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Sam's X-Men: Days of Future Past Review
Before I begin my review, I'd like to acknowledge that X-Men: Days of Future Past is a very popular movie. Its performance at the box office has been nothing short of fantastic, and audiences and critics alike seem to really enjoy this movie. With that said, I'd like to offer my own opinion: X-Men: Days of Future Past is a beautifully crafted film that breaks under the pressure of its own foundation, its story.
Allow me to elaborate on the negatives before praising the excellent segments of this film (and believe me, they're certainly there). Days of Future Past has a tremendous amount of setup to do, and based on the start, one can almost assume it’s going to fail. Before moving into the usual convolutions that come with telling a time-traveling adventure, we first need to establish the present/future as a world in which change is completely necessary. The atmosphere of hopelessness surrounding the future is something that made the first two Terminator films feel so urgent. In John Connor's world, we can see how decimated Earth has become and how difficult it is for humanity to stay alive; knowing the stakes of the world makes the survival of Sarah Connor not only an entertaining slasher-esque escape thriller, but a weighty story that vividly depicts how important one person can be.
Days of Future Past fails to do this, and that’s why it struggles from the start. We don't know anything about this world except that there aren't many mutants left and the powerful Sentinels are hell-bent on exterminating them. There’s nothing specifically mentioned about the Sentinel future that gives the audience any context; heck, we don't even know if there are any remaining humans. The film's attempts to provide a sense of despair seem rushed and incomplete, and the rest of DoFP suffers for it.
Plot holes are also abounding throughout the film, though they are far more distracting in the future/present scenes than they are in the past of 1973. In one scene, Shadowcat (played by Ellen Page) is accidently stabbed by an anguished Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), and Ice Man (Shawn Ashmore) all talk about how seriously this threatens Wolverine’s journey into the past, but afterwards it’s never really an issue again. Sure, they talk about how serious her wounds are, but because they never hinder her efforts again in the future, the audience has no need to take it seriously. The mantra of filmmaking is, “Don’t tell me, show me.” This desperately needs to be applied in several sections of Days of Future Past.
Another instance, early on in the film, is when the remaining mutants go to a secluded fortress and prepare to send Wolverine back to 1973 to prevent the Sentinel invasion from ever happening in the first place. It is there that Magneto says something along the lines of, “We must succeed. Soon, the Sentinels will find us here and we will have no way to escape.”
Anyone who grew up reading the comic books or watching the animated TV series will tell you that Professor X and Magneto are among the most intelligent and philosophically challenging figures in the Marvel universe. It insults their characters when Magnet says something with such little reasoning. If it’s so easy for them to be found, why don’t they try going somewhere else? They work with a team of mutants who are obviously adept at navigating the near future; why couldn’t they find a more secret location that would increase their chances of success? The absurd lack of common sense with characters that audience members have come to know and love for decades is both nonsensical and insulting.
Thankfully, the rest of the movie is much more developed. Many of the character arcs, while rushed, are quite good and the characters going through changes are realistic people with realistic struggles. The actors all do an incredible job, especially returnees James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as the young Professor X and Magneto, respectively. Newcomer Quicksilver (Evan Peters) is a wonderful character with some fantastic scenes; like Nightcrawler before him, he’ll be a fan favorite for years to come. Many of the action scenes are quite good and the special effects are transcendent. The ending is enthralling; if you’re a fan of the first three X-Men movies, you will really enjoy how the dust settles.
Let's summarize: Do the aforementioned negatives of Days of Future Past completely inhibit it from being a good movie? The muddling story and rushed emotional sequences certainly try their hardest, but Days of Future Past is a completely adequate addition to the X-Men film franchise. It's certainly not a perfect movie, but there's plenty of scenery to enjoy. If you’re a fan of Marvel movies or a longtime X-Men devotee, I'd certainly recommend seeing it at least once.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your opinions below in the comments; I'd love to hear what you have to say!