Keeping up with the X-Men movie universe can be complex, given that the first film in the franchise debuted in 2000. Since then, numerous sequels (some of dubious quality) have been fired out of 20th Century Fox’s canon, each one hoping to hit the big time: two sequels to the original “X-Men,” two “Wolverine” movies, and, a prequel to the original film. Now, "X-Men: Days of Future Past," a prequel-sequel twofer, hopes again to hit the mark.
Fear not, gentle film viewer, for as long as you have a general working knowledge of the X-Men or are willing to learn, the newest film, “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” high-speed blends all what is known about the X-Men film series (combining revelations from multiple movies and unexplainably obliterating other plot points) into a refreshingly frothy and enjoyable summer movie blockbuster. (And, for those deeply steeped in the X-Men universe: just enjoy and don’t worry about all the details of plot continuity.)
In a very “Back to the Future” meets “Star Trek IV” time-traveling way, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) must travel from the future back into the past to change what has happened to the mutants and the humans who tried to help them. The dark, dystopian future of the film’s opening involves Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Storm (Halle Berry), and the few other remaining mutants holed up deep inside a Chinese fortress. Endless floating forces of adaptable, “Terminator 2”-type giant robotic Sentinels (that can immediately change their fight to counteract the power of any mutant) seem undefeatable and the mutants appear doomed. Their only chance to defeat certain annihilation is to use Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) power of transporting to send Wolverine’s consciousness back to 1973 to stop the forces then set into motion.
Wolverine’s job is to survive the leather jackets, giant sunglasses, and waterbeds of the 1970s while stopping Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence, reprising her role from “X-Men: First Class") from killing scientist, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage of “Game of Thrones” fame), an act that led to the full-fledged launch of the mutant-targeting Sentinels. Future-consciousness Wolverine must gain the trust of the 70s-era Professor X, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), and Magneto, then-Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), and mutant Beast, aka Hank (Nicholas Hoult,) in order to create a brand-new future for all.
Original “X-Men” and “X2” director Bryan Singer has brought back the sparkle and magic to the once-foundering series. Certainly, the film’s time-traveling aspect is a quick sale for the sci-fi audience because, really, what science fiction fan doesn’t want to see time-traveling Wolverine? But, what makes the latest installment special is two-fold: the infusion of humor throughout a good portion of Wolverine’s arrival in the “Me decade” and, also, its emphasis on continued hope. I, personally, like my sci-fi with a good dollop of optimism for mankind, and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” seems to share that same outlook, fighting wholeheartedly against all odds for a better tomorrow. Jackman, although always appealing, has fully settled into his alter-ego, making Wolverine’s starring role more charming than ever. And, further, McAvoy and Fassbender so entirely inhabit their opposite roles that it is equally compelling to watch them either at each other’s throats or in (seethingly) peaceful coexistence. To paraphrase another, classic sci-fi film, this IS the summer blockbuster you’ve been looking for.
Additional note: It will be impossible to miss scene-stopping Evan Peters as the super-fast Quicksilver. Look for the Quicksilver character to appear again (played by another actor) in next summer’s Avengers’ sequel, Marvel’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” is rated 5 - of 5 stars. The film is rated PG-13 “for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language.”
The summer movie season is just heating up and many more reviews are on the way! Want to find out more about all the upcoming summer blockbusters? Subscribe now to new articles at the top of the page. Also, “like” Christine as the “San Antonio Movie Examiner” on Facebook or follow @christinephd on Twitter or @christine0959 on Pinterest. See you at the movies!