Movie Mini-review: X-men: Days of Future Past

After watching this I needed some time to gather my thoughts , and now I think I can put them down.

 

XDFP is a decent summer movie and probably rewatchable. I’m going to assume you are familiar with the X-men. If you aren’t, educate yourself here or here. Long time fans, do not think it is an adaptation of the comic of the same name. It is not, although it has borrowed some plot elements. This is a good thing.

 

Like other X-men films the narrative follows Wolverine around as our main go-to point-of-view character. Which is fine, but not-so-fine when you think of all you’re missing. XDFP does not show Cyclops or Jean Grey any love. Storm, Colossus, Ice Man, Kitty Pryde, Bishop and Blink are basically bruisers and not really part of the narrative at all.

 

The film opens in the far future and a bunch of adaptable, mutant-hunting robots are about to wipe out the last of the X-men. They hatch a plan to send Wolverine’s mind back in time to stop the pivotal event that led to the creation of the robots. Yes, it’s time-travel, but I like the idea that they are not sending any actual physical mass. His future mind would “possess” his past body and make the necessary changes. It’s all so “Let’s go back in time and shoot Hitler” but it’s a comic fantasy. Whatchogonna do?

 

In the past he is expected to basically get the band back together. The challenge is brokering a truce between main bad guy Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Professor Xavier (James Macavoy) while also trying to find Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), who, like in the first movies, essentially blue-nakeds her way though the movie like a Smurfette on steroids.

 

I’m gonna swing right past the wonky understanding of quantum physics and the nature of time. Nah, no, I’m not. They spoke of time as if it is this linear thing that stretches from the Big Bang through a definite future. To be honest Doctor Who’s “timey-wimey, wibbley-wobly” explanation was better. Future screenplay writers should read “A Brief History of TIme” before writing the first scene. Or, hell, just read Wikipedia.

 

So how does this movie fare as a summer draw? If you don’t examine it closely, it’s pretty decent. The special effects were worthy. The action sequences are the best of any X-men film. It shows actual teamwork, which, in the comics, is the best part of their fight scenes. The pacing is fine, with no real dull moments. There were even some touching bits. The dialogue was sufficiently snappy and there were no groan moments. Quicksilver’s scenes were the best and in my opinion he was gone too soon. More Quicksilver please. Solo movie, even. In the short time he was on screen we learned a lot about him, which is good storytelling. He was the most interesting character in the film.

 

The characterisation and character development was pretty weak. Wolverine is Wolverine. We already know from the start that Prof X is a bit of a dick in the past, and that he will turn into the future awesome incarnation. Therefore, no tension. Ditto Magneto. There were bits of emotional tension here and there which comic fans will understand (Iceman and Kitty sharing a look during a fight scene, Kitty and Colossus teaching together in Xavier’s school), but largely there were no surprises here.

 

The whole movie continued to channel the sixties and seventies, particularly the paranoia. There were deft touches here and there, and a shout-out to Watergate (we see the tapes), Abraham Zapruder, and JFK amongst others.

 

There are no strong female characters in this film. Front and centre like a fanboy’s wet dream, is the ever-naked Mystique. She has no agency of her own, borrowing motivation which was programmed in her by Magneto and inadvertently by Prof X (who inexplicably holds himself to a promise he made to her when he was like 9 years-old). Zero character development since the last film (X-men: The Last Stand, which, somehow wasn’t the last stand. Oh, well). Storm was redundant. Kitty Pryde served the plot. Her heroic action was to use her power to send Wolverine back in time. She then spends the rest of the movie holding on to his fricking head. Seriously. This is what she does.

 

Colossus et al were just pawns to be moved around by the plot, not their own agendas. Cyclops…oh, you get the picture.

 

Watch it with your brain at low gear and you’ll be fine. Lots of eye-candy set pieces and it just about avoided the disaster-porn label while still being action packed with superhero mayhem.

 

3/5

 

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