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X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

| May 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

X-Men: Days of Future Past is like the world’s most dazzling wedding cake.  It’s so pretty, and even breathtaking, that it is easy to lose sight of the fact that what’s on the inside is not nearly as impressive as what’s on the outside.  It colorful, it’s fun, but don’t look too deeply or you’ll begin to find cracks in its impressive facade.

That doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining.  You definitely get your money’s worth, but story-wise it isn’t going to rank with the best of the recent flood of comic book movies.  After the great urgency of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the lovely intimate love story of The Amazing Spiderman 2, this new X-Men movie feels a little stiff in the story department.  It is not, however, stiff in it’s ambitions.  The X-Men series has always been willing to try something new.  Thus far, they’ve tried one-offs, and prequels, and now they’re throwing time travel into the mix.

The story a lot more complicated than it needs to be.  It is based on a 1981 X-Men comic book written by Chris Clairmont and John Byrne that begins in the future when the war between the mutants and an army of  Government Sanctioned Shape-changing Giant Killer Robots (say that out loud) has devastated the face of the Earth and driven the few surviving mutant into hiding.

Among the surviving few are Charles Xavier/Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and his best frenemy Erik Lensherr/Magneto (Ian McKellen) who have gathered the surviving few mutants into hiding to figure out what to do about this situation.  Since Kitty Pride (a woefully underused Ellen Page) has the power to mentally sent people through time, Prof gets the brilliant idea to send Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to the 1970s to stop the Government Sanctioned Shape-Changing Giant Killer Robots from ever being developed.  *Some spoilers ahead*

Logan has some to-do list:
1.) Stop the Government Sanctioned Shape-Changing Giant Killer Robots from being built by the government.
2.) Stop Raven Darkhölme/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing the evil Boliver Trask (Peter Dinkledge) who invented the Government Sanctioned Shape-Changing Giant Killer Robots.
3.) Enlist the help of young Charles Xavier, who has apparently tuned in, turned on, and dropped out.
4.) Locate and retrieve young Magneto who’s prison cell is, let’s put it this way, not exactly your standard county lock-up.

With all of these balls in the air, you can imagine that X-Men: Days of Future Past is one busy little bee, and it is.  Director Bryan Singer returns to this series after directing the first two X-Movies (there have now been seven, count ’em, seven), and what he brings with him is a bold spirit of fun.  There are set pieces here, especially Magneto’s prison break, that are well executed, as are the references to the world of the 1970s, everything from lava lamps to Robert Flack to “Sanford and Son” to Pink Floyd.

Yet, what the movie lacks is a tightly-written story.  The third act, which is impressive on a technical scale, is kind of a disappointment story-wise.  Singer’s real creativity should be in showing us how past events are effecting the future.  Instead, the third act is given over to one of those crash and bash endings that you could see in any big-budget special effects movie.  The best time travel movies from Back to the Future to Groundhog Day to The Terminator are always a wonderfully dizzy display of the past connecting with the future.

He’s also lacking a timely theme.  This first two X-Men movies – which he directed – very effectively dealt with the current issue of acceptance of those that society deems “freaks.”  It was a nice parallel to the current issue of gay rights.  Here he’s made a much more standard adventure.  He has indeed made a special effects wedding cake, one that after a while leaves you craving some meat.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.