with his gravitas and anguish, while Hugh Jackman becomes Wolverine incarnate the older he gets. It is outside of these interactions in which the film slows down and doesn’t progress much beyond First Class’ events (which took place 10 movie years prior). Fassbender is a good Erik Lensherr with the material given, but isn’t allowed room to grow or breath. The new spotlight on Mystique does help remove the Dark Phoenix taste from our mouths, only to introduce her as a new problem: the only female mutant. If the original love triangle from X1-3 wasn’t enough to make you sick, you will not enjoy three men and their fascination with her.
Days of Future Past feels alot like an apology attempt by Fox and Bryan Singer for several films before it. It knowingly erases Origins: Wolverine and The Last Stand (the others could still exist), while also acting as a snuff piece for many mutants. Some people have claimed the deaths of their favorite mutants in the future as very emotional, but I can assure you they’re just in shock. The brutality of the Sentinels of the future is sure to be a topic of discussion for months, but they achieved their goal: to be scary and devastating. It is when the original Sentinels appear that falls short. We were teased the robots rather than the film using them beyond pure spectacle.
It is the ending of the film that seemed to falter and not drive the point home, but deliver fan service alone. From the incredible amount of cameos, the viewer is no longer left sure how the timeflow will exist after this film. Is there a future timeline that will use the original cast? Or is there only the past timeline post 1973 which we’ll see films with new characters? I once thought I knew, but now feel less sure than when I walked into the movie. Once more, Magneto gets away free and in opposition to Charles Xavier’s goal. This is how we’ve seen many X-Men movies end before this and it feels like a cop out. Sure, they can’t truly stop one another, but must it end so ambiguously every time?
At the end of the day, X-Men: Days of Future Past will not convert the unbelievers to the franchise. It struggles along the way to be something truly unique, but ultimately falls prey to its own fan service. Without much development from three of the five main characters, it feels as if the huge set pieces and spectacle were unnecessary to the emotional story that lies in the heart of this film, the redemption of Xavier by Logan.
[signoff icon=”icon-video] Review – 3/5 X-ceptional
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