In commemoration of the upcoming and final installment of the X-Men franchise, DARK PHOENIX (2019), I’m taking a trip down memory lane to review all of the X-Men films made by 20th Century Fox. Should be fun, y’all!
- X-MEN (2000)
- X2 (2003)
- X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006)
- X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009)
- X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (2011)
- THE WOLVERINE (2013)
- X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (2016)
- LOGAN (2017)
Cast: Hugh Jackman (MISSING LINK , FRONT RUNNER , SHOWMAN , and EDDIE/EAGLE ), James McAvoy (GLASS , DEADPOOL 2 , ATOMIC BLONDE , VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN , PENELOPE , and the upcoming IT: CHAPTER 2 ), Peter Dinklage (AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR , THREE BILLBOARDS , THE BOSS , PIXELS , PENELOPE, and upcoming films THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE 2  and THE CROODS 2 ), Omar Sy (TRANSFORMERS 5 , INFERNO , BURNT , THE INTOUCHABLES , and upcoming films ARCTIC JUSTICE  and CALL OF THE WILD ), and Evan Peters (AMERICAN ANIMALS , ELVIS & NIXON , and the upcoming I AM WOMAN )
Director: Bryan Singer (BO RHAP )
Writer: Simon Kinberg (FANT4STIC  and SHERLOCK HOLMES )
Composer/Co-editor: John Ottman (BO RHAP and NICE GUYS )
Cinematographer: Newton Thomas Sigel (BO RHAP, MARSHALL , and the upcoming DHAKA )
Co-editor: Michael Louis Hill (MAX STEEL )
This is my honest opinion of: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
Set in the 2020s, mutants are faced with extinction as the genocidal Sentinel robots have hunted them down for years. All that remains are fragments of the X-Men are Logan “Wolverine” (Hugh Jackman), Ororo “Storm” Munroe (Halle Berry), Bobby “Iceman” Drake (Shawn Ashmore), Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde (Ellen Page), and others, led by Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen), and they’ve come up with a plan to stop all of this from happening. Send Logan’s mind back in time to 1973, where Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is captured by notorious technology pioneer Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) and manages to adapt her shape-shifting ability to his then-prototype Sentinels, which will allow them to adapt to any mutant, all with the help of younger Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender). Though the time-travel works, it turns out that Charles is in a deep state of grief over his students and teachers getting drafted into the Vietnam War and has become cynical and bitter.
Mmph… damn it, for the longest time, I considered this to be the best X-Men movie. But having seen this and FIRST CLASS almost back to back, I have to say that it’s not. I mean… far from the worst, of course, it’s still one of the better ones, but yeah, I see some problems now that I didn’t before. Still, as far as X-Men movies are concerned, this is still my favorite out of all of them.
Starting off with the negatives, I really wish the first ten minutes was the worst that we’d have to deal with because it basically does the ROGUE ONE thing where it takes us to way too many places. First New York City, then Moscow, then China, sheesh! I felt like I needed my passport. I know, it’s to set up that the Institute is gone and set up atmosphere about how bleak their current situation is, and Moscow is to set up how these particular X-Men have survived all this time and to set up what the ultimate plot will be about. Notice what’s happening though? That’s a lot of times I’ve said, “set up,” but really, we only need one scene for that: Moscow. I consider this a smaller problem as it lasts a whooping five minutes out of this two-plus hour spectacle, but still. It’s an issue I have. But if this was the worst thing this movie did, I’d say it’d be a great film. However, there are worse problems.
So… you know that scene where Charles loses his legs and regains his powers, using them on Wolverine to talk to his future self? Why didn’t he do that earlier? Yes, yes, when he’s on that serum, he can walk, but he can’t use his powers. I’m aware. So… why doesn’t Wolverine bring Charles into a room, tie him to a chair, and then make him do the future visit thing? Don’t get me wrong, I love this scene. I downright adore it, seeing both of these men who are at very different stages in their lives relating to each other and young Charles finding inspiration in his older self. It’s fantastic. But I feel like this is a method that solves a lot of problems and should have been the step one.
