Movie Review: X-Men Days of Future Past *Major Spoiler Warning*

X-Men Days of Future Past, Wolverine, Magneto,
Original X-Men director Bryan Singer returns to the X-verse for the seventh film in the series: X-Men Days of Future Past.  Occurring both in the past and the future, Days of Future Past involves dozens of characters, a complex plot and a non-stop roller coaster ride of mutant war.  While largely successful, the film fails to reach the character-driven heights of the first two X-films or even the stunning reboot in First Class.  DOFP’s problem is that there’s so much going on that there’s very little time spent on examining the WHY and the personal connection the characters have to the stakes involved.  I felt detached from the film in a way I never did in the other movies and, oddly, for a film 2.5 hours long, I feel that there’s a director’s cut of this film out there somewhere with another 30 minutes that might give it the breathing room between bombast that it badly needs.

X-MenDays of FuturePast78881

None of this is to say that DOFP isn’t a fantastic bit of summer fun.  Taking place in a future where adaptive Sentinels are exterminating both mutants and mutant collaborators, a final bastion of mutants devise a plan to send Wolverine’s consciousness back to the moment when the mutant/human war reached its tipping point.  Wolverine can stop the war before it ever begins and the dire future will never exist.

X-Men Days of Future Past, Ellen Page, Kitty Pryde, Shadowcat, Wolverine, Hugh Jackman, Logan

The future mutants: Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Bishop, Sunspot, Warpath, Blink (one of my favorites and Fan Bing Bing was outstanding), Iceman, Wolverine, Storm, Professor X and Magneto take refuge in a Chinese monastery as they fight off sorties from the adapting sentinels (Blink’s choreography of the opening fight scene is fricking amazing).  Wolverine is deemed the only candidate who could survive having his mind pushed back 50 years in the time stream because of his healing factor, so Kitty sends him back and he wakes in 1973.


Since we left off in X-Men First Class, things have gone very badly.  Most of the characters have been killed, the school disbanded, Mystique pursuing a vigilante agenda whilst Magneto is imprisoned beneath the Pentagon.  Xavier, using a formula Beast developed so he could control turning from Blue Beast to Hank, is walking but at the cost of his mutant powers.  He’s a broken man and unwilling to help Logan.  He is willing to try to prevent Mystique from destroying the timeline, but to succeed, they’ll need Erik.


This brings us to Evan Peter’s Quicksilver who completely stole this film.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson has got some work cut out for him.  Peters is hysterical and effortlessly powerful as the speedster thief.  He agrees to help break Magneto out of the Pentagon largely for the challenge and the entire sequence from when he leads the breakout team (saving them in the kitchen by demonstrating the extent of his powers is the best representation of speed as a power that I’ve ever seen) to convincing Erik to help on the plane later is the movie’s best patch.


The best bits in all the X-films have been the relationship between Xavier and Magneto, whether played by Stewart and McKellan or McAvoy and Fassbender.  From the very first scene of the very first film, the “brothers as adversaries” dynamic has provided the series’ best moments.  There were so many other distractions in this film that we didn’t get as many, but the ones we got were stellar.


The villain of the piece, Bolivar Trask (a weirdly muted performance from Peter Dinklage), is trying to sell his Sentinel project to Congress and the Nixon White House.  He’s also researching mutants on the sly, responsible for killing many.  There feels like there should be more to him.  We don’t really get to delve into his disturbing, Nazi-esque experiments or his motivation.  He sells Nixon on the Sentinel program after the X-Men stop Mystique from assassinating Trask (the event that was identified as the tipping point when Wolverine was sent back).

X-Men Days of Future Past, Magneto, Michael Fassbender

This sets up a final battle at The White House as the Mark I Sentinels are unveiled.  Erik breaks from the group in spectacular fashion and lifts RFK Stadium, transports it to Pennsylvania Ave. and drops it around the White House in one of the most impressive large-scale F/X I’ve ever seen.  WIth Wolverine quickly put out of commission (I seriously have an issue with Logan surviving his dunking in the Potomac.  He’s down there long enough that brain death would occur) and Professor X trapped by rubble, Mystique and Erik have a stand-off for the future.

