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X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
First published in 1963, the X-Men were originally created by Marvel Comics writer/editor Stan Lee and famed comic book artist Jack Kirby as a team of heroes born super-human who are mentored by Professor X and fight against humanity's arch enemy Magneto and his malevolent Brotherhood of Mutants. Scott Summers, Hank McCoy, Bobby Drake, Warren Worthington III, and Jean Grey were the original X-Men, better known as Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, Angel, and at the time, Marvel Girl. It didn't last. The series relaunched in 1975, with a reshuffled group of X-Men most notably recruiting Ororo "Storm" Munroe and Piotr "Colossus" Rasputin, created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum, as well as adding James "Logan" Howlett, aka Wolverine, created the previous year by Wein and John Romita, Sr.
Lee and Kirby's Dr. Trask and his Sentinels had their X-Men comic book debut in 1965, but the limited-issue Uncanny X-Men story Days of Future Past from acclaimed comics writer Chris Claremont and renowned artist John Byrne saw print in 1981. It reportedly featured the hunted and dwindling team of mutants' long-time member Kitty Pryde mentally transporting from a futuristic Sentinel-controlled America in 2013 to possess her teenaged self in the 1980s and convince the X-Men of that era to prevent an assassination that unintentionally leads to mutant and human annihilation mere decades later.
That's more-or-less how writer Simon Kinberg's screenplay for this movie plays out.
Years from now, with anyone carrying the mutant gene persecuted into internment or extinction by the Sentinels, future Professor X (Stewart) and future Magneto (McKellen) task future Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) to send future Wolverine's consciousness back through time to possess past Wolverine's younger self. To 1973, on a mission to protect Dr. Bolivar Trask against Mystique, who's gone rogue and bent on murderous vengeance after discovering Trask's Sentinel project has included cruel experimentation on mutants. Future Wolverine knows Trask's martyrdom by Mystique's hand in 1973 launches the rise of the Sentinels and a dire future for all, and so convinces past Professor X (McAvoy) and past Magneto (Fassbender) to put aside their differences and help him change the course of history.
What can I say? This is yet another great-looking, entertaining X-Men movie, but it's a weird X-Men movie that sends you out of the theatre afterwards questioning what from all the previous X-Men movies is still relevant. It's a great-looking movie in how cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel deftly captures the mood of the times, beyond the post-production clean-up and sometimes stunning special effects. Loved the 8mm amateur footage scenes. It's also a lot of fun watching Jackman have a blast in the past, and much of the returning cast from X-Men: First Class definitely bring their A-game for the lion's share of what transpires on-screen. McAvoy and Fassbender are incredible, maintaining their characters' intensely compelling attitudes and foibles as ultimate frenemies. As well, Evan Peters is hilarious here as young Peter "Quicksilver" Maximoff, effortlessly stealing every scene he's in.
However, there's an annoying underlying sense this picture is more an X-Men comic book fan-pleaser than a movie for X-Men movie lovers. Ironic, considering recent Marvel movies that have summarily obliterated comic book canon. I definitely left this screening lamenting all the box office cash and faked illnesses wasted attending this franchise's theatrical premieres since they began with X-Men (2000). Easily more of a definitive reboot than the prequel X-Men: First Class was, X-Men: Days of Future Past pretty much erases everything starring the original cast - except perhaps X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). Maybe there's no difference in the larger scheme of things, if these movies adapted from the comic books are just supposed to eat your pay cheque while selling more comic books. For instance, Bishop, Sunspot and Blink are in this movie, without any real introduction to those characters offered to film buffs outside the local comic book store. Oh goodie, homework. Yeah, you get right on that...
Even a familiar face poses head-tilting confusion here. Patrick Stewart's Professor X existing in this movie's dystopian future when he was killed eight years ago in X-Men: The Last Stand plays out as a distracting plot hole throughout the opening scenes. What happened? Did I miss another dumb Marvel One-Shot featurette? It was bad enough being expected to blindly accept his resurrection when Professor X inexplicably reappeared unscathed in the closing credits airport clip wedged into last year's pointless X-Men spin-off, The Wolverine (2013). Sort of like the measly closing credits chess piece clip in X-Men: The Last Stand apparently being enough for cinephiles to accept Ian McKellen's future Magneto has his powers despite losing them in that 2006 movie. As though it's awesome paying to sit through movies for the sole purpose of catching these closing credit teasers in-case later recall is required. Or not.
In fact, the bookend scenes featuring the returning cast from X-Men: The Last Stand feel like this big screen installment is their swan song as these characters. They're needed, but re-linking them to the newer movies also poses problems. This flick gives the impression that X-Men, X-Men 2 (2003) and X-Men: The Last Stand are part of the timeline that includes the Sentinels created in the 1970s and the dystopian future shown here, and that all are wiped away by Wolverine's time travel. If that's the case, where were the Sentinels beyond the X-Men training room sessions, previously? Alternate Earths don't exist (yet) in the movie adaptations, just in the comic books. There's also a fairly big continuity problem regarding one character important to all those previous movies who - according to this storyline - shouldn't have existed in any of them. And that last problem just seems like the result of plain old sloppy screenwriting. Like Xavier's mysterious resurrection.
Thinking ruins this movie. Cut it out, dude.
Feeling somewhat cobbled and bittersweet for long-time fans, X-Men: Days of Future Past definitely serves up an entertaining romp in the 70s that's spiked with captivating performances from its returning X-Men: First Class cast. It's only earned a lukewarm check mark, though. Check it out for the truly fun adventure, but don't be surprised if it doesn't make much sense within this 14-year-old movie franchise's larger context. Reviewed 05/14, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is
rated PG by the Ontario Film Review Board, citing scenes containing
some grotesque images in a fantasy, comedic or historic context,
use of expletives, mild sexual references, non-sexual nudity
with no close-ups, scenes that may cause a child brief anxiety,
or fear, tobacco use, and restrained portrayals of non-graphic
violence, and is rated G by la Régie du Cinéma
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