“Please. We need you to hope again,” said Professor X to young Charles Xavier.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is indeed an ambitious and audacious project on this long-running franchise. After a series of stories that alter from the original X-Men story, X-Men’s seventh film serves not only a spectacular sequel (or prequel or another sequel) but rather a vigorous redemption. This film takes all benefits from its own story—by balancing action and drama, combining young and old characters from the franchise, and managing a solid, fast pace to accommodate them.
To be honest, DOFP is no film for purist—it turns great for those who devote X-Men’s comic book and those who have watched all X-Men films. As it refers to all films in the franchise (including x-Men Origins, First Class, and The Wolverine), DOFP serves as a sequel to First Class, a prequel to X-Men trilogy, as well as a sequel to it. Utilizing time-travel device, it tries to reunite all casts in a film and conduct a clean slate (or call it a soft reboot) to the broken franchise. As it turns out on-screen, Ian McKellen’s Magneto says, “We’re given a second chance,” which perhaps he refers to the situation in film, as well as to the existence of this franchise.
The film begins with a rampage of Sentinels, shape-shifting droids that exterminate mutant in the post-apocalyptic future. This is not a good condition for everyone—neither Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart)’s side nor Magneto (Ian McKellen)—as all mutants are in a brink of extinction. To cope with this, they come up with a risky plan—sending a mutant to the past to rewrite history, specifically to prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing a weapon expert, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) in 1973. By using Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) ability to send one’s consciousness to that mutant’s younger body—and it only works on Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), whose regenerating ability can make him survive.
To deal with the past is not an easy quest; Wolverine has to find young Xavier (James McAvoy) and young Magneto/Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) to work out with Mystique. Finding Xavier is not a problem, yet, finding Erik is complicated since he’s imprisoned in a special prison for assassinating JFK. To deal with this, Wolverine, Xavier, and Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult) has to work with Peter Maximoff a.k.a Quicksilver (Evan Peters), who has the most fascinating scene in this film as he redefines the famous “bullet time” scene. However, setting Erik free always needs dreadful consequence. Pride and ideology makes the war between Xavier and Erik more emotional, but never gets letdown. Meanwhile, Sentinels have found the mutant’s hideout in the future.
After years of disappointing films, I personally think DOFP has proven that Singer has a significant come-back to his swagger. DOFP is elegantly crafted with thrilling spots here and there that remind us to his earlier works—so that we cannot predict the ending of this film in details. I believe Singer’s familiarity with the materials he’s been working on for several times might make him a little confident and thorough in summarizing dozens of sins in the franchise and carefully mending them with emotional atonement. Needless to say, DOFP becomes the most ambitious franchise ensemble ever made.
I’m happy that this film relies much on the character development rather than over-the-top CGI actions that lately becomes too bleak and blunt. I’m also glad that DOFP manages the use of CGI wisely—not being the main attraction, but it becomes an ideal vehicle to deliver the most serious cause of this film—death. Two characters convincingly grab my attention—Wolverine and Mystique. Being inside the Wolverine for seventh films (including a short cameo in Fist Class—which is also referred in this film), Jackman handles his character with a holdfast. Although it’s not his best Wolverine appearance, his existence is a savvy idea—his character is not the center of attention, but he becomes the balance of this all-character film. In other hand, Lawrence’s Mystique, for the first time, doesn’t serve as a sidekick anymore, but rather a “quantum leap” in an order that triggers simultaneous chaos. For Lawrence, her role in DOFP might be a fun one—simply a letdown—but she’s there the whole time as an unpredictable threat.
Given the thought that X-Men has distinctive characteristics compared to other Marvel franchise, comparisons’ with Marvel’s Avengers seems not fair. Whilst Avengers fuses Marvel films to create a super ensemble of superheroes that expands Marvel Cinematic Universe, DOFP concludes all X-Men films only to fix the universe. Furthermore, the use of real-world environment and iconic events give this film a solid ground to authentically conceptualize the ambition. I peculiarly like the idea of mutant as an imagery of minority society that being oppressed and discriminated from the common society—yet, when everything gets too foul, even for the minority, someone or some people must do something to fix things. Even if the comic DOFP is not about a clean slate, this film is still needed for the whole franchise.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Action, Drama, Adaptation, Fantasy Running Time: 130 mins. Directed by: Bryan Singer Written by: Simon Kinberg, Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman Production Co.: 20th Century Fox, Marvel Ent., Dune Ent. Starred by: Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Evan Peters, Ellen Page, Anna Paquin, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart
TRIVIA: There’s a post-credit scene that might get fanboys excited. Well, it deals with historical event and icon and… this man.
TRIVIA: In this film, we’ll see a mutant named Quicksilver a.k.a Peter Maximoff, portrayed by Evan Peters. FYI, he is Magneto’s son (this film also give a hint to that fact in the dialogue). Quicksilver and his sister, Wanda a.k.a Scarlet Witch, will also appear in The Avengers: Age of Ultron—with completely different roles, different casts, and different copyright.
TRIVIA: Logan’s tormentor in X-Men Origins: Wolverine also appears in this film—only, this time he is younger.
TRIVIA: In First Class (2011), Wolverine make a cameo with his one-liner. In this film, he’ll get revenged by Xavier.
TRIVIA: We will also know that one of the presidents of the U.S.A is a mutant.
TRIVIA: In Hank’s study, we’ll see a screen displaying footage of William Shatner in Star Trek shouting, “We’re going backwards in time!” A simple reference to what happens in this film.
TRIVIA: Sentinels have abilities to adapt to the mutants’ ability, just like Darwin in First Class and Rogue. They imitates the power of Sunspot, IceMan, and Collosus on-screen. Yet, we can see Emma Frost’s frozen ability and Lady Deathstrike’s claws although both of them don’t appear on screen.
TRIVIA: Kudos to Singer! Now we can see Scott Summers and his wife again (I’m sorry Logan!).
TRIVIA: For further Easter Eggs, CHECK THIS SITE! (Spoiler alert!)