"X-Men: Days of Future Past" poster featuring Beast and Storm.

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” poster featuring Beast and Storm.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is the latest installment in Marvel’s X-men franchise. It suffered from too-many-characters-itis like the previous movies, but was overall a very satisfying superhero flick.

The story starts out with a ragtag bunch of X-Men fending off alien robot things that seem to adapt to each individual mutant’s powers. One by one the X-Men are killed off until only two remain, and the one doing super shiatsu to the other’s temples tells the robots they are too late. Then the story resets.

Robots, called Sentinels, have been exterminating mutants and humans carrying mutant genes. As Professor Xavier and Magneto arrive with the other more familiar characters, we learn that Kitty Pride can not only phase through solid walls, but can also send somebody’s consciousness back in time. This is how they’ve been staying alive. They get found by the Sentinels, send somebody’s mind back in time to give themselves a warning, then they move before the Sentinels find them.

Professor X thinks this is just what they need to stop the carnage. They need to send somebody back in time to stop Mystique before she kills Dr. Bolivar Trask, the inventor of the Sentinels and experimenter on mutants. She succeeds in killing Trask, but she gets captured in the process which allows the scientists to give her molecular transformation power to the Sentinels. This is the event that was the beginning of the end.

The rest of the movie involves Wolverine going back to 1975 and trying to convince a drunk Professor X that he needs to sober up and save Mystique (called Raven back then) in order to save everyone in the future. Only one hitch. They have to rescue Magneto from a high-security prison under the Pentagon and then convince him to work with them, assuming Wolverine can convince Professor X to work with Magneto first.

Although the special effects were great, and there were scenes here and there that sparkled, overall X-Men: Days of Future Past took too many shortcuts in the beginning for those not familiar with the X-Men universe. For fans, they likely jumped right into the story. For somebody like me who hasn’t collected an X-Men comic book since the mid 1990s, I found this movie hard to get into.

Who are these characters? Why do they have powers? What are their powers? Why can a girl who can walk through walls send people’s consciousness back in time? Who knows? We aren’t really introduced to them before the story jumps back in time to center on Wolverine, Professor X, Mystique and Magneto. Then we come back to the present (future? It was never stated) and watch characters we don’t know die one by one. I was supposed to care about their deaths, but I didn’t.

Another problem was with Professor X. James McAvoy’s disheveled, foul-mouthed Professor-X-on-the-sauce was a bit hard to take. We weren’t given enough time to understand why he was so different from his modern self. His character has the greatest story arc, but a magical heart-to-heart with his future self was the catalyst for the change. His introduction as a drunk junkie was jarring, and his redemption was just as jarring, but fortunately, McAvoy made the role work. Michael Fassbender looked silly in his costume, but otherwise did an all-right job.

The two characters that held the story together were Mystique and Wolverine, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Hugh Jackman. Lawrence wasn’t as slinky as lingerie model Rebecca Romijn who played the character before her, but she played Mystique with heart and smarts, giving the role emotion and believability. I also felt Lawrence was more menacing than Romijn. Lastly, Jackman’s gravitas and charm was an isle of familiar calm in a swirling storm.

Highlights for me were the scenes with Quicksilver, which were hilarious, and the retro feel of the news reels and Super-8 footage of the scenes in France. They were very well done and helped make X-Men: Days of Future Past feel authentic. Overall, I enjoyed the movie. Fans of the X-Men will likely love it. However, if you aren’t familiar with the X-Men universe, some aspects of the show will be confusing.

Release Date: May 23, 2014 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

MySF Rating: Three point five stars
Family Friendliness: 65%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 3 (inebriation, social drinking, drug addiction)
Language: 4 (f-word, s-words, deity, other mild profanity)
Nudity: 3 (full rear nudity of Hugh Jackman)
Sexuality: 2 (bed scene)
Violence: 4 (brutal violence, death, destruction, torture)


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