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Movie Review: 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' misses out on important chapters.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (movie)

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X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) Rated PG-13. Dir: Bryan Singer.

Jennifer Lawrence reappears in 'X-Men: The Days of the Future Past'
Marvel

This film is currently playing in theaters everywhere

In X-Men: Days of Future Past, the mutants are being hunted down by the invincible Sentinels, robots with the ability to adapt to all mutant attacks, originally invented by scientist Bollivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) in 1973. As the world gets torn apart by the Sentinels, the X-Men decides to send Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) consciousness back to his younger self in the 70’s to stop an event from ever happening--Mystique’s (Jennifer Lawrence) assassination attempt on Trask, which in turn would result in the creation of the Sentinels. In the past, Wolverine must get young Professor X (James McAvoy) and young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and other mutants to work together to stop Mystique.

I really enjoyed X-Men: First Class, but X-Men: Days of Future Past, while entertaining, just didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It was really unfortunate as the previous film ended with an awesome set-up, where Magneto finally established himself as the villain to be reckoned with (akin to the “Bond, James Bond” moment from Casino Royale). And, Michael Fassbender is a great Magneto. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, however, a chunk of the chapter after that is gone, many of the characters we saw are gone or dead, and Magneto somehow wound up in prison. Now, in the future scenes, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) have somehow become close buddies. Now, I understand how a common enemy can bring two enemies together, but once again, a chunk of an important chapter seemed to have been gone. C’mon, guys. Throw me a frickin’ bone, here.

The film’s plot is pretty simple—the mutants must stop Mystique from attempting to kill Trask. Everything else pretty much revolves around that plot. The dialogue here is also pretty straightforward—I miss the little clever banter between Professor X and Magneto from First Class. I admit I’m always suspicious when there is any time traveling in a sequel—as seen in Men in Black 3, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Shrek Forever After, etc. Time travel is that lazy plot device you use when you run out of ideas (that, and perhaps a resurrection of a villain). I expect a Transformers sequel to eventually use such a device in the future.

So, after Wolverine from the future “Quantum Leap”-s into his younger self, much of the plot moves to 1975, where he meets the younger Professor X and Magneto. Wolverine’s role in this film is fun and Hugh Jackman excels in his role. He doesn’t have his Adamantium claws yet, which is amusing. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are still fun as Magneto and Dr. Xavier, even if their lines aren’t quite as fun as they used to be. Patrick Stewart’s Professor X and Ian McKellen’s Magneto do not feel as fully “present” in this film—they’re fairly one-note and their roles aren’t very complex. Academy-Award-winner Jennifer Lawrence plays Mystique for all its worth--her movements have a balletic grace and she conveys emotions effectively even beyond all the blue makeup. Still, compared to the previous one, this film feels less character-driven than plot-driven.

The action scenes in this film are particularly excellent, as director Bryan Singer does a great job of exploring, visually, the full capacity of each diverse mutant power, and manages to combine them in creative ways. All the fight scenes with the Sentinels were quite good and interesting, compositionally. Even the mutant powers in First Class seemed generic in comparison. The best action sequence in this film is undoubtedly the scene where Evan Peters, as Quicksilver, takes down a big group of armed Pentagon guards while using his speed ability, and we experience all this from his point of view. Sadly, Evan Peters’ appearance in this film is minor and the rest of the film does not fully quite reach that level of coolness.

Overall, this is a fun film. As mentioned, I found it to be a step down from First Class and I think it would’ve been best if this film had simply built on the premise, characters, and ideas from that film instead of trying to merge two different worlds together. And, of course, major plot points are missing here—the kinds that would make for a better film. And, finally, what's with the title?