In fact, now that I think about it, from a narrative standpoint, wouldn’t it be more dramatic if the movie opened on Wolverine waking up in his past self, giving an air of mystery for a majority of the time we spend? Then when he locks Charles in that room, letting his powers come back and reading his mind, that’s when we get the whole post-apocalypse sequences? Maybe that’s just what I would do if I made this movie, but that whole “dual-Charles talking to each other” stuff really needed to be leaned on as tactic number one in convincing young Charles to be on board with this.
Time travel is always tricky to do, so now I have questions. Why is sending Wolverine back the event horizon for the events of the story? If the Sentinels find them, couldn’t Kitty just stop what she’s doing, let Wolverine’s mind shatter, send Bishop back like always and try again? There’s nothing that says that if they went back in time, the events in the 70s would be altered as well. Even if that were the case, nah, I’m kind of on Magneto’s side on this one. Time is always of the essence, and I’d say in order to save HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF LIVES, I would think that Mystique’s ONE life is worth sacrificing. It’s the entire freakin’ world we’re talkin’ about here and shouldn’t be left to “hope” that she’ll do the right thing.
I should probably note that as I write this review, I’ve seen this movie twice in the past couple months. One of those viewings was the “Rogue Cut.” Honestly, I like this version more than the theatrical cut, and recommend checking it out. With that said, one of the extra scenes that we get is incredibly unlikable. Okay, I’m going to shift focus here and take a trip toward the DC universe. For those of you that don’t know, there’s a three-part episode of the animated series JUSTICE LEAGUE where Superman, Wonder Woman, and some other heroes get whisked away to an alternate reality where the Nazis won World War II. They’re aided by an alternate version of Batman who is a freedom fighter and helps the heroes travel back in time to the war itself. Superman warns that if they succeed, this freedom fighter version of Batman will never exist, to which he replies in the most Batman way possible, “Nothing would make happier.” Now let’s cut back to DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. When the plan of sending Wolverine back in time to change the outcome of the future, Bishop acts like a bitch and says something like, “But if this works, then we won’t exist!” Ugh… that be a good thing! That implies that the future has a fighting chance to be something better than this hell-hole you currently live in. The idea of never existing certainly is a frightening one, but such a selfish line is not very in line with what an X-Man would say.
Now let’s talk about young Charles. Oh no, I’ll be raving about him in my positives section, but I’m going to hone in on one very specific aspect to his character here, and that’s his depression that drove him to drinking and being a general recluse. First off, really lame that the school opened in FIRST CLASS, only to make its sophomore appearance as closed down. I’m not even entirely sure for what purpose, either. Because the students and teachers were drafted into the Vietnam War? Okay, not that being drafted into a war isn’t a scary-ass thing for someone, but why would that be cause for Charles to be a drunk and a recluse? Sure, a shortage of teachers at his school would be a tad problematic, but… I don’t know, one would think that at least a few students would be left. At the very least, I doubt it would cause a situation involving Beast (Nicholas Hoult) saying “there’s no Professor here.” Or at least, shouldn’t.
Finally, Trask. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Dinklage playing the role. Far from it, he’s freakin’ awesome in the role. Dignified, an opportunist, quick-thinking and a touch manipulative, he’s a great character. However, there’s one scene that I really take issue with. It’s when he’s talking to Major William Stryker (Josh Helman) and Stryker says that Trask “must really hate mutants,” to which Trask says that he actually “admires them,” spouting lines like, “We have a common interest in not facing extinction,” or something to that effect. This… actually doesn’t feel in character. If that sentence was true, then why is he creating the Sentinels at all? Why are these Sentinels being programmed to track down only mutants? I mean, he experimented on captured mutants, the very ones from FIRST CLASS that never made an appearance in this sequel. This just feels not true to his character. Maybe he’s just trying to justify his actions and paint himself in a better picture, but he’s justifying himself to Stryker, who is more or less, like-minded. So it’s a pointless exchange. Or hell, make it so that Trask really does care about the mutants, and the Sentinels were created to protect them, but their programming went the way of Ultron and perverted their directives and started killing mutants as a means of saving them, making Trask a more sympathetic figure and the captured mutants were actually volunteers for Trask’s experiments and Mystique just simply didn’t know.
Here are some other smaller issues I took.
- In the “Rogue Cut,” it shows that Bobby and Kitty are an item. I hated that. I love Rogue and Bobby’s relationship.
