Review: X-Men Days of Future Past Fun for Fan and Novice Alike

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.

Comic Con 2013 Wrap: What to check out on TV and film

San Diego Comic Con is both a fan celebration of all that’s happened in the past year(s) and a launch pad for new projects.. Keep an eye out for these in the next year:


MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) – Producer/Director Joss Whedon has gone on record to say Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson – killed in The Avengers – has returned from the dead thanks to fan love.  Ming-Na (Eureka), Elizabeth Henstridge (Hollyoaks), Ian De Caestecker (The Fades), Brett Dalton (Killing Lincoln) and Chloe Bennet (Nashville) round out the team who handle the world’s superheroes. Premieres Sept 24, 2013.

INTELLIGENCE (CBS) – Josh Holloway (LOST) plays a computer enhanced cyber-agent assigned a Secret Service handler (Once Upon a Time’s Megan Ory). Marg Hellenberger (CSI) stars as Holloway’s boss. Based on an unpublished novel, coming to TV February, 2014.

THE 100 (CW) – 100 years after fleeing an irradiated Earth in a space colony, human survivors sent 100 juvenile delinquents back down to the planet to see if it in habitable. Starring Henry Ian Cusack (LOST), Paige Turco (The Agency), Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy) and Eliza Taylor (Neighbours). Coming spring 2014.

SLEEPY HOLLOW (FOX) – Ichabod Crane finds himself pulled into a ravaged modern age. He partners with a small town sheriff to fight evil and defend the world. From Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci (Transformers, Fringe, Star Trek) and starring Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie (Shame). Premieres Sept 16, 2013.

ALMOST HUMAN (FOX) – An unlikely pairing of part human/part android cops investigate crime and espionage in a future world. Starring Karl Urban (Star Trek) and Michael Ealy (Sleeper Cell). Produced by J.J. Abrams. Look for it in late fall 2013

ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND (ABC) – Down the rabbit hole with writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz as they spin off Once Upon a Time, mixing Alice’s Wonderland with Storybrooke. Starring Sophia Lowe (Two Mothers), Emma Rigby (Hollyoaks), Naveen Andrews (LOST), and John Lithgow as the voice of the White Rabbit. Premiers October 10, 2013.

ORPHAN BLACK (BBC America) – It’s already aired one season on BBC America and is gaining momentum stateside. Following the lives and mysteries of multiple clones, the show is critically acclaimed for storytelling and asking important ethical questions. Starring Tatiana Maslany (The Nativity), Dylan Bruce (As the World Turns) and Jordan Gavaris (Unnatural History). Catch the first season on BBC America, season 2 returns in 2014.


THE ZERO THEOREM (Voltage Pictures) – A tiny film compared to some of these others, Zero follows an eccentric recluse of a computer genius  working to solve the Zero Theorem and discover the purpose of life.  Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), Tilda Swinton (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe), Ben Whishaw (Skyfall), David Thewlis (Harry Potter series) and Lucas Hedges (Moonrise Kingdom). Releasing Dec 20, 2o13.

THE WOLVERINE (20th Century Fox) –Pining over the loss of Jean Grey in X-Men: The Last Stand, Hugh Jackman’s Logan is embroiled in a world of Japanese intrigue. Smaller and more personal than most of the hero films coming out, The Wolverine hopes to reconnect with fans disappointed by 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Currently in theaters

THE AMAZING SPIDER MAN 2 (Sony Pictures) – Spider-Man is credited with kicking off the superhero franchises with the 2002 Tobey Maguire version and these “Amazing” reboots starring Andrew Garfield have secured the series a reputation for solid storytelling. Neither the flashiest nor the darkest of the comic franchises, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 brings Jamie Foxx in as villain Electro. Releasing May 2, 2014.

DIVERGENT (Summit Entertainment) – Veronica Roth’s Divergent novel series  is still growing it’s fanbase, but after The Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes and goes in late 2013, fans hungry for dystopian young adult drama may lock on. It’s a strong story set in future Chicago, where humans have been divided into five personality-based factions. But not everybody fits – some are divergent… Releasing March 21, 2014.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (20th Century Fox) – Uniting a gigantic cast of nearly all previous mutants (twenty principal cast members!) Future Past may have bitten off more than can be chewed in one story. If it works it will be a colossal success, if not it could be the death-knell of all X-films. Releasing May 23, 2014.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (Marvel) – Chris Evans Captain and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow defend America. That’s about all we know, except that the footage looks great and there’s a good amount of Marvel’s patented humorous banter. Also featuring Samuel L. Jackson and…Robert Redford! Releasing April 4, 2014.

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (Lionsgate) – Thought the book is a bit of a lull between the first and third titles, Jennifer Lawrence’s thoughtful portrayal of Katniss Everdeen already guarantees Catching Fire will be a huge success. The big question about this sequel is whether to see it opening night. Releasing Nov 22, 2013

THOR: THE DARK WORLD (Marvel) – Marvel needs to be a little careful, as audiences may burn out on separate stories and a united cast in The Avengers 2. Thor wasn’t the strongest origin story of the bunch, though it did give us Loki to make life difficult for The Avengers. Thor: The Dark World needs to do something impressively different to keep fans coming back.  Still, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston! Releasing Nov 8, 2013

THE AVENGERS 2: AGE OF ULTRON (Marvel) – Discovering the villains is one of the fun things for comic movie watchers who are not comic book readers. Ultron is an AI creation who will take on The Avengers May 1, 2015. We’ll hear more about it at next year’s Comic Con.

ENDER’S GAME (Summit Entertainment) – All my feelings on this adaptation can be found here. See the movie, but don’t cheat yourself – read the book first. Releasing Nov 11, 2013.

Untitled Superman + Batman film (Warner Bros) – Arguably the most shocking moment in Hall H this year was this reveal of a combo film. No word yet on whether it will be a buddy, team or rival story and it’s not even scheduled until 2015, leaving plenty of time for speculation and fan arguments.