X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
PG-13. I think every X-Men movie, starting with First Class, has an f-bomb. I don't remember specifically where the f-bomb is in this movie. I can't even with 100% certainty say that there is an f-bomb. But my gut says, "f-bomb", so I go with f-bomb. Mr. Knife Hands is now Mr. Bone Hands-but-in-knife-form. You see his tookus, for no reason. There's some sci-fi violence that gets pretty gross. There's also just a ton of death. Just...all the death. Major characters die in horrible ways. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Bryan Singer
It's the one that fixed everything. It made us believe that the X-Men movies were here to stay. According to a lot of people, it's the last great actual X-Men movie. I'm assuming that people don't count Deadpool. Also, I don't really understand how Deadpool is a mutant. I guess he has a dormant X-gene, but it never manifested until they did tests on him. I should probably review that one separately. An-ee-way. Days of Future Past is the only movie that could have saved the franchise, despite the fact that no movie following would really leave the same impact that Days of Future Past did.
I want to say that it took guts to make Days of Future Past. I remember when they announced it, I lost my mind. Days of Future Past was a major story arc for the X-Men. I know, everyone always turns to "The Dark Phoenix Saga." Somehow, I think that "Days of Future Past", as a story arc for the X-Men, was a bigger nod to the comics than anything else the X-Men dealt with. Maybe it's just that cover. It's probably the most famous cover. I just Googled "Most famous comic book covers" and there was an article named "The Top 100 Influential Comic Book Covers." The EXAMPLE they used for the article was the cover of "Days of Future Past." Sure, it didn't make number one. I completely don't understand their roster. The top ten were really weird choices. Maybe I was reading it backwards. Either way, that image is so iconic. It also tells so much about the story. My biggest disappointment with this movie is that the marketing team didn't capitalize on the power of that image for the poster. Instead, we had yet another generic team shot of people looking serious and staring at the viewer. It's a choice, I guess. But "Days of Future Past" is not only a brilliant X-Men story to adapt, but it also ties into the themes that the movie franchise has dealt with from the beginning. It is the failure of Xavier's dream. It is the disappointment with the human race that has led to genocide. As a species, we had failure. It is such a commentary on humanity. Yeah, I know we've gotten the dystopia before. But this is a dystopia on a franchise that has been built on hope. The film introduces us to a world where I don't even see humanity. Mutants are being hunted to extinction, but I also feel that humans haven't been thriving either. I mentioned in my First Class review that I always found the Cold War interesting. It's because our fears had almost allowed us to destroy the entire planet. "Days of Future Past" is the logical extension of that. Yeah, we avoided global annihilation, but for only so long. It's an apocalyptic film that's actually number five in a franchise. The movies never really talked about the apocalypse before that point. That always kind of stayed as a possibility. But seeing the X-Men continue on with their mission while trying to survive. That makes for compelling stuff.
I know that people get all nostalgic for the '60s. I get nostalgic for the '70s. I know, I was born in the '80s. I shouldn't be allowed to be nostalgic for an era I didn't experience first hand. But the movies of the '70s are phenomenal. The jumps between the post-apocalyptic future and Wolverine's 1970s is what the movie really needs. The tone that this movie pulls off is something to be admired. It's a bleak film. We watch all of our heroes die in horrible horrible ways. I know that must be a director's dream. He's allowed to kill off beloved characters willy nilly and undo all of it. Sidebar: think about how freeing that would be. You finally have villains who are as scary as they have been promised. They never get nerfed. They get defeated because they never existed. Genius. Second sidebar: How did you get Halle Berry back and playing a smaller part than normal? Okay, back to the tone. The tone of this movie allows us to exist in both a bright world and a bleak one. I suppose that we saw some of that with Terminator 2: Judgment Day. But James Cameron even treated the '90s with disdain. Somehow, the world of the 1970s is great. The world is both species-phobic, yet weirdly optimistic? The cars are big and bad. The clothing is rad. But this actually kind of conflicts with the 1970s that the movie is trying to portray. I'm figuring this out while I'm writing this, so bear with me. The movie addresses Vietnam. First Class was the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Days of Future Past is about Vietnam. But Vietnam never really seems as bleak as one would think. But characters lament the war. Charles Xavier loses hope because of the events of Vietnam. He stops fighting for his dream. He closes the school. However, the world doesn't really look like that. Mystique makes her short jaunt to Vietnam to free the mutant soldiers who would be conscripted to Weapon X. But the world at large moves on. I think that Bryan Singer, artistically, is a pretty smart guy. He's a piece of human garbage, but I think he knows what he's doing behind the camera. I'd like to believe that he's commenting on the out-of-sight / out-of-mind nature of war. The people in America are business as normal. Quicksilver is playing Pong. Nixon is reigning supreme. Bolivar Trask is making billions exterminating mutants. It seems like that is the world that Singer had built up. It's actually interesting. In terms of communicating that message, I only now get that because I'm writing about it in depth. First Class really sells its commentary on the 1960s. Days of Future Past...not as much.
