This X Hits the Spot!
Marvel continues its onslaught on the 2014 box office with its third entry this season, X-Men: Days of Future Past. This movie is based on a classic story arc from the Uncanny X-Men comics (issues 138-143), which starts in a dystopian future, where mutant-hunting robots called Sentinels have eliminated almost all mutants on earth. Humans carrying the mutant 'X' gene that can be potentially passed to future generations are also eliminated in this version of the future. When the movie starts, all that remain to fight for humanity are a few X-Men, including Ice-Man, Shadow-Cat, Colossus, Storm, Professor X, Magneto, and Wolverine (all roles portrayed by the original actors), along with newcomers to the series Sunspot, Blink, and Bishop. The catalyst for this dark future is the assaination of Boliver Trask (Peter Dinklage), the head of Trask Industries and creater of the Sentinel program. His death, at the hands of the mutant Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), necessitated the activation of the Sentinels, as a means by which to confront the growing threat of the mutant population. In order to prevent this future from happening, the X-Men have devised a plan to send one of their own into the past (1973) to prevent the assiasination of Trask, and to ensure that the X-Men are formed. Because the time travelling process involves a psychic link that takes a destructive toll on the traveller's mind, Wolverine is selected for the process, because his hyper recuperative powers will allow his mind to self repair during the process.
The movie starts with some great action sequences where the X-Men are fighting for their survival against the upgraded Sentinels of the future. As it relates to their abilities, the future version of the Sentinels are reminiscent of the T1000 from Terminator 2, as they are able to alter their shapes and manipulate their limbs to form daggers. The remaining X-Men are overwhelmed by these robots, which can adapt to to their every move and ability (due to Mystique's infused transformative abilities). The X-Men are killed off in violent and graphic fashion. Some of these scenes may be too much for small children. As much as I liked seeing the futuristic sentinels in action against the X-Men, I would have loved to have seen the original Sentinels model in more action scenes. They were only involved in one key action scene, and that was the final battle of D.C., when they were controlled by Magneto. Other memorable action sequences are the Magneto prison break, and the final battle at Washington where Magneto moves an entire football stadium. Perhaps the true genious in this movie is that there appeared to be no gratuitious or superfluous violence. There were serious implications with each onscreen battle, and the stakes seemed to grow as the movie went on.
This movie included most of the characters from all of the previous X-Men films, but the writers, somehow, did a great job of finding a way to give each character a fair amount of airtime in order to tell the story. Thats quite a feat, considering that some of these actors are academy award winners and nominees, and could have easily demanded more screen time. James McAvoy delivered a strong performance as the young Professor Charles Xavier, going from a depressed, disenchanted, and drug-abusing shell of his former self, to the distinguished and prestigious leader of the X-Men. Michael Fassbender played a powerful and convincing Magneto, and Jennifer Lawrence added a depth to Mystique not seen in previous onscreen versions. Once again, Hugh Jackman delivers a solid performance as the Wolverine character, while the other supporting actors, including Sir Patrick Stewart (old Professor Xavier), Sir Ian McKellan (old Magneto), and Halle Berry (Storm) were as consistent as they have been in the previous X-Men films.
The new characters were a welcome addition for fans of the comic, but Quicksilver (Evan Peters) almost stole the show. His action sequences are some of the most memoable in the movie, and he added a good touch of humor to tense moments. In the comics, he is the son of Magneto, but they didn't reveal this interesting fact in the movie. There was only a funny reference, by Quicksilver, that his mother knew a guy that could do that (control metal). It will be interesting to see how QuickSilver is used in Avengers:Age of Ultron, since he will be portayed by a different actor, and there are actually no 'mutants' (including Magneto) in the Avengers' movie universe.
If there is any complaint about any of the character performances, it would be that the Boliver Trask character, portrayed by Peter Dinklage, did not have the presence and depth of a big-time villain. While Dinklage's individual performance was commendable, there were no memorable lines or actions from the character. There was little depth to the character, and there didn't appear to be a motivation for his views and actions, which led to the deaths of so many mutants and humans.
Here is where I start to get into spoiler territory, so you may want to skip to the summary or bottom line below. That being said, I will say that it was a great and unexpected bonus to see many of the original X-Men cast reprise their roles, in what appears to be a reboot of sorts to the series caused by the recently altered timelines. That is another great thing about this movie. It pretty much eliminates any and all events surrounding the travesty known as X-Men: The Last Stand. Another great bonus was the post-credit scene, which jumps to my list as the best since Thanos turned to smile at the camera at the end of Avengers. It involves a scene that takes place around 3,000 B.C. in Egypt. A massive crowd is gathered to worship a young man, who is standing on a cliff overlooking them. On a hill in the background, are four people on horses. The crowd chants the young man's name, En Sabah Nur, as he performs an act of great power. Anyone who followed the X-Men comics or watched the cartoons, can easily figure out who this young man eventually becomes. For the rest of you, I will give you another clue. The name of the next X-Men movie is X-Men: Apocalyse.
From the great plot and action sequences, to the very strong acting performances, this movie was another great entry into the Marvel movie catalog. It ranks with The Avengers, Captain America 2, Spider-Man 2, Iron-Man, X-Men 2, as one of the best Marvel superhero movies to date. If you are an X-Men fan or if you like superhero movies, do not hesitate to see this one.
+ Great plot based on a classic X-Men comics story arc. Great action sequences! Really good acting performances. Return of original cast from previous X-Men films. Quicksilver! Great post credit scene.
- Boliver Trask is not a memorable villain. Not enough scenes with the original sentinels.