X-Men: Days of Future Past sets the franchise back on the right track

Have you ever made a misstep that you wish you could undo? That's a rhetoricl question, so if you actually responded to your computer screen, don't you feel silly now?

It's human nature. And part of that human nature is our existence in linear time. But X-Men: Days of Future Past isn't about human nature. And amazingly, not only does it deal with fixing a mistake in the past, it actually does the amazing job of fixing a couple missteps of the franchise itself.

Not to get into specifics, but this movie should please fans of the franchise in more ways than one.

But First, the story

We're told in the first X-Men movie that these movies are set in the near future. But it's easy to forget that. Futuristic tech aside, everything else just looks too ordinary. This time, it's impossible to forget that it's all in the future. And a rather dystopic one at that..

In dystopian 2023, we see what appears to be the final throes of a massive war between the human governments of the world and the world's mutants along with the humans who've tried to help and protect them. Fleets of Vogon ships drop massive robots known as Sentinels en masse to hunt down and kill or capture these dangerous mutants.

In the midst of this chaos, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Storm (Halle Berry), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), and Magneto (Ian McKellan) arrive at a ruined wasteland to find Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page). She can walk through walls, so she must obviously have the ability to project someone's consciousness back in time. Makes sense, right?

Professor X and Magneto have figured out that if they could stop one specific event from happening, they might be able to stop this war from ever having happened at all. Back in 1973, ambitious defense developer Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) was experimenting on and hunting down numerous mutants. In response, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) tracked down and assassinated him. It's that assassination and the fallout that they have to avoid.

The only one who can survive a fifty year jump back in time is Wolverine. Once there, he tracks down a young and surprisingly powerless Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), a strangely pink Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), and a very incarcerated Eric Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) to help him find and stop her.

Dot dot dot

Bryan Singer's return as director of the X-Men franchise is a fantastic showing. X-Men: First Class aside, the best of the X-Men movies are definitely the Singer films. I don't know what he would have done differently had he stayed on to direct X-Men: The Last Stand, but in more ways than one, he manages to sidestep many of the issues fans have with that film.

Singer clearly knows what works for the franchise.

Once again, Wolverine shows how he's become a fan favorite, what with his attitude and his winning personality and all those goings on and all. But aside from acting as a hairy messenger and an unlikely cheerleader, Wolverine is a surprising non-entity in the bigger action pieces of this movie.

He's not one to stand on the sideline, but if you look at it objectively, he's surprisingly ineffective at a couple of crucial moments. But it's not exactly his story here. It works for the movie, but if you want Wolverine front and center for the whole movie, you'll be disappointed.

But there are some great additions to the X-Men Mutantheon. I especially liked Evan Peters' Quicksilver. He's a fun character with lots of personality. And there's one particular action sequence where he gets to shine which will get you either cheering or laughing or both. It's a real spectacle.

And if you were tempted to call foul when Patrick Stewart appeared at the end of The Wolverine as Professor X, considering what happened in The Last Stand, they don't get into it in this movie. I've heard an explanation that makes perfect sense, but the root of the matter is that it really doesn't matter. Nothing in these movies is permanent. Not even death. Remember that I said that in the last minutes of this movie.

X-Men: Days of Future Past - trailer

One of my bigger complaints about the movie comes from one of the cliches of time travel stories. Whenever movies send one person back in time to fix a mistake in the past and make a better present, there's a tendency to go to extremes to make the bad timeline as bad as possible. I know there's drama in it, but there's always that point where you absolutely know that the only way to avoid making a terrible movie is for the plan to work. And at that point, honest concern gives way to a certainty of success.

It's not a fatal flaw, but it's a truth of time travel story lines.

Anyway, the story is nicely developed but not overly complex. The action is well shot and compelling. There are some quite stunning visuals, including a couple rather dense future fight sequences and one rather literal bullet-time sequence that's a real treat in 3D.

But what do you think of the movie?

4 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of X-Men: Days of Future Past

For me, I give this movie a strong 8 / 10, nearly a 9. It's roughly comparable to X-Men: First Class overall, but this one is a touch stronger.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is rated PG-13 for brief nudity (Wolverine tushy), language (including one 'F'), and intense sci-fi violence and action.

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