X-Men, I enjoyed. X2, I really enjoyed. X-Men: The Last Stand remains the most disappointing film I’ve ever seen in theater, ever. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was ridiculous, and yet bothers me considerably less than The Last Stand, probably because that movie had already crushed all the expectations out of me. X-Men: First Class, I enjoyed, except for what happened with all the female characters. The Wolverine . . . well, I never actually saw that one. I didn’t have to. “X-Men” wasn’t in the title.
X-Men: Days of Future Past, though. That I obviously had to see.
I’ll admit, my interest wasn’t all that high, despite Bryan Singer’s return to the franchise — but I actually had a pretty decent time, all in all.
The future sucks. So Old Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) goes back in time to try and convince Young Xavier (James McAvoy) and Young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to help him stop Young Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating (Normal Age) Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), whose death will instigate the shitty future that Wolverine would very much like to avoid.
1. What definitely works in this movie (not surprisingly) is the acting. Days of Future Past boasts a phenomenal cast: eight actors — Halle Berry, Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Lerner, Ian McKellen, Ellen Page, and Anna Paquin — have been nominated for an Academy Award, and three of them have won. (Although it should be said that a couple of these actors, one in particular, is barely even in the movie — something I’ll be revisiting in the Spoiler Section.)
Everyone does a fair to excellent job with their roles. Hugh Jackman is a lot of fun, as always, and I like Nicholas Hoult a lot, too. Peter Dinklage is enjoyable, and Jennifer Lawrence is great — I definitely like Mystique a lot more this time around. Michael Fassbender has considerably less screen time than he did in First Class, but he’s freaking Michael Fassbender — you could give him three lines and dress him in a garbage bag, and he’d still drip charisma all over the screen.
But Days of Future Past is undoubtedly James McAvoy’s movie.
McAvoy is great in this. Young Xavier is a broken guy in the beginning of this film, and McAvoy does a lovely job conveying his grief and disillusionment. The kind of bitter banter between him and Jackman is fun to watch, and all his stuff with Fassbender on the plane is nothing short of magnificent.
2. Of course, we also need to talk about Quicksilver (Evan Peters), who is basically the best.
You will all likely remember the mass internet rage that sprang up after the first pictures of Quicksilver were released, so I’d like to think that Bryan Singer saw the audience’s overwhelmingly positive reaction to Quicksilver and was like, “BOOYAH! I told you he’d be awesome!” (Although I’m still unclear as to why they renamed Pietro “Peter.” That does sort of bother me cause, you know, why? Unless I was having a brain problem that day and just kept mishearing his name — but it sure sounded like they were saying Peter.)
Anyway, Pietro/Peter is not actually a huge part of the movie, but he IS a lot of fun, bringing some much needed levity to the second act of the film, especially with the One Scene That Everyone’s Talking About. I’m pretty sure that I’ll never be able to hear “Time in a Bottle” again without thinking of Quicksilver.
3. I will say, though, that there are some huge logic leaps in this movie that kind of drive me crazy. Like, I’m really at a loss to explain how Kitty Pryde’s ability to run through walls has somehow given her the power to send people back in time.
I mean, I get that it’s probably a nod to the original comics, where Kitty was the one going back in time herself, but . . . yeah. That shit don’t fly without some kind of explanation. Come on now. It would be no less ridiculous if Iceman froze Wolverine’s head and was like, “No, it’s totes cool. By putting his brain on ice, I’m actually sending our favorite grumpy mutant into the past!”
4. Also, the new Sentinels of the dystopian future are kind of boring. This isn’t a huge knock to the movie are anything, just . . . meh. They’re like super sized Terminators. I much prefer the first edition Sentinels from the 1970’s.
Maybe because they remind me of the Sentinels I remember from my beloved childhood cartoon, but also just because they look more interesting. And purple! Who doesn’t like purple?
5. I can’t talk about this in too much detail yet, but I do need to say that as much as I generally enjoyed this film, I did find myself more than slightly frustrated with our heroes sometimes. Because, really, I think if they would’ve all just sat down and tried coming up with a solid game plan for five seconds, they could have super easily avoided the Uber Dark Future that was awaiting them.
And yeah, I get it, your movie does have to have plot and all, and sure, with plot comes plot complications, but for fuck’s sake. That’s no excuse for making your characters morons.
