First off, if you are not into the X-Men series of movies or characters, then there is no reason for you to see this movie. Move along now. Go on off to whatever you DO like, whether they be boy wizards or hobbits or men of the Bat or Super persuasions or Meryl Streep movies or vampires or whatever. Because we are now seven movies into this film series (or what is now known as a franchise, you know, like McDonalds and Taco Bells), and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is thoroughly a movie FOR the fans of the series, for the people that are interested in the furthering adventures of Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine and all of their mutant buddies. And most of those fans should be very happy with what they have been given.
For the uninitiated (for we ARE initiated), the X-Men comic book series (and subsequent movies, television shows, video games, etc.) has long been an allegory for the Fear of The Other, as many of their story lines revolve around the humans’ mistrust of the mutants, and the mutants having to live in hiding, or else having to decide whether to fight back or to show that they can be peaceful and co-habit the world with humans, and you can easily replace the word mutant with black or female or gay or Jewish or any other group of people who have felt the sting of prejudice and persecution in this world, all because of The Fear, and boom you have the crux of the X-Men series and what makes it special among all the other comic book related bloat and bluster.
And “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (the title and story taken from an X-Men comic story arc made in 1980-1981) hammers this theme home, as it is all based on a war many years in the future between humans and mutants, as well as between humans and the other humans who decided to HELP mutants, which leaves only the worst xenophobic assholes in the charge, while everyone else toils in submission and in prisons. And of course the only people in the whole world who can find a way to fix this whole mess are our homeboys the X-Men. Or at least what’s left of them after giant mutant-hunting robots called Sentinels rounded them all up and killed most of them off.
And the only way our guys CAN stop the war is good old time travel. So our main man Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, playing the character for the seventh time in seven movies) gets sent back into his younger self in the early 1970’s (don’t ask how, just see the movie for those deets) and he has to stop a person from doing something that unwittingly kicks off the war between man and mutant, with the man made robots helping to wipe out the mutants. The man who made these robots, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), has his own noble reasons for wanting to single out mutants and destroy them, and really that’s the scary thing about this character, because he really is not malicious or evil, not knowingly anyway. Like many people who have done horrible things in this world, Dr. Trask’s horrible actions are born from his desire to IMPROVE the world, to unite humanity, to make things better, and he’s fine with cracking some eggs because his vision for this omelette is one that he deigns worthy of extremely questionable ethics and morals.
So “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is not only a comic book movie, but it is also a time travel movie, as well as partially a period piece as a huge chunk of the film takes place in the 1970’s, which is great because of the styles and clothing and music and quick references to things like Pong and Sanford & Son. And whereas so many movies of this ilk these days are so morose and overly serious, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” still manages to have fun and gets inventive and interesting. Instead of just a bunch of brooding characters thinking hard about how awful things are, this movie gets in more than one fun scene or sequence, featuring some of the best action scenes you’ll see in a movie this year, comic book related or not. Just the one scene featuring the ultra fast character known as Quicksilver (Evan Peters) is worth the price of admission for this whole movie, and even as a stand out scene, it’s not like the rest of the movie forgets this sequence and is shitty all around it. It’s ALL good, with interesting characters faced with tough dilemmas, great scenes, and the occasional twist and turn that keeps things moving quick and in surprising ways.
Now of course this movie is not perfect, because no movie is perfect (save maybe “Goodfellas” because “Goodfellas“), and there are things to nit pick at and to point at as things that are wrongly made or incorrect. Quicksilver’s outfit looks ludicrous. The allegories and metaphors are hammered home, on the nose and not subtle AT ALL. Several characters are included from previous movies more as extended, glorified characters as opposed getting to exist in this movie as actual, rounded out characters. And naturally this all leads to yet ANOTHER “X-Men” movie, which will lead to another movie, and so on and so forth, until we can all barely remember how this all even started.
But that stuff can be put aside, because everything else in this movie elevates the story and buries these problems, as it moves fast enough and keeps things interesting enough to make this an entertaining and still somewhat thought-provoking piece of mainstream pop culture entertainment. When we get people like James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender really bringing their A-games and building on a relationship cultivated in “X-Men: First Class“, and Jennifer Lawrence holding it down and bringing considerable emotion and depth to a character that would otherwise be just a macguffin, and Hugh Jackman being his old reliable self, always fully committing and still noticeably enjoying getting the chance to be Logan a.k.a. The Wolverine, we get some excellent stuff all around, good material brought to even greater heights, a satisfying whole of a movie.