Friday, May 23, 2014

Movie Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Days of Future Past is good as a movie, but a little disappointing as a summer blockbuster. This doesn't mean it's not worth seeing, but if you go in expecting a lot of action and effects, you might be surprised to find it's far more interested in its characters' motivations and emotional states. The movie handles this subject matter admirably; just know what you're getting into. There were a lot of action sequences I wanted - particularly involving Sentinels - that weren't in this movie.

There are still some fights, mind you, including a couple of post-apocalyptic battles that use multiple characters' abilities better than any prior X-Men film. These sequences are few and far between and aren't as long as I'd have liked, but it's great to finally see mutants coordinating their powers. Another sequence - easily the best scene in the movie - more or less negates the need for a Flash movie. Warner Bros. won't do it that well in a million years, so there's no point in them trying.

There. That was everything I wanted to say about Days of Future Past as a self-contained film. If it seems a little thin, it's because 90% of this movie is all about context: context with the movies that preceded it and context with the films set to continue the franchise. Context, context, context.

And context, in this situation, is going to require some spoilers. A lot of spoilers, in fact. If you don't want to know how this impacts the franchise, now would be a good time to stop reading.

I remember reading interviews where Bryan Singer made it clear that, while he might use this film to "adjust" a few details in X-Men 3, he wasn't going to do anything extreme like cut that film out of the series. Well... turns out he was lying.

Hell, this turned out to be a reboot in the vein of Abram's Star Trek. By the end of Days of Future Past, it's evident the events of X-Men 3 didn't take place.

Same goes for X-Men 2, X-Men, and The Wolverine. It's a little less clear whether X-Men Origins: Wolverine happened - there's a case to be made either way.

For what it's worth, First Class is still in continuity.

If all goes as planned, the next movie, Age of Apocalypse, is going to take place in the 80's, and it will likely include some of the team from the original X-Men movie recast with younger actors.

That raises an interesting question: would they have been better off skipping Days of Future Past and just rebooting off of First Class? Was it really necessary to establish that these films took place in different timelines in the same universe, as opposed to First Class and Age of Apocalypse representing a new series?

In some ways, Days of Future Past was a two hundred million dollar "fuck you" to Brett Ratner. I'd say that's a little excessive, but - honestly - it kind of feels appropriate.

The value of this movie isn't going to be clear until we see where the series goes from here. This felt less like a stand-alone movie than a re-piloting of a TV series. If they deliver on the revamped series potential, this will rightly be remembered as the movie that set us on the right track. Otherwise, it'll just be remembered for the Quicksilver scene.

God, that scene was awesome.

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