6. Finally, about the mutants who have survived in our ugly future — I’m sure there were a lot of factors involved, like what actors you could get and how long you could actually get them, but still — I wish we had more time with mutants we already know and less with the new mutants we’ve never heard of before. Like, Blink’s kind of cool, and sure, I totally wanted to see Bishop on the big screen — but I wanted to see Bishop in a role where we actually got to spend some time with him, you know, where’s he’s not just a glorified extra who we know nothing about. I would much rather have seen what became of so many other mutants, like Rogue or Nightcrawler or Angel or Gambit or grown-up Havoc or even poor Jubilee, who basically never makes it into the movie, even though she’s pretty much always scripted.
And . . . shit, that’s pretty much all I have to say that doesn’t include Spoilers. For those who have seen the movie (or just aren’t planning to, ever), please continue onward.
So, first, I need to tell you something about me, something important, something you might not know: I have a serious block against JFK assassination conspiracy stuff.
I just, I can’t. I don’t know if it’s because JFK died well before or I was born, or (more likely) because everyone and their dog has already done JFK conspiracy stuff, but anytime a movie or book tells me how Kennedy really died . . . I pretty much roll my eyes back into my skull, die of a horrible brain hemorrhage, and then am promptly resurrect due to magic. Which isn’t as fun as it sounds.
So, yeah. At first it’s like, “Magneto killed the President!” And I was like, “Oh, please.” And then it was, “No, Magneto tried to save the President because he was a MUTANT.” And I was like, “Good Christ, people.” I think I actually giggled in theater. No, I know I giggled in theater.
There is just no winning with me on JFK. Consider it a flaw in my character.
Now. Here’s where I was really going nuts with this movie: if you know you can’t murder a dude without causing a terrible, terrible future, why doesn’t anyone come up with what I feel are incredibly obvious solutions, like discrediting Trask in some way, or staging a fight where the good mutants clearly outnumber the bad mutants and save someone important like, oh, I don’t know, the current President, maybe.
These things happen by accident, mind you, but I simply don’t understand why no one thought to make it happen intentionally. Like, absolutely, the first step should be to stop Mystique from murdering Trask, but that could have been done fairly easily. And, apparently, without Magneto’s help at all — so fuck you, Future Professor X. You made everything so much harder by forcing Wolverine to free Young Magneto, considering he brought nothing much to table except bad decision making skills and public monument destruction.
Because yeah, Magneto? He has apparently decided that the ONLY way to stop Mystique is to kill her. It is the most ridiculous thing — he never tries to reason with her. He doesn’t even seem to notice that Charles has clearly already talked her down. And even if Charles hadn’t, it never occurs to Magneto to even try and do something slightly less drastic than murdering his own protege/friend, like temporarily knocking her out and taking her away somewhere so that they can continue having this discussion in a slightly less charged environment, somewhere they’ll have more than five seconds to outline exactly what will happen if Trask is killed. I’m like . . . seriously, Magneto? Aren’t you supposed to be smart?
And really — do we honestly think that simply saving Trask from this one woman will completely avert the horrible future where Sentinels are everywhere? Cause I don’t. Which brings us back to discrediting him — for instance, when Magneto takes control of the Sentinels and uses them to attack the humans? I’m not saying it’s the nicest plan ever, but if you can just find a way to eliminate the evidence — and with a handful of powerful mutants, I’m pretty sure you can — then how easy is it to have our good mutants storm in and save the day? With this plan, we’ve easily shown that the Sentinels are too dangerous to keep around, that Trask should probably not be in charge of anything, and that mutants are willing to use their powers for good.
But then Magneto wouldn’t get to showboat. Like an ASSHOLE.
I do, ultimately, like that Mystique has the opportunity to make her own choice, that Charles realizes he and Magneto have been trying to control her instead of actually stopping to listen to her for once.
I’ve read a variety of different opinions about Mystique and the movie in general over the last week or so. C.C. Finlay, for instance, was pretty critical of Days of Future Past in regards to how it deals with women, and while we don’t always come to the same conclusions — it never even crossed my mind to consider Mystique’s gender as important in regards to her responsibility for creating this horrible future, nor do I really read Mystique’s phone booth scene as forgiveness, exactly — I do think he raises some interesting points. Because I absolutely would’ve loved to have seen our favorite shapeshifter give a monologue of her own where she’s like, “Excuse me, but I’ve been saving mutants left and right without you two for YEARS now, and I think I’ll just go ahead and keep doing that on my own, thanks.”
