‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Unites Franchise

by Eric Melin on May 23, 2014

in Reviews,Video Reviews

This review of X-Men: Days of Future Past  originally appeared on Lawrence.com. TV review from KCTV5 It’s Your Morning.

Since Bryan Singer‘s X-Men debuted in 2000, Hollywood has given us three different Incredible Hulks, two Spider-Men, two more Supermen, and has abandoned and already started rebooting the Fantastic Four and Daredevil. The filmic legacy of the X-Men before now spanned six uneven movies and covers confusing timelines that date back to the 1800s.

With the release of the new X-Men: Days of Future Past, that timeline now extends into the dark future of 2023, where giant robots called Sentinels oppress humankind and mutants alike. At times, Singer’s new film — and his first return to the X-Men since the series-high X2: X-Men United in 2003 — feels like an alternate history lesson. He and screenwriter Simon Kinberg have the formidable task of bringing together plot threads and character motivations from films with differing tones.

I’m not going to lie. It is challenging to digest all the details of a time-travel story that flashes back and forth between alternate realities in 1973 and 50 years from then, but X-Men: Days of Future Past works mainly because it keeps its emotional reality rooted in the familiar struggles of its characters.

Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan are back as frenemies Professor X and Magneto, played in 1973 (like they were in 2011′s X-Men: First Class) by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender respectively. It’s not clear, and certainly not advisable, from a plot standpoint exactly why Wolverine (series mainstay Hugh Jackman) must break Magneto out of prison in 1973, but certain lapses in logic must be accepted to buy into the general premise, which is essentially “getting the band back together” in a past that never was — to change the future.

As always, the threat of mutants to the human population is at the core of the conflict, with the Professor and Magneto on opposite sides (in the past at least) and Wolverine struggling with his immortality. But Jennifer Lawrence‘s tormented Mystique is the surprising center of the movie, since a crucial decision that she makes in 1973 sets the Sentinels on the path toward enslaving the planet.

Singer has a way of juggling an ensemble cast that includes almost 20 mutants that keeps X-Men: Days of Future Past on solid enough footing even when its multiple reality timeline bends and almost breaks. He narrows his focus on each character to a couple of defining traits and then illustrates those traits through action. One shining example of this is newcomer Evan Peters, who plays the lightning-fast and carefree Quicksilver. He steals the movie with one inventively funny slo-mo scene that’s shot from his perspective and tells you everything you need to know about him.

X-Men: Days of Future Past shows Singer exercising some much-needed control over the franchise he built 14 years ago and wrangling a lot of loose ends. It’s a welcome return, and although the material itself is a little unwieldy, it successfully brings together characterizations from the ’60s-set X-Men: First Class with the modern era ones.

There’s a certain amount of satisfaction just to be had in the fact that the new film isn’t a re-imagining — or a reboot with another origin story — even if Singer and Kinberg do pull a J.J. Abrams Star Trek-style move and sidestep consistency problems by using an “alternate reality.”

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers and regular critic for KCTV5. He’s a member of the BFCA, VP of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also the current 2013 Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kyle Rohde May 23, 2014 at 10:34 am

*SPOILERS BELOW*

I saw it last night at the Screenland Armour’s excellent premiere party and, though I liked it, I’m having a hard time figuring out why it had a 93% positive rating on RottenTomatoes. Personally, it wasn’t nearly as good as First Class, which I loved.

My problem with it is that they used the time travel crap to essentially rewrite anything they wanted. Oh, Prof X got shot and was paralyzed but because of a convenient serum Beast came up with, he can walk but loses his mutant powers. Oh, people didn’t like that Cyclops and Jean Gray were killed so now they’re alive again. The concept just felt too contrived to me and, though I enjoyed the movie, it’s more like a 6-7 for me than a 9 or 10.

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2 Xavier May 27, 2014 at 10:41 pm

A 93% on rotten tomatoes just means that 93% of critics rated it above 50%, 5/10, 2.5 stars, whatever on their scale. It’s not an aggregate its a binary good/bad system. So even though you were a little down on it, your own summation would actually add to that 93%.

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