Property review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

Photo cour­tesy of IMDB.com

 X-Men: Days of Future Past

20th Cen­tury Fox, 2014

 

 X-cellent return to form

Set aside any pre­con­ceived notions you may have had at the announce­ment of a new X-Men film. We’ll wait because we know just how hard that may be to do. Now that it’s out of the way, let’s get down to business.

X-Men Days of Future Past is phenomenal.

Every­thing that went wrong with The Last Stand (editor’s note: See 2Q2014’s prop­erty review) has been cor­rected. See, the act­ing wasn’t the prob­lem; it was the sto­ry­line and the exe­cu­tion. Days of Future Past man­ages to take the bleak prob­lems of its pre­de­ces­sor and turn them into bright spots, iron­i­cally, because Days of Future Past is a bleak and dark turn of events for the merry band of mutants.

Days of Future Past, while dif­fer­ent from the Ani­mated Series and the comic book orig­i­nal, is a solid adven­ture for the X-Men. The story posits that a sin­gle assas­si­na­tion is the linch­pin that leads to the extinc­tion of mutants by the Sen­tinels, aggres­sive mutant-hunting robots of the future. By stop­ping the assas­si­na­tion of Dr. Boliviar Trask, the X-Men will pre­vent the geno­ci­dal Sen­tinels from ever com­ing into being and, more impor­tantly, pre­vent the slaugh­ter of mil­lions of humans and mutants, alike. To do this, they send Wolver­ine back into time to the point of diver­gence and hope that he can con­vince estranged friends Charles Xavier and Erik Lensh­err to work together for the com­mon good once more.

The story takes some twists and turns, but by the end, you real­ize that this is a story of redemp­tion and bro­ken dreams healed. That’s not just for the char­ac­ters, but also for the movie fran­chise. Let’s face it: Last Stand was hor­ri­ble and a des­e­cra­tion of all that stands in the X-Men uni­verse. Days of Future Past gets every­thing right and then some, start­ing with the re-emergence of Patrick Stew­art and Ian McK­ellen. Next comes the heal­ing of story butcher­ing. Events that take place in Last Stand (no spoil­ers!) are erased through­out the film, but in par­tic­u­lar the last five min­utes of Days of Future Past quickly place a stake through the heart of Last Stand. Finally, comes the atten­tion to detail, which is a major com­po­nent of any comic book adap­ta­tion. Sure, Days of Future Past takes some lib­er­ties with the source mate­r­ial, but we’ll allow it if it means the story will flow bet­ter. Here, it does and the changes make sense. There’s no half-baked change for the sake of change.

Some­thing else that Days of Future Past man­ages to accom­plish is a sense of clar­ity. A time-traveling tale can be con­fus­ing with the lack of the right amount of dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between eras. How­ever, the film has a stun­ning amount of clar­ity, which makes every­thing obvi­ous as to which time period is at the fore­front. We had no trou­ble under­stand­ing the chain of events of the film — despite a lot of jump­ing between 1973 and 2023 — and addi­tion­ally, the pow­ers of all mutants involved were cor­rect and instantly clear. That’s what hap­pens when there is an obvi­ous and immense level of detail paid to the source mate­r­ial, some­thing Last Stand sorely lacked. And, unlike its pre­de­ces­sor, we had few gripes. We would have liked to have seen more Quick­sil­ver and more of the newer mutants who joined the cause. Also, a lit­tle elab­o­ra­tion on the answer to the ques­tion of how the Sen­tinels evolved to the future state would have been nice, con­sid­er­ing that orig­i­nal version’s answer of Mas­ter­mold was left out of the film entirely. How­ever, those are small quib­bles and a small price to pay for such a large love letter/apologetic note to fans.

Days of Future Past serves a mul­ti­pronged pur­pose: pacify the vet­eran X-Men film fans; fix the prob­lems of Last Stand; con­tinue the story of the uncanny mutants through the First Class cast; con­tinue the reboot of the film fran­chise; and serve as the swan song of the orig­i­nal trilogy’s cast. Days of Future Past man­ages to com­plete its tasks and usher in a new era of pros­per­ity and promise for one of the most rec­og­niz­able comic book fran­chises ever. Days of Future Past is an x-cellent return to form.

 

Like the comics: 7

Cast­ing: 10

Plot: 10

Over­all score: 27 out of 30 or 9

 

How we grade

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in the case of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory, and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

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