Time travel is always tricky.
It is very difficult to create a film involving time travel that doesn’t contain continuity issues. The first two Terminator films, despite being adored by sci-fi fans worldwide, have many paradoxes throughout the plot of both films because of the time travel used, leaving many fans scratching their heads even today. The Back to the Future movies have very similar problems, although since they were just fun, family comedies, I’m sure that these issues weren’t first and foremost on the filmmaker’s minds. Just like these films, X-Men: Days of Future past has several issues involving the time travel in the story. However, it is still one excellent film.
Days of Future Past is essentially a sequel to both the original X-Men trilogy and 2011’s X-Men: First Class. The world has become a dangerous place for both humans and mutants alike, as giant robots called sentinels hunt down members of both species. In an attempt to prevent this difficult turn of events, Wolverine, played as always by Hugh Jackman, has his mind sent back to the past by Kitty Pryde (a choice that fans of the comics weren’t very keen on) to stop the shape-shifting mutant Mystique (played by Jennifer Lawrence) from murdering Bolivar Trask of Trask Industries, a crime that will set off a chain of events leading at this dark future for both humans and mutants alike. Wolverine wakes up in his own body in 1973, and soon teams up with Charles Xavier, Hank McCoy, and Magneto in an attempt to change the future for all of mankind.
Let me say right off the bat that this is my favorite film that I have seen this year, and it is easily one of my favorite comic book movies of all time. Director Bryan Singer has proven once again that a law should be passed forbidding anyone to green light an X-Men film that doesn’t have him on board. The movie has a great balance between action and drama, giving us both the super-powered battles that we’ve come to expect from films such as this and several great one-on-one dialogues between the film’s several leads. I was particularly impressed by the performances by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, who play Charles Xavier and Magneto, respectively. Peter Dinklage, who plays the villain Bolivar Trask, also did a fantastic job, although I wouldn’t expect any less from Tyrion Lannister himself. It was also a real treat to finally see the casts of both the original X-Men trilogy and First Class together in one film, a rarity that could only happen with this beloved story from the comics. Everything from the directing to the dialogue to the visuals is top-notch, and anyone hoping to make a comic book film in the future should see this gem and take notes.
But the great elements of X-Men: Days of Future Past don’t end there. This movie, like most entries in the franchise before it, forces the viewer to think about humanity and whether or not we should embrace the changes that we are presented with. Trask, whose company produces the sentinels, views the mutants as a threat on an evolutionary level, a fear that villains such as Stryker or the world powers in First Class never considered. In the original comics, the conflicts between the mutants and the humans were a blatant metaphor for racism, and many believe that Singer’s earlier X-Men films were trying to make a similar point with homophobia. Days of Future Past, however, brushes aside all of the semantics and simply asks, how would you react if you met a human whose appearance, personality, or very existence went against all that you have ever known? Would you fear them, like the humans in this film? Would you want to exterminate them, like Trask? If you were such a being, would you desire equality, like Xavier’s mutants, or would you view yourself as a superior species, like Magneto? On top of that, could the actions of just one mutant, such as Mytique, ruin the public image of all mutants? I believe that we’ve seen examples of all of these viewpoints throughout the world just within the past decade, and the issues presented in this film are just as relevant now as they were when the X-Men were first introduced in 1963.
The film also has several elements from the comics that were great to finally see on the big screen. As most who have seen this film have already said, the inclusion of Quicksilver was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the movie. His character is fantastic, and the scenes involving his powers are some of the best to ever appear in a comic-based film. On top of that, it was great to FINALLY see the sentinels in an X-Men movie. Ever since I saw the first X-Men film in 2000, I was wondering when they would put these robotic behemoths onto the silver screen, and their appearance was all that I could hope for and more. The scenes from the future, in which the X-Men were fighting more advanced sentinels, were real nail-biters, as hordes of nearly indestructible killing machines swarmed the original trilogy’s cast. There was also a decent amount of fan service throughout the film that was greatly appreciated, despite the fact that the plot of the entire film was quite a bit different from the source material.
As much as I want to call this film masterpiece, I have to admit that there were some choices made that brought the movie down. Within the first few scenes of the movie, the audience is expected to accept quite a bit of information as given, such as the fact that the world has gone to hell between the end of 2013’s The Wolverine and the beginning of this film and the fact that Kitty Pryde, formerly known only for her ability to walk through walls, now has the ability to send people’s minds back in time. I would have liked just a little bit more explanation on either of these sudden changes, but the film rushes through them to get Wolverine to the past before any audience member can stand up and say, “Wait a minute…”. As I stated above, there were also some problems with the time travel that I couldn’t let go of in my mind; before Kitty sends Logan back, she explains to him that while she maintains a connection with him, the past and the present will coexist unchanged, another piece of information that the movie expects me to accept at face value. The only other thing that I didn’t like about this film was that there were several scenes involving former President Richard Nixon, and the gentleman who they hired to play him put on one of the one of the most typical Nixon impressions that I’ve seen. This guy didn’t have a very big role, but I couldn’t help but feel that this actor had accidentally walked onto the set of this film instead of SNL.
I want to give Days of Future Past a perfect score; I really do. I want to say that it’s just as good as The Dark Knight, The Avengers, and X2. However, to say that wouldn’t be fair to those three films, as well as any comic-based masterpieces to come in the future. However, I can say without a doubt that even though this film might not have achieved Nolan’s or Whedon’s on-screen perfection, I had no less fun watching it than I did watching any other comic book film that I adore. X-Men: Days of Future Past is an excellent summer film that delivers much more than great special effects, and I highly recommend it to sci-fi and comic book fans everywhere.