Reel Guys: “X-Men: Days of the Future Past” “the real stars of the film are the ideas.”
By Richard Crouse & Mark Breslin – Metro Reel Guys
SYNOPSIS: Based on a 1981 two-issue special of the X-Men comic series the new film begins in a post-apocalyptic future. Menacing robot warriors called Sentinels have created chaos for the mutant race, bringing them to the edge of extinction. To combat the threat long time enemies Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) team up with Storm (Halle Berry), Blink (Fan Bingbing), Bishop (Omar Sy) and use Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) teleportation ability to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to change history and prevent the creation of the murderous automations. His first task is to convince the 1970s versions of Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and young Professor X (James McAvoy) that they are stronger together than apart.
Richard: 4 Stars
Mark: 4 Stars
Richard: Mark, Days of Future Past offers up two for the price of one. Merging the young versions of Magneto and Professor X with their older counterparts is a cool idea, and certainly gives the movie a boost in the marquee department, but I felt the old timers were left with their own heightened sense of drama and not much else. It seems a shame to have McKellen and Stewart, the Martin and Lewis of mutants, on screen together and not give them much to do. What did you think?
Mark: This installment really belongs to McAvoy, Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender. I didn’t care for the “future” plot with the fogey mutants, but I thought the movie snapped to attention when it flashed back to 1973. The sense of time and place seemed very authentic; in one scene Lawrence is dressed exactly like Carly Simon on the cover of her third album. I half expected her to launch into a rendition of “You’re So Vain” at Fassbender. There’s some interesting historical revisionism revolving around JFK and Nixon that even conspiracy theorists would find preposterous-more X-Files than X-Men—but I appreciated the creative effort.
RC: It’s a movie about time travel, mutants and serious actors like Michael Fassbender saying lines like, “We received a message from the future,” so, of course, it’s a little preposterous, but wrapped up in the time bending plot are some interesting ideas about racism, tolerance, war and rebellion. Not usually the stuff of summer blockbusters, but the X-Men franchise has always been a bit brainier than most. At times it’s a bit too ponderous, but I’ll take that over the flash-and-trash of most CGI epics.
MB: Me too. I like the franchise for its superior acting, plotting, and its whiff of Ayn Rand objectivism. But it’s got a sense of humour too, which is rarely found in these epics. There’s a fantastic scene in this movie where Evan Peters as the young Quicksilver, who can move faster than human time, rearranges an entire tableau of bad guys so they wind up hurting themselves instead of our heroes. But he does it with such juvenile glee that it captures the joy of being a powerful mutant and an adolescent prankster. And casting height-challenged Peter Dinklage to play a scientist out to destroy the “outsiders” is brilliantly ironic.
RC: The actors are all good, but I would argue that the real stars of the film are the ideas. Magneto, Professor and Wolverine are all complex, cool characters that bring the film’s themes to life; all the rest is set dressing, except for the Quicksilver scene you mentioned. That was like The Matrix without Keanu’s hangdog expression.
MB: Oh, and just a warning, Richard. When I googled the film there was a link to a movie called XXX Men. Do NOT click on this link!