|The X-Men face their most terrifying threat yet; Sentinels...and bad photoshop|
The future is very rarely an idyllic place in the world of movies. Even family movies like WALL-E make sure it looks terrible, while R-rated movies go to the most extreme ways possible to prove just how deplorable the future is. The X-Men likely think everybody from Max Mad to Robert Neville got it easy though, as their future consists of giant adaptive robots killing every mutant in sight.
The opening scene of X-Men: Days of Future Past, which introduces us to those robots (called Sentinels), is a thing of beauty, as it beautifully sets up how miserable this future really is, as mutants are killed off in a casual manner that makes one sick. Besides setting up an impressive action and tone-defining sequence, the opening also shows off one of the movie’s greatest assets; it’s ability to make any character that pops up immediately memorable. The unique powers that comes with each of the many mutants we meet in the film are so darn cool that it’s hard not to root for them (my personal favorite is featured in that opening; Bishop, played by Omar Sy).
Soon though, Wolverine (still played terrifically by Hugh Jackman) is off to 1973, where he hopes to get younger versions of Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to help prevent the creation of those pesky Sentinels. The arc Wolverine’s undergone in six of these seven movies has had it’s ups and downs, but it all culminates nicely here, as he has to take responsibility and be more of a helpful presence to the younger versions of Xavier and Magneto. Jackman handles this thoughtful side of the character in fine fashion, while also delivering an immensely quotable one-liner and awesome fight scene in similarly successful style.
The 1973 seen in this movie is a dazzling place that sucks one in due to the insane amount of detail here. That year really wasn’t that long ago, yet it feels like an entirely different world compared to the one we have today. Thankfully, they play up these differences to their maximum potential, as everything from Pong to Richard Nixon is given time to shine.This era also gets us to McAvoy who absolutely brings it as young Xavier, a tortured soul who’s now a drug addict and a recluse. McAvoy does do an excellent job making sure his character comes off across as damaged, but not unlikable, a tough balance that he pulls off nicely.
McAvoy and Fassbender had some terrific chemistry in X-Men: First Class (for me, still the best X-Men movie) and perhaps the film’s only disappointment is the lack of time the two spend together. The one major scene they do get is gripping, but soon Fassbender does some things that feel abrupt and unwarranted; I get why they did him, but they could have been executed better, especially since they come at the cost of Fassbender interacting with the spectacular ensemble cast. It doesn’t help that Fassbender does some stuff in the finale that feels….weird and a little over the top considering the circumstances he’s acting in. Add in some questionable actions involving Beast and Wolverine, and some of the climax of this feature does slightly underwhelm, though it’s saved by some final few set pieces that being the film back to glory.
Oh, and lest I forget, the rest of the ensemble cast, by the way, is thankfully well balanced, with Halle Berry and Ellen Page getting nice cameos while (contrary to the public consensus) Jennifer Lawrence does a superb job handling all the complexities Mystique has to endure in this film. By the way, you’ve likely heard by now about Evan Peters landmark action sequence as Quicksilver. Spoiler Alert: it more than lives up to the hype.
Really, some underwhelming aspects of the finale notwithstanding (which still pale to The Wolverine, which I was overly generous with last summer) X-Men: Days of Future Past is still excellent moviemaking that shows how good storytelling mixed with superb action is an extremely potent mix.