Jennifer Lawrence, Raven Darkholme, Mystique, X-Men Days of Future Past

In the future, the sentinels have found the last bastion of X-Men and are butchering them as we flash back and forth between future and past until Mystique makes her choice and saves the President and the future is reset.  Logan wakes up in an idealized version of Xavier’s School.  Scott is alive.  Jean is alive.  Professor X is alive (screw you, Brett Ratner).  All is well.  It feels very pat.  It also feels like an ending, not a lead-in to X-Men Apocalypse.


For the original cast, this is their ending, and perhaps that’s what that ending serves.  But, back in 1974, there really ARE no coherent X-Men as a team.  We have Beast and Charles presumably restarting the school.  Erik is on the run.  Mystique, posing as Striker, for some reason fishes Logan out of the Potomac and takes him.  Everyone else from the First Class team is dead (with the exception of Havok whom we see serving in the Vietnam War with a number of other mutants).  Where is the momentum for the First Class timeline?  I didn’t feel any.  I didn’t feel engaged most of the film, actually.  I think that’s because the film starts at an “11” on the action meter and stays there the whole film.  There’s no ramping up to things, there’s no building to stakes, you’re dunked right into this war and there’s not a breath to be taken until the end.


X-Men Days of Future Past marks a welcome return of Bryan Singer to the X-franchise and I really am happy to have him back and running the mutants.  This film just felt robbed of character building moments or structure that would have made the huge set pieces it showcases even more meaningful.  I don’t think it’s inaccurate to say that Godzilla succeeded better at being the kind of film it was trying to be than X-Men DOFP succeeded at being the be-all, end-all mutant epic.  It’s not without tremendous moments, though, and the end-credit scene with Apocalypse has me looking forward to the next installment in 2016.

X-Men Days of Future Past, Magneto, Mystique, Wolverine, Professor X 


6 thoughts on “Movie Review: X-Men Days of Future Past *Major Spoiler Warning*”

  1. I would like to point out something that I find kind of astonishing: this movie is the first time I have ever seen a man with dwarfism cast in a role that would have been exactly the same had been played by a person of full height. Dinklage’s size isn’t even mentioned in the movie. This has got to be a victory for people of small stature everywhere. I’ve always thought it must be weird to be an actor and only get work playing magical beings and characters whose entire identity revolves around their height. Good for him.
    I remember you had reservations about Quicksilver’s getup when you saw the first photos, but in the context of the movie I got the impression that he donned it ironically. After that scene in the kitchen, the audience in the theater applauded. And I disagree with you. It’s not Johnson who has his work cut out, it’s the Flash tv series.


    1. That is true about Dinklage and the only time my theater reacted was for Quicksilver and my qualms about his costume were for nothing. It was a total lark move by him. Dinklage’s casting through presented this chance to give a meaty subtext to this man of small stature, a man with a mutation of sorts, creating titans to weed out mutants and experimenting on them like they were lab rats. I think there was a lot more to be mined from his casting that would have made the Trask role even better, not because he’s small of stature, but because his talent is so huge. I loved Dinklage before GoT so I’m thrilled whenever he’s in anything and I hope he gets more mainstream roles. He was born to play Tyrion, but he CAN play anything.


  2. I thought the subtext that was there was enough, and I liked the understated, matter-of-fact way that Trask was presented. What the film really needed was a scene where we saw Trask actually experimenting on a mutant.
    I was as surprised as you that things ended on such a quiet, happy note, but in retrospect the end-credits snippet was enough. Not everything has to end on a cliffhanger. We all know more is coming, after all.


  3. Good write up My favorite scene is the prison break, good to see them have fun with the super powers. I also liked the relationship between Xavier and Erik, that was the best part about First Class.


    1. Thank you! Charles and Erk’s scenes, back to the very first one, have always been the highlight of those films, but Quicksilver’s scene is “Scene of the Year” so far.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Gravatar Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s