- What’s the point in revealing that JFK was a mutant? What were his powers? How did this impact the world? This is pointless information.
- In the “Rogue Cut,” there’s a scene where Mystique comes back to the Xavier Institute to have a heart-to-heart with Beast, but it’s such a forgettable scene that I don’t even really remember what they were talking about. I’m not surprised that this was cut from the final product.
- Probably just a detail, but why couldn’t Sunspot (Adan Canto) just be Pyro from the second and third films? I’m sure the actor wasn’t available, but it would just make more sense.
- The future Sentinels have a knock-off design of the Destroyer from THOR.
Damn, I had more issues with this movie than I thought… mmph. Well, enough of that shit. Let’s get to the positives.
I love the post-apocalypse scenes. Mostly because I love post-apocalyptic settings in general, but this is right on par with TERMINATOR 2’s stuff. You can just tell that each of these X-Men have been through way too much and are fatigued from battle, yet they still press on and fight with vigor. Plus, I love the action scenes. I love Blink’s use of her wormholes and the teamwork put in them. Jumping on the backs of Sentinels, Sunspot being a living breathing source of ammunition for Bishop’s gun, all that stuff is great. <<<SPOILERS>>> [ And that climax with the Sentinels killing the X-Men never gets any easier to watch. Those deaths were brutal too. Storm being the first to get axed, Warpath (Booboo Stewart) and his face getting incinerated, Sunspot getting his arm chopped off and impaled via Deathstryke claws, Colossus getting ripped in half… dude, I can’t watch that scene without feeling a genuine sense of dread in my stomach. These are characters that I grew up with and to see them giving this final, hopeless fight their all, it’s heartbreaking, even soul-crushing. Still, the ending where Wolverine wakes up to see that the timeline is different is totally satisfying. Although, now that I read about the actual comic, apparently the future isn’t revisited. It’s left totally ambiguous. The present day X-Men are left to wonder if their future truly is different. That would have been ballsy. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
Also, despite the fact that most of the OG characters don’t do much, like Storm, it would have been too easy to simply write her off unceremoniously, but I really enjoy seeing Berry return, even if it is just a glorified cameo. And, admittedly, the only reason I like the “Rogue Cut” better is because I loved Anna Paquin as Rogue. In that version, Kitty gets injured by Wolverine and her control over sending him back in time is waning, so Bobby, Prof. X, and Magneto look for Rogue who is… weirdly hooked into Cerebro at the Xavier Institute and Bobby dies getting her out while both Prof. X and Magneto are all good. Then Rogue takes over for Kitty. It’s totally understandable why Rogue was cut from the final product, but nostalgia demands that I enjoy her appearance anyway. <<<SPOILERS>>> [ Beyond that, seeing James Marden as Cyclops, Famke Janssen as a benevolent Jean Grey, and Kelsey Grammer as older Beast in the end was way too awesome. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
My favorite character in this movie has got to go to McAvoy as young Charles. Where in FIRST CLASS, it was Fassbender that owned that movie, I believe it’s McAvoy that owns this one. Yes, I complained about the reasons behind his dickish nature, but beyond all that, he’s bar none the most interesting. He’s angry, bitter, and incredibly intense. I loved him. Second place goes to the obvious, Quicksilver (Evan Peters). He’s so much fun, nonchalantly zipping around, charmingly smiling when he knows he’s got a situation handled, and of course… that slow-mo scene. One of the most enjoyable moments in all of X-Men cinematic history. One dude getting a wedgie, two getting smacked with their respective plastic guns, one punching himself, one simply getting poked, it’s just one of the greatest slow-mo moments of all time. Loved it.
Overall, yeah, this might technically be one of the more problem-riddled of the X-Men, mostly in terms of the narrative, but where the movie gets things right, it gets it freakin’ right on the spot. I still love the characters, the intersection of both older and newer actors, some scenes are some of the best and most emotionally driven in all of the franchise, and of course, being arguably the darkest X-Men film outside of the obvious LOGAN. Yes, it has problems. Some, pretty glaring, others pretty subtle. But I still consider this to be my favorite X-Men film. Not the best one, objectively, but my favorite.
My honest rating for X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST: a strong 4/5