A Totally Biased Review – X-Men: Days of Future Past

With Wolverine traveling through time to keep both mutants, and humans, from facing annihilation, the stakes have never been higher… But, does the film deliver on them?

In the apocolyptic future, the mutant race is facing certain extinction thanks to a shape-shifting army of Sentinels designed to control the mutant population. A rag-tag team of X-Men, led by Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) must help send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from murdering weapons developer Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), the egotistical scientist behind the Sentinel army that threatens the future of the mutant race.

J-Law’s Mystique is a major character in Days of Future Past… But should she have been?

With an enormous cast of A-listers at his disposal, Bryan Singer does a wonderful job of putting character development before a CGI-riddled plot. Unfortunately, it was on a short list of things that really gave the 1970’s time-inspired film the panache that some would expect from the directors third trip down the mutant rabbit hole.

The feel of the movie is spot on, with a soundtrack full of older songs, and TV clips that weave the story into our conflict with Korea in the early 70’s. The country’s frustration is almost at a boiling point, from not only the war overseas but the mystery surrounding the mutants now living among them. Comics often weave real world issues into their story arcs but the movies have for the most part left those aspects on the cutting room floor, but Singer has now proven that it can be done successfully.

Wolverine’s mission is simple enough: Bring together two friends-turned-enemies, young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) to convince Mystique that killing Trask will bring nothing but harm to the mutant race. McAvoy and Fassbender steal the show, each turning in excellent performances that were at least on par with their stints in the same roles in the films hybrid prequel, “X-Men: First Class” (2011). The relationship between the two characters is so compelling and volatile that each conversation between the two is can’t-miss material.

McAvoy and Fassbender remain the franchises top players.

The heavily anticipated performances may have come up as the most disappointing, however, as Jennifer Lawrence never seems to fully embrace the role as mutant-gone-rogue, Mystique. Simon Kinberg’s script placed heavy emphasis on the character, and Lawrence’s performance feels flat, and indifferent.

“Game of Thrones” fans were thrilled to see Dinklage take up the role of Trask, thanks to his many scenes stolen in HBO’s hit series, but where is our crimson clad lion from Sunday evenings? Trask, for a man with his life on the line, doesn’t seem to illicit any emotion whatsoever. Evil was without a face in the film, and without a clear cut villian, it makes you wonder who or what exactly you’re rooting for. Dinklage could’ve, and should’ve, taken Trask to that level, spitting fire into a character that was ice-cold.

What may have been missing most of all were the “ZOMG!” moments that often flood the super hero genre. Evan Peters playing Quicksilver in the characters first big-screen debut absolutely nailed the best moment in the movie, a time-slowing scene in the Pentagon set to the song “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce. It may have been the only truly memorable scene, not including Magneto’s impressive stadium-lift, which most fans have already seen in the trailers.

Die hard fans will find issue with the oh-so-convenient plot devices (Kitty Pryde can now send someone back over 50 years into the past?), the motives of some of the films main stars (What team is Magneto on, anyway?), and the questions that pile up, as the answers become less frequent (What happened in-between The Wolverine’s final scene, and the not-so-utopian future that the film starts in?).

With Singer in the chair, and a marvelous cast to boot, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” was capable of much more than it delivered. It plays second fiddle to Marvel Studios “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” in terms of the best super hero movies in 2014, and may fall in line right alongside Sony’s sequel, “Amazing Spider-Man 2”. Sony and Fox chasing the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Something both parties may have to get used to.

pros and cons

+ Performances by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are top-notch
+” That” Quicksilver scene

– Character development aside from Prof. X and Magneto non-existent
– Film lacks a “big bad”… Am I rooting for or against Mystique? For, right? No?
– Only X-Men film in history to have a serious lack of Wolverine kicking ass

One Response to “A Totally Biased Review – X-Men: Days of Future Past”
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