But I don't know why studios and producers are so afraid to make more movies like Days of Future Past. When I started the Arrowverse, it blew me away that the show would address other shows that preceded it. We got Smallville references. The old Flash played by John Wesley Shipp was canonically from another universe. There were these moments that sent fanboys screaming. The MCU has capitalized on this stuff, but I don't know why this wasn't happening previously. There are a lot of X-Men movies. This series earned bringing two casts together. But I can't believe that they actually pulled it off. On top of that, attempted to purge the franchise of the many many mistakes that had made before this point is absolutely brilliant. Clearing a silly timeline is positively brilliant. I mean, I get mad at DC Comics for doing it every few years. But as pointed out by my look at the previous entries, it seemed like the writers room didn't really care about what happened in previous movies. Again, I adore First Class, but that movie put a dent in what did and didn't happen in the franchise. By having this movie clear the plate of everything, in particularly The Last Stand, it kind of gave us another opportunity to get things right. Mind you, the franchise never really did get things right. I'm one of the few defenders of Apocalypse, but Dark Phoenix is...really bad. Like, really bad. Scary bad. Regardless, the end of this movie is such a shot in the arm. Seeing the whole old cast together again and in perfect order is almost therapeutic. It takes the Best Of elements of X-Men and purges everything else. (By the way, Dark Phoenix ruins this end and it won't play out like this. Sorry. The producers learned nothing from the anything-goes attitude that the other films had going on.)
This one might be an actual Wolverine movie. I've been talking before how Wolverine is always the protagonist, despite the fact that he has very little to do in these stories besides fighting well. Making Wolverine the grounding element --and I can't believe I'm saying this --is a way to actually bring Xavier's storyline to a head. By reminding Xavier of what he will become, it reminds us what this entire series has been about. This also makes me slap it on the nose, though. Matthew Vaughan made some really strong choices with First Class. These were choices that the characters should have lived with. The choices in First Class were about learning consequences. Beast became a big blue guy because of his fear of looking different. That's Beast's cross. It's his morality tale. By trying to be normal, he reminded everyone that he is the least normal person around. The same thing happened with Mystique. She learned that her mutation is beautiful in the first one and just undid all that. Xavier was shot and supposed to be in a wheelchair. Why are we so afraid of living with those consequences? I really got that this is another example where the actors were bullying the producers of the film. James McAvoy probably didn't want to be in a wheelchair for a movie. Nicholas Hoult and J-Law didn't want to be in a makeup chair all day everyday. I get it, but there's a lot of retreading happening in this film that's just a bummer to watch. Why are these characters exploring breakthrough ground that has already been trodden? Sequels are supposed to be about growth. Instead, this is just another sequel that is often resting the laurels that the previous films had already addressed in spades. This keeps happening. On top of that, it also begins the idea that we have to ignore how old these characters are. We ignore that all the times in the comics. But by the time we reach Dark Phoenix, we're supposed to believe that James McAvoy will look like Patrick Stewart in shy of a decade. Nope. Don't buy it.
You know what detail I enjoy about Days of Future Past? They never address that Bolivar Trask is played by Peter Dinklage. Good for them.
The movie is great. It's fun to see the separate casts interacting. The Xavier meeting Xavier scene is something actually pretty special. Wolverine is pretty fun in this movie and I overall enjoy the storyline. Sentinels are actually there. That's great. Also, I never realized how many of these characters showed up in The Gifted. It's fun.
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Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.