As a fan of the comics, most of the cartoons, and most of the movies, my x-citement (Will I stop with the x-puns and x-word play? Keep reading) was overflowing. This promised to be the biggest and best of the series. Publicity photos of at least a dozen characters were whirling about the internet like one of Storm’s tornadoes. With all the hype and x-pectation, one might see a set up for disappointment. However, with some of the most talented actors on board and the return of Bryan Singer, you could sense a safety net there. So, how did it fare? Well…what you get is really good! What you don’t see leaves the movie falling short of perfection. This movie is a blending of the older movies and the most recent, not just in cast but in the good and bad.
Without a doubt, the film has a classic feel to it. It is like looking at your favorite old comic book. The movie, much like Jennifer Lawrence, does not just aim to be pretty. It visually wants to leave you with a signature feel. Color choices, camera work, and editing all play together like an instant classic. Smartly-cast Evan Peters plays Quicksilver and has one of the funniest and most stunning scenes in the film.
This is also possibly the sexiest cast since The Avengers; James McAvoy, Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Ellen Page, Bingbing Fan, Halle Berry, Nicholas Hoult. Yet, these actors aren’t simply eye-candy. They are all well skilled in acting. McAvoy, who plays young Charles Xavier, strongly delivers as the suffering young mutant. Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) has brilliant moments as Dr. Bolivar Trask, the gasoline to Mystique’s (Lawrence) lit match. Of course, older Professor X and Magneto are always effortlessly portrayed by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, with a richness and chemistry that elevates even the silliest dialogue.
That said, the writing was decent. It had believable conversations and didn’t rely on a lot of wasted dialogue. The story has the heart of the first two films and a deep understanding of the characters’ motivations. It wrangles the complexities of a time-traveling action flick without forcing the audience to suspend too much disbelief.
The marks that are missed fall in what Singer omitted. First, we were bombarded with images of characters like Bishop, Rogue, Colossus, Havok, Toad, and more in all of the publicity. However, the movie once again centered around giving Wolverine optimal screen time. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Wolverine-hater (though his first solo movie was atrocious). How many times are we going to give in to his popularity, sacrificing other interesting characters? I’ve read countless message boards and fans are getting a little tired of it. While Wolverine bears his claws (and body) again, characters like Storm, Kitty Pride, and the almost completely omitted Rogue are merely “extras.”
There was even an action sequence with Rogue that was cut from the final film because Singer (or producers) felt it didn’t move the story along. Really? But Wolverine’s bare ass did? What about changing the original comic storyline where Kitty Pride is the one who does the time-travelling so that they can cater to Wolverine? When it came down to it, most of the characters were around to fight and/or die with nothing else in between. It’s like getting an oreo that someone already liked the center out of. It reminded me of X-Men Last Stand, where there are a handful of characters we never really get to know in addition to several other options to take out Jean Grey besides relying on Wolverine.
I get it. There are a lot of characters to say grace over in two hours. You can’t develop them all. Still, why not pic a few new mutants to get involved with? Quicksilver came the closest and thank God for Peter’s pulling off what could have been a dismal performance. Young Beast (Hoult) had a lot of screen time, but none of it was devoted to learning more about what made him tick. Same goes to Kitty Pride who was reduced to sitting in a chair for most of the film.
With all that was missing, another equally annoying problem was the questions that weren’t answered. In X-Men Last Stand, Professor X was obliterated by The Dark Phoenix. We see at the tail end of the movie that his consciousness was moved to another man in a coma. Yet, it is never explained how he wound up back in his old body. You know; the body that spread through the air like a wet sneeze? Then, there was Wolverine saying “he knew a guy” that turned out to be Quicksilver. Yet, they don’t appear to recognize each other when they meet and Wolverine never explains how he knew him.
Despite my gripes, the truth is X-Men Days of Future Past is a good movie that teetered on being great. What they did, they did very well. It is possible the best “time travel” adventure I’ve witnessed and plot holes were pretty much null. Thanks to great acting, good directing, and a plot stronger than adamantium, it leaves me mostly satisfied. If only they could master the ensemble cast the way Joss Whedon does, the X-Men franchise could not only be a blockbuster but also an x-ample of a classic for future film buffs to hold on to.