X-Men: Days of Future Past
Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Not being a comic reader, I can't say how faithful this film is to the story arc as created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, published in 1981. In one place I read that in the comic it is Kitty Pryde whose consciousness is sent back in time to her younger self, then on another site I saw a comment that Kitty did not have that power. In the Saturday morning cartoon show from the early '90s it was Bishop that was sent back. I have recently acquired the Kindle book of the graphic novel, but it contains several other story arcs setting up the time travel element, and I haven't read the actual "Days of Future Past" arc yet. In either case, in this movie it is Kitty that sends Logan/Wolverine back, simply because his recuperative powers makes him the best candidate for the perilous mission.
If memory serves, the only other mention of the Sentinels (robotic enforcers of anti-mutant laws) in the previous movies was during a training exercise in X-Men: The Last Stand. Only time will tell how this will shape the next film in the franchise, the subtitle of which will be "Apocalypse." Of course I don't know how the comic changed any story arcs that came after it, but there is now potential for the film franchise to look entirely different in the future. I'm familiar with the major characters from the previous films, Charles (Professor X) Xavier, Wolverine, Magneto, Storm, Mystique, etc. This film begins several decades into the future, with advanced Sentinels attacking several mutants of whom I'm not familiar; Warpath, Blink, Colossus, Sunspot, and they were manifesting their powers in such quick succession, what was happening was just a jumbled confusion for me.
Once Wolverine does go back into his younger body the story is on much more solid ground. The previous 'prequel' film, First Class, was set in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The past that Wolverine travels to in this film is 1972, with the major historical event being the Paris Peace Talks between the United States and North and South Vietnam. They do a very good job integrating "news camera footage" of the mutants interacting with historical figures and the crowds outside the building where the peace talks are being held. Later, in Washington, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) prepares to present his Sentinel program to President Nixon, but again the mutants intervene. I am assuming the first two films in the franchise were set in their own present day, 2000 and 2003 respectively, yet the Sentinels were not mentioned in either of them. You can sort of justify that retroactively, since this film implies the Sentinel program was abandoned, but then again, they were mentioned in the third film, released in 2006. Character interactions at the beginning of this film, particularly between Xavier and Magneto, and then at the end, between Magneto and Mystique, are quite different than we saw in First Class and the original X-Men, so color me confused on the continuity, if there is any that is.
All of this confusion aside, I enjoyed the movie. The acting is universally good, the special effects and actions sequences are as good as they get these days. The standouts are Michael Fassbender as the young Magneto and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. Peter Dinklage is also great as usual, his talent far exceeding his height. I really enjoyed the irony that he is the one who creates the gigantic Sentinels. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen provide their usual solid turns, but their scenes are so brief, and this film rightfully belongs to the past, to the younger X-Men. I don't have anything against Hugh Jackman, and he is good here too, but I think Wolverine has been overused, and I hope his character has a lower profile in subsequent films. The beginning of this one attests to the fact that there are many more characters they can draw on for future adventures. Can't wait!
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