Don’t worry if you confuse Flash and Quicksilver or if you spend half the movie waiting for Avenger Thor to walk in to this X-Men story.
We can’t all be fanboys and girls.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is such a flawlessly executed movie that even if you don’t know your Loki from your Magneto, you’ll still have just as much fun as the guy next to you in full Bishop cosplay.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s enough comic winks and nods to draw even the most rigid nerd out from his mom’s basement. But, perhaps to his chagrin, he’ll have to share the movie with mere mortals that just come for a good time.
Taking a cure from 2009’s Star Trek, this film uses the device of a trip into the past to potentially rewrite the history of the franchise. As the movie opens, the mutant heroes from 2000’s X-Men huddle in a bunker hiding from powerful droid thingies that will destroy them. Dr. Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is there with Magneto (Ian McKellen), as well as Storm (Halle Berry) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Looking into the face of certain defeat, they pinpoint the one event in history that led to their dark future.
It has to do with Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and an event that convinced humanity that mutants were too dangerous to tolerate.
So off one goes Wolverine, into the consciousness of his younger self, on a mission to unite the younger X-Men and stop Mystique.
He meets up with young Dr. Xavier (James McAvory) and his nemesis Magneto (Michael Fassbender) from more recent movies. Those are just the main characters. In the past, as in the future, there are a host of mutants and humans that weave in and out of the story. If you’re up on the lore, you’ll get your chuckle as they make their cameo. If you’re not, no worries. They move a plot point along and then dissolve into the background. No chance to feel lost.
Except for one. Faster-than-sound Quicksilver (Evan Peters) almost steals the movie with his ADHD teenage persona. He pulls off a supersonic ballet, rendered in fantastic super slow motion: part rescuing hero, part teen rebel, part merry prankster. He’s only in the film for a few scenes, but I could watch those scenes again and again. If you go for nothing else, go for Quicksilver.
The year of this past key event? Well, it just happens to be 1973 and Xavier, Wolverine, and the rest are just too groovy for words. The film plays with the setting, just as it plays with everything: Playing a top disco hit of the era with an ironic twist, plopping Wolverine into a particularly unseemly moment in his past, even casting new mutant light on Kennedy’s assassination and presidency.
The movie has heart, with the eternal conflict between Dr. X, who wants to find a way to peace with the human race, and Magento, who wants to preemptively destroy them.
But it’s also a lot of fun.
In fact, it’s pretty close to flawless. Sure a few questions arise, as they always do, with the time travel situation. “What happened here?” asks Wolverine upon arriving in the past. Wouldn’t he already, by definition, know the answer?
As much as I like Peter Dinklage, his villainous Scientist Dr. Trask was only ho-hum, although his 70s style was good for a chuckle.
But those moments are few and far between. The vast bulk of the movie is perfect pacing, great characters, funny lines, and exciting special effects. At some point, as Magento tosses DC landmarks around, Mystique shifts in and out of peoples’ bodies, and Dr. X looks to himself for inspiration – literally – it becomes everything you want in a comic book movie.
Rated PG-13, this film is quite a bit edgier than the squeaky-clean Spiderman 2. Wolverine wakes up in a sexually compromising situation and there’s a shot of his bare behind, a shot that drew appreciative cheers from the audience, no less. That’s the only sexuality in the film, though. It does include as many swear words as it can get away with and maintain the PG-13, both of the s and f variety, but still only an occasional event. The opening scene has some disturbing shots of piles of dead bodies and violence is fairly intense throughout. Some characters are killed repeatedly as part of the charm of time travel. Plus, there are pretty obvious drug references, usually in a negative light, but still present. It’s one of those movies that will make you squirm in a few spots if your kids are there, but not so pervasive or overt that you absolutely want to keep teens from seeing it.