Film Review: X-Men Days of Future Past (2014)

X-MenBryan Singer returns to the X-Men franchise after directing the first two. Days of Future Past is the seventh film in the superhero saga. It’s amazing that they’ve been able to keep it going this long. Especially since there have been so many less than stellar outings for the X-Men. If anything, First Class gave the franchise its second wind. The main cast members from First Class all return in this new installment. Fassbender, McAvoy, and Lawrence join the original series cast in this tale of time travel.

The film is based off the The Uncanny X-Men; issues 141 and 142. Now, the film does take some artistic license and most of that can be attributed to appeasing the masses. With a budget upwards of $200 million, the suits at Fox aren’t taking any chances. Instead of having Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) go back in time, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine travels back to 1973. Just in time to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from murdering Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage).

Most people are already familiar with Wolverine, that’s fine, I get that. But, why not change things up and give another major role to a female character? I’m not trying to slam X-Men since it’s probably one of the few superhero franchises that could pass the Bechdel test. But, I’m pretty sure that this was a strictly financial decision. Wolverine didn’t even play a major role in the film. Yes, he was in the room when the action took place but he didn’t really have much to say. Also, an analysis of box office data has shown that films that pass the Bechdel test have a higher return on investment. I think this was a missed opportunity.

Nonetheless, Wolverine makes the journey back in time to convince Magneto and Professor Charles Xavier to reconcile their differences and stop Mystique before it’s too late. The reason being that during Trask’s assassination, Mystique is captured. While Mystique is taken captive, the humans study her DNA and reverse engineer the Sentinels. The Sentinels are robots that exterminate mutants and humans with the ‘X’ gene. This prevents the possibility of mutant offspring and so, the mutant race will become extinct.

As with most time travel films, there’s bound to be an issue with continuity. However, Days of Future Past seems to overcome this problem. As previously mentioned, the Sentinels are designed to exterminate humans carrying the ‘X’ gene. William Stryker carries the ‘X’ gene since he fathers a mutant son named Jason. In future X-Men sagas, Stryker plays a critical role in the battle against the mutants. He becomes the leader of the Weapon X project and so, the existence of the Sentinels would take Stryker out of the picture. Days of Future Past validates the previous X-Men films.

Although Days of Future Past is a good film, that doesn’t mean it didn’t have some issues. One of the best things Singer brought to the franchise were the films underlying themes. The battle against mutants was analogous of the discrimination against minorities. Charles and Eric represented two sides of the same coin. Charles sought a world where humans and mutants co-exist in harmony. Eric, on the other hand, wants to dominate the human race.X-Men Uncanny

This coin has been flipped one too many times though. Days of Future Past continues to postulate this moral dilemma. After six films, I think we get the point.

Another pitfall arises with Bolivar Trask. Although Peter Dinklage gives a fine performance, Trask’s motives for eradicating the mutants is poorly conceived. In the film Trasks even states that he admires the mutants yet, he wants to destroy them. In the comics Bolivar becomes the father of a mutant, Larry Trask. Although the Sentinels have the ability to detect mutants, Trask gives his son a medallion which shields his son’s identity. It would have been interesting to see what inspired Trask and motivated him to create a weapon against the mutants.

Even with some minor issues, Days of Future Past is still wildly entertaining. Quicksilver’s prison break is hilarious and uber cool.  Also, I enjoyed the reference to the Bent Bullet and Magneto’s involvement with the JFK assassination. A lot of people probably rolled their eyes but, I like how the writers tried to fuse mutants into the pages of history. John F. Kennedy was “one of us”? Say what?!

After the credits rolled, we’re given a little taste of what’s yet to come. X-Men: Apocalypse is set to hit theatres in 2016. Channing Tatum has been cast to play Gambit. I’ll reserve my judgement on this casting choice and I’ll give the guy a shot. With that being said, we could see the Horsemen of Apocolypse. Gambit was a member at some point. All in all, I’m pretty stoked about the revitalized X-Men franchise.