I also agree that we absolutely should have seen Mystique somewhere in the Happy Future. Not in X’s mansion — because, for me, that would read far too much like she chose Xavier instead of herself, after all — but maybe her own castle where she can train a band of mutant recruits who are loyal to her. Because Wolverine’s a hero (and I love that he’s easily sidelined in the big battle when you think he’ll save the day), but Mystique is one too, and it does annoy me that she’s not in our Big Happy Times Denouement.
Oh, but before we continue with the joyful future — I do need to backtrack a bit and confess something. The JFK thing is not the only time I inappropriately giggled in the theater. I also laughed when Storm died in the apocalyptic future. Which, in retrospect, I feel a bit guilty about because it probably wasn’t Days of Future Past’s best choice, killing off the black female character before anybody else. (Don’t you guys have PR people to think about these things, if you’re not going to do it yourself?) And yet, I did laugh because I’ve never particularly liked Storm, at least not Halle Berry’s portrayal of her (something to which you’ll all hear more about, if I ever get around to writing a review of X2), and also because slow-motion deaths where you fall off the Cliffs of Insanity are pretty hard to take seriously.
Okay, confession over. Back to the joyful future, where everyone is alive — and by everyone, I mostly mean Jean and Scott, since this movie has done what I (and surely everyone) had not-so-secretly hoped: it has completely erased The Last Stand from the franchise entirely. (Mind you, the franchise’s continuity is still entirely fucked. If you’re interested, there’s a good list here about all the things that still make very little sense.)
Rogue is alive too, and you get to see her for all of three seconds, which is long enough to see her hold hands with Iceman. So . . . she’s still got that cure then, huh? *sigh*
Can Rogue have her own spinoff yet? Like, a different Rogue (with probably a different actress, sorry Anna Paquin), who gets to be badass and sassy and have all her awesome powers? Can she be the Rogue I wanted to be when I was eight? Also — and I know she had a whole subplot that was cut which explains this, but — it’s HILARIOUS that Anna Paquin was in the top billing for cameo that was literally less than a minute. I don’t think she even had lines. (If she did, it was a, “Hey, Logan,” but I don’t think she even said that. For Christ’s sake. There are unpaid extras who have more screen time.)
I am kind of curious to see where the series goes from here, though. Not because of the post-credits teaser, mind you. (Although, funny story — I actually didn’t realize they were setting up Apocalypse at first, despite knowing who he is. I just kept staring at sand dunes, thinking, Um, is there going to be a crossover with The Mummy franchise or something? Cause, you know. Rick and Wolverine? AWE-SOME.) But just — we’ve changed the future. Like, the whole future. What will Mystique be like now? How will Wolverine deal with two different timelines in his head? Has the world vastly changed from the world we once knew?
. . . no, I expect not. I figure there will be a funny line where Wolverine drops a reference to the Timeline That Was, maybe a joke or two where someone in real life has never became a celebrity or political figure (my money’s on the Kardashians), and Mystique will probably pop up . . . maybe? I mean, I certainly hope so. I would totally like to see grown up Mystique (who could still be played by Jennifer Lawrence cause, hey, shapeshifter) have a whole new dynamic with the team now, since we’ve entirely rewritten her history. She could be this super interesting character in the sequel.
But, yeah. Kind of doubt it.
Logan: “So, you were always an asshole.”
Magneto: “So much for being a survivor.”
Beast: “I probably shouldn’t be asking this sort of thing, but in the future, do I make it?”
Xavier: “You took the things that meant the most to me.”
Magneto: “Maybe you should have fought harder for them.”
Logan (to Beast): “In the future, you and I will be good friends.” (punches him) “You just don’t know it yet.”
Quicksilver: “They say you can manipulate metal. My mom used to know a guy who could do that.”
On reflection, I’ve criticized a fair bit about this movie. But in the theater, I wasn’t thinking about any of that at all. (Well, that’s not entirely true. I was calling them all stupid. A LOT.) I had a really good time watching this, so I’m more or less willing to overlook some plot holes and annoyances . . . but then again, some plot holes and annoyances are harder to overlook than others.
Magneto will never be any help to you, ever, and he will always, at any given opportunity, turn humanity’s own weapon against them. Seriously, screw that guy.