For a person who grew up watching The Uncanny X-men on TV and reading comic books about these marvelous mutants, its hard not to geek out whenever an X-men movie comes out. And just when we thought that the franchise ended with X-men: The Last Stand in 2006, or the prequel X-men: First Class in 2011, it would seem that First Class only kicked off the reboot of the franchise, especially since it did so well in the box office.
In X-men: Days of Future Past, where mutants are being killed off by Sentinels and human sympathizers are being sent to prison camps, what remains of the X-men send Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) consciousness to his past self (in 1973) in order to convince Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsher/ Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), the designer of the Sentinel program, which is believed to set off the chain of events that made the Sentinels close to invincible. The assassination also signals the beginning of the government’s support for the war against the mutants. But Wolverine’s task is not an easy one as the once good friends have become bitter nemesis and they are far from changing their positions on the war anytime soon.
There is nothing better in reviving a franchise than to get the director who started it back on board. This installment welcomed back to the director’s chair Bryan Singer, who helmed the first movie in 2000, and First Class director Matthew Vaughn, a self confessed X-men fanatic, who this time worked with Simon Kinberg and Jane Goldman in developing the story. An advantage on getting all of the guys who made the X-men universe come to life on the big screen is that it ensures consistency across the movies. And in this aspect, XDOFP delivered in spades.
XDOFP had a lot going for it. It had a lot of room to work with in terms of choosing an arc. After all, the movie dealt with X-men characters both from the future and from the past. XDOFP, in essence served as sequel to both the prequel and the last part of the trilogy. This means that audiences will get a kick out of seeing the new characters — Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Bling (Fan Bingbing), Warpath (Booboo Stewart), Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and Bishop (Omar Sy) while familiar characters and A-listers from the franchise make their returns in various capacities. Yes, even those from the first movie, although they have aged somewhat.
What’s good about this X-men installment is that it manages to tie together both generations of the franchise so that it exists in one single universe. Through some flashbacks, Singer also gives new fans a glimpse of the old school X-men movies (it was, after all, a decade ago) to give them a chance to catch up should they want to. But its also alright for those who want to stick to the reboot, because the story delves into the characters backstories to explain how they behave in certain situations.
The action may be a bit lax compared to the first couple of movies, but this one mainly delves into getting a sense of the characters. While Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian Mckellen were effortlessly amazing as the future Professor X and Magneto, I should also give credit to James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender who play younger versions of the two iconic characters. I sort of missed the intense bromance between these two from First Class but the older guys more than made up for it with their heartfelt rapport in the future.
Mystique is the central heroine for this installment and I couldn’t agree more because she is easily one of the more interesting characters in the X-men franchise. From the time Rebecca Romjin took on the role of the sexy (albeit scaly) blue mutant, until Jennifer Lawrence took over the reins, Mystique, formerly known as Raven has the clearest idea of what she is fighting for. She takes women empowerment to a whole new level.
Although there were a lot of good parts in the movie, my favorites were the ones with Quicksilver in it. Evan Peters was a perfect cast for this role because he just has a natural ability to exude coolness just by pasting on a mischievous smile. His scenes cracked me up and made the movie so much better — a perfect foil to all the bickering and self doubt between Xavier and Magneto. Its really interesting how they dropped hints about his parentage, which I should think the franchise will explore in the next movies.
I also liked the past/present action between the Magnetos, using their powers at the same time to achieve two completely opposite goals — one to lay waste to the humans and one, to protect the mutants. It was also interesting to see Wolverine pre-Adamantium. Quicksilver was right. His powers were cool but kind of disgusting.
I should commend the filmmakers for making sense of the time travel arc and even going so far as to connect the X-men movies to its spinoff franchise (Wolverine: Origins) but there were times when I felt like there were too many personal conflicts going on, especially with Professor X and Mystique that it was kind of a downer.
I liked the sleek design of the Sentinels, a far cry from the clunky purple giant robots from the comic books and cartoons. They kind of looked like downsized versions of the Destroyer from Thor, though.
All in all, I liked XDOFP mainly because of its consistency and continuity with the other movies. It wasn’t spectacular, not by a long shot, but as an ensemble, all of the actors did a great job with the roles they were assigned. The movie also drops enough crumbs and clues that connect the comic books to the movies to pique the interest of the fandom. What it actually manages to accomplish is swing the door wide open for the next the movies in the franchise. I’m sensing that with that aftercredit scene, fanboys have penciled in the next installment in their viewing calendar for 2016.