It’s that time again, time for me to take a belated look at a movie that was in theaters months ago, but has just come out on Blu Ray and I finally got to see it. This time, we visit Bryan Singer’s return to the X-Men franchise with X-Men: Days of Future Past, a take on the classic X-Men story told in Uncanny X-Men 141-142, originally published in 1981.
So here we go into the X-Men franchise reboot, which certainly has to be better than that execrable X-Men 3.And yes it is, which is certainly a relief because that largely killed the franchise for the original cast, it wasn’t until X-Men: First Class in 2011 that the series became worthwhile again and that was with an entirely new group of actors.
In the future, and we’re supposed to think that 2014 represents the future, at least from the perspective of the rest of the film, the Sentinels have wiped out not only most of the mutants, but most of humanity as well. They have developed the ability to see genetic probabilities and have killed humans that they think are likely to produce mutant offspring at some point in the future. Kitty Pryde has been sending Bishop back in time a few days or weeks so that he can warn earlier incarnations of Sentinel attacks and therefore, they can simply not be there when the Sentinels arrive. Magneto and Professor X arrive and have a plan, they want to send someone back to 1973 to keep Mystique from killing Bolivar Trask, developer of the Sentinels and thus stopping the whole war from starting in the first place. Only Wolverine can survive being sent back that far in time so Kitty sends him, knowing that this is the final battle and if Wolverine doesn’t succeed, they all die. Logan arrives back in 1973 to find Xavier curled up in the bottom of a bottle without his powers, the school in ruins and Magneto being kept in a cell under the Pentagon after he was accused of killing JFK. They recruit Quicksilver to break Magneto out and then begins a dangerous game, trying to track down Mystique, especially after Trask’s first generation of Sentinels get introduced to the public. And of course, Magneto is ever the wild card, he has a plan and it’s guaranteed to be dangerous.
Now there are a lot of differences from the comic, after all, it’s been more than 30 years since the comic came out and Marvel has gone back and plugged in a lot of new characters into that pivotal moment in comic history since. I’m generally pleased with the characters they chose, although not really thrilled with how they did them necessarily. Sunspot didn’t look like Sunspot, he looked more like the Human Torch. Unfortunately, all of the future scenes were just fights, we never got to really get to know any of the new characters, they were just cannon fodder. I hope they rectify that in future movies. Of course, in the original comic it was Kitty Pryde who was sent back in time to prevent the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly, but since that’s something they addressed to some degree in the first movie, I can see why they didn’t revisit that storyline. On the design of the Sentinels, while I understand their redesign, some part of me would have liked to have seen the original massive Mark I Sentinels, even as a drawing. I get the change, I just would have enjoyed the nod. Like I said, the changes actually make sense and I’m not enough of a purist to really complain too much about what they did.
This is a Fox production so a lot of the in-depth storytelling that we see in the Marvel Studios movies really isn’t there, they don’t have the rights to a lot of the Easter Eggs that get thrown into Marvel Studios movies and that’s kind of a shame. I wouldn’t have minded seeing Rachel Summers showing up, even in the background, in the future. There was plenty of 70s era kitsch galore and I really forgot how much I enjoyed James McAvoy’s portrayal of a younger and more immature Charles Xavier, plus getting to see him and Patrick Stewart going face-to-face was really impressive. I don’t know if this is supposed to be the last we see of the old X-Men but if so, given how good their performances were here, that makes me kind of sad.
Another really nice thing they did was they pretty pointedly ignored that Last Stand ever existed. Jean Grey isn’t dead anymore, she didn’t die escaping from Alkali Lake and Logan didn’t kill her in X-Men 3, which is good because the less anyone remembers that horrible film, the better.
This really brings the franchise back to the glory days of the first film, even though the characters have grown over the 8 films that make up the Wolverine saga. I’m really hoping that they were successful enough to warrant another movie, with whatever cast they decide to put in it, they really need to keep the X-Men mutant ball of fun going. Two thumbs up.